A month ago I gave myself a challenge. 30 days without consuming white flour, white sugar, or caffeine. This was a challenge, certainly, because it results in cutting out pretty much anything processed or pre-made (and our kitchen is still unfinished, which complicated matters!) However, as I've posted about previously, we've been heading towards a more whole/unprocessed foods lifestyle for awhile, so it wasn't as huge a step as it would be for the average American family.
Still, no chocolate! No ice cream! No donuts after church! No chocolate!!!
It was hard. And I chose to break my own rules a couple of times. But I learned so much about my body while doing it! I learned that the longer I go without any of those foods, the easier it is to keep saying no to them. As soon as I give in, I want to keep giving in. I learned that it is possible to re-train taste buds - the starbucks mochas that I used to love now taste unpleasantly sweet. I learned that white flour triggers cravings for white sugar, and vice versa. They really do seem to go together. When I do eat them, I feel "hungry" about an hour afterward, regardless of how much food I ate at the previous meal. It isn't quite the same thing as true "haven't eaten anything for five hours" hunger, though. The difference is subtle, but I know how it feels now and can recognize it. For a girl who used to be constantly frustrated by feeling "hungry" directly after meals, this self knowledge brings a wonderful feeling of power. I know the difference, and I can choose to act on that knowledge.
But why try such a crazy plan in the first place? Primarily because I was trying to find a solution to some health problems I've been having. Unreasonable fatigue was the biggest issue, along with various other symptoms that added up to what sounded like adrenal fatigue. Yes, I know that many doctors don't think such a thing exists. But the doctors I saw also told me that I was just fine/perfectly normal, which wasn't particularly helpful. :) In any case, cutting white sugar/white flour/caffeine was a suggestion that I found on multiple websites dedicated to this non-existent problem, and since no one will tell you that those things are good for you, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it. :)
I'm glad that I did. On top of the gift of better self-knowledge, I think that some of my symptoms are getting better. It remains to be seen how it works long-term, of course, but the fatigue seems to be lessening a bit. And as an added bonus, I lost 5.5 pounds, this while exercising less than I usually do. (While that may not sound like much, in context of the fact that it took me 9 months to lose 10lbs last year while working out intensely nearly every day, this is nothing short of incredible.)
So I think I'll continue. I don't like giving up sugary treats; I miss brownies dreadfully. But I like feeling better. I like eating, feeling full, and then feeling truly hungry hours later. I like not being quite so tired. I plan to choose to ignore my rules on occasion (if eating at someone's home, for example, or if I just really really really want to eat brownies) but I will do so knowing the results in advance, and weighing my choice carefully.