Prior to January 2016, I had been gluten free for 5 years. I was mostly dairy free, occasionally testing my tolerance to plain Greek yogurt (which never ended well). I also avoided any processed food with soy lecithin, and limited the amount of edamame and tofu I consumed. But I was still having trouble with my poor little belly, which has bloated every single day since I was 11 (now totaling 17 years). I was still experiencing some discomfort, some gas, some irregularity with the bathroom, and my joints all started to hurt pretty badly. The joint discomfort can mostly be attributed to my long commute (which I no longer have), except I feel like there is some underlying issue.
So I decided it's time to pay even more attention to what I eat, and what I put on my skin. I've been researching a lot about anti-inflammatory foods, and what exactly makes healthy foods so 'healthy'. With a little convincing from my husband, I decided it was time to go refined sugar free. You'd think for someone who has cut out so many things, this would be a walk in the park.
It was definitely NOT. The first week was horrible - all I wanted was ice cream. To begin with, I didn't really eat a lot of sugar on a daily basis anyway. A few grams of sugar in my original almond milk, sweetened coconut flakes on my oatmeal, and then any small amount of sugar in the cereal I ate for dessert. Too much sugar upsets my stomach, so I always kept my intake low. But once I had to be proactive about completely cutting it out of my life, I realized it's in everything. It's even in my gluten free bread! WTF. I never even realized that, or any of the other places it hides.
Essentially, cutting out refined sugar has forced me to cook more, and eat way less processed food. Which, again, I was hardly eating. But that's not an easy thing to do at all. I was confident I could do it because of my experience with going gluten and dairy free. I knew if I kept with it, in a few weeks the cravings would pass and I would successfully replace all the foods I craved with a healthier substitute. It's been 5 weeks that I'm sugar free, and I was right. I did it, and I don't have any plans to go back. (a much different story than the first few days). I haven't eaten any honey or agave either, which I may introduce in time.
5 weeks in, fresh fruit has NEVER tasted so sweet. Every meal has a punch of extra flavor, and my mouth feels fresh all day. I am not haunted with the thought of dessert and it feels so good.
The verdict on my stomach is still out. I've eaten way more beans than I ever have, which is taking a little time to get used to. Overall though, I do feel much much better.