For medical reasons, it became apparent that I was going to have to part ways with my two favorite food groups this summer. Starch and sugar are a lifeline for people like me, Italian and in that phase of adult-but-not-really-adult-yet (see pasta and chocolate). Unfortunately, this was not my first attempt with the starch/sugar-free lifestyle, but fortunately I made the decision to see a certified nutritionist who made the impossible feat slightly more possible.
Despite any help that can possibly be offered to you, the reality of the situation is that giving up your favorite foods is a ferocious battle of “hangry” with an emphasis on the angry. While eating healthy may seem like smooth-sailing, there are some hiccups that are bound to happen along the way.
1. The Overconfident Start
When you first begin your journey into what I like to call the “Italian mother’s personal hell” (sorry Mom), things will seem pretty reasonable. Salad for lunch? Check. Salmon for dinner? Great. Strawberries for dessert? Awesome. At first it seems like there are so many possibilities and things look manageable.
2. The Realization that Salads are Way Less Appealing Than They Appear on KUWTK
I would like to say that this next phase begins pretty quickly, somewhere around day 3. While salads may seem pretty exciting at first, one fact hits you hard: that you can only eat so many chicken caesar or strawberry feta salads. Despite the illusion that the Kardashians have fed you all these years, salads are really just lettuce with a few slightly exciting ingredients thrown on top of them.
3. Cheat Day
…Or did I mean Cheat Week? If you can survive the Monday to Friday grind with minimal starch and sugar, you are going to be a ravaging carb-deprived monster by Saturday. Of course I took my dad up on his offer of a bacon egg and cheese on a sesame seed bagel for our Saturday death-by-carbs, er…I mean bagel tradition. Why? Because Saturday is cheat day (and by far the best day of my week).
4. The Tipping Point
According to Beyoncé, it took her 22 days to form the habit of being a vegan. It’s safe to say that I gave up around day seven. The medical reality of the matter is that our bodies crave carbs, and that’s especially true for people who are on medications like antibiotics or who eat sugar and starch more frequently. I gave up multiple times, but what matters is getting up again and realizing that maybe there is some relief at day 22.
5. Relief at Last
While Beyoncé may swear by her 22 day vegan experience, I find that things get significantly easier around week two. Once you’re done slowly depriving yourself of all the good things in life, you seem to crave them a lot less. And surprisingly, there are a lot of decent starch and sugar free options if you look hard enough. Whole Foods has awesome magazines (and a website) with great meal ideas that surprisingly don’t all involve zoodles.
6. Body Changes
After coming back from a semester abroad, my body had gone through some not-so-pleasant changes. But after a few weeks of minimizing starch and sugar intake, I lost a significant amount of weight. While that was definitely encouraging, the best part was feeling the changes that I was really aiming for. Starch and sugar are inflammatory foods, and so eating less of them meant way less of my normal joint pain and way more clear-headedness.
7. Back to Square One!
I was recently going pretty strong for about three weeks, when I stumbled across an eggplant parm sandwich and forgot all about my carb-free progress. My body is back to craving everything that is starchy and sweet, and that’s okay. Allowing yourself to indulge for a few days before getting back into the game is encouraged, and at least you know the drill for when you decide to start up again.
“All you have to do is try. If I can do it, anyone can.” – Queen Bey herself