About a month ago, I decided to take on a weeklong sugar-free challenge, ridding my diet of all added sugars, including good ol’ fashioned cane sugar along with the more health-haloed versions, like honey, coconut sugar and maple syrup. The first few days my body and my mind were in a bit of a slump, and I found myself wondering what the point of this sugar-free diet was. I was breaking out, my body felt a little shaky after workouts, and I just wanted a stinkin’ piece of chocolate. But around day five or six, within the homestretch of the challenge’s finish line, things changed — I felt better than I had in a long time. And so, going full-speed through day seven, I just kept on going. Now, it’s been a month, and I’ve decided to eliminate added sugars from my diet indefinitely. Here are eight things I’ve noticed in my experience with my added-sugars-free stint so far.
1. I’ve realized everything — everything — has tons of sugar.
Really: Everything. My favorite Clif bar? 20 grams. The granola in my yogurt? About seven grams. But even things you’d never think have added sugar are chock-full of the stuff. Even most breads and pastas have at least a few grams of added sugar. And, oh the whole-wheat plain bagel I innocently consumed, accidentally cheated during the challenge, has two grams — which I found out after inhaling it.
2. My stomach bloating has virtually disappeared.
I have experience constant bloating for a while — to the extent where my food babies looked questionably real. But since giving up sugar, my stomach is noticeably flatter.
3. My skin has started to clear up.
In the first week of quitting added sugars, I broke out like a middle schooler who has yet to learn about face wash. But after the initial slump, my skin feels smoother and looks better than it did before I started the challenge. Sure, I still get breakouts (thanks, stress), but my skin isn’t as dry, and I’ve experienced fewer “Agh, what is this pimple?” moments than I did when I was consuming upwards of forty grams of added sugar a day.
5. I’ve learned to spot sneaky added sugar on nutrition labels.
I’ll admit, I’d now a bit obsessed with checking the nutrition info on everything — even things I don’t even want to eat, just because I’m curious. And now, I’ve learned to find where added sugar is hiding on those sneaky nutrition labels. (Hint: In so many places.)
6. I’ve felt more energized.
At first, I definitely went through some sugar withdrawal. Even though I thought I had a healthy diet, I was inhaling way more than the recommended daily sugar consumption. Now, I feel way more awake and only need one cup of coffee to get through the day (I used to drink two or three cups a day).
7. I’ve become more conscious of what I’m putting into my body.
My consciousness about my sugar intake has translated into a consciousness about everything I decide to put into my body. Now, I’m just more thoughtful — I’m making sure I’m getting enough protein and not overdoing my dairy and carb consumption, and noticing what does and doesn’t make me feel good.
4. Almond butter has started to taste like cookie dough.
I had to carry around a jar of this stuff to get me through the first week. For me, it’s the perfect antidote for my ice cream cravings.
8. I’ve learned that I do have willpower.
I’m the type of girl who used to claim I “needed” a taste of chocolate before I went to bed; I used have a bowl of ice cream every night. And while I’m allowing myself a few cheat days here and there, I’ve learned how to tap into my willpower. Now, I feel way more in control of not only my dietary cravings, but also other aspects of my life.
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