Several weeks ago, I had a food reaction that lasted three days. For three days, I felt like I'd been hit with a brick. Or like someone had drugged me with Benedryl.
It was awful. I couldn't think. I could barely drag myself through each day. I couldn't put sentences together.
The night before my reaction started, I'd had my gluten-free pancakes for supper. Later that evening, MM and I had had a beer together. I'd had a Leinie's Classic Amber.
I haven't had either since. I'm too scared to! (The reaction I had was that bad.)
I decided to try giving up (most) carbohydrates to see if perhaps that was part of the problem. I figured that it may have been a gluten reaction to the beer, but I didn't have the aches and the skin reactions that I often get when I've been glutened. Since I have thought for a while that I need to give up (most) carbohydrates if only because of a family history of diabetes, I thought this was a good excuse to give it a try.
I did not go on a "diet." I did not count "carbs." I did not read any books. I didn't purge every carbohydrate from my life. I did not give up the occasional beer (although I have stuck to dark ales, ones that have had the ingredients roasted before brewing, just in case. No more pilsners or regular lagers for me.)
I stopped eating desserts, for the most part. But not completely.
It's been easier than I would have thought. The first three days were hard. I had extra snacky things on hand, cheese and nuts, to help. The way to do this is by snowballing the time period you're sugarless. First, "I'm going to go half a day." Then, "I did it for half a day, bet I can go a full day." Then, "I've got one full day under my belt, why mess up a good streak? Bet I can do two days." By the time you get past the third day, you're feeling so much better, it's easier to just keep on going.
I eat a big salad most days, one that is very protien heavy, with eggs or cottage cheese on it. I don't worry about supper; if it has rice, I eat rice, but try to just take a little less than I normally would.
I don't count calories. I don't count fat. At all. A few times I've checked a day's food with a food logging program online, and I have eaten levels of fats that would make government minders chase me down and send me to food reeducation camps.
I've made a concious effort to seek out enjoyable foods that aren't deserts. Cheese is my new "treat myself" food, for example.
After a week "off sugar," you'll find you're craving it a bit less. After two weeks off, you'll have something you used to eat all the time and you'll be surprised to discover that you can't taste it - all you can taste is the sugar. You'll eat it, you'll feel like (sorry) crap, and you'll decide that it's really not worth feeling like garbage for half a day afterwards.
Sometimes you'll decide that the dessert *is* worth it: a finely made cheesecake at a fancy bakery, an exquisite cupcake at a friend's baby shower, ice cream on Mother's Day. And you'll enjoy it all the more because you don't have such things frequently anymore.
Like some have described rediscovering flavors of food when quitting smoking, you'll discover just how naturally sweet all sorts of foods are. Whole milk, for example. There's a world of flavor out there, waiting to be discovered underneath the usual blanket of way-too-much-sugar we usually give things.
In the next few days, my raspberries will be coming into season. When I go grocery shopping tonight, I will be buying heavy cream for them. I'll be buying un-sweetened yogurt for them. I may even splurge and buy marscapone cheese for them. I will probably make one gluten-free tart or cobbler with them, but I'll halve the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. I'm looking forward to my raspberries. My mouth is watering just thinking of it.
Since I gave up (most) carbohydrate, I have, for the first time in my adult life, begun to lose weight and continued to do so past the first week of a dietary change. This despite my approach to fats as noted above. This despite my occasional beer or occasional rice consumption or occasional, carefully chose "dessert event."
It's not about fat. It's not even about calorie consumption. It's not about exercise (although that's definitely good for you anyway!) It's about the carbohydrates. What our grandmothers knew is true: Sugar and starches make you fat, not good, wholesome food.