In college, I found that I started to have an unhealthy relationship with sugar. I never used to be a huge fan of it, but now, the addiction is real. When I crave it, I have to have it, immediately. And when I get it, I find myself overindulging and then feeling horrible then repeating the habit. So, I wanted to challenge myself to go sugar-free for one week, because we all know sugar ain't great for us. It's one week, how hard can it be?

The Rules

Let me clarify, by sugar I don’t mean natural sugar from fruits and veggies, I mean refined sugar and that fake artificial sugar. I allowed myself honey, because its a more natural alternative to sugar, and I think I’d just be too hard without it.

Here we go . . .

Day 1: Sunday

Day one had its challenges but was not as hard as I thought it could be. It might, in part, be because I’m coming off of a day of overloading with sugar, so I’m happy for a little sugar-free cleanse.

In the middle of the day my friend and I went to a cafe to study and I have to say I was tempted to buy one of the sugary snacks or a coffee with some added flavors, but it was made easier to resist because I had $0 (The life of a college student at the end of the school year).

After dinner, I normally like to end the day with a little something sweet, so it was a little hard to avoid the desserts section at the dining hall, but I managed to walk past it without a glance.

Without incredible challenge, Day 1 is done! Only 6 more!

Day 2: Monday

For breakfast, I got my usual yogurt and granola at the dining hall, with plenty of strawberries and bananas for natural sweetness. Yum! It’s food like this which makes me believe that I can conquer this challenge.

I went to a cycling class right before lunch. I have to say, working out right before eating a meal really helps curb the unhealthy cravings; I always find that my hunger is suppressed after a hard workout. I had a salad with couscous on the side and left feeling full and satisfied. Sugar-free is feelin' good!

Throughout my afternoon, normally I get really snacky, and these snacks tend to be on the sugary side, but I volunteered today, which distracted me from desiring and giving in to any sugar cravings.

For dinner I went to Publix with a friend. That was a real challenge. So much sugary goodness on display that I don’t get the chance to have at Emory normally, all calling my name, waiting to be consumed! My friend bought cookies, which definitely did not help. The lightness of my wallet, though, helped fight the temptation.

For some reason, my stomach was bothering me a lot, and, though uncomfortable, definitely helped me finish the day strong without any sugar.

Day 3: Tuesday

First off, I’m noticing changes with my body that I like to see. I don’t know know if this is because I cut out unnatural sugar, or just a coincidence these past couple of nights, but I’ve had much deeper sleep for some reason, AND I wake up feeling more awake. In college, I take as much sleep as I can get, so that has been a blessing! Also, my digestion is much more normal and on a schedule.

This afternoon was the hardest for me thus far. I was feeling very snacky for no apparent reason, and all I could think about was snacking on something sweet, which was not good because then I just ended up continuing snacking because I was not getting the sugar I so desperately wanted. Having to walk through the Farmer’s Market today from class to class did not help. It took everything in me to not splurge and buy a sugary coffee, the delightful kettle corn, a donut, or a pain au chocolat.

Also, at night, I am in a class in which once a month we have to cook. This evening, I had to resist one of my favorite staples that I make back home: rice pudding. All in all, however, dinner, wasn’t as hard because there were so many other sugar-free foods to delight my palate.

Day 4: Wednesday

It’s not that I had an insane sugar tooth this morning, but for whatever reason, I was really craving some of Khaldi’s famous energy balls, despite already eating a satisfying breakfast. I ended up convincing myself that it didn’t REALLY count because the only sugar there (not including honey) was in the SEMI-sweet chocolate chips. So, I succumbed to a glorious energy ball. I really need to define what I mean by sugar-free, this could be bad.

In the afternoon, just after lunch, the sugar craving was coming on again. (I have a feeling these next few days are going to be hard…). I decided to make my sugar free brownie in a mug, and normally it tastes amazing, but for whatever reason, it just wasn’t doing it for me, and I desired sugar even more afterward. I compensated with a sad apple.

Luckily, it went away later in the day… probably because of my 9-mile run. It made me feel far from wanting sugar.

Day 5: Thursday

Today was, again, difficult for me, but I’m striving to push through. I would probably have quit by now if I wasn’t writing this article. Here’s a helpful tip: if you decide to go sugar-free (or cut any habit, really), tell someone that will hold you accountable.

The morning was fine, thankfully, but I don’t think that I ate enough for lunch because I was starving after my class that ended at 2:15! I was really tempted to buy a snack from a convenience store on campus, but I resisted and instead sadly walked into the dining hall for some sunflower seed butter and a slice of bread.

I was still wanting some munchies even after that; I don’t know why I was so hungry! So, since I have zero food in my room, I went to a campus dining hall ashamedly and bought some Book Chicka Pop Kettle Corn. The kettle corn has too much sugar to not be counted as sugar, and I knew that and bought it and ravenously ate it anyways. That stuff is crack. I made it okay in my mind because it’s better than, say, a cookie. Still though… :( The struggle is real. So close!

I went to a cycling class later in the afternoon, and I could feel the sugar. Sugar definitely affects your workouts for the worse… don’t do it, kids! After the workout, I was feeling gross enough to not want anything unhealthy for the rest of the night.

Day 6: Friday

T - 1 day to go, let’s gooooo!!!

Fridays are hard because I always feel like I want to reward myself for getting through a long, hard week. Walking to class, and back from class the other way, I avoided my usual cafe detour and made the sad, sugarless walk back to my room. I must say though, I did feel proud of myself and really appreciated my decision come time to workout. I’m finding it's getting easier and easier to say no; it’s becoming more of a habit now. About time, just as I’m finishing up!

Day 7: Saturday

blueberry, cereal, sweet, milk, yogurt, muesli, berry, oatmeal, porridge
Becky Hughes

Yummy mummy breakfast of thick oatmeal with raisins, banana, cinnamon, go lean crunch, and honey. Accompanied by a side of fresh and ripe strawberries and pineapple. My soul is full and happy :) Who even needs sugar??

Today I went to a festival with my friends and going into it, I knew there would be some temptations. Boy oh boy, there were. And far more tantalizing than the usual temptations around the school. There were so many different food trucks full of wonderful foods wafting their way into my nostrils. It didn’t help that literally everyone around me seemed to be eating something. And I had already filled myself with lunch (in order to NOT buy anything) so the only thing I was wanting was suuuuugar. When I fancied the idea of ending a day early, interestingly, I struggled to find something cheat-worthy though. Alas, however, with the convincing of my friends, I cheated (I know!!! I’m horrible - I have to be honest though!) and bought a snazzy Popsicle.

Was it worth it, and worth everything I had been craving? Honestly, probably not, and I was a little disappointed in myself for cutting myself short and cheating.

My Overall Experience

Yes, on the last day, I cheated, and you might also count the popcorn too, but I am still glad that I challenged myself. It showed me, that, if I really really set my mind on a goal, I CAN do it. Also, even in this short, one week challenge I realized the good effects of minimizing refined sugar can have on your body. I had fewer sleepy mid-day crashes throughout the week, I had deeper sleep, more regular digestion, better workouts, and (even in one week!) clearer skin. I felt more confident too! I 100% recommend this challenge. Or, if you find you don’t struggle with sugar, maybe another unhealthy habit. I think I might try unnecessary snacking or coffee next!