Sugar is undoubtedly one of the most controversial foods in the world. It tastes so good yet the general consensus says that it can have adverse effects on our body. Though I can’t say I’ve been sugar’s biggest fan, nor its biggest enemy – all my life, I’ve eaten sugar. I have, at times, been moderate about it, and other times, I’ve delved deep into its life-giving pleasures, as if it was the only thing that could sustain me.
But these past few months I’ve done something that, up until recently, seemed almost impossible to me. I’ve given up sugar… and I feel great!
There always seems to be one or two sugar documentaries that keep floating around in offices, and in talks between friends. Oh, you haven’t seen That Sugar Film?! It’s a must, darling! Whether they’re all telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth or they’re fibbing here and there, documentaries about the harmful effects of sugar can be quite convincing.
So, after seeing a few myself, including That Sugar Film (2014), I’ve decided to give up sugar altogether and see how much of a difference I can actually feel and see. I’ve had no before and after blood tests, but what I do know is that my blood sugar levels have always been fine. So I didn’t decide to do this for medical reasons, but for sheer curiosity.
Pretty please with sugar on top, don't give me diabetes!
But wait, what exactly does giving up on sugar entails? Would agave syrup be included? What about that oh-so-lovely-and-delicious coconut sugar? Fructose? Well, the answer is a hard yes. They are all types of sugar and if you truly want to experience a sugar-free life, you should cut all these out of your diet.
To make it easier for you, here is a list of the common sugar types:
- White/brown sugar
- Malt sugar
- Corn syrup/sweetener
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
- Dextrose, lactose, fructose, maltose, sucrose – pretty much everything that ends in –ose
- Coconut sugar
- Any type of syrup
Please note that this list isn’t an exhaustive one, nor does it want to be. If you want to go on a proper sugar-free diet, I highly recommend you do a little research into your options and your own diet and see how much sugar actually is in the foods you are eating.
So, I bit the bullet and removed anything and everything that contains the types of added sugars mentioned above. What I haven’t removed, nor do I think should be removed from a sugar-free diet, are fresh fruits.
Though it’s true that some fruits, such as apples, grapes, and watermelon contain a lot of sugar, but they are natural and in no way artificial. And I believe that this is the key to eating a sugar-free diet: choose to only consume foods that contain natural sugars, because when the cravings come (and they will come rushing in like a tidal wave), you will need something to satisfy them with, otherwise you will fall and you will fall hard (dive your hands straight into the cookie jar).
I can vouch that happiness is most definitely not a piece of cake.
My first week was hard; it was so hard that I felt physically ill. I’ve read that your body actually goes through withdrawal when you give up sugar, and it sure felt like it. I lacked energy, food simply didn’t taste as good, I felt fuzzy around the edges, and I even got these weird stomach cramps. Nevertheless, it was clear to me that I needed to power through this, hoping that it was just a phase.
When the 6th day rolled around, things started to get better, and with every day that passed, I was feeling a little better, and my cravings were subsiding. I need to mention that the first 5 days, I tried to eliminate all types of sugar, even fruits so that my body could understand what I was doing. But as the second week came, I started eating bananas in the morning, an apple as dessert (weird, isn’t it?), and Medjool dates, when I was really craving something sweet. If before the sugar-free diet, I could eat a handful of dates and be alright, now I could barely stomach two. Natural sugar seemed so much sweeter and even sickening than before. I was overwhelmed by how sweet dates were and how much they satisfied my sugar craving.
Right now, I am two months into my sugar-free diet and I’m doing well. I still crave ice cream from time to time but thank the heavens it is currently winter and ice creams is hidden somewhere in the back of stores. I’ve grown accustomed to the taste of unsweetened soy milk and I actually prefer it now.
As for physical changes, I did lose around 2 pounds, and my skin is somewhat clearer. What I am most thankful for, though, is losing that overwhelming 4 pm feeling that I simply needed to have something sweet. From time to time, I do feel like eating something sweet, especially during PMS, but fruit, dates, and dried fruit in general really do seem to satisfy it.
If you are thinking of getting on the sugar-free bandwagon, I highly recommend it. You will feel better, look better, you’ll also get bragging rights about it all and get to be annoying at parties when you will proudly exclaim to the audience: I quit sugar, I no longer need it!
Honestly, if I were to do it all over again, I would ask for some help. I would either ask a friend to join me or maybe go on a detox retreat so that the withdrawal doesn’t hit me so hard. Because it’s indeed challenging – did I mention that?
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