Being very transparent here, I never used to pay much attention to sugar. I would solely focus on total carbohydrates, total fat, and of course, the number of calories while making my decision of whether to eat or not. Sweets were usually in moderation, or I would look for alternatives; things like frozen yogurt, pre-packaged low calorie snacks or name brand healthy alternatives – all processed. I tried every diet out there: after each of my 3 children, after suffering a knee injury ending my running days, and more recently with menopause. While always successful with weight loss, I never felt completely healthy.
Low energy, headaches, and restless sleep were at the center of this. With my family history of diabetes and thyroid issues, I made sure to have a complete physical every year ensuring no health issues to be concerned about. So, I decided to explore, and investigate my food choices and lifestyle through education, coupled with a bit of trial and error.
I started my exploratory journey with intermittent fasting by creating an eating window followed by a fasting period. While intermittent fasting works for many, I found myself struggling focusing on time versus how my body feels. With some experimentation, I discovered more consistent, restful sleep by following my circadian rhythm of fasting from around 7:00 pm and having my first meal after 8:00 am, most days. Despite my better sleep, I was still experiencing periods of low energy, mood swings, and headaches.
My next experiment was with food elimination. With a group of friends, I embarked on the Whole 30 food elimination program. The first two weeks of the program was tough, but certainly not unbearable. I found using the Whole 30 recipe books and creating flavors with whole, natural foods both empowering and satisfying. Best of all, however, I gained more energy, experienced less inflammation (that knee injury!), and had no more headaches.
This is what I learned during those 30 days and since:
Eliminating processed sugar is a game changer for me.
Reading labels is a must and has become a habit.
I was surprised that I didn’t miss dairy as much as I thought I would.
I truly missed oatmeal and have added back to my diet with no issues.
I love almond butter.
Understanding how my body works and knowing how impactful sugar is to my health and wellbeing has taught me to be mindful of my food decisions, especially in regard to sugar. So, when I indulge in a glass of wine, dessert or processed food, I stop and ask, is it really worth it?