Society is obsessed with healthy eating, cleanses, and detoxes. Celebrities swear by them, personal trainers swear by them, and even moms swear by them. Among these is the sugar detox, claiming to be life-changing. What happens when Americans cut out sugar? What happens when the average college student cuts out Insomnia Cookies, alcohol, dairy, and more?

coffee, butter, chocolate, peanut, peanut butter
Amanda Friedman

The sugar detox requires you to skip all alcohol, grains, added sugar, high fructose fruit, and dairy. Apples (a high fructose fruit) aren't allowed, but grapefruits (a low fructose fruit) are. Basically, the foods you eat are confined to proteins (like meat and eggs), vegetables, and healthy sources of fat (like avocados and nuts). To see if this would be as life-changing as it sounded, I decided to give it a try for a month.

Day 1

lemon, sweet, citrus, grapefruit, juice
Brittany Arnett

Avoiding sugar was, to put it simply, hard. I realized how much I depended on sugar to get me through the day and how I had to change all of my meals. For example, for breakfast, instead of my usual yogurt and granola, I ate a grapefruit.  Overall, the day wasn't as hard as I thought, but then again, it was only the first day. I felt "healthy," but I didn't notice any real changes.

Week 1

vegetable
Andrea Baysa

Still riding the euphoric wave of motivation, the rest of this first week was fairly easy. I definitely felt cleaner, but that also could've all been in my head. I ate very similarly to day one the entire week, just switching out chicken for salmon and spinach for bok choy, eating plain salads for lunch, and consuming low fructose fruits for breakfast.

Week 2

This week was definitely harder. I started to crave coffee every time I walked past a Starbucks and ice cream every time my roommate ate her Half Baked Ben and Jerry's. Everything was so tempting, I ended up wishing for anything sugary — cookies, cakes, even mangoes. Late night was always the hardest, but each time, I forced myself to walk away and have self control. The first few times, rejecting sweets was difficult, but as the week went on, I had fewer and fewer cravings.

I didn't work out this week, in large part because I was mentally exhausted from using all my willpower not to cheat during the detox. I also felt less energetic than normal (probably because I didn't have sugar rushes anymore). Halfway there. So close.

Week 3

Even though I still had sugar cravings, they weren't as bad as they were during week two. I noticed that my stomach looked a bit flatter and my face thinner, but the largest difference was in my skin. No pimples, no redness, no rashes, nothing. Seeing a physical, tangible change also boosted my drive, so I started to climb up that "no sugar high" I had during week one again, though by this time, I was still eating the same old meals over and over again.

Mentally, I felt much better and clearer than last week. I didn't feel sluggish at all, and I could easily concentrate during class. 

Last Day

sweet, cream, popcorn, milk
Becky Hughes

Honestly, the only thing I thought of the entire day was that I could finally eat mangoes, dairy, and cookies the next day. I breezed through each meal, ignored the sugar, and worked out. By this time, everything felt routine, and even when I saw my roommate eating her Half Baked Ben and Jerry's, I didn't feel a strong urge to have some or buy my own pint.

Final Thoughts

Even though I usually try to eat balanced and in moderation, I think that the sugar detox was an effective way to get my body to crave less sugar. I don't recommend this exact detox for everyone, but there's definitely some value in cutting out artificial sugar for any period of time.

If I were to decide to do a sugar detox again, however, I definitely wouldn't do it this rigorously. I'd allow myself to eat dairy, grains, and all fruits, making sure there's no processed or artificial sugar involved. At least now, if I'm asked for an interesting fact about myself, I'll have something other than instruments or languages that I know to share.