How I managed to Cut Out Added Sugar and What Changed in my Life
Over the past 50 years, sugar consumption has tripled worldwide. Especially in developed countries, where people often consume low-cost and highly processed food that contains large amounts of added sugar.
This all happens at the same time when many scientists warn us that high consumption of sugar (especially added sugar) may be associated with a greater risk of many diseases – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and more.
Yet, the majority of people in developed countries continue to consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet.
Since one of my biggest addictions is sugar, I decided to try a 60 day no sugar challenge. Below, I have explained how I began my experiment, how easy/hard it was and what were the results.
I wrote this post while eating a freshly cut watermelon!
Getting Started – The Snacks Need to Go
I began my experiment by removing all of the snacks and sugary drinks from my apartment. For me, the only way to avoid snacking was to completely change the environment. Not having any snacks around was a great start and helped me avoid eating sugar in the first couple of days when I was tempted the most.
Once all the snacks were gone, I studied how much sugar is in other foods that I eat daily. While it’s relatively easy to avoid snacks, it was much more difficult to eat three quality meals a day and avoid added sugar during my no sugar challenge.
Sugar is pretty much in everything because we eat so much low cost, processed food! You would be surprised how much added sugar you can even find in milk, bread, yoghurt, cereal and other foods.
If it tastes too good to be true, then it probably has sugar!
One of the best ways to lower sugar consumption is to eat fruits and vegetables (they are a great substitute). So this is exactly what I did during my no sugar challenge.
Here is what I changed during the challenge:
- Instead of regular ketchup, I used ketchup with no added sugar
- Instead of jam with my oatmeal, I used fresh apples and mandarins
- Instead of daily snacks, I ate fruits
- Instead of sugary drinks, I drank tea without sugar
- Instead of juice, I drank water
- I didn’t eat fast food, so I cooked most of my meals at home
During the no sugar challenge I had to plan to which supermarket I would go and what food I will buy there. Supermarkets sell a lot of food that contains added sugar and also are stacked full of snacks. Going in with a grocery list is a strategy that can keep you on the right track.
Parties and Family Get-Togethers
One of the first obstacles during my no sugar challenge was family get-togethers. There is almost no party without snacks, sugary drinks and a cake at the end of the meal. I had to say no to all of it, without being rude to the person who had to spend a lot of their time to impress and welcome guests.
The only thing that held me back from eating all these snacks and desserts was my no sugar challenge day count. I was really determined to quit sugar for at least 30 days!
After a month passed, it became easier to say NO and I extended my no sugar challenge to 60 days. At one point, I thought I could achieve something similar to what I did with coffee – quitting it completely. But I was wrong…
How I Broke My Streak
It all ended when my friend visited me from London and brought me these amazing chocolate truffles with wine flavour. I promised to myself that I’ll have just one, but we all know that it’s not how it ended. After that, my day count was broken. It was a little bit more than 60 days since I ate anything that contained added sugar.
So, What Happened During Those 60 Days of No Sugar Challenge?
I Lost Weight
I started losing weight from week 1. I was still below the 30-day count when I had lost at least 8 kg / 17.6 lb (I was 86 kg / 190 lb at the beginning of the experiment), which is a 9.3% weight loss in less than a month.
Later on, the weight loss continued, but at a much slower rate. Overall, my weight was about 10 kg / 22 lb lower than when I started my no sugar challenge. The large weight loss was not only caused by my sugar-free diet since I exercised a couple of times per week and rode my bicycle to work every day.
I Felt Happier and in More Control
Eating lots of fruit felt great. It’s a similar feeling when you regularly go to the GYM and finally see the results.
I also felt that I can control myself more. Sugar had been one of my strongest addictions and I had a sense of achievement once I had gone 60 days without consuming sugar.
I’m not sure if I inspired others. But as a result of my no sugar challenge, some people around me also consumed less sugar. For example, since I had no snacks at home and all the foods were specifically bought with my challenge in mind, my girlfriend consumed significantly less sugar.
Also, when going on hiking trips with friends, I brought tea without sugar and fruits. This resulted in lower sugar consumption for everyone. It might not be a big change, but my no sugar challenge definitely was seen by others and hopefully generated some thoughts about how much sugar we consume in our lives.
Life After the Experiment
I was not able to completely cut out sugar from my life. However, through this experience, I changed some of my habits that made me healthier and lowered my overall sugar consumption.
Some of my new habits include:
- I found healthier alternatives to sugary foods that I really liked
- I no longer add sugar to tea
- I tend to have fewer snacks around my apartment
- I eat more fruits than I used to
- Most important habit – many times when I feel like buying snacks, I remember my no sugar challenge. Not always, but often, it helps me to go for the healthier alternatives.
Knowledge is very powerful if you take action.
The Bottom Line
It wasn’t always easy during the 60-day challenge. The thing to remember is that many of us are sugar addicts at an early age and we will fail again and again until we gradually change our eating habits and lifestyle.
For this reason, substitutes work very well to minimize your sugar (especially added sugar) consumption. I substituted many of my favourite sweets with fruits and still do now. Also, remember that the less sugary foods or drinks you have around you, the less sugar you will consume.
Make fruits more available and sweets less available to you.
An “X” day no sugar challenge is something that I recommend for everyone to try. During this time, you will learn a lot about yourself and about the healthier food alternatives around you. Maybe you will learn new habits as I did. Or maybe you will experience different physical or psychological changes that will improve your life.
Ultimately, the choice is yours!
Sugar is cheap, sugar tastes good and sugar sells, so companies have little incentive to change.
If you try or have tried a no sugar challenge before, I would be interested to know more about your experience and results.