Dare to give up the sweet stuff?
Are you a sugar addict? I am, or maybe...was?
Once something we only consumed naturally, for instance through the natural sugars found in fruit, we now find added sugar in almost every kind of food we consume. While sugar might be seriously delicious, it’s also serious addictive and can definitely mess with your mood, sleep and good vibes.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to indulge a little bit...I’m an absolute ice cream fanatic but there are a whole lot of reasons why you should try to cut out or at least reduce your daily sugar intake. You might just feel a bit better for it.
If you are thinking of giving up sugar (and I’d recommend giving it a try!) then it is worth understanding what happens when you do and how you could benefit.
You Can Lose Weight
The reality is that too much sugar will almost certainly lead to weight gain. Sugars that aren’t used by the body are slowly metabolised into fat...which will make you fat. After giving up sugar for two weeks, I lost a small, but noticeable amount of weight. Considering I didn’t change any other aspect of my diet I was really surprised by this.
What’s more, the weight loss made me feel healthier and that is always a good thing as it can help to improve your health in other ways.
We always assume that sugar gives us our energy and yes, for a brief moment you do enjoy a surge of energy. And then comes the crash. Ouch. Back to reality, except now it’s bad. It almost seems stupid now, but being crash free has been something as a revelation. Much more regular energy levels. The cake is a lie, as they say.
If I so much as look at a bar of chocolate after 6pm my sleeping becomes a disaster. While in my old age of my late 20’s I’ve adjusted accordingly to this, I still notice the effects of too much sugar day-to-day if I don’t have the chance to work it off through exercise. Too much sugar can leave you feeling jittery and full of energy which can really mess with your sleeping patterns. After cutting the daily sugars my body felt much more naturally attuned to sleep and so, I found that I slept a lot better.
Fruit helped with cravings...but beware
Of course, giving up sugar comes with sugar cravings. Ughh. It's only natural to look for a replacement. Fruit is a great choice and is packed with fibre, which helps counteract the blood sugar spike attributed to added sugars. That said, you should avoid fruit juices. This is because fibre is removed when fruit is turned into juice and that makes it more difficult to process the natural sugar.
Sugar is Everywhere
Seriously. Sugar is everywhere. In your food, in your socks, waiting in the closet! Maybe just in your food. Even foods you wouldn’t expect: pizza, flavoured drinks, cereal, bread etc. Which is why...
Always Check Ingredients
Once you realise how much sugar is in nearly all of your food you’ll be blown away. Cutting it all out can be extremely difficult, and of course you don’t want to cut out natural sugars like those that come from fruit.
It is Important to Plan
If you are someone who is out and about a lot or someone who travels with work it can prove challenging to avoid sugar. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead and think about potential problems that you might face when it comes to finding sugar free foods. So, you might need to pack some snacks or a sugar-free light meal that you can take with you such as low sugar protein bars, protein flapjacks or low-calorie protein bars.
Temptation is Hard
After consuming sugar for so long, giving it up and going cold turkey is challenging. As mentioned, you are surrounded by sugar and when things are tough, it is too tempting to head into a shop to fulfil that need. It is hard but the rewards are worth it.
One of the more interesting things I found about giving up sugar is the way in which I no longer suffered from that mid-afternoon slump. I felt that my focus was quite consistent throughout the day and that I no longer needed to reach for a sugary snack. All of this left me feeling more focused and more productive.
The cravings go away
Perhaps the most exciting change I felt after a week or so of being sugar free was an almost complete disinterest in high sugar foods. It’s not that I couldn’t stomach them (oh dear ice cream, how much I still want thee) it’s that the cravings just disappeared. I learnt a new level of dietary restraint and control. It feels good.
A little bit of sugar is alright!
After two weeks of (nearly!) zero added sugars I definitely felt better. I’m no longer a sugar fiend, but I do let myself have the occasional treat now and I’m actually much happier for it. It isn’t even a battle anymore to say ‘no’ when that box of cookies come round the office. Who’da thunk?