Months before the end of the year, I noticed how my sugar consumption had increased dramatically, especially with candy. I work an office job, and it’s nothing for me to eat an entire bag of candy, drink a latte, and buy lunch from a delicious but not-so-healthy spot. I’ve known for a while that this is something I needed to fix, but didn’t have a real “push”. This all really changed at Christmas, when my sister-in-love showed up to the holiday gathering 40 pounds lighter and glowing. She told me about how she’s been sugar (and carb) free for the last six months and had a new lease on life. Now that I could see the real results, this is something that I had to do. I continued my holiday consumption as normal, but from the first day of 2017, I decided to cut out all sugar from my diet with the exception of fruit.
I have no problem with New Year’s resolutions, but I knew before I started that “it” wasn’t going to be enough for me to think about weight lost—it just wasn’t my goal for this. For me, it was more about all the rumors I heard of the horror of excessive sugar consumption. So in conjunction with this decision, I simultaneously decided to read The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. If you’re really thinking about removing sugar from your diet, for any period of time, I strongly recommend reading this book—it’s exceptional in breaking down every aspect of the conversation about sugar. Not only did it confirm all my fears, but it shed light on so many things I never knew. Sugar is single-handedly making generations of Americans chronically sick, and until we address consumption with facts and solutions, it will continue to get worse.
What I Learned
Do not underestimate sugar: sugar is a drug. I was fortunate not to experience any headaches in the first days after I stopped consuming sugar, but please know there was not one day that passed that I did not think about sugar. EVERY. DAY. In order to not consume sugar, you must actively pay attention to EVERYTHING you eat. There is sugar in hot dogs, whole wheat bread, mixed nuts, and just about every condiment except for hot sauce and mustard. (Thank goodness, because I was NOT prepared to go 31 days without hot sauce.)
Ok, I never brag but I’m going to brag a little, have you all seen my skin!?!? This no sugar plus a gallon of water every day equals ah-mazing skin. Yes, that sounds like a given, but I was still surprised. If you’re looking to improve the quality of your skin, this is the first place I recommend to start. Second perk: extra energy. I don’t drink coffee, and I have a 7-month-old who is still learning to sleep through the night. I thought that surely it was going to be impossible to stop eating sugar and stay awake a whole day. Wrong again! Not only did I not need the midday sugar boost, but I had a more balanced amount of energy throughout the entire day. I also found that I was getting better sleep; I attribute this to having a lighter dinner that didn’t leave me stuffed at the end of the day. (It is important to note that you wake up starving, lol.) Lastly, I will not front, I did lose some weight—four pounds, to be exact. I started the month weighing 138 pounds, and ended the month weighing 134. Disclaimer, this is NOT from working out; I’m a new mom, as I mentioned, and I have not found a way to incorporate working out back into my daily. The weight loss is due to diet alone. So if working out is not a part of your routine, cutting out sugar may help bring body changes without it.
Yesterday being the last day of the cleanse, today will definitely include a glass of wine and I’m not ashamed to say it! Having no sugar was manageable in a lot of ways, but really hard when it came to alcohol, even when drinking is not something that I do in excess very often. What’s important to me is managing it in the future, but it will not be something I’m willing to go completely without.
There are some habits I want to continue, though. One—no sugar in my tea. I used to put two to three teaspoons in every cup of tea, but going no sugar helped me realize that you don’t need it. (The key: buy quality tea. Good tea is very flavorful and doesn’t need an added sweetener.) Two—dressing is overrated. I had a salad on the menu multiple times, and I figured out a way to do it with no sugar in the dressing (recipe below).
Finally, you ARE strong. Yes, sugar is addicting, but your willpower can be stronger. It will not be easy, but you can do it. Never doubt what you’re capable of. You got this!
My Favorite Recipes
As an added bonus, I thought I would share some of my favorite no-sugar recipes of the month. Enjoy!
Greek Pizza (I love this recipe because snacking is crucial when trying to have no sugar):
Lemon dressing (my own recipe)
Juice from half a lemon
Teaspoon or Tablespoon of quality extra virgin oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked ground pepper