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What I've Been Forced to Give Up For Health

I really, really like my sweets.

Two weeks ago, I found myself eating a Snicker’s bar for lunch because I was running errands and it was handy at the store. My parents came to visit and brought my favorite chocolate cake. So what if I had two large pieces in one day? Isn’t that what you are supposed to do?

As I found myself having a Snicker’s bar for lunch for the third time in one week, I realized I had to do something. I had to get a handle on my sugar habits not only for me, but also for my kids. I was supposed to set the example. My boys get only a very small amount of sugary treats, but they still crave them — and not always because they actually know what they taste like. They see ads on TV, watch their friends eating the stuff and, worst of all, watch me sneak bites and deny them because it is a “mommy treat.”

So I’m biting the bullet. I’m quitting sugar. But I'm not going alone, I'm following the I Quit Sugar program.

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The principles behind I Quit Sugar

If you aren’t familiar with the I Quit Sugar program, there are a few things you need to know. Sarah Wilson, the brain behind the I Quit Sugar movement, cut sugar out of her life more than three years ago for medical reasons. She knew something had caused her autoimmune diseases, and she had tried a lot of other things to help heal her. Finally, knowing that the culprit was probably sugar, but not really willing to let it go, she quit sugar. She found ways to satisfy her sweet tooth will still getting the necessary nutrients she needed.

I Quit Sugar isn’t really a diet; it is recalibrating your system to what Wilson refers to as our body’s natural state. We weren’t meant to eat as much sugar as we do every day. Even 100 years ago we didn’t eat nearly as much sugar as we do now, let alone in cave man days. There are some Paleo elements to the program, mainly because Wilson has gluten intolerance, but also because so many gluten products have sugar in them. Just check the labels on your bread and pasta boxes. There is sugar in there.

Now, is all sugar bad? No. But in the program, you need to eliminate it all before you can add things like berries and fruit back into the mix. You need to break your addiction before you can slowly add back in the good stuff — in moderation.

Why I am doing it?

I recognize that I have a sugar addiction. I ticked every box on Wilson’s “Should You Be Quitting” checklist.

"Do you get an energy slip in the afternoon?" Yup!

"Do you need something sweet after meals?" Yup!

"Does your stomach get bloated after meals?" Yup!

"Are you unable to eat just one piece of cake and walk away?" Yup!

"Are you pudgy around the middle, perhaps even slim everywhere else?" Well, I did have two kids, so who knows, but my middle has always been an issue.

I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, but I also like a bowl of cereal in the morning — and maybe a little late night Honey Nut Cheerios action before bed.

"Do you often feel unclear? That you’re not always sharp and on-form?" Not sure.

I am not happy with my weight, even though I may look thin enough to some. After having two boys and eating whatever, whenever I could, I am still 15 to 20 pounds over my pre-baby weight, back when I was in great shape and eating well. Unfortunately, I hold all of my extra fat in my stomach. Three times this year (yes, three) someone has asked me when my baby is due. My youngest is now almost 3. This is a problem if I still look pregnant. I’ve started exercising three to four times a week again to get my muscles toned and dance out the extra fat (thank you Zumba!). I’m curious to see how much cutting sugar out of my diet will help me kick those last few baby pounds though.

What has me worried?

Naturally I am concerned that I will fail. I’m also concerned that I may never like to eat cake again after I reset my appetite. More than all of that though, I’m wondering how I will maintain a healthy balance in my diet when so many of the recipes and snacks that are supposed to help curb your sweet tooth are meat, eggs and cheese. This program is packed with protein to help your body remember that it is full and doesn’t need those sugary snacks. The only problem with this is that I have high cholesterol.

I am your typical genetics case. My dad has high cholesterol, and I do too. I can control my cholesterol, specifically my triglyceride levels, with diet and exercise. But I have to be careful of how much meat, eggs and cheese (my go-to savory cravings) I consume. Why don’t I just switch to soy? Well, I’ve tried that but I broke out into hives immediately and that allergy has only gotten worse.

It has been a tricky thing to watch my cholesterol levels in between each of my boys. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry too much while pregnant since all those lovely hormones could handle a little extra animal protein.

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Facing the challenge and possible defeat

I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, but I also like a bowl of cereal in the morning — and maybe a little late night Honey Nut Cheerios action before bed. This will not be an easy eight weeks. I need to continue to work, raise my boys and thrive despite my loss of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day. But I need to do this. I need to see if I can kick my sugar habit. My kids need me to be healthy, active and here for the next 80 years (OK, maybe only 70. I can die at 105 I suppose). We’ll see how this all ends up. I could be 10 pounds lighter, have glowing skin and rock hard abs. Or I could still really like the occasional slice of chocolate cake for breakfast.

I'm ready to find out.

Image via Twenty20/melly_han

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