All the health and wellness experts are raving about the terrible effects of sugar. You’ve heard it, I’m sure. And maybe you even believe them. But no one seems to talk about how hard it is to drop it from our diet or offer a reasonable solution of how to move forward. That’s why I wanted to share with you insights from my journey of going sugar-free.

My Sugar Addiction

I used to think I could never give up sugar. I loved Hershey’s chocolate. I enjoyed it in my coffee. I would eat half a batch of brownies (and sometimes more) at a time. Heck, I was the kid who asked for straight icing for my birthdays growing up!

And it wasn’t only the obvious sugary things I loved. I also enjoyed the things that had lots of sugar hidden in them. I loved fries and JIF peanut butter and even so-called “healthy” granola bars! I spent one summer drinking nothing but grape Kool-Aid. I even made ice cubes of the stuff so it wasn’t watered down as my ice melted. Now that’s dedication! (and possibly a recipe for diabetes!)

As I got older, I knew sugar was bad for me, but it tasted so good that I couldn’t imagine a life without it. I could make it a meal or two, or even a week. But every time I would come crawling back and gorge myself on all the sugary stuffs.

That all changed with a very simple book. That book gave me the information and the courage to start my sugar-free journey. I want to share with you the book I read and the practical steps I took to start this lifestyle. I also want to share with you my motivation to stick with it as I have now been doing this lifestyle for over 2 years. And I love my food now more than ever before! 

But first, let me explain where I was at mentally before I found the book I will share with you in just a minute.

My Professional Observations of Sugar

I was working full time as an Occupational Therapist at a hospital. My patients were sick, injured or recovering from surgeries.
 
My job was to help get them ready to get back to their daily life requirements. This service often focused on the basic self-care needs: bathing, dressing and such. My job was broader and more complex than that, but that was the bulk of it.
 
In this position, I saw a significant number of patients who had chronic illnesses. Many were “revolving door” patients that would come back time and time again. The healthcare industry was helping to “manage” their disease. But they didn’t have any answers on how to slow down or even reverse the disease process.
 
I watched as more complications to chronic diseases added up. I watched my patients come in needing amputations. I had patients struggling with terrible pain from neuropathy.
 
I began to notice that all my patients with chronic illnesses had some similarities. They were all showing signs of inflammation in some way or another. And I knew sugar was a huge source of increased inflammation in the body.
 
As I continued to piece these things together I knew I wanted to change my own lifestyle habits. I wanted to prevent these illnesses for myself and my family.
 
But I still didn’t have answers on how to avoid the chronic illnesses I was observing every day. And it didn’t give me any motivation to sustain healthy life choices. I had to keep looking to find that on my own.

How I Found Food Freedom

In my personal life, my newborn son was about 6 months old. I had lost only 20 of the 60 pounds I packed on during my pregnancy with him. Thanks in large part to the ice cream filled with JIF peanut butter and Hershey’s chocolate sauce. Oh, and fries galore!

My body was so different than I ever could have imagined before getting pregnant. I had stretch marks on my stretch marks and saggy skin everywhere. I was still filling out my pregnancy clothes with the fat that I had packed on. I was so… done!

I had read several books and tried several diets before getting pregnant. I even talked myself into being a vegetarian for a short time. But none of those worked. None of them really jived with what I understood about science and they all left me feeling sad… and hungry!

I was often frustrated and jealous of other people eating whatever they wanted. It seemed like everyone else could eat without any negative consequences. That is until I found Trim Healthy Mama.

 

THM made sugar-free doable for me

The sisters who created it claim that it’s all about food freedom. That is exactly what I discovered with this plan. I no longer feel jealous of other people eating what I “can’t”. Instead I actually feel sorry for people who haven’t found the freedom this plan has to offer!

Unlike all the other plans I tried, THM isn’t about taking major food groups out. Instead it’s about enjoying every food group in a way that keeps your blood sugar level. It happens to also trim your waistline at the same time. It’s a low glycemic way of eating that tastes SO GOOD!

It was the first true lifestyle approach to eating I had ever encountered. You can adapt THM to your lifestyle regardless of your age or stage of life, regardless of your health goals. It’s the first lifestyle approach that I found you can do safely even if you are pregnant and nursing!

It can easily be integrated into your lifestyle even if you have lots of people in your family that won’t eat “diet food”… because lots of it doesn’t taste like diet food at all! In fact, if you are hungry at the end of a meal, you’re doing it wrong!

My Journey to Sugar-Free

It’s important to note that it took time for me to incorporate this lifestyle into my own life. There have been seasons when I have been in a survival mode. I didn’t read the book and dive into eating exactly right every meal. I couldn’t do that because it’s too overwhelming!

Instead, I started with trying to put in place the THM process at breakfast. Later I began applying them to snacks and lunches, and finally applying them to dinners. This way the communal family meal was the last to tackle and I had a bit of practice before changing family meals.

Now, I rarely go entirely off plan. I don’t want to and I often don’t need. It’s become so much a way of life for me that I treat sugar like an allergy to me. It affects my body in a negative way, so I avoid it.

I have come to accept that sugar may taste good for a moment but it’s so destructive to my body. My body and my brain feels SO MUCH BETTER without it!

ONGOING MOTIVATION

After more than 2 years of being on THM, what motivates me to keep going?

3 Hour Rule

The downfall of many diets is the first time you fall off the wagon you assume that it can’t work for you. One bad choice leads to a cascade of bad choices. One mindless snack becomes a week of bad eating.

THM emphasizes that you need to fuel your body every 3 hours to keep your metabolism going. So the opportunity to get back on plan is in 3 hours – not tomorrow or next week.

This “cycle of grace” as I call it, reminds me that messing up isn’t ruining my eating patterns forever. The mistake lasts for a brief moment. I don’t have to dwell on my failure. I don’t have to beat myself up for my mistake. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to make another healthy choice soon.

Online Support

The THM FB group is one of my all time favorites. These ladies are real and struggle with the same stuff I do. They are busy, trying to manage families and other obligations. They want to be healthy with limited time and other resources. But they make it work, and they encourage me to make it work all the time.

I love the true sense of community that is there. It’s a great place to ask questions, find encouragement, or commiserate along the way. There’s real impact when you realize other people out there like you are successful. And it’s exciting to celebrate together the changes you notice along your journey.

Non-Scale Victories

Most diets focus on the number on the scale, so when there’s a stall you assume it quit working. There is no other way to measure continued success. THM has a culture of celebrating more than just the weight loss but the life regained. They refer to this as “non-scale victories” or NSV’s for short. Some of my NSV’s have absolutely been life-changing!

  • Goodbye pain: No more plantar fasciitis, significantly reduced back pain (even with scoliosis!), no more creaky knees and headaches
  • Renewed energy: energy to chase the toddler despite having a newborn interrupt my sleep patterns daily, energy to cook dinner more often, energy to drive more natural movement in my life instead of relying on feelings of guilt to work out
  • Finally feeling satisfied at the end of a meal!
  • Sinus infections are gone – I used to get 3-4 a year and it’s been about 2 years since the last one!
  • More definition in unexpected places… hello slender wrist, skinny collar bone, etc. It’s been years since I saw you all under that cozy layer of body fat I didn’t notice I had accumulated over the years
  • And perhaps the strangest: less earwax! I used to overproduce earwax and occasionally needed a professional cleaning to be able to hear… apparently, sugar’s inflammatory response can do that? I now only have flare ups of this when I am eating out or at a friends house and have sugar creep into my diet for a few days. But once I am back home and making my own food, this weird little quirk is back in check.

I’ve had lots more NSV’s than this, but these examples give an idea of all the other side benefits of going sugar-free.

My scale still isn’t where I want it to be. About 2 weeks after I finally got to my pre-pregnancy weight after my son, I found out I was pregnant again. But armed with a sugar-free lifestyle, I was able to make much better health decisions and only gained 20 pounds. I lost all that within 2 weeks after having my baby girl!

My nursing hormones have kept the scale stalled from losing any more weight for now. But in the meantime, I am still loving my food, watching for NSVs and avoiding the scale to save my sanity.

I will say that the longer I have been sugar-free, the easier this lifestyle has been to maintain. My body has come to crave higher quality fuel without all the processed junk it used to eat for so long. It took me a long time to really get on board with this plan, but now I am loving my food freedom!

 

What do you think about a life without sugar? Want to give it a shot? Leave me a note in the comments letting me know how this post has impacted you.

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