In general, you could say I’m living a pretty healthy lifestyle. I don’t smoke, I don’t often drink, I don’t take drugs and I exercise regularly. There is one big problem, though. I am massively addicted to sugar. And I don’t mean that in a cute “I sometimes eat ice-cream after dinner”-way. No no no. In the past few weeks, I often ate a huge bowl of cereal in the morning, followed by an entire pack of gummy bears for lunch, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s for dinner. Do not try at home, kids!
For weeks my diet resembled that of an 8-year-old kid let loose in an all-you-can-eat candy store. Until I finally decided it needed to stop. I spent a huge amount of money each week on useless candy and realized that I started to not even consider fruit as sweet anymore. I saw a lot of water retention in my body and wasn’t feeling too well overall. It was time for a change. So I decided to quit sugar for a week. I wanted to start off with this one-week sugar-detox challenge in order to make the whole thing more fun for me and to see whether it would be possible for me to incorporate a sugar-free diet into my daily life.
7-Day Sugar Detox: The rules
The rules for this were rather simple. Basically, I just wanted to avoid refined sugar. Fruit was fine and I did not mind a teeny tiny amount of sugar in my processed meals (if I had to have them – e.g. yogurt). This amount I defined by less than 5g of sugar per 100g of product. Things like dark chocolate and coconut sugar would have also been okay. Within this realm, I wanted to focus on cooking my own fresh meals and using as many whole foods as possible.
All in all, I managed to perfectly stick to the rules and I didn’t even need to dip into the 5g rule too much. I once had vegan skyr that had 2g of sugar per 100g and my soy-milk also has a tiny amount of sugar in it. I slipped up once unconsciously and treated myself to a bit of dark chocolate on the final weekend due to being on my period. But in the grand scheme of things I did way better than expected. I simply tried to make everything from scratch from natural ingredients and not consume too many processed foods and that worked like a charm. Within this week I even found a bit of joy in cooking and preparing my own meals.
I quit sugar for a week: Weekly recap
I decided to start on a Sunday, rather than a Monday, thinking that being on the go would make the first withdrawal way easier. And right I was. I had a lot of energy on that day and didn’t miss the sugar at all. We were out hiking, so I did not even have time to think too much about all the sweet things I cannot have this week.
Day two was the worst. I had massive sugar cravings all day and an awful headache. To combat that I tried to keep myself busy and ate lots of berries to distract myself from thinking about chocolate too much. With lots of planning, I managed to stay away from sugar but this day wasn’t fun at all.
To be honest, when I woke up on day three I expected it to be as awful as day two in terms of cravings. This is why I made myself a big smoothie bowl for breakfast in order to get something sweet in early in the morning. It was fine all day but in the evening I started to get awful mood swings and started crying when my boyfriend ate ice-cream next to me. The headache was back and all in all I wasn’t feeling too well.
Day four was when the realization hit me. This sugar detox actually is a great opportunity for me to start preparing healthy homemade meals and cook for myself. I usually just run down to the shops for a quick sugar fix in the morning. On day four I decided to make myself avocado toast and a healthy dinner. I didn’t want chocolate or other sweets all day. The headache slowly eased. My afternoons started to be much more productive when I didn’t start the day off on a sugar high from cake or my cereal.
On the fifth day of my sugar detox, I accidentally failed and ordered a chai latte at the café, not realizing they would make that from a sugary powder mix instead of real tea with milk. As I hate wasting food (and money for that matter) I drank it anyways and it was way too sweet – for probably the first time ever. It’s crazy how much sugar is in the things we consume on a daily basis without a second thought. The rest of the day went really well. I didn’t crave any sweets, the headache eased and my digestion slowly went back to normal again.
Day six was hard. I was coming on my period and that’s when I would usually consume my body weight in ice cream. I tried to resist as long as I could but caved in the evening and ate a small piece of dark chocolate to ease the suffering. It worked perfectly. Usually, I would have grabbed an entire bar of sugary chocolate but this time that one piece was enough to sooth the pain and suffering. This certainly is a win in my books. I always loved dark chocolate but within the sugar rush of the past few weeks, I totally lost my connection to it. I am so glad it’s back now, though.
Day seven was a piece of cake. I didn’t feel like I needed sugar at all and didn’t even have to supplement my cravings with fruit. I ate lots of veggies that day and healthy fats in the form of avocado on toast for breakfast. What I saw was that whenever I hadn’t had enough food during the day, I started to get cravings in the evening. When I was fuelling my body with the calories and nutrients it needed that wasn’t the case at all. I also finally realized changed in my appearance. I wasn’t bloated anymore, my belly was a lot flatter and my face changed as well. Within only a week. Imagine what would happen if I were to cut out sugar entirely.
The pros and cons of living without sugar
What I liked about quitting sugar for a week was the fact that it made me more aware of what I was actually eating on a daily basis. It got me into the kitchen to plan out and prepare my meals. Consequently, I ate way healthier this week than I usually do. I learned that when I give my body what it needs throughout the day, it doesn’t need a quick sugar fix in the evenings. I also realized how much sugar there is in everything. Even the things you wouldn’t think off. Of course, the changes in my body and overall wellbeing are a big plus as well. Sugar probably is the number one reason why I hold on to so much water in my body and it did significantly change within this week. My tummy was flatter, my digestion better and I felt a lot more energized after a few days of not stuffing my face with candy.
What I personally didn’t like about the sugar detox was how restricted I started to feel after a few days. I was constantly thinking about what I could and could not eat. To me, this is why I probably won’t be able to incorporate this diet into my everyday life. I need balance, not the restriction. It was fun to try out for a week and it sure got me thinking about the stuff I usually consume when I’m stressed. However, to me, this simply isn’t feasible and takes out all the fun from everyday life. Sitting down with your friends on a lovely Sunday afternoon for cake and coffee is a beautiful thing that I want to be part of. And as long as I don’t have that cake every day, I should also be fine in terms of my health. So for the future, I want to still stay away from refined sugar as much as possible. It just doesn’t do any good to my body and mind. However, I do not want to restrict myself too much in the grand scheme of things. I’ll try to intuitively switch the chocolate for fruit and ease my cravings this way, rather than going full on kid again.