A Single Day Without Sugar

{An apple a day...}

{An apple a day…}

In honor of studying Saucha (the first of five Niyamas/observances, commonly translated to mean purity or cleanliness), Michelle asked us to complete a one-day fast on the topic and day of our choosing. We were to:

Consider what you need to fast on…where do you proliferate, clutter, confuse your life unnecessarily. Chose one aspect of your life and create the intention to cleanse in that direction. It may be the simple act of not taking in any stimulant of any sort: tea, coffee, sugar, alcohol, etc. It may be a cleanse of TV, radio, movies, papers. It may be a fast of computer or phone obsession. Or talking about other people! You chose the topic and the day.

I picked sugar. A single day without sugar, how hard could that be?

Wednesday, 8:30ish a.m.

I arrive at work with my intention to refrain from eating sugar in the forefront of my mind. I’ve brought something that qualifies as a healthy-enough breakfast with me (apple and peanut butter) so that I won’t be hungry. I’m feeling confident, ready to tackle the day.

I open my office door and turn on the light to find adorably-wrapped homemade baked goods sitting in the middle of my desk:

{I still don't actually know who these were from...}

{I still don’t actually know who these were from…}

Wham! I haven’t even sat down yet and already my resolve is being tested! My “healthy” breakfast immediately starts to look less attractive and I’m wavering about this whole fast situation. I start to consider: “maybe I should do it tomorrow…” Instead I reaffirm that “no, today is the day.

Wednesday, 8:40ish a.m.

I walk out of my office intending to figure out who brought in the baked goods, but instead I stumble upon two boxes of “thank you danishes” that were brought in by a student:

{Mmm, I wonder what is inside this inconspicuous pink box....}

{mmm, I wonder what is inside this inconspicuous pink box….}

photo (7)

{no, I wasn’t the one who ate a slice!}

I start to wonder: “What the heck!? Is this just a normal day at work? Am I simply more in tune with with the amount of sugar I’m surrounded by everyday because I happen to be doing this fast? Is this the Universe attempting to hit me over the head with a point? What’s going on here?!

Wednesday, 8:50ish a.m.

I walk to the water cooler. To get there, I have to walk out of my office, through our waiting area, down a hallway, and through another office. It’s a journey. En route to the water cooler, I realize that every single time I get water, I have to walk past three — yes, three — candy jars. I give each candy jar a half-bitter, half-longing glance as I walk by.

{Candy jar #1}

{candy jar #1}

{Candy jar #2}

{candy jar #2}

{Candy jar #3}

{candy jar #3}

Wednesday, 9:00ish a.m.

I learn that at 10:00 a.m., our office will be having an Inter-Office Easter Egg Hunt. Perfect.

Wednesday, 10:00ish a.m.

It’s Easter Egg Hunt time. I try to protest (it’s our busy season after all, don’t we have actual work to do???) but my efforts are to no avail. Non-participation is apparently not an option, even for this Jew. To distract myself, I continue documenting my torture via iPhone photography.

{my loot}

{my loot}

{more loot}

{more loot}

Wednesday, 11:30ish a.m.

I stop and chat with a law student for a bit while on my way to another part of campus. As we’re talking, she pulls out a bag of chocolate chip cookies and sweetly offers me one. I can’t help but laugh and over-explain why I am choosing to decline (complete with me pulling out my phone to show her all of the above pictures). There is a distinct possibility that she might have thought I was slightly looney.

{actual cookie not pictured}

{actual cookie not pictured}

Wednesday, 12:15ish p.m.

Someone set out more baked goods for our office to “enjoy” … I’m starting to suspect that the baked good fairy might actually have malicious intent.

{really, there's more?}

{really, there’s more?}

Wednesday, 2:00 p.m.

It’s time for an office birthday party, complete with cake! Luckily I’ve got an appointment with a student at the same time, so I can avoid further temptation.

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m.

Oops, I spoke too soon. I managed to miss out on the birthday cake opportunity, but I walked right into cupcake madness.

{are. you. kidding. me?}

Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.

I met a friend for tea and conversation. I hadn’t prepped her for the fact that I was not eating sugar for the day, so she went ahead and ordered a desert crepe and offered to share. By this point I was so used to saying no and so invested in successfully completing my one-day fast, that refraining from eating it wasn’t even a struggle.

{dramatic reenactment}

{dramatic reenactment- the actual crepe did not have chocolate, caramel, nuts or whipped creme}

My Post-Fast Thoughts
  • Holy wow batman! I knew that there was a sugar epidemic happening in my workplace, but observing it in action for one day without participating was enlightening, to say the least. Between the ever-present candy bowls and the consistent influxes of baked goods, it’s a miracle that more of us do not have diabetes (though if we keep this up, we’re collectively headed in that direction).
  • At first it was r.e.a.l.l.y.h.a.r.d. to refrain from eating sugar and every time I said “no,” it felt like it took a monumental effort to stay true to my intention for the day. However, as the day went on, it got easier. My sense of resolve kicked in. I felt determined. I saw that it was possible to say no and that I would survive.
  • I noticed how there is a strong connection between sugar and relationships — gifts, thank yous, celebrations, community building — comfort foods, namely sweets, play such an integral role.
  • All-or-nothing may not be the best approach for me. On Thursday morning, feeling self-righteous that I had successfully completed my fast the day prior, I scarfed down two brownies for breakfast. As Michelle once said during class: “you are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices.” Suffice to say, brownies for breakfast is just never a solid plan.

All in all, I’m glad that I had this opportunity to explore my relationship with sugar….. Would it be too corny to end by saying that this exploration offered me a lot of food for thought? (Yeah, too corny, I agree, but I’m doing it anyway! :))


  1. Shocking how much sugar you have available. Oh and hate to say it but apples have sugar and fairly certain most peanut butters do as well. But, I assume when you mean “sugar” you are referring to sweets and pastry.

    1. Yes, refined sugar was the focus, but saying refined sugar over and over got a bit wordy. And the peanut butter was the “natural” peanuts-only kind. And I 100% agree- SHOCKING! :)

      1. Oh I applaud you on the natural peanut butter, I’ve tried that and can’t get into it. Just too oily and weird. Your sugary office reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine has the same issue at her office, there was a cake every day for someone’s birthday or such and she was trying to cut it off. =)

  2. You kill me! I especially loved the dramatic reenactment. You were right, the pictures make it a perfect story, and no kidding, how much sugar is in your world at work is astonishing. And of course cookie monster was an adorable addition. I’m glad to hear the day got easier as it wore on, as I’ve yet to do my fast. Thanks for sharing every bit of it.

  3. Wow — I thought my workplace was over-sugared, but yours is off the chart!

    Good reminder for me, though, because I’ve gotten much too complacent about “I’ll just take a little piece.” Thanks, as always, for a very thought-provoking piece.

    1. I know, right? It’s ridiculous!! Thanks for reading Elaine – I hope all is well.

  4. Oh wow! I think you were tested more in one day than I was the entire month that I abstained! http://wp.me/p10lkL-aY
    I loved all the photos – they reminded me of every office I’ve ever worked in!

    1. Wow, an entire month… I’m not sure I would last! :))

  5. I’m trying to give up sugar for 30 days, in everything, not just sweets and baked goods. It’s starting to make me angry how it’s in EVERYTHING – salad dressing and tomato sauce and even in cured meats, for crying out loud. It’s BACON, why is there sugar in it? But it certainly makes you more aware how over-sweetened we are. I recently read an article where the dairy Powers that Be are considering putting aspartamine in milk. Milk! So kids will drink it! Because it’s not sweet enough! Rrgh.

    Sorry for the rant, I think you hit my nerve :)

  6. Fun story =)

  7. Love the pictures, especially the dramatic re-enactment! so funny! The sugar & relationships thing is so true…and such a problem! I want to hear/talk more about this….this keeps going around in my mind: why is it ok to scarf handfulls of mini candy bars at my desk but so weird to stand up and do a little yoga. we need an office yoga/office worker health symposium! And I’m not talking about the “what is your BMI” BS that my employer considers a meaningful discussion about health. Oh oh…it’s 2am and I cant sleep and I’m ranting about sugar and yoga on your blog…sorry :)

  8. I am so happy to see this post! So funny! It really seems more like a bad nightmare than reality. How can there be so much refined, plasticky, brightly colored sugar-product in one day! Ah!

  9. This is hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time! I just LOVE your style of writing :)

  10. I really need to do this.

    1. Mmm, mee too (again)!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving this comment… such a good reminder :)

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