I have different relationships with sweets and caffeine.
Caffeine, I don’t drink for wakefulness—I just like tea. When it’s cool or cold out, I like most kinds of hot tea—black, green, white, rooibos, herbal. But when it’s hot out, I like iced tea. Plain old unsweetened black iced tea.
If I drink a cup of iced tea daily (or near-daily) on an empty stomach, after several weeks, I start to get heartburn. At the same time, if I’ve been drinking a cup of anything caffeinated daily for several weeks and miss a day or two, I’ll get a migraine.
In the summer, this is easier because I don’t have a routine. I just loosely keep track of how much tea I’m drinking and I’m good to go.
With school in session in person, I have a routine, and drinking iced tea in the car on the way to work is one of them.
I had already been thinking that I needed to start to wean off the iced tea before the heartburn started again, so I brought less and less tea. At the tail end of last week, the heartburn started and I had lessened my intake enough to avoid a migraine. Good timing.
It’s also gotten cooler, so hot tea is in my travel mug. I’m sure there are non-caffeinated teas that make good iced tea; I just haven’t tried them.
So: it’s my first week in a while without caffeine.
Sweets is a more complicated story.
I have a long history of emotional eating, and that eating is nearly always desserts or simple carbs.
While I’m much less drawn to them than I used to be, if I consume sweets regularly, I want more, and it spirals. Quickly.
Being at home most of the time has been a struggle. I’m finally snacking less. For a while, we were doing dessert more often than usual. “Usual” is once or twice a month. We had something sweet to munch on at least that much each week. Plus I was taking from the candy jar at work. (If I’ve ever taken from the candy jar at work, it definitely wasn’t on multiple consecutive days.)
I decided I needed a hard stop.
In no-sugar 30-day challenges I ran a long time ago, I quit all added sugars in all foods, including dressings, sauces, etc. Not this time. Just sweets. Dessert, candy, things of the sort.
Quitting sugar will yield several positives:
- I will feel better. Excessive added dietary sugars negatively affect mood.
- I will stop craving. Then I can use my energy for things other than fighting the urge to eat.
- I will probably take off a few pounds.
- Fruit will be “sweet enough” again.
- My immune system will be stronger. Working in two elementary schools, this is critical right now.
I didn’t intentionally line this up with election week—it just worked out that way.
Many people have told me (over the course of time) that doing something like this at a stressful time is a bad idea. In some ways, they’re right. It’s harder to stick to new things when so much energy is going to the surrounding issues.
But eating ice cream doesn’t really make me feel better (especially because I don’t go slowly and enjoy it) nor does it actually relieve the stress. I can deal with emotions in a healthy way instead of trying to eat them.
Day five. It’s been rough but also so far, so good. I know that in another few days or maybe another week, the cravings will be substantially reduced and it will be easier. Until then, it’s worth it.