First of all, I want you all to promise me that you will kick anyone who says that to you to the curb. Such a deal breaker…and super skeezy. Gross.
But let’s move on to the ACTUAL subject of this post: sugar, or rather, the lack of sugar in my life right now. Yep. This summer I decided to go gluten and processed sugar free, and it’s changed my life.
Okay, before you all start tuning me out, I’d like to dispel any notions that I’m one of those crazies who jumps on every diet bandwagon…definitely not true. For one thing, I’ve never had the patience to stay on a diet bandwagon, I also thought they were stupid. Because seriously, who eats only meat and eggs? Ick. And get rid of carbs completely? Have you seen the food pyramid??? And finally, well…I’ve just always loved food too much. The idea of cutting back or eliminating things depressed me, so I never did it. The day before I decided to cut back my sugar and gluten intake I vowed I never could or would do it. Because pasta you guys. And pizza. Amazing inventions that I never want to go without. Also bread and cake and lovely things….But mainly pasta.
The super awesome pizza I had the night before I started cutting back on gluten. Best to go out with a bang.
This summer we discovered that I have a slight carbohydrate intolerance. Obviously, it’s not enough to mess me up — I’d been eating gluten and sugar all my life and never noticed it — but enough that eliminating gluten/sugar from my diet makes a huge difference. I used to get migraines ALL THE TIME (we’re talking one-a-day during my lowest periods) and I felt super tired after meals. Worse, I had no self control when it came to eating. I always knew when it was time to stop. I knew logically that I would have good food again, and I’d think “You probably don’t need more,”…and then I’d take another huge scoop of pasta. I ended up slowly gaining weight. picking up an extra 5 lbs every year.
So, inspired by my parents (Dad was going to try it too), I decided to try to cut wheat and sugar out of my diet for a few weeks. And here is what I learned:
- Sugar is EVERYWHERE. Seriously, everywhere. I mean, the usual suspects are the baked goods. But also mayonnaise. And peanut butter! EVERYWHERE.
- I was hungry a lot of the time. There was a lot of idle snacking that had to happen because all the wheat-based foods that filled me up were gone.
- You can still eat well. There are so many nommy foods and recipes for those who wish to avoid wheat and processed sugar. That said…
- It’s hard to figure out what to eat sometimes. I was basically completely reconstructing my diet, and it was sometimes hard to find things in the fridge that would be new and tasty and filling.
But the changes I experienced were extraordinary. The migraines stopped. I dropped 10 lbs in a few weeks. I had more energy and was happier. It felt so good to be in control and feel more healthy, even my skin was clearer!
That said, this hasn’t been an entirely easy transition. I missed my wheat and sugar like crazy sometimes, and I don’t know if I would have stuck to it if I hadn’t had my mother cooking fabulous gluten/sugar free meals and my dad doing the same process with me. I got the weirdest cravings. I remember a period of wanting brown bread like no one’s business. I kept craving cookies for my tea. And the ice cream…gah! It was summer and there were many a night where I hungered for something creamy and delicious to top of my dinner.
In the end, I got really good at finding substitutions. When I really wanted bread, a warm corn tortilla with a bit of butter and salt satisfied me. When I wanted something sweet, I ate fruit. And when I wanted ice cream I made a cuppuccino — satisfying the creamy crave. It didn’t always work perfectly, but it often helped.
Homemade cappuccino’s give me the creaminess that I wanted from the ice cream. Not the same, but still good.
That said, I kinda…binged and splurged for a while. First there was my birthday. And you can’t have a birthday without cake, especially when it’s strawberry shortcake, guys. My mom’s strawberry shortcake is ACTUALLY the best thing ever.
The best summer dessert ever.
Then we went to Houston, and I if associate Houston with anything, it’s food (and a great natural science museum, but mostly food). And, well…I don’t really get key lime pie that fantastic very often. Also I was visiting family who bought me another birthday cake…and it would have been RUDE to refuse that. And then the crème brûlée, and…well…you get the drift.
Irresistible. Seriously. This stuff is magical.
Suffice to say, despite the tastiness of those treats they did NOT make my body happy. I got headaches, and once (after eating WAY more sugar/gluten than I should have) I felt nauseous and sick all day long. Not so happy. I went right back to no gluten the second I got home. And all was well again.
I think the best part of this process has been watching my diet change. I realized that I’d been relying on bread/wheat to fill my diet. It was dominating my meals. Now, my diet is much more varied, and I eat a ton of fruit, veggies, and lean meats. I’m discovering all sorts of new foods and recipes I love and I feel so much better when I eat — especially since I’m better about stopping myself when I’m full. Here are just a few new foods:
Tostadas! So yummy and filling! I love how colorful they are!
If you are gluten free then Thailand (and Asia in general) is your friend.
Summer fruits have been my friend. Fresh grapes, nectarines, and blackberries are my favorites!
Basically, this has worked for me. Occasionally I still get cravings for things I shouldn’t have, and occasionally I splurge (in very small quantities). I now allow myself a small square of very dark chocolate per day, if I want something sweet, and I occasionally taste friends’ cake/ice cream. Mostly, however, I stick to the plan and I’m happier and healthier for it. That said, I don’t recommend that every do this. If you feel like you can’t control yourself with the gluten or are tired/headachy a lot of the time, I’d suggest trying to cut back for a while. But otherwise, eat the gluten! Eat the sugar! And enjoy it! But maybe don’t judge if there are fewer gluten/sugar-food based reviews on this blog in the future, because I’m no longer a good judge.
Happy weekending everyone! May whatever you eat be tasty and nutritious!