Cutting out sugar seems to be a very popular ‘fad’ (diet?) this year. I’ve heard of loads of people doing it, seen posts on social media about it, and have had multiple friends talk about their own attempts to cut out sugar. Everyone I talked to seem to have slightly different approaches for going sugar free—”Nothing with fructose,” “Only during the work week,” “Natural sugar’s okay,” etc. I decided to give it a go myself and stopped eating sugar for the entire month of July. The experience was interesting.
I decided to take on the experiment only a couple days before I started, with an idea in my head that this would be a fairly easy “challenge.” (I don’t mean to brag, but when it come to food, I have exceptional impulse control.) When people asked why I was not eating sugar, there are two main reasons I would give: 1) I don’t think I eat a lot of sugar to begin with and cutting out sugar is a good way test that. 2) I was curious how much it would change my lifestyle. To preface, I personally don’t believe in dieting. I believe what you do and don’t eat is part of your lifestyle, and while you can make lifestyle changes to improve your overall health, diets — especially fad diets — are neither effective or healthy for losing weight or improving health long-term. When going sugar-free, I didn’t expect to lose weight or experience sugar withdrawal or even crave sugary foods. I honestly expected to feel very little effect at all.
My Rules for Sugar-free Eating: When taking on a project of this nature, I believe it’s necessary to establish some guidelines. Most importantly, what type of sugars are being cut and if any form of sugar is okay. After a little consideration, I decided to only cut out added and processed sugars, allowing myself to eat only naturally occurring sugars. So basically, I could still eat fruit and honey (and real maple syrup but I never ended up eating that in July). I also considered the sugar in alcohol to be naturally occurring, as long as it was not some sort of cocktail with sugar, soda pop, or simple syrup in it. To play it safe, I pretty stuck to beer or wine when consuming alcohol.
I am happy to report that cutting out sugar wasn’t very difficult for me at all. I feel relieve to know that I’m not naive about my sugar consumption and really had to make very little adjustments to my normal day-to-day life. That being said, some adjustments were still made:
Now my experience going sugar free is probably different than other people’s experiences. For someone who consumes a lot of sugar and is trying to eliminate or reduce sugar consumption, this could be a much more difficult task; after all, sugar is more addicting than cocaine (according to a study done on rats). A friend of mine who has more of a sweet tooth than me pointed out that I might feel so good sugar free, I won’t want to go back to eating it. A very good point but not something I see happening to me since cutting sugar out had a small effect on my day-to-day eating habits. I apologize to anyone who read this hoping for some agonizing account of resisting sugar or tips to stay strong in the face of sugar cravings. I can’t pass on any specific tips for resisting cravings, though I suggest eating something else you enjoy and drinking plenty of water if you are avoiding a specific food you crave. And just remind yourself that the cravings do go away with time (that’s kind of a specific tip for all my friends who have asked for advice on kicking a soda pop addiction.)
Will I eat sugar again? Most definitely. (I had a donut for breakfast August 1st, and posted all about it on my Instagram.) I don’t believe cane sugar is bad for you and subscribe to the “everything in moderation” philosophy… for the exception of coffee, which I drink in excess. I will, as I always have, continue to not eat “fake” sugars or high fructose corn syrup, etc. I do believe that the real thing is much better for your health (and tastier) than their man-made, low-cal counter parts.
Do you have any experience going sugar free? Please share your experience in the comments section below. I’d love to hear them. Additionally, if there is anything you’d like see me try on “Gretchen Tries Stuff,” leave suggestions in the comments section or reach out to me on my Twitter.
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.