While the great source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, claims that 40% of U.S. adults set New Year’s resolutions every year, I can’t think of a single person that has fessed up to making a goal for the new year. At best the concept seems a bit antiquated; at worst it seems contrived and doomed to fail.
Despite the reported 88% fail rate of NY resolutions, I can’t let go of a certain fondness for the practice. I enjoy the swell of hope that accompanies a fresh new year, even when nothing has really changed. I like the power that our culture has given to one random day of the year.
Granted, I can’t ignore the negative effects of fat-shaming diet commercials we are bombarded with through February. While they may sell Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig subscriptions, I can hardly imagine they help dieters achieve their goals, not to mention aid the mental health of the nation at large. The backlash against these advertisements often includes a certain disdain for diet-centered New Year’s goals in general.
That’s why it’s with some trepidation that I am announcing that I am cutting out all added sugars for the first three months of 2013. To be fair, this is something that I’ve been planning for a while, but the holiday season did not seem like a good time to implement this new way of eating. However, I do like the added challenge of reclaiming the diet-based NY resolution and turning it into something really positive.
Why sugar? Well, partially it is because I believe that added sugar has a lot to do with our nation’s health woes. Sugar: The Bitter Truth is an interesting video that describes this further. But that’s not the whole story. I do believe that even the most refined sugars can have a place in a healthy diet, if used moderately. The thing is, no amount of studying, dieting, or raw agave syrup has resulted in my moderate use of sugar. I’ve been reading a lot about the link between a sweet tooth and familial alcoholism and it has made me realize: if I like my cupcakes the same way that some relatives liked their Jack Daniels, this is not a problem that will go away on its own.
So, that is why I have given myself a three-month sugar detox. I know that the time frame will make the goal much more achievable. Three months is long enough for my body to adjust to the new diet and for me to find out if living sugar-free makes me happy and energized or just a cranky health nut desperately craving cookies. If the latter turns out to be true, so be it.
I’m kicking off on January 2nd with a good old-fashioned 2 week detox- that is no alcohol, animal products, flours, starches, caffeine, or (obviously) sugar. After that, I will adhere to the following rules:
1. Blacklisted items include all forms of added sugar, include cane sugar, honey, agave, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, and any other “low GI” hippie alternative sweetener. There’s just not enough evidence that this stuff acts any different in the body than the normal white stuff. Also blacklisted are sucralose, aspartame, or any other conventional “diet” sweetener.
2. Permissible sweeteners include stevia, xylitol, and erythritol. These are all natural sweeteners that are safe for diabetics and have no effects on blood sugar. Pureed fruits are acceptable.
3. Whole fruit will be eaten without restrictions. There are many people who limit their whole fruit intake while going sugar free, but that doesn’t sit well with me.
4. Fruit juices will be severely limited. I don’t plan to drink any, but if they are included in a recipe as a flavor, I’m OK with that.
5. No alcohol except red wine. I’m not a saint.
There you go! In case you were wondering, I’m not planning to count calories or actively “diet.” You better bet that I am going to be after some homemade oven fries and fish tacos if I have to give up the sweet stuff. I’m going to be updating once a week to share how things are going. If any one wants to join me, that would be awesome! We’ll commiserate in the comments section.
Have a safe, fun, inebriated New Year’s Eve!