I did it. I still can hardly believe it, but I did it. I’ve had a major sweet tooth for as long as I can remember, much to my detriment. It wasn’t a “normal” sweet tooth either, but the kind that made me blow through a whole pint of ice cream and still want MORE. You could argue that a little sugar here and there won’t hurt you, and you would probably be right. My problem was that it became an addiction, an endless cycle of cravings and binges and guilt. When I was younger and had a nice youthful metabolism, it wasn’t such a problem. However, after having a few babies and hitting my 30s, everything started to come crashing down emotionally, mentally and physically.
It wasn’t that I was eating sugary cereal for breakfast or candy bars for lunch. On the contrary, I had gotten into a “healthy” kick when I was in high school. Of course, when I went to college, much of that information went out the window, along with my trim(ish) figure. However, when I got married a couple years after college graduation, I found a new love for being in the kitchen. I discovered a passion for baking….bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, granola, you name it! Even then I tried to make sure I used more raw organic forms of sugar or honey or even maple syrup in my baked goods. However, year after year, the girlish figure of my youth and my health were slowly fading away.
As time went on, my weight went way up and then back down a little and after having baby number 4, I felt awful. I was sluggish yet anxious, emotionally drained and snappy with my family and my brain felt like it was always in a fog. At first I attributed these feelings to having a newborn again (along with our three other children), but as my baby continued to grow from my milk, my weight started increasing and I knew I had to do something. I realized any time I had food or drink that contained sugar, it just made me crave MORE. So almost a year ago, I decided to go cold turkey and quit the sugar for good. Here are five ways this has helped me to become a better mom:
- I no longer HAVE to HAVE a cup of coffee before I can be nice in the morning. I know this post is about sugar, but once I stopped the sugary creamer in my coffee (or tea now sometimes instead), it’s no longer the first thing I think about when I wake up. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my coffee but I can actually smile and have a conversation with my kids or husband BEFORE that steaming cup now, which ties into reason number 2:
- I have more energy! This might be the “side effect” I am most excited about. I used to feel so tired each afternoon that I just HAD to close my eyes for at least 20 minutes to be able to function through dinnertime and the bath/bedtime routine. Now I only need a nap if for some reason the baby was up a lot that night or I’m sick, which brings me to the next point.
- I get sick less often. The only thing worse than having sick kids (or husbands!) is being a sick mom. I used to feel like I had a terrible immune system, and I can’t tell you how many “potions” or supplements I would buy trying to see if I could somehow find the magic trick to staying healthy. (For full disclosure, I have had a few colds in the past year, but the symptoms were much less bothersome and shorter in duration than in years past.)
- Food tastes better! I’m serious. I didn’t understand how excited I could get about some veggies or meat but if prepared the right way, I can now really enjoy the main course of a meal rather than constantly wondering what I’ll have for dessert. This has taught me to slow down and savor the moment and stop always thinking of what’s to come.
- I’m a better role model for my kids. Our kids see what my husband and I eat daily (I’m so blessed to have him join me on this journey). We still allow the kids to have sugar but not in the frequency as before. My oldest daughters, ages 7 and 5, have learned on their own to look at the nutrition facts on a package and will often tell me how many grams of sugar a product has. They have started making better decisions about the snacks they eat as well. Not always, because after all they are still children, but I definitely see that they are more aware of the foods they are consuming.
One of the other major victories for me has been losing 55 pounds in the past 11 months. I did make a few other dietary changes (like avoiding processed carbohydrates and making sure I get adequate protein at each meal). Because of this new way of eating, I have found some easy ways to tweak your family meals so that you can feed all of them a bit healthier. Look for my next post of the series, “Five Ways to Get More Protein!”