The Case for Ditching Sugar This January

Sugar-free January might just be the new Dry January.

Some people ditch their beloved margarita-fueled happy hours for the month of January (bless their souls) in a quest to complete Dry January — and, inevitably, find themselves with slimmer waistlines and less regrets come February 1st. But in an op-ed for the New York Times, published on Friday, writer David Leonhardt suggests taking things a bit further, opting for an entirely sugar-free January. Well, an added-sugar-free January, at least.

Right now, you might be thinking to yourself, I mean, I don’t actually eat THAT much sugar. But Leonhardt, who’s gone sugar-free for 30 days for the past two years, makes the upsetting point that, like a good song on a Justin Bieber album, you’ll find added sugar in places you never expected it to be. It’s in salad dressing. It’s in tomato sauce. It’s in bread. It’s everywhere. And as a result, we’re all eating WAY too much of it. Like 22-teaspoons-a-day too much.

So his suggestion: Give added sugar in all forms (we’re talkin’ plain ol’ white sugar, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, fake sweeteners — all of it) up for 30 days straight, start reading labels like you would a Vulture recap of your favorite TV show (with a WHOLE lot of focus, that is) and see how your diet changes, and how those changes last throughout the year. In his case, he’s seen the effects of 30 days off sugar seep into his eating habits all year long. Think: a change as small — but still impactful — as eating eggs for breakfast instead of sugar-y cereal every day. After all, once you’ve read a bazillion food labels and realized just how much sugar you unknowingly consume on the daily, chances are you won’t want to revert back.

And for those of us who need more incentive to comb through food labels than just the promise of a diet you wouldn’t be embarrassed to write down in a food journal, do know that ditching sugar could have some sweet (selfie-improving) side effects. First off, sugar face is real: Sugar is responsible for messing with your skin in all sorts of ways, from breaking down collagen to making your pores larger (NOOOO). But according to Dr. Harold Lancer — who happens to be the skin guru to the selfie queen herself, Kim Kardashian — you can see improvements in your skin in as little as 72 hours after eliminating sugar. And if you struggle with hormonal acne, sugar is not doing your skin any favors. According to Naomi Fenlin of About Face, sugar can stimulate androgens (those are the jerks responsible for hormonal acne), which leads to an increase in oil production. And we all know what that means: pimples. I repeat: NOOOOO.

So take it or leave it, but do know: Sugar-free January just might be the new Dry January, and its effects could last you beyond just those not-so-sweet 30 days. If you, you brave human, you, manage to ditch the sweet stuff for 30 days straight, please do report back!

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