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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dessert-less December In Review

Dessert-less December has just about come to a close (two days left but I will NOT be consuming sugar on either of these days). If you will remember, I began my Dessert-less December as a way to consume less sugar so as to better fight inflammation. I allowed myself exactly seven days of sugar in the month of December. I am a bit of a sugar addict and so it was a challenge to really look in to how sugar (particularly fructose) might be affecting my Psoriatic Arthritis and my inflammation. Though I now know a lot more about what fructose is doing to my body, I don't plan to cut it out entirely. I plan to allow for five celebration days a month (not seven as I found that this was way too many) where sugar consumption can be done in moderation. Starting in 2016, I'll have five celebration days: one day a week, plus a floater celebration day in case anything comes up.

Reducing my sugar consumption this month has really made me more aware of how much sugar affects my body, my mood, and my general inflammation and soreness. It was a great experiment to come up with the seven days that I would allow for sugar consumption in my Dessert-less (-ish) December. During a season of party after party, I really had to prioritize which days would be celebrated with sugar consumption and which would have to be celebrated in other ways.

This is how the breakdown of my seven days went:
  1. December 5th: My Annual Crafting and Cookie Decorating Party
  2. December 13th: Family Friend's Annual Christmas Pancake Brunch
  3. December 16th: Day one of All Staff Retreat For Work
  4. December 19th: Annual Cookie (and Castle Cake) Decorating Day With Nieces
  5. December 22nd: Annual Fancy Christmas Lunch 
  6. December 24th: Christmas Eve Party
  7. December 25th: Christmas Day

My main take aways were these:
  1. I noticed, most drastically, the positive effects of limiting my sugar intake on December 13th because that was the longest period in a row where I did not consume sugar (the 6th through 13th). During the Pancake Brunch I found the syrup and spiced hot apple cider jarring though the pancakes were fabulous as always! (Persimmon pancakes, walnut date pancakes, and lemon pancakes! Yum!)
  2. I really wish that I'd avoided consuming sugar for the entirety of my work All Staff Retreat. I'd allotted for both the 16th and 17th as possible sugar consumption days. I was able to minimize it to only consume sugar one one of the days. I feel that I could very easily have avoided sugar both days, though that is sometimes hard when food is being supplied by an outside source. In the future, I'll prioritize homemade sweets over extremely sweet donuts or other store bought pastries. I found that though it was fun to be able to consume these treats, they were overwhelming and unnecessary. 
  3. Because of the craziness of the holidays, I felt like from December 13th - December 25th, I was eating sugar pretty much every three days or so. Due to consuming sugar so often during that time, I was aware that I felt much more inflamed and generally sorer during that period of the month. 
  4. I will never regret decorating cookies with my nieces or celebrating Christmas day with my family. These two days, above all, are the main days that I could not see myself removing sugar from. Sugar is so integral to both of those celebrations. 
  5. In addition to general inflammation and autoimmune arthritic soreness, on the days after I consumed sugar, I often felt almost as though I had a hangover (even though I no longer consume alcohol).
This is an exact list of all of the sweet things I consumed during those seven days:
Hot spiced apple cider, homemade sugar cookies with and without frosting, a single brownie, candied nuts, a couple chocolate covered graham crackers, maple syrup, a donut, a churro, a single Ferrero Rocher, one dark chocolate dipped pretzel stick, one slice of S'more Pie from Buckeye's, a slice of vegan gingerbread with coconut whipped cream, coconut chocolate pudding, two square of homemade fudge (one made by each of my aunt's who make homemade fudge), gingerbread cookie dough while I was making mini-gingerbread houses for everyone for Christmas dinner, and a slice of homemade chocolate coconut cake (also made by me!).

All in all I think that I did fairly well. It was very hard to cut down to 7 days of sugar consumption in the celebratory month of December. As it was, I felt pressure to add more sugar days here and there. I had to really priorities the days where sugar was integral to the celebrations. In some cases I had to opt out of eating desserts or conversely was guilted in to consuming sugar when I didn't feel I actually really needed it to celebrate. In the future I will find it important to prioritize homemade treats as these really are the best. Often store bought treats are overly sweet and their costs to my joints are not worth it to me.

I believe that anyone can do an (almost) Dessert-less  month and that the more reduce fructose in our diets, the better. In the coming months, I'll continue to share how my sugar reduction is going. In the mean time, best of luck to you as you reduce your sugar intake! 

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