This is a Story About a Girl and Her Sugar
I have been drinking a lot of sugar in my coffee for nearly two decades. When Noah was a baby back in 1997, my coffee of choice was General Foods International Coffee French Vanilla Cafe, made with skim milk.
It’s not even coffee. It’s sugar, hydrogenated soybean oil and corn syrup solids, with instant coffee and artificial vanilla flavor. But it sort of tasted like coffee and it contained caffeine. It’s also manufactured by Maxwell House, and that’s coffee, right? I drank a giant mug of it every morning and another one in the afternoon while I took care of my little newborn first baby.
Thus, the story of my coffee addiction begins in the heart of Sugar Land, where residents enjoy a little bit of coffee to go with their cream and sugar. And black coffee only exists in their most bitter of nightmares.
In the early 2000s, my favorite Starbucks drink was a Grande Caramel Macchiato, with a whopping 32 grams of sugar, and I treated myself to one every time I went out. At home, I bought flavored creamers. The big giant artificial garbage that tastes so creamy and good and comes in seasonal flavors and pretty colors. Look how pretty…
About 10 years ago, in an effort to be healthier, I started buying organic fair trade whole bean coffee, organic half and half, and vanilla or hazelnut syrup from Whole Foods. Because buying it from Whole Foods means it’s healthy, even if it’s syrup.
Finally, I moved from sugar/syrup to local raw honey. It wasn’t fake, and it actually had some nutritional value. But my coffee was still very, very creamy and sweet. Creamy and sweet brings me great joy.
That’s where I’ve lived the last several years and where I intended to stay.
I’d come to the realization that I really love sweet, creamy coffee. It is truly one of my favorite things. I look forward to it every day. In my gratitude journal, coffee makes a regular appearance. More so than people. I’m not joking.
I also love joy.
So, since I experienced such joy, I’d decided to stop worrying about coffee and sugar and all that, because I truly eat clean about 90% of the time. I’d decided, in the light of eternity, sugar in coffee was simply not a big deal. Loving coffee more than people could be problematic, however.
In January, I went on a fast. It was a spiritual fast, but I cut several things out of my diet, not the least of which were animal products (including half and half) and sugar. During that fast, I drank only water and black coffee.
For a girl who drinks whitish coffee with honey every morning, THIS WAS THE WORST TASTING THING EVER. I dreaded every morning of the fast and hated every single second of sipping that stupid joyless black coffee. However, I was unwilling to deal with fasting AND caffeine withdrawal, so I forced myself to drink the stupid joyless black coffee every morning and get on with my caffeinated day.
I did that for 21 days. I also lost 6 pounds in the first week.
(Not that the fast was about pounds, but spiritual things affect us physically, and vice versa—it’s just true. So, stepping on the scale during a fast is not all that crazy or carnal or whatever you might be thinking right now.)
I broke the fast with much fanfare and celebration, as I filled my coffee cup with lots o’ cream and honey and a little bit of coffee. I heard trumpets and saw beautiful unicorns and rainbows, too.
And that’s when a very, very weird thing happened: For the first time ever, it didn’t taste very good.
At least, not at first. I thought that first cup of Joy-Filled Coffee would be pure bliss. But it wasn’t. It tasted too sweet, too thick and kinda gross. But I just continued drinking it like that, and (surprise!) within a few days, it tasted normal again. I quickly regained my 6 pounds and moved on with my sugary, caffeinated life.
Then, a few weeks ago, with the majority of our move behind me, and bathing suit season before me, I decided to rein it in and focus on my health. I started with the coffee. I remembered how quickly I lost six pounds on that fast and how gross the Joy-Filled Coffee tasted when I drank that first cup. I decided to try to drink it with no honey or sugar at all, and also, cut my half and half down by half. So, now it’s like half and a quarter.
The first taste was a little yuck, but by the middle of that cup, it actually tasted okay. Maybe the joy is not in the super-sweet coffee after all?
The next day, it didn’t taste yuck at all.
And after that, it tasted good.
I have been doing this for about a month now, and I can honestly say, I LOVE my coffee without sugar!!!! I do. I really, really do. And I will drink it in a box and with a fox and on a train…
I have completely broken the sugar addiction and I no longer crave it, at all. In fact, I have also started drinking unsweetened tea, which I have never, ever enjoyed. Not only do I drink it, but I enjoy it.
No lie. It’s a freaking miracle that I enjoy these things unsweetened.
I have also lost 9 pounds. Which, for me, is also a miracle, considering I eat healthy and exercise every day, and I never accidently lose 9 pounds ever, ever, ever, ever.
I’m moving a little more and cutting back a little on portions, so I think there are more things at work than just sugar. But the main change I’ve made is cutting sugar out of my coffee and greatly reducing the cream.
So, all that to say, you if you are a person who thinks you would never in a bazillion years enjoy coffee without sugar, maybe this story will give you hope.
However, if you like it all sweet and creamy, and don’t want to stop drinking it that way, then never mind.
I did the same thing several years back! 45 day fast from processed and junk foods (which meant sugar and my International Delights creamer). I lost 15 lbs. And of course, I felt closer to God than I ever had before.
I now have my 2-3 cups of morning coffee with a (large) shot of 1% milk. And it’s delicious! And sweet coffee – yuck, gag.
Sadly, the weight has returned (probably due to the processed and junk foods…I brought everything back except the sugar in my coffee, lol).
What a great time to stop eating processed food!!!!! I won’t say “God is speaking to you” or anything…but….
Just kidding. It’s probably not God. Just Sandy.
I have been drinking sugarless coffee for years. But the times I give up half and half, I just get plain sad.
I am trying to kick the sugar eating habit altogether. Well, mostly altogether. I haven’t eaten anything with white flour or sugar for 4 days except tonight when the frosted chocolate chip cookie my daughter made called my name. But back to the plan tomorrow – it’s funny, I am actually excited because I feel icky and heavy after my sweet treat. Still working on that balance of having a bite or two instead of an entire serving. It’s actually easier for me to just cut myself off completely. But….life happens and sometimes that is okay too.
I find it fascinating how quickly our taste buds can change in either direction so quickly!
I have no idea how to have just a bite or two. Once I start eating sweets, I’m done-for. I think the only people who can do that are people who don’t really like sweets. But they are also the ones who will sit down to a whole platter of deep-fried chicken wings or consume an entire basket of french fries. I think it’s so important to recognize where our weaknesses lie. And I completely agree about feeling icky and heavy afterwards. Both Friday and Saturday, we took the kids out for ice-cream. I love ice-cream. But I reminded myself how it makes me feel, and it was so much easier for me to say no.
Oh this is SO well-timed for me. My joy of choice has always been salty- mostly chips, but I told my husband this week that for the first time EVER I feel like I have a sugar addiction. We have now passed “birthday season” (4 of the 5 in our family have birthdays from late March to mid May) so I’M DOWN WITH THE SUGAR FAST. Thanks for the great post.
Birthdays are the hardest. I’m learning that just because I’m making it, doesn’t mean I have to eat it. And just because the rest of the family is indulging, it doesn’t mean I have to indulge, too. I always feel so much better afterwards when I don’t.
I’m trying a refined sugar-free diet and I’ve cut out caffeine nearly altogether. I drink decaf coffee and tea and if I need a ‘boost’ I have a drink of ‘energy tea’ which is a herbal blend. I’m also just about to try a three day juice boost detox thingy to see whether I can manage it and to at least try to increase my fruit and veg intake. I really need to do this because I’ve gained more than 60lb in 5 years This is not good! It’s crept up on me but when I had to buy new clothes in a UK size 18 I was rather shocked. It’s probably a good thing. I am generally feeling better already. I don’t get the sugar peaks and troughs any more. I miss my chocolate… but I’ll have some sometimes because PMT doesn’t disappear with the sugar, unfortunately o_O
Good for you for making healthy changes. I’ve done 3-Day juicing and smoothie cleanses and have always felt great afterward. Let me know how it goes.
I am doing the 21 Day Fix with my daughter with the eating plan. I am doing it to encourage her. It’s only been 6 days but its been tough. Going without sugar is the hardest for me. I have used a spoon of truvia in my coffee but not my favorite cinnamon creamer. I know long term I would be so much better to be one who does not use much sugar… I just dont know if I will get there. This 21 day fast from sugar will help but after I don’t know?
I started 21 Day Fix in the Fall and had to quickly stop it. We had just started the selection process of building the house, and I realized I could not be consumed with those little containers. I was surprised by how small they were. Especially the carb one. 🙂 Good luck and let me know how that goes for you!!!
Two weeks in and it is going ok. I miss my sugar but I think mostly I miss the things that flavor what you eat like mayonnaise and butter and stuff like that. 7 lbs and I am sure it is because of the tremendous reduction in sugar intake.
And probably also the tiny portions! Those containers are crazy.
I really enjoyed this post very much because I believe if a person does nothing else, he or she should cut out the sugared coffee in the morning. The sweet coffee is a set up for more sweet cravings the rest of the day. Switching to black coffee is pretty easy when done in stages so perhaps your readers can give this a try! Simply put…cut back a little at a time. First week 3/4 sweet to 1/4 black then less and less until you are half sweet, 1/3 sweet, 1/4 sweet and so on until the coffee is all black. Just as you said, now that I switched to black and I crave and enjoy black coffee and couldn’t drink a full sweet one if you paid me:) Have a great day and good luck everyone!!
Jillian, thanks for the tip. I’m sure that will be helpful for someone. I kept telling myself that I could wean like that, but it never worked for me. I had to use the “ripped off Band-Aid” approach: just drink Joyless Black Coffee for a period of time to completely break the desire for sweet. I am one of those people who cannot have “just one bite” of sugar. Once I taste it, I crave it. I’m very all-or-nothing with sweets.