I gave up booze about four years ago but the sugar monster has been visiting me a bit too frequently from my birthday through to Christmas so I decided to starve it off a bit.
The full Daniel fast removes meat, dairy, bread and sweets but I didn’t want to get rid of the meat because I need the protein to keep growing my leg back to full strength after an injury. The fast starts on 3 January and I had a bit of a dilemma with the amount of sugary goodness still in my house in the forms of yoghurt, orange juice, cereals, ice cream and christmas chocs. I tipped the orange juice but felt a bit wasteful dumping the other stuff so I decided it could stay- I’ll return to this idea later.
I drink a lot of coffee both at home and at cafes so my biggest weakness was having something ‘with’ the coffee like a muffin or a biscuit. Sugar in the coffee switched to sweetener so that was quite easy. I just told myself ‘if you are hungry, have a sandwich or a proper meal -otherwise you don’t need anything’. I found by not denying myself food I could quickly decide if I was genuinely hungry or not and stop the snacky stuff.
It’s a good time to do the fast with all the summer fruit around at the moment and I found buying a big watermelon and eating diced watermelon worked well in my danger zone times such as 3pm or after dinner. Prunes are also good and get yourself a container of mixed nuts so you aren’t going for sweet stuff all the time. Also, try not to go to extreme the other way and say ‘well I’m not having sugar so I’ll eat burger and chips’ -the more sustainable the better.
There is also a spiritual side to the Daniel fast and in the first week I was thinking a lot about how sugar makes you more hungry and crave the more you have. It made me think about shopping and consumerism and how you can grab quick fix things to make you happy in the short term but ultimately, you will always just want to buy more stuff and end up with lots of excess (excess weight/excess stuff and clutter in your life). Feeding on good quality whole foods and fruit and vegetables is a good investment in your health and how we can use money for junk purchases or for investing in good things that will last.
In the second week I’ve been thinking about the difference between living in lack and living in abundance. At Christmas, we have an abundance of rich foods and we tend to overeat so we need to establish discipline to live an abundant life. It’s easy to ‘give up’ food if you don’t have it in the house but I’m quite glad now that I didn’t throw out all the nice Lindt chocolates and stuff because I’ve developed the discipline now to not eat them. The other thing I’ve really learned is that 21 days goes really quick and I only have a week to go so I think I might continue the processed sugar fast through until Easter and maybe be like Peter Fitzsimons and go for a year (I wouldn’t mind a hot cross bun at easter).
If you are feeling a bit chubby or unhealthy after Christmas I definitely recommend knocking out your ‘weak area’ for 21 days and thinking about what it represents to you e.g. I know my coffee and a biscuit behaviour is a time out/comfort thing so by just having the coffee I can still have a breather but not have the calories. If you’re grabbing sugary/carby things all the time it can also be a sign that you are tired so be a big Nana and go to bed an hour earlier. 21 days goes quickly so don't scare yourself and think 'I'm never having chocolate or beer or potato chips' ever again. Just do something sustainable that you can stick to and the weeks fly by.