About a few months ago, I went on a diet excluding both carbs and sugar. It wasn’t a voluntary decision, but rather a challenge brought about by someone very close to me. The idea of enduring a month without sugar was disgusting to me, but I am too proud a person to back out of a bet confronting my eating issues, so I reluctantly went with it.
I couldn’t stomach the idea of not eating sugar. Everything I was consuming up to that point had some kind of sugar in it, or was some type of carb. The bagel I had for breakfast, the seemingly innocent salad bowl overloaded with caesar dressing and croutons, and most hurtful of all, the protein bar that was my savior meal replacement and placeholder dessert. It felt physically painful to part with my regular snacks and meals, and soon, I was lashing out at anyone that had anything food-related to say.
The first weeks were taxing and tested my self-control like never before. Breakfasts were okay, since I’m a big fan of eggs and sausage, and I felt content enough to not complain, at least for a little while. Lunches and dinners were trickier. The more I repeat a certain meal, the more averse I grow towards it. At the time I really liked eating everything with guacamole and avocados on top, but after eating guac for breakfast a few days in a row, I started feeling ill anytime I thought about avocado. I soon removed it from my palette, and still can only handle small doses of guacamole at a time.
This issue of food aversion would occur mostly with the meals I was used to eating before, and actually liked. I really enjoyed greek salad as a side dish to chicken or salmon at the time, and ate it with almost every meal for a week. Soon I couldn’t look at feta cheese without gagging. The only way I really learned to work through the negative effects was to try and rotate meals so I would never eat the same thing too much. This proved it’s own problem as I ran out of meal ideas fairly quickly, and had to consult a lot of keto websites and keto-people for ideas.
The cravings took a good two weeks to subside. The most frightening aspect was having my thoughts ruled over by thoughts of creamy nutella. It was slightly embarrassing to admit to myself I had a problem with sugary and toxic foods when my mouth would start salivating at the mere thought of donuts. The severity of my addiction and dependence on sugar and terrible food revealed itself through anger and frustration. I lashed out at people for simply being able to eat without these “rules.”
Towards the end of the month, I began taking in the noteable changes I’d experienced. I now had more free time, in my thoughts and schedule-wise. Since I wasn’t constantly thinking about my next meal (read: emotional binge session), I spent more time reading, taking walks, and creating art. The changes were subtle but significant: I was no longer bound to this all-encompassing voice that screamed for food. It sounds silly even writing it, but being free from those intense cravings was a novel sensation to experience. I truly felt “normal” and under control.
Now before I say anything else, I’d like to just clarify a few things: I did not feel like I had an endless supply of energy, I did not have an easier time going to sleep and I did not become an entirely different person after undertaking this diet. I feel as though all the stories I hear about diet-changes involve some embellished and over-dramatized version of the events in order to convince the audience about the epicness of the events. The change was truly epic, I did feel happier, I did feel more alert and less distracted by negativity, but most importantly, I felt like I had finally proven to myself that my life wouldn’t stop without the ingestion of sugar, no matter how badly I might want it.
The thing is, I’m not a superhero. I might be a world champion, but I claimed all those championships while either eating terribly or starving myself. Undertaking no sugar and no carbs for a month is an entirely feasible act. It’s extremely hard, at times inconceivably frustrating, but it is entirely possible for us, humans conditioned to buy ready-made food that comes from a mystery place, to subtract these agents from the equation. Perhaps the most important thing this diet taught me, is that the body is to be respected, and one cannot get away with respecting theirs by over-indulging in things that bring about its destruction.