CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - OK, you've decided that you're in. You're probably thinking, now what?? Let's face it: seeing all the foods on the 'what not to eat' list can be downright daunting. And some have said it's too restrictive. But you know what? You have to at least TRY, folks. And by that I mean, give it a good 7 days. Don't just slip up on day one or two and then throw in the towel! Commit to being focused, prepared and determined for 7 days. I promise, if you can get through those – it does get better!
Here are the most important things to remember about the first week on #TeamNOSugar:
1. Get ready for the withdrawals
They can be substantial, especially if you're going cold-turkey (which is what I did – and still do). The headaches, the fatigue, the general crabbiness attitude-wise are all results of your body dealing with the fact you're not giving it any processed or added sugars. Depending on your eating habits, these symptoms may not last the entire 7 days. Typically, days 1-3 are the real doozies! How many sodas (even the diet ones) do you drink a day? Do you hit the communal office candy jar or vending machine every afternoon? Need a sweet treat after dinner every night? If so, you're definitely going to experience the withdrawals. Particularly the headaches. Check with your doctor first, but when they got too crazy, I would take some Advil. Again, power through.
2. Stay HYDRATED
It will help with the headaches. Did you know that dehydration can often lead to headaches? So be sure you always have some water. Water, water, water! Add some fresh fruit to jazz it up! My go-to combos are citrus (lemon, lime and orange slices) or lemon-strawberry-mint that is the business! But most any fruits will do. You can also try hot tea. I start most mornings with green tea because it's packed with antioxidants, can jump start your metabolism and can curb cravings if you have it with your afternoon snack.
3. For everyone wondering – well what in the heck CAN I eat??
A lot more than you think – you just have to be willing to step outside your box! I've compiled a photo album chock-full of meal and snack ideas on my Facebook page so click here to see that. It's a jumping off point – I don't give out specific meal plans. The folks who have the most success on #TeamNOSugar take ownership of it!
4. Another FAQ – what do I do if a sugar craving hits me?
Have some FRUIT. It's naturally sweet and once you're taste buds adjust – and they will – it's a great way to curb those cravings. Try an orange or a bowl of berries. You can also try frozen grapes – LOVED these in the beginning! Another treat I was obsessed - Edy's no sugar added frozen fruit bars. Just 25 cals per serving in delicious flavors! Find them in the frozen aisle of any grocery store. I also LOVE blueberry or passion tea for after dinner if I'm craving something sweet! Just sweeten with Truvia or Stevia – back away from the Splenda, Equal and Sweet-n-Low!!
5. BE PREPARED
This is critical in the first 7 days. If you don't have a healthy alternative with you, you're more likely to hit up the vending machine or the drive-thru. Always have snacks on hand. An apple and a pack of Emerald's 100 calorie almonds; hummus and veggies (carrots, celery, sweet peppers, etc); a hard-boiled egg; or any fruit will do. #TeamNOSugar is not #teamHungry. If you're hungry, you're doing it wrong. Have those snacks!
6. You're not hungry, you're THIRSTY
So many times we mistake hunger for thirst. Unless you're ravenous or your stomach is growling – try downing 8-12 oz of water FIRST. Wait 15 minutes and if you're still hungry than have a snack. Also drink at least 12 oz of water with EVERY meal or snack. This will also help with the hunger. And the more hydrated you are, the better your digestion is and the better you will FEEL.
7. Lastly, no junk or tempting foods in the house
If it's there – you'll eat. Plain and simple. This can be tough if your family, spouse, significant other, etc. isn't on board. Make them confine their junk to one cabinet if you have to. But YOU have to stay focused. Ideally, it's huge for your loved ones to support you. But even if they don't, that shouldn't stop YOU.
So, there you have it. Everything I wish I had known the first 7 days. Hopefully, this will make YOUR first 7 days a little easier.
You CAN do this. Repeat that to yourself over and over if need be. Mind over matter. You don't really want the sweets, the bread, pasta, soda – whatever you go –to is – you just THINK you do. Say no and keep it moving! Your body will thank you. Serioulsy. You are going to feel so amazing! So light and full of energy instead of sluggish and reaching for that afternoon Mountain Dew.
Stay the course, do the work – and the results will come!
Editor's note: Please consult your doctor before beginning any new health and wellness plan.