It's not to say that I eat dessert every single day, but let's be honest—that's usually the case. Sugar's my biggest vice, but when I agreed to go a full week without it, I still didn't realize just how difficult it would be. While I wasn't overly strict (ie I still drank alcohol and had dressing on my salad, etc), I abstained from actual dessert for seven days. Read below to see how I fared!
Full disclosure: I was supposed to start my "no sugar week" on Sunday, but since it fell on the same day of the Golden Globes, I decided to push it a day. I made sure to really appreciate the last bites of salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread and caramel corn.
Monday morning was a blur. We woke up to rain, which always proves to be a shock to our systems in L.A. While I was making my coffee, I caught sight of cookies, piled perfectly in a tupperware on the kitchen counter, just out of reach. I thought four of them would make for a lovely breakfast (I promise they're rather petite) paired with my coffee and milk, but instead squeezed orange juice and simultaneously prepared Sloan's breakfast and lunch. I drank half of my coffee before it got cold while searching through her closet for a pair of rain boots (which, I quickly discovered she grew out of approximately six months ago). I took her to school, swung back home to grab some things for the office and completely neglected to have breakfast. I wasn't necessarily craving the cookies once I sat down at my desk, but that craving came back, ten-fold right after I finished lunch (leftover chicken tamales). I told myself that I would be happy not to have the mid-afternoon crash I'm plagued by most days, but it still didn't stop me from fantasizing about just a small sleeve of Pocky. After twenty minutes, I thought my cravings would subside, but I found myself even more ravenous and fiending for sugar. I distracted myself with multiple cups of mint tea and bitterly made it through the afternoon. By the time I got home in the evening, the cravings had subsided (at least momentarily) and since we had a few leftover vegetables from our party the night before, I pulled those out and ate them with hummus. G and I made chicken tortilla soup for dinner, which I ended up eating way more of than usual since most nights I leave plenty of room for dessert. I felt empowered knowing that I'd made it the entire day, though clearly sugar was very much on my mind when I mistook one of Sloan's books (wedged within our couch's seat cushions) for a Tobblerone bar.
Sugar craving: Very high
Energy level: Decent, though I felt almost shaky from sugar withdrawal.
I woke up and jumped into the shower to wash my hair and then blew it out and added some waves. It was nice being distracted because my cravings for sugar (namely something sweet to enjoy alongside my coffee) are particularly strong first thing. The rest of the morning was a bit rushed and G was kind enough to make me my go-to breakfast to take to the office: a toasted English muffin with peanut butter and honey. Though of course I'd failed to realize that my breakfast had been modified to not include my usual drizzle of honey until I unwrapped the tin foil. I was so hungry that I didn't miss it that much and the combination of carbs and protein/fat were satisfying enough so I didn't feel particularly deprived. The rest of the morning was spent in meetings and since there wasn't time to grab lunch (a meal I never skip), I got desperate and nearly polished off an entire box of Cheez-Its. While it wasn't a moment I was proud of, at least I didn't opt for the gummy candies I'd passed on the way to the kitchen. When I eventually got home, I balanced out the crackers with a couple of clementines before having tamales for dinner. My sugar craving wasn't quite as intense as the night before, but it made me realize just how accustomed I am to following a meal with dessert.
Sugar craving: Wavering, though still quite high
Energy level: Good
We had an e-commerce shoot in the morning, so I quickly scarfed down my English muffin with peanut butter before running out the door. We shot at the new Century City mall, which is both gorgeous and ripe with plenty of sugary opportunities: chocolate shops, donuts, daily made gelato, the works. And while each and every option sounded appealing, I found myself feeling slightly empowered by the fact that none of it was an option. Instead of trying to narrow down which one I was going to have, it was almost nice just having it all be off-limits so I wasn't even tempted. We wrapped by 1 p.m. and since we were steps from Eataly (one of my favorite spots in the city), we popped in for a quick lunch. We each got salads and mine felt very filling, with farro, roasted butternut squash, toasted pistachios and pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, arugula, and goat cheese. While I was eating it, I was both impressed by how flavorful it was and how simple it would be to make at home. I also picked up some fresh cod and bok choy to make for dinner later that night. By around 4pm, I was famished and feeling rather faint. The only snack I had with me was a Kind bar (the dark chocolate with sea salt) and though not high in sugar with 5 grams, I felt like it was cheating to eat it. Instead I drank a large bottle of old water that had been sitting in my car and called G while the hanger kicked in. I asked him if it was okay if we held off on the groceries I'd bought for dinner in lieu of take-out pizza and pasta from Jon & Vinny's. G happily agreed and we ate as soon as I got home. We opened up some red wine as well, which probably has all kinds of sugar (note to self: look into that), but since it wasn't overt, we made an exception. Since our meal was so satisfying, I didn't even find myself thinking about anything sweet.
Sugar craving: Pretty good!
Energy level: Not great. But only because I should have eaten more for lunch.
I woke up with a horrendous headache due to a longstanding neck issue, so I wasn't feeling my best. It was a slow moving morning and I forced down an English muffin with peanut butter only so I could take some Aleve. I brought my leftover farro salad to work once I went in (had I finished it the day before, I probably wouldn't have crashed the way I did) and drank an obscene amount of peppermint tea to try to mask my cravings for the cookies someone brought into the office. I went home to finish up a few shoots and found myself feeling irritable. I can't blame the lack of sugar entirely, but I know that had something to do with it. Once G got home, he took out the fish to start preparing it and once again, I stopped him. For some reason, when I found myself feeling so deprived from the typical amount of sweets I usually consume, the idea of also eating so healthily is apparently too much for me. Since we also had a friend coming for dinner (that we'd neglected to properly plan for), it also would have meant a very small piece of cod between all of us. So... we ordered in, again. This time we got Pine & Crane, with some light-ish Chinese food: dan dan noodles, beef rolls, mapo tofu, jidori chicken, and pot stickers. We also opened up some Champagne since we hadn't seen our friend since the new year and it felt like the only right thing to do. She brought us some cookies from her recent trip to Paris that I wanted to rip open on the spot... but I refrained, albeit angrily. Again since the meal was on the heavier side, I ate a bit more than I typically do only because I knew there wouldn't be dessert at the end.
Sugar craving: Decent.
Energy level: Low, but mainly due to neck pain.
Sloan had the last English muffin so I'd opted to just skip breakfast(that's true love, right there). But by 9:30 a.m. I was famished and since we were filming a video shoot, I decided to get creative, despite our lack of groceries. I ended up pulling out the Chinese leftovers and ate them cold, standing at the kitchen counter. By lunchtime, I realized we still had very little food in the house and opted for an unglamorous cheese plate, scavenging old pieces of cheese from a party the week before and stale-ish crackers. G and I have a standing date night on Fridays, though, so I knew I'd be eating a good meal for dinner (and one on the earlier side since we were catching a 7:15 p.m. movie). We went to Yamashiro, a restaurant perched on top of a hill that overlooks downtown L.A. It was gorgeous and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. It was the first time I'd gone out during the week and didn't realize how difficult it would be to pass up on the dessert menu. It's usually the first thing I look at when I sit down in a restaurant, so it was certainly a bit odd. Once we got to the movies, that's when I felt a bit deprived. I always get something at the movies—whether it's Dibs (a recent discovery and obsession), Junior Mints, or Hot Tamales. But something surprised me. I found that I wasn't even craving something sweet, I was simply accustomed to it. I ended up purchasing a pack of Red Vines, but splitting it with G, which felt like a small win.
Sugar craving: Low (until the evening)
Energy level: Good!
The funny thing is: after I put away an entire Red Vines package on Friday night (something that in the past wouldn't have even fazed me), I felt off most of the next day. My stomach hurt and I felt sluggish, even though my heart was racing. I had my usual breakfast and just grazed throughout the rest of the day, scavenging whatever snacks Sloan didn't finish. We hit up two kids' birthday parties, which were both exhausting and made a little more painful due to the lack of sugar. It's such a crutch for me—whether I'm having a good or bad day, something sweet always lifts my spirits. Luckily for me, they had plenty of appealing savory options - at the late afternoon one, I indulged in homemade chicken tenders and ranch (duh) plus macaroni and cheese so that I wouldn't be too tempted by incredible-looking chocolate cake. When we got home, I wasn't starving, so I snacked a bit without committing to a full meal. I also baked up some sugar cookies to decorate with Sloan and my friends for the following day, but managed to not even sample the dough, which was quite a feat. Little steps.
Sugar craving: Pretty good.
Energy level: Exhausted (mainly due to running after an almost-three-year-old)
G picked up bagels, which we enjoyed over coffee while Sloan watched cartoons. My friends arrived shortly thereafter to decorate the sugar cookies I'd made the night before . Once we got started, my resistance dropped almost immediately and I absentmindedly started eating any cookies that weren't decorated to my liking. I skipped lunch since I'd filled up on cookies and ended up going to an early dinner with friends. We split cauliflower and kale nachos, a pork quesadilla, margaritas... and finished with buñuelos, little Mexican fritters. Needless to say, it was an indulgent day and if I hadn't had such a good time, I would have felt more guilty for consuming so much sugar.
Sugar craving: Very high.
Energy level: Not impressive.
Overall Takeaway: It became abundantly clear on day one that I have a pretty severe dependence on sugar. I've always known that, but as soon as it became something that was off limits, I found myself thinking about it constantly. I wasn't particularly impressed by my self restraint since I cheated on two of the seven days, but it was a learning experience, for sure. I felt so much better when I wasn't eating sugar—not as bloated with much more sustained energy—but apparently neither of those issues outweigh how much I love dessert. I think if I'm ever going to retrain my palette to not crave sweets as much, the only way to do it is to actually abstain from sugar for a significant amount of time.