I had scribbled some rough notes to serve as a daily log, which I thought I'd share here.
1 Jan - Day 0
Invited friends over for a new year's lunch. Had margaritas. Emptied the fridge of all sweet items by the end of the day in preparation for the challenge. Whether all of it went into the trash or some into my tummy is a truth that shall never be revealed.
Monday 2 Jan
Challenge begins! Easy-peasy so far. Just don't drink any alcohol and don't consume anything sweet, that's all.
Tuesday 3 Jan
Huh? This is it? Doesn't feel like I am on any kind of life-changing journey. The day has gone by without incidence. This is too easy. I'm getting suspicious.
Wednesday 4 Jan
Accidentally and absent-mindedly popped a grape in my mouth and then back out, straight into the trash.
Thursday 5 Jan
Finished work a little early; had a sudden craving for my teh halia but resisted.
Friday 6 Jan
Had a family dinner at Cafe Iguana, one of our favourite restaurants, but didn't order their world-famous-in-Singapore margaritas; strangely, didn't feel like we were missing out.
Saturday 7 Jan
The kung pao chicken I had for lunch in the Parkway Parade food court felt too sweet, definitely a lot, A LOT of sugar in there; Xena's friend's birthday party in the evening, skipped the birthday cake, no big deal.
Sunday 8 Jan
University batchmates' reunion lunch at Myra's at the beach; didn't order any drinks, though Viv terribly missed the Mexican beer that he invariably orders whenever we go there.
Monday 9 Jan
Found out that Haldiram's aloo bhujia contains sugar! Whyyy?
Tuesday 10 Jan
Xena's friends had come over for a dinner play date; made pasta upon their request; had a chance to read some more food labels, it turns out that pasta sauce has sugar of course, but guess what? Whole corn kernels in brine also contain sugar! Again, whyyy??
Wednesday 11 Jan
Skipped the wine (considered mandatory) at my book club meeting. Didn't want to draw attention so sipped water from my wine glass, till a friend in the know happened to mention it leading to a barrage of "But why??" questions. Got annoyed when someone else decided to answer on my behalf with something like "To lose weight, of course." I turned around and asked the person if she thought I thought I needed to lose weight. Uncomfortable silence and nervous laughter followed. Grrr.
Thursday 12 Jan
Accompanied Xena on her school excursion to the botanical gardens, had a Maggi mee goreng lunch near her school before picking her up, but scraped off the ketchup from the cucumber slices (ketchup has a crazy amount of sugar). Skipped my usual teh halia to disapproving looks from Purshottam's colleague again. Had a play date in the evening at an indoor playground, followed by dinner at Mango Tree. The raw mango sabzi was heavenly, but it definitely had quite a bit of sugar. Went home to check if other sauces at home had sugar. Green chilli sauce did, but tabasco didn't. Ok so there is some sauce we can still have.
Friday 13 Jan
Had a slight headache, craved chai but didn't have it.
Saturday 14 Jan
A junior from my uni days was passing through Singapore, met her and her family for dinner at Myra's (the other outlet by the waterfront); Viv missed his Mexican beer again. I suggested that he could break his fast on day 41 with a Mexican beer.
Sunday 15 Jan
Had dinner at Ganesh Vilas; overjoyed to rediscover neer more, and the fact that that there was still a cool refreshing drink other than water we could have that didn't come loaded with sugar!
Monday 16 Jan
Had a meeting at the office so made the trek there (I work from home on most days); had lunch near Xena's school before picking her up; decided to try teh halia kosong (ginger tea without sugar). Guess my review: (a) Not bad at all; (b) Hey, I actually prefer this! (c) Yuck. (d) REVOLTING. The answer was (d), of course.
Tuesday 17 Jan
Had a horribly sore throat, teh halia would have been awesome, but resisted from making it and sipped on warm water instead.
Wednesday 18 Jan
Had lunch at Purshottam's restaurant. My throat was still hurting so decided to try teh (tea) o (without milk) halia (ginger) kosong (no sugar) thingie this time after a sympathetic friend pointed out that it's the presence of milk in tea that begs sugar. Quite a mouthful for me to say teh o halia kosong in the right order, so I took my time saying it, but the guy repeated it so fast and so casually I figured people do order it then. But who?? And why?? As you can guess, it was just as revolting as the one on day 15.
Thursday 19 Jan
Woke up to a very sore throat and cough; went to the doctor who prescribed a VERY SWEET cough medicine, which I had once and then stopped because it felt so much like cheating; was literally dying for my homemade ginger tea; hadn't thought that the ease of doing this would be challenged so much just by sickness.
Friday 20 Jan
Someone had kept a huge bar of dark chocolate in Viv's office for sharing; he thought it was a great idea to send me a pic of it. Can I log this under mental torture by spouse?
Saturday 21 Jan
The chocolates just won't leave me! Sis-in-law moved to our place today before relocating to India; she brought some chocolates from her fridge over; will save and eat at some point, I guess? Half-way point done, yay!
Sunday 22 Jan
Hmmm... is it my imagination or can I feel my taste buds changing? Ordered my favourite massaman curry at Thai Express and could hardly eat it; the sweet taste was almost sickening; surprised how the sugar content had never bothered me in the past; today, it was overpowering; not sure if I'll ever be able to order the dish again; Viv remarked that even his clear Tom yum soup felt unusually sweet; didn't even know they put sugar in clear tom yum soup!
Monday 23 Jan
Tuesday 24 Jan
Was on a flight to Mauritius (we were flying the family there to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary), wanted to get a Coke (because I only drink Coke when I'm not the one buying it, i.e. in flights and occasionally at parties) but resisted. Felt a little sad that we were doing this challenge in the middle of a special vacation.
Wednesday 25 Jan
Our Airbnb host brought us a welcome gift - chocobars! With a heavy heart, I put them in the freezer. That evening, Viv suddenly said we should just take a break from the challenge and enjoy our vacation. 10th wedding anniversary is not an everyday event anyway, so I jumped at his offer. We had also booked a sunset cruise that came with wine, beer and all kinds of juices, which we were going to skip. Now we didn't have to, yay! But I did promise myself that we wouldn't overdo the cheat days.
[25-31 Jan: BREAK]
Tuesday 31 Jan
Landed back in Singapore; Fridge was empty so sis-in-law and I ordered lunch through Food Panda. The butter chicken felt sickeningly sweet. Again, not something I'd willingly order in the future.
Wednesday 1 Feb
Xena had declared that she also wanted to do the challenge with us. But of course, she kept forgetting. And then remembering again. It was hilarious!
Thursday 2 Feb
Viv declared that he felt that his tummy had become a lot flatter than before. I found no such difference in mine. Maybe because when he binges on sugar, he REALLY binges, but I take mine in moderation so the difference on the body wasn't that obvious.
Friday 3 Feb
Xena was actually turning down sweet stuff, not just at home but outside as well.
Saturday 4 Feb
Had a pot luck dinner with neighbours; usually we grab a glass of wine each and cook together; but this time I refused and told them why (lest they started congratulating me!); they were very surprised but seemed quite supportive.
Day [NOT COUNTED]
Sunday 5 Feb
My Chinese neighbour had invited us over for a Chinese New Year (CNY) tea party. She had a whole platter of CNY goodies and every single thing was sweet. There were six or seven items and she had baked them all from scratch! I didn't have the heart to say no and offend her, so I sampled a couple of them by splitting them with Xena.
Monday 6 Feb
Looked through the food labels of stuff in the fridge; predictably, tom yum paste and balsamic vinegar dressing had sugar, but to my surprise, the Cowhead cheese spread that Xena likes didn't.
Tuesday 7 Feb
Opened the fridge and Viv's Redbull can was staring me in the face. Burst out laughing and closed the fridge. Wonder who will drink it and when.
Wednesday 8 Feb
Thursday 9 Feb
I'm gaining a new appreciation for green tea and peppermint tea. I remember the time I ordered a peppermint tea at a restaurant and when I asked for sugar with it, the waitress looked extremely puzzled and said, "But it's peppermint tea." and I said, "I know. But I want sugar with it."
Friday 10 Feb
Saturday 11 Feb
I was on a flight to India! A cousin was getting married and I decided at the very last minute that direct flight or no direct flight, I was gonna grab Xena and go. It looked like I was all set to break the fast with some shaadi ki mithaai.
Sunday 12 Feb
Was at my in-laws' place, and they are both chai-lovers. Mom-in-law asked if I wanted to have some, but she knows about the challenge so she didn't insist. I, of course, had to sit and watch them have chai. WITHOUT ME! :'(
Monday 13 Feb
Reached my parents' place
Tuesday 14 Feb
We had a pre-wedding cousins' get-together, but it got late and my driver was ready to take me back home way before the drinking started. Felt like a teenager on curfew. It was sad in a way, but also worked out well because knowing my cousins, challenge or no challenge, they wouldn't have let me off without a drink or two.
Wednesday 15 Feb
It's the day of the sangeet! I'm running around between the bar and my mom and her sisters, bringing them non-alcoholic drinks. An aunt has placed a glass of mojito at my table for me, but it stays there all evening, ignored by me. The bartender does have jaljeera, but I take one sip and it's sweet and I let it go. 1 day to go! I can do this!
Thursday 16 Feb
It's the last day! Mom is making her tea with Stevia and I'm reminded of the need to be more vigilant about sugar as both parents have diabetes. I'm also reminded that I can have tea with sugar tomorrow!
Friday 17 Feb
What a day to have finished the challenge! It's the day of the shaadi! Yay! The first thing I did in the morning was make chai. Hadn't made it for so long that it felt weird; I felt like I had forgotten everything, that I was going to screw up. But I made it and it was goooood (even though I added less than my usual quantity of sugar) and even mom had a sip and said it was goooood.
Even though it wasn't a strict, continuous 40-day challenge, and at times I questioned why I was doing it, here are some of my self-discoveries and takeaways:
- There is an INSANE amount of sugar in everything around us, especially drinks and restaurant food. I only realised the height of the sugar levels after I gave my taste buds a break from sugar.
- Giving up alcohol is really easy.
- It's not that I crave chai for the sake of chai. It's loneliness (or sickness) that makes me crave chai.
- I need to find ways to keep up my love for baking by finding sugar-free baked recipes, or those with very little sugar.
- I won't do this challenge again, but my awareness about sugar is much, much more.