In mid-June, I decided to stop eating sugar for four weeks. The four week limitation was down to the fact that my boyfriend’s birthday is in mid-July, when I would need to consume birthday cake. Now, I have always loved sugary things, which might explain why I was a chubby kid. Without wishing to bore you with tales of teenage angst, I decided in my early teens that I didn’t want to be chubby anymore and gave up chocolate for a year. I went a bit too far in my later teens when I discovered ‘saturated fat’ and hastily tried to omit it almost completely from my diet. My eldest brother loves telling the story of when he asked my Mum to buy him a pizza on a shopping trip, but she came home empty handed because I’d hastily put the pizza back on the shelf upon discovering it contained half a day’s worth of saturated fat.
In the last year and a half, I have discovered that wonderful thing – exercise. Having always been fairly fit because I’m very fond of walking, I had also believed – rather absurdly – that I simply wasn’t made for proper exercise. Then my boyfriend and I decided to take up running during our last term at university, starting off with four-minute intervals of walking and jogging and building up the latter until within a few weeks we were jogging a couple of miles. Having moved back home after university I started cycling with my Dad, quickly falling in love with the sport and becoming the third road cycling fanatic in my family.
I guess giving up sugary foods was the next logical lifestyle change I could make on my subconscious quest to healthiness. I gave up sugar with the thoughts that I was obviously addicted – I ate sugary things several times a day – and that it’s not a good addiction to have for several reasons:
– Sugar is an easy route to dental problems.
– Sugar has a high GI so doesn’t fill you up for very long – if I replaced my sugary snacks with non-sugary ones then I might end up eating less overall, and more foods that are good for me.
– Because of their high-GI, sugary foods send blood sugar levels sky high very quickly, but levels fall again just as rapidly, which perhaps was contributing to my bad moods when hungry and light-headedness when I hadn’t eaten for several hours.
Along with the obvious cake, biscuits, sweets and chocolate, I also dropped jams, yoghurts and cereals with added sugar from my diet. For me, cutting everything sugary out entirely was the key to success because I couldn’t simply replace one sugary food with an alternative, I had to say no, and that was that. This made the challenge straightforward – it was black and white, all or nothing. Saying yes to a little something here and there feeds your addiction, making it much harder to kick.
It’s now been three months since I made my decision to give up sugar. After the initial four weeks, I had a small slice of this cake, and it was delicious. But I didn’t want any more than that and I certainly had no desire whatsoever to gorge myself on sugary treats. Quite the contrary, I’ll now regularly go days where I don’t eat sugary foods, preferring a raw carrot or a few tortilla chips as snacks. The only added sugar I really eat is that which goes into our homemade cakes. Very soon into the challenge I stopped having the energy crashes that sugar lows had previously been causing. I felt healthier and happier; I was enjoying and savouring my savoury foods more; and I even lost a few pounds. Such positive results have meant that I don’t want to go back to my sugary ways. I’m happy to say that, after 23 years, I’ve finally banished my sweet tooth! And it was much easier than I thought it would be…