The idea of cutting out sugar for a month is a noble plan. And for some of us it’s any easy challenge and for others, it’s definitely not the easiest endeavor. For me, this month’s challenge has felt pretty tricky.

You might think I have a slight “advantage” because I already avoid cane sugar due to a known food intolerance. But I do still enjoy treats sweetened with dates or maple syrup and since these are practically my only sweet additions, I feel a bit attached to them. Which probably signals a sugar love affair, even if it’s on a different scale than other people’s diets. Needless to say, my original plan was to cut these out during January and really give my body a break.

But then I didn’t.

I’ve wrestled with whether this means I’ve “cheated”. Have I been naughty and eaten poorly? Then again, who’s to say what is naughty and that I can’t enjoy these things? Me, right? I’m the one who ultimately decides whether I bow to food-guilt or take pride in my efforts. It’s hard to remember that sometimes. But I have decided I need to make the effort and retrain myself to feel good about my food choices and never feel guilty about making those choices.

And with that in mind, the challenge of a Sugar Free January doesn’t need to feel like a chore or a test that I’m failing. Instead it is an opportunity for me to champion my own health and my choice to eat the foods that make me feel as good as I can feel.

I am and will continue to try my best to eat food that nourishes my body and tastes so good that I enjoy eating it. I choose to be proud of my eating decisions. I need to say it again (to spur myself on)… I’m proud of my food choices and I do my best to fuel my body with nutritious food. And my message to you is the same: Be proud of the choices you make to eat as well as you can in order to feel as good as you can.