Back in March 2017, I decided to avoid sugar as an ingredient, wherever possible. This was the second challenge I did, since starting monthly challenges in February 2017. I chose this challenge because I knew that sugar is unhealthy, and I thought that diet was a good place to start when choosing my first challenges. I hoped it would improve my energy levels and mental clarity, keep my teeth healthy, and other physical benefits.
Here are the notes I wrote at the end of the challenge:
I managed to be completely sugar free on 16 out of 31 days, and the times when I did have sugar were mostly when I was not sure whether something contained sugar or not (e.g. when eating out), so those days may have been sugar free also. Other times I ate sugar were when something that needed using up contained a small amount of sugar, or when I couldn’t find a sugar free option or was rushed for time, or I didn’t realise something had sugar until after I ate it. But in most of these cases, only a small amount of sugar was consumed.
The only times I knowingly had something with a significant amount of sugar in was on two occasions where I ate muffins that my mum had made. Apart from that, I have not had any cakes, desserts, chocolate or any other sweet, sugary things. Overall, I was lucky in not having many occasions where I had sugar offered to me and had to turn it down.
Physically, I don’t really feel a lot different. I think that could be because I was still having ‘fast carbs’ like white bread, white pasta etc. So a future challenge I aim to do is to cut those out.
My gums have not been sore at all this month, which could be linked to not having sugar, or could just be because of the flossing I started last month.
I have not had cravings for sugar, and I think my food cravings have reduced in general. However, I don’t feel I have been put off sugar or no longer desire it – the thought of eating a chocolate or muffin is still appealing, but I don’t crave it.
I have learnt a lot about what contains sugar, including things that you wouldn’t expect. A lot of things contain sugar, and it could add up. I will be more aware now of how much sugar I am consuming. Now that I have reached the end of the trial, I think that I will go back to allowing sugar but I will have less of it, and be more aware of what contains sugar and how much, and go for options with no sugar where possible. I can have the occasional treat like a homemade muffin, but I won’t buy sugary treats and desserts often, and for no special occasion.
I have felt proud in the times that I did avoid or turn down sugar, so I think this trial has built my self esteem too.
Since doing this challenge, I have done several more food / sugar related challenges, including cutting down on ‘fast carbs’, which I will write about in other posts. I have gone through phases of having a lot of sugar and sweet things, especially around certain times of year like Christmas, when I got given a lot of chocolate. But I have also gone through phases of having very little sugar – and certainly ever since this challenge, I have remained more aware of what kinds of foods may contain sugar, and how much. I still feel it would be a good idea to remove sugar from my diet, or reduce it to minimal amounts, but I am not quite at that stage yet!