Post submitted by Carrie, a contributor to dustinmaherfitness.com
I did it!! My two weeks of no sugar is now behind me…thank goodness!! In the aftermath of the holidays, the sugar/sweet cravings were getting the best of me so I decided to repeat an experiment I did in a college nutrition class — go without sugar or refined sugar for two weeks.
So how did I do? I would say I hit the mark 85-90% of the time. I slipped up a few times, some consciously and others not. For example, on the way to the dentist one morning I popped a piece of gum in my mouth only to realize a few seconds later I just consumed sugar. Another time I was at the mall over the lunch hour and hit Subway for a Turkey Breast sub…I’m sure there was sugar in the bread, but I opted for that rather than preservative (and sugar) laden dressing on a salad. But outside the slip-ups I had some victories, too! I sat at a coffee shop for an hour and half with four plates of different baked goods in front of me and DIDN’T TAKE ONE BITE…I didn’t even inhale the powdered sugar dust! 🙂 And, I had no chocolate!!
Lucky for me I had a lot of support while trying this. My husband did this with me and many blog readers opted to join me, too. The first three to four days were very tough for me as far as cravings for sweets. Interestingly enough, after those cravings passed I still found myself rifling through cupboards after a meal “looking for something sweet.” My (bad) habits are so ingrained I still look for junk even though I’m not really hungry for it. Talk about an eye-opener! After the cravings passed, it seemed the bigger challenge was evening meal prep. All my go-to recipes contained sugar…wine, beer, broth, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, worcestershire sauce. Finding alternatives for just my husband and I would have been pretty manageable…I found plenty of recipes to try with Mexican, Indian, or Thai flavors. However, my two small girls are not crazy about those flavors, so we had a lot of roasted dishes with steamed veggies these past two weeks (which is healthy, but it got a bit boring!).
Having done this before I thought I was pretty aware about what contained sugar, but I still found products with sugar that surprised me. The organic, flavored yogurt we use for smoothies has sugar as the second ingredient…never paid attention to that before. My daily vitamin contains sugar. Dried fruit has sugar. Silly me, I thought dried fruit was just the fruit! My husband even discovered summer sausage has sugar in it. He tried a sample at the grocery store then checked the label only to find it contained sugar.
As the two weeks progressed, I discovered some foods that helped ease my want for something sweet. Ants on a log were a snack I consumed quite a lot the first week. Sparkling water helped, too. I don’t drink much soda anymore, and other than coffee all I usually have is water. I hadn’t even thought of trying it, but my husband brought some home for me and it was a big help. I don’t know if it was the flavor or carbonation or both, but it seemed like I was getting a treat by drinking it.
As far as journaling how I felt each day, I discovered my fatigue in the afternoon improved with less sugar intake. And finally, an unexpected treat for me was losing 5 pounds during the two weeks (I normally lose 1-1.5 pounds per week)!
During the experiment in college we could have any food we liked after the two weeks…I decided to stay true to that as well. My older daughter has been begging me to make Smores Cupcakes with her (thank you Grandma for the Fun with Cupcakes recipe book!). She has patiently waited two weeks understanding that mom was not wanting to eat sweets. So Smores Cupcakes were my after-experiment treat. Physically I didn’t feel awful after consuming the sugar, but I sure felt guilty! And my workout the next day suffered for it, too. I felt weak. Exercises that normally I can do well, just seemed to take extra effort.
Going forward I am going to try very hard to not start with “sweet treats” again. I don’t feel well when I consume that junk and it certainly doesn’t do a body good!
For those of you doing this along with me, how did it go for you? Any surprises? What did you learn?