The average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar every day, totaling 66 pounds of sugar every year. This is much higher than the recommended daily amount of 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Part of the reason for the problem is that refined sugar is added to pretty much everything to increase flavor and shelf life. 

I like to think that I don't consume that much refined sugar, but to see just how much I was taking in, I decided to quit refined sugar for a week. I also wanted to see what benefits I would get, if any.

#SpoonTip: Refined sugars are different from natural sugars, as they're added to things like cakes and cereals, not derived naturally from food like fruit. 

Not wanting to go into this completely blind, I did some research and discovered that sugar is quite addictive. Some common symptoms of sugar withdrawal include headaches, moodiness, tiredness, depression, anxiety, and of course, sugar cravings. According to multiple online sources, these symptoms should not last for more than a week. Either way, it looked like I was in for quite a treat.

Day 1

I had a bit of a rough start to the day. I went to 85°C Bakery on my way to class to get some breakfast and a caffeine fix. Without giving it a thought, I grabbed a chocolate croissant off the shelf. I didn't even realize what I had done until I was a few bites in. Realizing that pretty much everything at 85°C Bakery had added sugar in it, I made a mental note to make breakfast at home for the rest of the week. 

Day 2

I am not quite a morning person, but I wake up every day at 6:45 am and usually don't have any issues. This morning, I was struggling to get out of bed. I made myself a cup of tea and didn't add even a pinch of sugar. It surprisingly didn't taste as bad as I imagined it would, but still, I was not a fan. I was starting to feel a little irritable and impatient with others. But since I was conscious that sugar withdrawal could lead to this, I was able to get through the day without any major disagreements. 

Day 3

When I woke up today, I felt exhausted. I had class this morning and that was just barely enough to get me out of bed. On top of that, my head was killing me. I had a migraine that was so bad I had to turn off all the lights and lie down in complete silence. I definitely did not have the best day. 

Day 4

Although my mood had improved, I was still having a killer headache all day and was pretty tired. It was really getting in the way of me doing any work. I started to question if continuing this was really worth it if it meant that I couldn't do anything for a week. 

Day 5

Cutting out sugar is definitely harder if you live with other people. Everywhere around me there was sugar in the form of cake, juice, and chocolate. My favorite dark chocolate bar was just sitting on the counter, taunting me. I reasoned that it wasn't as bad as some of the other sugary items, and had a small piece. The great thing about today was that my headaches were gone and I was feeling considerably better. 

Day 6

Today was tough. I was having a hard time and felt pretty down the entire day. Usually when I feel this down, I treat myself to something sweet, like a chocolate croissant. Sitting in Starbucks and trying not to stare at the chocolate croissant in the display case was extremely difficult. 

Day 7 

For most of this week I was eating my meals at home by myself, and I didn't realize what a difference that makes. Today, one of my closest friends was visiting and so we spent the entire day out together. Everywhere we went, we came across sugar. It's hard enough to resist when you're on your own, but when a friend is trying to convince you to split a crepe with her, its almost impossible to resist. I used this article as justification, but if I was doing this without anything to keep me accountable, I definitely would have succumbed to the peer pressure. 


This week was definitely challenging and I cannot recommend that anyone tries to quit sugar cold turkey. However, I did notice that my energy levels remained quite stable throughout the day. Once the side effects of withdrawal started to wear off, I really didn't miss sugar all that much.

I think a large part of reducing sugar is to avoid exposure. Whether it be in your own home or when you're out with friends, but sugar is everywhere. And when it's staring you in the face, it's hard to resist. When you step away from it for a while though, you realize how unnecessary a lot of it is. 

Of course, I do not plan to completely avoid sugar for the rest of my life, but I do plan to reduce my intake. Instead of reaching for a slice of cake, maybe next time I'll grab an apple.