This week I assigned myself what I'm calling my "seven day purge". I'm not following any particular plan or gimmick, but what I'm trying to do is break myself of a sugar addiction. The word addiction seems extreme, and I feel a bit embarrassed to be using it, but honestly that's what it feels like. For awhile now, I find myself eating more and more junk. I crave it, I eat a little, and eating it makes me want to eat more. I got to the point when eating anything, I'd want to end it with something sweet. I felt out of control, and something had to stop.
So six days ago, on Monday, I began my purge. I thought if I could quit cold turkey, maybe I could break that cycle. Purge it out of my system, so it was no longer out of control. I wasn't quite sure what rules to follow, but I settled a basic goal of "try to eat just meat, fruits, and vegetables". I kept bread and pasta to a minimum, and I abstained from any of the "junk carbs" that I love so much: candy, cookies, granola, cereal, pretzels, chips, crackers, wine, chocolate, ice cream, etc. I also followed a secondary rule: "try not to eat anything my great-great grandmother would not have recognized as food."
Surprisingly, I succeeded. Here I am on day seven, and I feel that I essentially followed my goals. I avoided all sweets and snacks. There was free pizza at the office twice last week, and I didn't touch it. Although I did go out to dinner a couple of times, I kept myself to semi-healthy meals without much in the way of bread or junk. I brought lunch to work four out of the five days, filled with salads, veggies, fruit, soup, and stuff like that. I managed to eat just what was in my lunch box every day and nothing else, which is usually a challenge for me.
I feel pretty good about myself. It wasn't a diet precisely -- it was just a purge of sugar and junk carbs from my system. At first, it was really really hard. I felt so deprived and bummed. Interestingly enough though, by saturday it wasn't too bad anymore. I found when walking through the grocery store, when I saw a free sugar cookie sample, I was okay saying no. My brain said, "Oooh, iced cookie, I LOVE those!" But my stomach kinda shrugged and said, "I'm good." I didn't crave anything, and I didn't feel particularly deprived.
The interesting thing is that mentally, emotionally, I still do feel deprived. I dreamed about ice cream with fudge sauce and caramel two nights ago, so that's probably not a good sign. However the cravings don't feel physical anymore, just mental. Now I know that mental is a huge part of the game, and I haven't kicked this addiction. But I'm amazed and thrilled that the physical sensation is reduced.
The tricky thing now is: what to do next? My plan was seven days, under the simple theory that "I can do anything for just seven days." Now that seven days have passed though, I'm not quite sure. I'm afraid if I let myself have something, the cravings will just come right back. That was always my experience in the past: eating junk made me crave more junk.
Can I go another seven days? Can I at least go five days? My goal is not to live the rest of my life junk-free, feeling deprived and never touching sweets again. My goal is only to get to the point where I can enjoy a treat without it then controlling me. But how to get there? Today M and I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of good foods. Salads, fruits, veggies, juice, nice things for lunches. I'm going to see how long I can keep it up, for starters, but I need to come up with a new plan.
One of the things that made the last seven days easy was because I KNEW it was JUST seven days. I'm a goal-oriented person, and I don't think that classic AA goal of "one day at a time" is sufficient for me. I suspect that what might work better is what I've heard some people do: "one and only one cheat day per week". I think that's what I'll aim for next, but right now I'm nervous because I'm not sure I'm ready to let the sweets back in. I'm not sure I can do moderation just yet, and I don't want to find myself back in the rising cycle I was in before I started.
I think right now my goal is: five more days. I can do anything for just five days, that's no big deal, right? Then at the end of five days, on friday, I'll reevaluate and decide what I want to do next. I really really want to be healthier, and I want to have a realistic approach to food and weight. I want to still enjoy treats sometimes too though! I'm just still figuring out what that means.