Last Sunday at 7 pm, I decided to start a week long “fast” on both sugar and my smartphone. It wasn’t a total abstaining from both things, but for one week I did not consume any candy or desserts or sweets, and was really careful with sugars in other recipes or foods around the house; and I didn’t use my smartphone around any family members (except for phone calls and important text messages). I wanted to share how it went and where I want to go from here.
The main reason I wanted to do the sugar fast is because I had started to feel out of control, like it was more of a compulsion than an occasional indulgence, and like I had created a very unhealthy habit out of it. I won’t like, this week was difficult, there were certainly cravings, and the times that I found myself wanting to reach for something sweet felt automatic. I worked this week to have healthier quick foods available at all times and that was really helpful. I noticed that Peter was a much less picky eater this week, and I’m not sure if that was because we had a little less sugar (he really didn’t get much anyway), or because I was more on the ball with meal prep. I was sort of hoping for something like more energy or a better mood, but I wasn’t that lucky, I didn’t notice any magical changes like that, but maybe it would take longer.
Today I was talking to Marty about what I wanted to do with sugar going forward, and told him that it was clear to me that I had not kicked the habit in a week, and that I need to do something for longer to really reset my internal programming, but I also that a total fast was rather miserable and I was reluctant to extend it.
I thought for quite a while about what the best way would be to create a system to help me find a proper balance, and this is what we are going to do as a family- We will not have any sweets or desserts or candy unless it is some kind of social gathering for the entire month of September. The hardest times to not eat sugar this week were when someone kindly offered me something sweet and I had to turn it down because of my rule. It just didn’t feel like a good enough reason to create social discomfort (long term). We don’t go to tons of social gatherings, so it should still be pretty minimal consumption, and I think it will help us to continue addressing the root of the problem, which is establishing healthier eating habits in the home. Marty and I like this idea quite a bit, it feels like a healthy and not too extreme solution.
For my smartphone fast, I didn’t use it at all while I was around Marty or the kids. I did that because it also felt like a compulsion that was hard to manage, and like it was hurting my relationships. At the beginning of the week I noticed all of the times I instinctively went to reach for my phone just because I was bored for half a second, but by the end of the week, I barely ever found myself reaching for it. I think it’s because I kept it away from me the majority of the time- hanging in the phone pouch, because the only times the instinct kicked back in, is when it was in my hand or near me after I had been using it for something allowed (like a phone call). It was in those moments that it was really difficult not to pick it up and check something else. I also noticed that in the times when the kids were sleeping and Marty was away, I felt like I was a junkie fueling back up at the internet station and I didn’t do things more uplifting things like color while I listen to audio lectures in my downtime.
I noticed that I did play with the kids more, I felt more connected to them (when I wasn’t cleaning obsessively), and of course, I cleaned and meal prepped and organized things around the house way more than I was previously.
I decided that what I really need to do is find a way to manage my smartphone usage when it’s close to me. I have hardly any pictures of the kids from this week because my phone was never handy to snap a picture. That was a little sad to me. I also missed feeling plugged in with my friends (and I’ll admit it, political news) because I wasn’t on social media as frequently. There’s something to be said for keeping those internet connections strong.
I have a new plan for the smartphone that I’m going to try this week and see how it goes. I did a quick look today and found some apps that have timers and things like for smartphone usage. I haven’t picked which one yet, but hopefully I can do that tonight (if not, then by tomorrow night), and I think I’m going to set a 30 minute daily smartphone use limit. This will hopefully help me manage my usage more holistically, keep the negative impacts of smartphone use to a minimum, but still allow me to harness a majority of the benefits of having a smartphone handy. We’ll see how it goes, I think this will be more trial and error that a hard and fast rule for a set amount of time. Oh, and if you have an app like that you use, let me know!
I also had a couple of you readers tell me that you were doing similar fasts, I would love to hear how those went or are going for you!