I used to be a sweet magnet. Doughnuts, waffles, ice-cream, Nutella (oh, good old friend), pancakes, chocolates, desserts, cakes, and all things with added sugar were my go-to foods. Whether I had a long day at work, or an emotional day at home, or just dealing with life in general, sugar was all I counted on. Soon, I realized that it was sugar (the sweet knife) that was slowly killing me with acne outbursts, weight gain, aging skin, and drained energy levels. (I guess the wise folks were right when they said that what we love the most will one day kill us.)
Also, considering the fact that diabetes ran in my family history, I didn’t want to be anywhere close to the diabetes radar. So, after a lot of discussions with friends and nutritionists, I decided to take the leap of faith. I decided to do the unthinkable—I decided to quit sugar.
What Exactly Does It Mean To Quit Sugar?
Sugar isn’t just the sweet-tasting soluble granules. Apart from the obvious sources like soda, cake, and candies, sugar is found in salad dressings, yogurt, and even granola bars. So, that meant a complete makeover of my food habits. On a daily basis, I used to drink two cups of coffee, and indulge in a good amount of candies and sweetened beverages. That easily amounts to about 10-12 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is more than what is ideally recommended.
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sugar men can have is limited to 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons) and 100 calories per day for women (6 teaspoons) (1). Letting go of these food habits was difficult, but it was important.
The thing about eating sugar is that it makes you crave for more. The processed foods, junk foods, soft drinks, and all the other foods that have hidden sugars lurking in them needed to be off my list now, and so it did. Off went all the sugary substances. The only sugar I allowed myself was from fruits and carbohydrates.
Here’s What Happened When I Bid Farewell To Sugar
The First Few Days Of Struggle
You know how they say that the person you love is always on your mind? I had sugar on my mind all the time. Also, when you know that you are not allowed to eat it, you crave more for it. So, I made a few changes to my lifestyle. I replaced my morning coffee with a glass of green tea and an apple. And whenever I felt like I needed something sweet, I would first drink some water, and then tell myself that I’m better off without sugar. If the craving was uncontrollable, I would munch on some dates. I switched to beverages that needed no sugar. I consumed whole foods and kept myself away from all the junk and processed foods. (Not even dark chocolate!) In the initial 5-6 days, I almost stabbed my boyfriend and went bonkers when I saw him devouring a bowl full of Death By Chocolate.
The Days Of Getting Used To It
After days of having withdrawal symptoms and being cranky, I started feeling a lot cleaner from within. Not having sugar for a week made me more active. I ate only when I was hungry and not every time anybody said the four-letter word— food. Occasionally, I used to fantasize about cinnamon rolls and red velvet cupcakes. But, I didn’t feel like a crazy beast wanting to tear the house apart. I made sure that I had at least two servings of two different fruits a day. And on days when my hormones demanded sugar, I gave it a little bit of honey.
The Sweet Acceptance Of No Sugar
I never thought that I would eventually be okay with not consuming sugar. I like my tea without sugar now. I had my oatmeal without sugar, yes it’s a little bland, but I had bananas and peanut butter to make it healthy and sweet! So, the status quo? Skipping on added sugar is easy, but not consuming sugars that are already in your food (like carbs) is difficult. That left me with no choice but to eat a whole lot of veggies, fruits, and salads.
This is the part that made me realize that you can’t say goodbye to sugar, but you can obviously stay from the unnecessary sugary substances. With the availability of fast food and sugary foods available at our convenience (and with ease), the temptation to indulge will always remain. But, most sugar cravings arise when you are either stressed, emotional, or are leading an unhealthy lifestyle (2).
Quick Tips To Control Consumption Of Sugar
- If you completely eliminate certain food groups, you will end up binge eating when you break the diet. So, eat in moderation. In this case, eat sugar from the natural sources (dairy products, fruits, and certain vegetables).
- Always read the food labels before you make any purchases. If there’s a lot of high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, malt syrup, molasses, and caramel on the label, abort the mission, and drop the product.
- Cook your own food. If you have no time, try meal prepping on weekends. This way the takeaways and junk foods will stay away from you.
- Make small changes to your diet and stick to the recommended daily intake of sugar. Because, gluttony or not, sin is a sin, right?
That was my journey of trying to quit sugar, and it did me a whole world of difference. Would you try it too?