A few weeks ago I listened to Dan Pink’s latest podcast, where he interviewed Tom Rath about his new book Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes. (You may know Rath as the author of StrengthsFinder 2.0.)
One line has rattled around in my head ever since: Sugar is the next nicotine. It’s enjoyable, addictive, and terrible for you, and a major cause of our country’s epidemic levels of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Rath told Pink that if he could make just one change to improve his diet, he would start with sugar.
Funny thing, I’ve been off sugar for 30 days now. Today is the last day of my Whole 30, and I’ve been thinking for weeks about what Day 31 will look like.
Regardless of whether or not sugar is actually responsible for our public health disaster, I do know that having a little sugar makes me crave more, and it’s all too easy for me to slide down the ramp from no sugar to just this once to a handful of chocolate chips twice a day. I’m not good at moderation.
That’s the whole reason I’m doing the Whole 30. I let bad habits creep back in–moderation becomes indulgence, over time–and I need to hit the reset button.
This Whole 30 has been a breeze. My two downfalls are sugar and wine (another form of sugar, I would say), and since I haven’t been consuming them, I haven’t been craving them. They’re not in the house to tempt me. (I wasn’t able to quit Diet Coke until I quit keeping it around for guests.)
Since I began this Whole 30, I’ve been thinking through what I want my post-Whole 30 boundaries with sugar to look like. I love the idea of moderation, but I wonder if I’d be better off just quitting it completely.
I completely identify with Gretchen Rubin’s thoughts on the abstainer vs. moderator divide. She writes:
You’re an abstainer if you…
– have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
– aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits
Interestingly, Rubin says that those who are prone to decision fatigue often are better abstainers than moderators. That describes me perfectly, and I suspect it’s one of the reasons my Whole 30 was so easy this time. One set of decisions carried me through the whole month.
It sounds spartan, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels good. I feel good.
I’m also thinking about rules I could create for myself now to make these decisions easier later. For example, Chris Guillebeau uses the $10 rule when traveling to avoid insanity: he always pays $10 or less for something that will improve his life, without thinking too much about it. (Think: a parka when he’s caught in a downpour, a pricey sandwich when he’s starving in the airport.)
I could do the same for myself. Desserts could be okay on national holidays and my kids’ birthdays. A glass of wine is legit for date night, and a champagne toast is fine at a wedding.
These all sound good in theory, though I suspect it would be easier for me over the long-term to just skip it altogether.
Tomorrow’s Day 31, so it’s time to decide.
Do you have any experience quitting sugar? Do you abstain, or moderate your consumption? Share thoughts and any tips you have in comments.