I Tried Going Sugar Free for a Week, & Here's What Happened

Maybe the week of the Great British Bake Off Final and Halloween wasn’t the best time to give up sugar.  But if you’re going to take on a challenge, you may as well go all out.

As a bit of a disclaimer, I’m by no means a sugar addict.  I already try to limit my sugar intake, but I thought that by putting a title on it I might discover how much secret sugar is creeping into my diet. 

Firstly, I had to set some ground rules.  All the obvious chocolates and biscuits had to go, but I also wanted to ensure I wasn’t consuming hidden sugars which appear on labels but with the chemical names listed below.  Additionally, whilst natural sweeteners such as honey aren’t necessarily bad for you, I decided they also had to be cut to ensure legitimate results. Here’s how I found my week of being sugar free…


Rushing (as per) to get ready for my 11am, I realised how unprepared I was.  I hadn’t bought an alternative to my normal breakfast of Greek yogurt with fruit and honey.  I’m ashamed to admit it but I skipped breakfast and just had a sugar free coffee to start the day.

Dinner was equally disappointing.  Is curry night even curry night if you don’t have mango chutney?? I decided condiments would be my downfall for the rest of the week.



On Tuesday, I made a big batch of soup to see me through the week’s lunches.  Compared to Heinz tomato soup which contains 11% of our daily sugar intake, my butternut squash, red pepper and chilli soup was sugar free and much more filling.  Despite this, I still found myself craving something sweet to round of off my meal, but I’m proud to say I resisted.

Tuesday night is where it all fell apart.  I would love to say that I carefully chose sugar free drinks for my Halloween celebrations and that I stuck to the challenge.  Whilst wine is surprisingly sugar free and allowed on a sugar free diet, the same can’t be said for VKs, so I suspect my sugar intake was probably scarier than my Halloween outfit.



I decided the best way to ensure my dinners were sugar free was to cook from scratch.  Although this is time consuming, I found it was the only way to know exactly what I was eating and make up for going slightly off track on Tuesday night.  I made shepherd’s pie and had two portions (I couldn’t help myself, it was just so good).  The meal taught me that being sugar free by no means limited me to boring and bland meals and especially not to just salads.

As my friends tucked into some leftover Halloween sweets, I knew that on a normal week I would have treated myself and probably eaten a lot more than I realised.  It was at this point I realised I probably snacked in this way more than normal, a habit I didn’t necessarily need to kick but rather acknowledge.



I have to admit that this was the first day I actually had breakfast, opting for toast and butter.  The problem with cutting out whole food groups is that it can sometimes push us to make unhealthier choices.  It seemed ironic that to avoid a drizzle of honey, I was indulging in the calorie counter’s enemy: carbs.  And then again, it seems silly that food groups carry such stigmas when our body benefits from them all in the right amounts.



I knew Friday was going to be the hardest day.  Although I’m very good at finding excuses to treat myself on most days, I find I don’t even need a reason if it’s Friday.  Breakfast and lunch were fine as I had fallen into a routine of toast then soup which I continued to follow.

This weekend I was getting the train home and was just about to splurge on a Costa Christmas drink when I remembered the challenge and had to resist.  Whilst I felt I could still have something enjoyable and filling without breaking my rules with food, I found that drinks are much more restrictive. 



Overall, the week of being sugar free confirmed that I’m already pretty good at managing my sugar intake.  I found I was never surprised to find sugar in condiments, flavoured yogurts and ready-made sauces etc. and that I didn’t necessarily crave these things like I thought I would.  The most important thing I learnt, however, was that the sugar I do consume often comes from snacking on sweet things when I’m not even especially hungry, and that managing the temptation was much easier than I’d expected.

I think spending a week being sugar free is a great exercise for everyone to do as it highlights how much sugar we consume without even realising due to the misleading small print on a lot of products.  However, I don’t think being sugar free on a strict basis is right for me and I’ll be continuing to consume a managed amount as part of a balanced diet.






Sugar Types