Unlike most people who decide to quit sugar to live a healthier lifestyle, I was unwillingly forced to give up sugar by my doctor. For years, I have struggled with food allergies and digestion issues, but after about ten different doctors, ranging from your classic pediatrician all the way to seeing an acupuncturist, I ended up at an integrative doctor this summer. 

I felt that I was finally ready to solve my health issues and move on from the life of constant stomach aches. I was up for anything that would make me feel better. 

After talking to my new doctor, he concluded that I had a yeast overgrowth in my gut (thank you high doses of antibiotics as a child), and I needed to rebalance my gut if I wanted to feel better. 

candy, sweet
Christin Urso

Unfortunately, there was no magic pill that made everything re-balance, but rather I would have to go on a yeast-free diet for at least a month. This included no sugar (including the natural sugars found in fruits), no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, and some other small details like no balsamic vinegar.

Considering I was already gluten- and dairy-free, overcoming the no sugar obstacle would be my biggest challenge. Side note about me: I am a grade-A chocoholic, so quitting sugar would not be the easiest task.

chocolate, coffee, candy, sweet, milk chocolate, milk
Christin Urso

Upon hearing this, I nodded and was ready to leave the doctor's office. After my mom and I left the doctor's office, she was ecstatic that we were finally going to cure all my troubles, while I sat there and moped about how horrible this was going to be.

My mom kept going on and on about how happy she was for me, and I continued to complain until I finally suggested we go get ice cream because that seemed like the only reasonable solution at the time.

It was then that my mom made a point that I knew was true and hated to accept: the fact that I was reluctant and upset about quitting sugar probably meant sugar was a big part of the problem.

After devouring the world's best dairy-free ice cream and accepting my new-found decision that quitting sugar meant I'd start feeling better, I decided to start a sugar-free lifestyle the following day. This meant I had to get mentally prepared for a life of vegetables and having stevia be my only sweetener option. 

The next morning I woke up feeling ready to stay away from sugar and get through the next month one meal at a time. I quickly learned that sugar is literally in everything, and I would now be spending lots of time reading food labels.

vegetable, tomato, carrot, pepper
Christin Urso

As I went through my first couple days without sugar, I felt fine, but had horrible cravings. On the third day, I was feeling extremely irritable, emotional, exhausted, and achy. On top of that, I had horrible headaches. 

I was complaining to my mom that I was sick and didn't know what to do, so I decided to look at some blogs about quitting sugar and yeast-free diets. In short, I learned that a lot of science is going on in your brain and body when you quit sugar.

When sugar is consumed, your brain releases dopamine, which causes you feel like you're on top of the world. The more you eat sugar, the more dopamine is released and the more addicted we become to this process. When you deprive yourself of this process the withdrawal symptoms start to kick in. 

cereal, flour, dairy product
Andrea Leelike

Fun fact: sugar has been found to be more addictive than cocaine. I was one-hundred percent addicted to sugar, and now I was going through withdrawal. 

In health class, we learn about how scary drugs are and all the horrible things that happen when you do drugs along with the withdrawal symptoms you'll experience. But why does no one talk about how addictive sugar is and how horrible withdrawal can feel?

After a few grueling days of thinking my life was going to be a horrible episode of being sick all the time and I would never eat chocolate again, I eventually began to feel better. My stomach aches had stopped, I had more energy and even my constant craving for chocolate had minimized. 

I continued the following month sugar-free and returned to my doctor believing someone had finally cured me. My doctor asked me to continue a sugar-free diet, and I was actually okay with it. After living without sugar and learning about all its horrible side effects, I was perfectly fine with saying goodbye to sugar. I have continued to be sugar-free, but like most college students and normal people I still crave sugar and allow myself to have it once in a while. 

Even if I am not one-hundred percent sugar-free, staying away from it most of the time still makes me feel better, and knowing what makes me feel sick makes it a lot easier to solve my problems.