One of the things I’ve been doing to support my body in its recovery from my head injury is to eliminate all sugars from my diet. (You can read about other ways I’ve helped my concussion recovery HERE).
When I say cut all sugars, what probably comes to mind is setting aside cakes and cookies and other sorts of treats. Yes, I have set those aside. I’ve also gone much deeper.
We eat a clean diet in our house. We eat very, very little refined sugar. When we eat treats, they tend to be homemade and generally fruit-sweetened (a simple click on the “dessert” tag on this site on this site will reveal some of my healthy treat recipes, such as this, this, and this).
When my naturopath suggested going entirely sugar free in order to help my body to heal, I thought that because of how we generally eat, it would be easy. I’ve realized that it’s not as simple as it might seem.
I should start by explaining that when my doctor recommended going entirely sugar free, she didn’t mean refined sugars. She knows we rarely consume that. She also knows that our diet is entirely grain free (otherwise, that would have been part of her recommendation too). She meant cutting out every last bit of sugar, including my sweeteners of choice: honey and maple syrup, as well as the natural sugars that occur in fruits. It was a tall order.
As I undertook the process of sugar elimination, what surprised me were all of the little places that sugars crop up within my diet that I don’t really think about: the spoonful of honey I add to our Thai Curry in order to balance the flavors, the apples we add to our green juice to make it less bitter, the small amount of sugar added by the butcher to the locally-made [definitely savory tasting] bratwurst we enjoy, the dried cranberries I often sprinkle over our cooked greens, and so on. And that’s not including the sugars that come in anything we may buy pre-prepared (e.g., spaghetti sauce).
With only a couple of exceptions over the last 2.5 months (who wants to forego a small treat when a dear friend brings you over a plate of homemade dark chocolate covered strawberries?), I have eliminated the treats. And I’ve done my best with the other things: foregoing adding any sweetener or fruit to anything I prepare myself, which is the bulk of our food.
After doing this for a period of time, friends have started asking if I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel as a result of this elimination. While I haven’t noticed a huge difference in how my body feels, though my body is continuing to recover and I’m sure eliminating the stress of sugars helps with that process, this exercise has made me cognizant of all of the small ways that sugars creep into our diets.
We all know that sugar isn’t healthy for us, so taking a periodic sugar fast can help us to realize and pinpoint where exactly we want to keep those sugars we consume, and which we can eliminate without much notice.
I don’t plan to stay sugar free forever (I’m already dreaming of a cake a friend recently suggested we try as soon as I feel fully recovered). But this exercise has shown me that I can cut all sugars when I need to, it’s pointed out to me that almost anything that comes premade (even handmade sausages from our local butcher!) has sugar in it, and it’s made me aware of places that I added some sort of sweetener by habit that we could easily do without. And I’m assuming my body is better off for its sugar fast.
In all, I think it’s been a worthwhile adventure, and something I would recommend to anyone who is trying to improve their health. Even abstaining from all sugars for a week will help you to realize the insidious ways that sugar makes its way into our diets.
Have you ever gone completely sugar free? Why did you do it? Did it impact how you feel? Did you learn anything from the process?