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Giving up processed sugar

At the end of SIGCSE 2018 [1] a friend mentioned to me that they’d done their best to eliminate processed sugar from their lives. No cookies. No cake. No candy. No soda. It’s not perfect; they accept that they will sometimes have food, like spaghetti sauce, that adds a bit of processed sugar. But they do the best they can to avoid it, and have been doing so for the past five years.

While I love food that involves processed sugar, I know that processed sugar isn’t good for me [2]. Hence, I thought I’d see what it would be like to give up sugar. I’ve been mostly avoiding processed sugar ever since. I’m trying to figure out how much of a difference it’s making. I haven’t been losing weight at a greater rate than I was before. I don’t feel substantially different [3,4]. But it’s been kind of nice to be able to say to myself You don’t need that cookie; it will break your streak. I’ve also realized that I don’t really miss cookies, cake, and candies nearly as much as I thought I would. I also don’t miss some sugar-based products that don’t start with c’s. I thought I’d miss muffins [5]. I was wrong. Or at least I’ve been wrong so far.

That’s not to say that it’s been easy. I miss the opportunity to have alcoholic drinks based on ginger beer [6,7]. I also know that when I’m sick, syrupy colas and ginger ale often feel really good. But I think I can do without them. We were at a really nice Italian restaurant the other night, and it was really hard to say no to tiramisu or the sweetened coffee they offered. But I still managed to say no thank you.

Are there things that I expect that I expect I will miss more? Certainly. Ice cream. Good chocolate. And it will be a real challenge to say no to Laura’s trifle or to the Fannie May candy at Easter [9]. However, in the end, something inside me tells me that I’m better off without processed sugar [10], at least for now, and embrace the power and freedom that come with saying No, I don’t do sweets. Still, it seems strange to make it a permanent decision. I may revisit the issue in a few months.

At some point, I should probably can artificial sweeteners, too.

Postscript: Does real maple syrup count as processed sugar? At some point, I’ll have to decide. For now, the answer is that I’m not eating pancakes or waffles or french toast.

[1] 25 February 2018, if I remember correctly.

[2] Corn syrup is even worse.

[3] Well, I do feel more tired. But I don’t think the two are related.

[4] I didn’t feel that much different the first three weeks. By week four, I began to realize that I felt a bit less hungry each day. I don’t know if the that’s related to the sugar, but it may be.

[5] Also danishes and donuts.

[6] I like ginger beer and tequila, which I think some people call a Jalisco Mule.

[7] I don’t think I’ll be completely sugar free in my drinks. It’s hard to resist an Old Fashioned or a Margarita, for example. But I haven’t had those, either. Just beer and bourbon [8].

[8] Separately.

[9] While I am Jewish, at least culturally, my family is not. They celebrate Easter, and I join them in the celebrations.

[10] And without corn syrup.

Version 1.0 released 2018-03-27.

Version 1.0.1 of 2018-03-28.