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I Started A ‘Sweets Retreat’ Between Thanksgiving And Christmas — And Now I Don’t Eat Sugar All Year Round

Here's what helped me let go of sugar – and up my energy, mental clarity, and focus.

My decision to give up sugar was pretty spontaneous.

It was Thanksgiving. I returned from nursing my infant son to find that my family had finished dessert and was clearing the table. As a new mom with plenty of remaining baby weight (though many women are perfectly healthy and at peace with additional weight), I had recently decided to lose it and also be more mindful of what I ate. “I actually don’t need this dessert,” I thought to myself.

In that moment, I made a decision.

Since it was the holiday season, I knew that more cake and cookies were just around the corner. So I decided not to eat sugar until Christmas—I figured I could do anything for three weeks and might learn a lot. I called it a “sweets retreat.”

I made it to Christmas without having any sugar. And to my surprise, it wasn’t all that hard.

In fact, it was liberating! I didn’t have any wavering because I’d already made the decision, which freed me up to feel more present. I stopped considering nibbling on a scone or muffin during a meeting. And I didn’t have to politely taste a friend’s homemade baked goods that didn’t necessarily appeal anyways to avoid offending them. It was nothing personal—I was just on my “sweets retreat.”

So I decided to make my sweets retreat an annual challenge. And after a few years, I began extending it to New Year’s Day instead of Christmas.

But I eventually realized that going back to sugar was never as sweet as I expected. I remember going to a pastry shop one year, buying a tartlet, and taking only two moderately enjoyable bites. My taste buds had adjusted, and now I was satisfied with very little.

The “sweets retreat” grew longer and longer over time. Eventually, the prolonged breaks caused the urge to eat sweets to dissipate almost entirely.

Today, I don’t miss sweets. I just don’t eat them.

This doesn’t mean I don’t choose to enjoy a square or two of organic dark chocolate. (I’ve heard it’s actually good for you.) And if my husband and I are out enjoying a nice dinner, we might split a dessert if the options are really exceptional. But even that is pretty rare.

It’s common knowledge that sugar is among the worst things you can eat, and the supporting research is vast. But when I stopped eating sweets, I felt more energetic and clear-headed.

If you’d like to craft your own “sweets retreat,” here are a few ideas that helped me:

  • Start with small chunks of time. You can begin with a week or two and see how you feel!
  • Reflect after you finish your “sweets retreat.” Did you notice a change in how you felt? Do you want to keep going for a while?
  • If it wasn’t that difficult, consider quitting again for a longer period of time. You could eventually lose your sweet tooth altogether, like I did.
  • Don’t feel defeated if you’re human, and you end up eating some sugar. You can’t change the past, so don’t dwell on it or let it dictate your future decisions.
  • Don’t keep sweets in the house—except for that dark chocolate. It’s much simpler to eat mostly healthy, nourishing foods when you’re not looking at sugar every day.
  • Check out this New York Times article, which explains why you likely consume more sugar than you think and provides helpful tips for cutting back.

Whether you simply reduce the amount of sweets in your diet or do a “sweets retreat” of your own, there’s hardly anything sweeter than being more mindful and intentional about what you eat 🙂

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