Recently, I wrote an article regarding how sugar affects our mental health, and I was taken aback by what I found. Apparently, excessive sugar consumption is not only adverse for our waistlines but also for our mood. Sugar has a direct repercussion on our mental health; it is known to worsen anxiety attacks and clinical depression. It seemed that it's high time I cut down on sugar. 

This article served as a wake-up call for me because I have faced severe anxiety before, especially during exam season, and sugar has acted as my comfort food at all times.  It seemed next to impossible to give up on my daily dose of cookies and chocolates, especially when stress was at an all-time high. 

First Week Was A Bummer

Sonal Chanana

Our brain perceives sugar as a reward. The more sugar we consume, the better we feel, and the benchmark to attain the reward keeps getting higher. Eventually, we tend to consume a high amount of sugar to get the reward. Almost like a drug, sugar is addictive

My first week was a tad disappointing because my taste buds are so accustomed to sugar that I couldn't stop craving it after every meal. I tried replacing sugar with honey and jaggery but they couldn't match up. My body was desperately demanding sugar, and truthfully, I did give in a few times. Overall, I'd say I didn't do half bad because I was able to survive without sugar for 4 days in a week. 

My body felt confused due to the reduced sugar consumption, and I couldn't see a considerable alteration in my mood. I did feel lighter from the inside, maybe due to the consumption of lesser number of calories. 

The Second Week Was A Revelation

chocolate, whipped cream, cream, ice, ice cream, sauce, strawberry, banana, crepe, Dessert
Natalie Marshall

I pulled through the first week trying not to binge on the numerous sugar-rich foods waiting for me in the refrigerator. I started reading food labels to check the amount of sugar in each item. I felt like I was going insane.

Surprisingly, in the second week, things started falling into place. I began to crave sugar less and less each passing day. Maybe it's because my body became habitual to consuming less sugar, so, anytime I would take a bite of food with excess sugar, my body resisted it! I could never, in my wildest dreams, imagine that my body would ever refuse sugar. 

Coming to my mental health, I could definitely see a change in my anxiety level. I was able to overcome my dependence on sugar to cope up with anxiety. I started looking for alternate coping mechanisms like physical exercise, journaling, and calling up friends. Not to say that it all went perfectly smooth but I was able to notice a difference in my mood; I was less irritable and anxious. 

Third Week I Relapsed

chocolate, Dessert, sweet, candy
Rachael Marks

Just when you feel things are going okay, life begins to test you. I felt that I have moved away from my unhealthy coping mechanism of eating sugar as a form of comfort food, but boy, was I wrong. It doesn't work that way, and changing a coping mechanism requires a ton of practice and patience. 

I experienced overwhelming anxiety in the third week due to work pressure, and I was back to the drawing board. I had to re-plan my meals according to my appetite since it tends to increase during stress. The first few days I felt stressed but later I decided to pace myself, which certainly had an impact on my anxiety, and I coupled it with consuming high protein and low sugar. #ProTip: this works!

The Final Week Was Satisfying

vegetable, pepper, tomato, salad, garlic, broccoli, onion, Herbs, basil, strawberries, blueberries, peppers, brocoli, lemons, apples, avocados, quinoa
Josi Miller

The last week was easier than the first 3 because, through this tumultuous journey, I ended up discovering what works for my physical and mental health. Consuming sugar constantly as a form of coping led to an enormous increase in weight, and higher anxiety levels. When I cut down, I could feel that my mental health was in a better shape, and so was my body.

I, also, chanced upon the realization that if I eat more filling foods, I'd not want to consume as much sugar. Cutting down on sugar, for me, did not mean eliminating is totally, but managing the amount I consume. 

porridge, oatmeal, cereal, sweet, milk, oatmeal cereal, muesli, banana
Caroline Mackey

I was inspired by an article I read about the benefits of eating oats everyday for breakfast, and I decided to incorporate the same in the daily routine. Oats are extremely fibrous and filling at the same time. Eating them with fruits is an added bonus. I have them everyday now and they keep me full till lunch, thus, I end up consuming less sugar than usual. I do add a tablespoon to my bowl of oats, though. 

Similarly, I started replacing my meals to include healthier, more nutritious options, and that had a direct impact on my sugar consumption. Eating salads, stir-fried veggies, apple cider vinegar, whole wheat bread or pasta, green tea, are all wonderful options if you wish to be more mindful of what you're consuming.

I'd say cutting down on sugar for a month was absolutely worth it. My body feels healthier, and my mind is definitely more at peace. I'm going to continue with this new regime and I hope you try to manage your sugar consumption to see the results for yourself.