I Survived the challenge, what now?
You guys, I did it! My challenge for January was to go sugar-free for four weeks and I did it. Every January I love setting myself a health/ wellness challenge. Last January it was going vegetarian. This year I wanted to curb my craving and quit sugar.
As much as I try to deny it, I do have an addiction to sugar. I didn’t think it was that bad. But what I’ve learnt is that when I have it, I can’t have a normal amount. Like, sharing bags of candy, I could get them in one go without thinking about it. I don’t even want to think about my diet coke/ cola problem. I would also know when I had too much sugar because the withdrawal symptoms the next day were so bad.
My sugar habit is not something I’m proud of and I wanted to kick the habit for 2020. The challenge was to give up sugar for four weeks. That meant no added or refined sugar. I was doing a total detox. A reset for the new year.
From doing the challenge, I can tell you right now, it’s hard, as I recorded on my Instagram Stories. Not only finding food that doesn’t have added sugar in it (Quorn was off the menu and I wasn’t happy about it). The withdrawal symptoms were no joke and I almost gave up. Gradually, I pushed through it and I’m so happy. I did.
Here’s a breakdown of how the weeks went when I went sugar-free…
Week One AND TWO.
Week one of quitting sugar and it was off to a bad start. When I was meal prepping ready for the week ahead, I made a cauliflower rice bowl. However, I used a pre-packaged seasoning, thinking it would be fine. But no, it had sugar in it, which I documented on Instagram Stories. I was fuming. Why on earth would seasoning need sugar in it?!
Food-wise, I went too complicated for both weeks. I was trying to make every so tasty, that I went in too hard and found it too complicated. This made me step back and change the meal plan for week two so that it was a lot easier. Food shop wise, it went through the roof. I was expecting this as I was buying some things from scratch (nuts, kinds of butter, etc). I was also really happy that most of them were fruit and veg rather than junk. Still, I wasn’t expecting it to be that high.
Overall, the weeks went as well as I could have expected. At the beginning of week one, I suffered from brain fog (a side effect of sugar withdrawal). This then turned into a headache that lasted for six days. Literally from morning to evening. By Sunday it cleared, thank god!
Week two the headaches came back for a little bit mid-week but weren’t as bad. I had somewhat discovered new, less complicated meals to try out. This was the week I tasted tofu for the first time since I had it in Thailand (I was 18 at the time and hated it) and I fell in love with it! Now my new favourite thing to have for lunch.
Week two was much better than week one, but I wasn’t out of the woods.
WEEK THREE AND FOUR.
Week three was a little complicated. I had a family emergency, which involved me travelling to the hospital multiple times a week, to a city that was about an hour drive one way from me. Despite this and my random eating habits, I did not cave and didn’t eat sugar. This is something I’m super proud of. In this stressful time, old me would have killed for a cookie, or six. Week three and week four, I notice that I wasn’t craving sugar. Like I would be hungry but my auto-pilot that would tell me to have a sweet treat wasn’t there.
Week four was a little different. For the last three weeks, I had avoided eating out or if I had (one brunch) I was sure to only have something that didn’t have any sugar in it. This week, I had two events. The first a wedding whereby I had a vegetarian sausage roll, where I’m sure the bread had sugar in it and a bite of wedding carrot cake. Next was my husbands birthday so we went out for dinner. I didn’t worry about what I was eating and I even had a cocktail. The rest of the time was really good and feeling amazing.
It was around week three where I started to get amazing compliments about my skin. Being quite dry-skin, I’m very harsh on my skin. However, I would constantly get told how glowing my skin was, even when I had stayed up quite late. I wasn’t too sure if it was my new tinted moisturiser or the diet. However, I did notice it looking smoother which was a plus.
Despite the withdrawal symptoms, I actually enjoyed being sugar-free. It took some adjustment but its honestly the best thing to do after a heavy December. I’ve also noticed that my tastebud and the usual gorging has gone. When I finished the challenge I treated myself to my favourite bag of chocolate mini eggs. Usually, I would eat a bag of them in one go. This time I left the bag half full. Not a massive revelation, but it was a big deal for me.
I’ve decided that for Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon, I’m going sugar-free, including added sugar in things like bread, etc. This allows me to have a small period to treat myself without going while (because I love a good Sunday brunch). If I do any baking, I’m going to look at doing it with sugar alternatives rather than the usual white sugar. Of course, depending on events, I may have to break it (such as a dinner mid-week). But overall, I think the sugar-free lifestyle is something that you can achieve on a long term basis if you wanted to.
MY TOP TIPS FOR QUITTING SUGAR.
- The withdrawal symptoms will pass, you just have to push through them. I would aim to stop sugar over a weekend so you can just lie down and do nothing, but there’s no telling when they will kick in. Take deep breathes and push through it, it will be worth it.
- Look to Kombucha if you are craving soda/ fizzy drinks. I like Remedy Kombucha that you can get from Marks & Spencer. It’s sugar-free and the flavours are delicious. Make sure to check that the Kombucha is sugar-free and you have a guilt-free treat that’s also really good for your gut.
- Bake your own bread. It’s super easy and affordable to do and it ensures that you can have bread without it having sugar in it.
- Fruit is okay to have but avoid the one that has more fructose in them (such as bananas). Darker berries like blueberries are great for a sweet treat, and equally delicious!
- Have a bottle of water on you at all times. If you feel hungry or craving coming on, have a sip of water and see how you feel afterwards. I like to add a pinch of sea salt into my water for extra minerals that my body might be missing/ craving.
I hope you enjoyed this post and this helped you with whether or not you want to go sugar-free. If you need any more information, feel free to hit me up on Instagram DMs or by email. I’m more than happy to help out with your quitting sugar journey.