This year for Lent, I gave up added sugar, and although it proved to be very challenging, it was also an incredibly educational 40 days.

I came to the decision to give up added sugars, because I started to notice an unsettling dependency on all types of sugar. It wasn’t until I tracked a normal day of eating and calculated just how much added sugar I was consuming that I realized something must be done about this nasty habit. The results were shocking.

Added Sugar Calculations

Oatmeal with honey and cinnamon – 4.25 tsp
Grande iced coffee – 5 tsp
Blueberry Chobani greek yogurt – 5 tsp
Late-night snack: Kashi cereal – 4 tsp

That’s about 20 teaspoons of pure, straight up added sugar. When the American Heart Association suggests no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, that is a huge shock. There’s no candy coating that one, kids. At the end of the day, the purpose of Lent is to sacrifice those things in life that really aren’t necessary, but that we have developed an attachment and dependency towards. Hence, my giving up all of those unnecessary added sugars.

Knowing how difficult it would be to go cold turkey, I mad a list of things to avoid and put it on my desk to frequently remind myself of my goal. So without further ado, here is a taste of what I got myself into.

Things to avoid

added honey (to tea, oatmeal, fresh fruit, etc.)
sweetened greek yogurt
sweetened coffee
processed bread, crackers, cereals, energy bars
sugary drinks (Gatorade, hot chocolate, sweetened lattes, etc.)

Week 1:

Lots of headaches, grumpy, irritable, withdrawal symptoms. I am really not exaggerating. Pretty sure I scared some of my friends. Also, I’m realizing I need to be more strict with reading food labels. The Girl Scouts are taunting me with those brightly colored boxes and their adorable faces. Staying strong.

Week 2:

Slightly easier week, maybe because I am getting over those initial sugar cravings, but also just mentally getting easier because I know I went an entire week without added sugar. And I avoided my roommates’ Girl Scout cookies. Success.

Week 3:

I had a slice of wedding cake (hey now Catholics, it was technically Sunday), and I sorely paid the price because I could not fall asleep all night from the sugar-high. I was a zombie the next day. Some of the cravings have come back, and I have been spending a great deal of time on Pinterest looking up various Easter desserts, but that is still 3 weeks away. Wow, okay getting back at it. On a more positive note, I have been having more even moods and sleeping schedule is on point. I can get through my afternoon classes without the 3 o’clock slump. My Economics grades definitely appreciate this.

Week 4:

The smell of sugar has become nauseating and smelling certain types of candy bars people ate around me made me sick. I can smell the loaded sugar. Probably overdid the fruit this week, but it’s getting to be that time of the year when it’s just so delicious.

Week 5:

Easiest week so far. Except one day when my mom made five cakes for a church event; it made the house smell pretty much how I imagine Heaven smells. Again, staying strong.

Week 6:

The final week. I have practically no cravings. I am scared for the end to come, because I enjoy the feeling of having beat this addiction. I know how easy it is to get sucked into the habit of consuming too much added sugar. Let me tell you, sugar is added to practically everything.

So, there you have it. For those of you wondering, no I didn’t lose a crazy amount of weight, nor did I stop having those pesky break-outs that everyone seems to associate with too much salt, sugar and fat. But, I did break my sugar addiction and dependency on sugar. And I know that I do not want to go back to the way it was before.

My challenge for you is to pay attention to the added sugars you’re consuming and compare it to the American Heart Association’s recommendations. You may, like me, be addicted to sugar without even knowing it.

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Quitting Sugar

For more information on sugar-addiction and breaking the ugly cycle, check out these Spoon articles: