For ten weeks, I ate zero sweets.
Insane, right? I’m still not sure how I did it. But I learned a lot, and I’m now adopting a low-sugar lifestyle. What’s more, I’ve realized that anyone can cut out sugar – even if sweets are your life.
To recap, I’ve been trying to eat foods with less than five grams of sugar since early January. That doesn’t include items with natural sweetening (fruits, for example), but I avoided refined sugar (the stuff that makes comfort snacks like mac ‘n’ cheese and brownies so delicious). After learning that sugar is biologically addictive, I wanted to see how hooked I was and how I’d feel without it.
What have I learned?
Sugar is truly addictive. Story of my life: I’d say, “I’ll only have one bite of [insert sugary food here],” and then I’d chow down on way more than I’d planned. When you have even a little bit of sugar, your body yearns for more. When I cut it out of my diet, my cravings dropped significantly. It pained me to admit it, but I was addicted.
When you stay off sugar, you really do feel better. Not only did my yearnings decrease, but my face thinned out and my complexion became more healthful-looking, too. I also experienced fewer emotional ups and downs under stress (in fact, mood swings can result from variations in your blood sugar). I hardly ever suffered from headaches, which sugar can trigger.
It is possible to stay away from sugar. I have a huge sweet tooth, so I never thought I could give up my favorite goodies. But after about a week of cutting them out, my longings eased. I didn’t think about them as much anymore, and I didn’t miss them too much, because I realized how sugar negatively affects the body.
You might say, “This sounds great, but how can I manage to live without sugar?” I’ve come up with a few tips:
1. No need to go cold turkey right off the bat.
If that’s best for you, go ahead, but setting small goals works well too. For example, substitute sugar with cinnamon in your coffee. If you drink a cup of joe a day, you’d be amazed at how much less sugar you’re consuming. If sweets are calling your name, try one of these healthful options. Frozen fruit, unsweetened coconut milk or cinnamon are always good alternatives to processed sugar. You can also eat nuts or chickpeas when you’re generally hungry – they’re protein-rich.
2. Avoid temptation.
It’s hard to abstain from goodies when they’re sitting right in front of you. Make sugary items invisible to the naked eye, or if you want to go to extreme measures, just throw them out. At parties, don’t hang around the food table, because it’s probably littered with sweets. Try outings that don’t revolve so much around food; for instance, shop for clothes or accessories instead of setting out on a mission to find the best ice cream in town.
3. Find someone to hold you accountable.
It helps to stick with a goal when someone keeps tabs on how you’re doing. Ask a trusted friend to check in to see whether you’re fighting or succumbing to cravings. It might take a little humility to talk with him/her about it, but it’ll definitely help. Even better, find a friend who wants to cut out sugar, too, so you won’t have to go it alone.