I lost about 10 pounds in 30 days. While this may sound like an advertisement for a new diet or pill on the market, it was actually the result of a sugar detox I forced myself to complete last week.
Last month I got the idea to start living a healthier lifestyle, and decided to cut out all unnatural sugar, like high fructose corn syrup, from my diet. The idea stemmed from the fact that I realized I drank a lot of soda.
A Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew accompanied every meal I ate —breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I started in February and set my goal for 30 days. I wanted to cut out soda initially, but then decided to include snacks, cakes, pies and anything else that included unnatural sugar. While this was a detox, it was not a hardcore detox. I still ate white bread and carbohydrates, and my main focus was just to cut back on soda.
When I started, I realized I would need to start looking at food labels and ingredient lists. While you can find all of this information on products at the supermarket, University dining halls are a different situation.
Whenever I went for lunch in Brower Commons, I noticed much of the food did not fit the healthy alternatives that Dining Services says are available. Most of the food was fried and greasy, consisting of hot dogs, french fries and buffalo wings.
When a healthier option was available, it was usually either a salad, or some kind of seafood swimming in a pool of garlic and butter.
Livingston Dining Commons offers a few more options, with a full-time sushi bar and mandarin grill, if you exclude the optional sauces besides light amount of soy sauce. But with having classes mostly on the College Avenue Campus, would it be practical to go to Livingston for lunch on a daily basis? I do not think so.
Dining Services says they are willing to work with students who have special dietary needs, but what about those of us who are looking for smarter, healthier alternatives to the usual greasy food that is offered on a daily basis? Where are the steamed vegetables? How about adding a soup bar to accompany the salads?
Despite the challenge of not knowing exactly what was being offered at the dining halls, I avoided anything I knew would have HFCS in it, like ketchup and barbeque sauce. Whenever I needed a sugar fix, fresh fruit satisfied my craving. Apples, oranges and bananas became staples in most of my meals.
Last week was the end of my 30-day sugar detox, and it was a challenge. By weeks two and three, I had suffered a few headaches. My cravings for soda, pie and other sweets were sometimes intense. But by this past weekend, I didn’t even think about them anymore. I’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I believe that is true.
I feel healthier, I have more energy and I have started to notice the weight loss. I feel this challenge was an all-around success. If you are looking to feel healthier, and maybe a little happier in life, I recommend choosing water or a mix of club soda and juice rather than soda the next time you are getting a drink in the dining halls or at a restaurant.
Shawn Smith is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies with a minor in anthropology.