My mother laughed out loud when I told her I was going to go a week without sugar. She knows better than anyone how dependent I am on sugar and how much of a sweet tooth I have.
I decided cutting out sugar for a week was something I wanted to try because a small part of me wondered if I even could do it. I’ve never even attempted to cut down on sugar, let alone completely cut it out. I was excited about an experience that could potentially teach me a lot about myself and my eating habits. Here’s what I learned.
1. I was shocked at how hard it was to avoid sugar altogether
As challenging as this was, it was a great exercise to take a step back and notice how much sugar I consume, even when I don’t realize it. Did you know that one cup of milk has 12 grams of sugar? I didn’t either. You’d also be surprised that almost everything in the grocery store has sugar. I challenge you to look at the labels next time you grocery shop and take note of it. Because of this, I set a three gram limit on how much sugar I could consume in a given product, seeing as almost everything had at least this amount of sugar.
2. It was hard to define the boundaries
Because sugar is so difficult to avoid, it was hard for me to figure out exactly what I was going to allow. The reality is, I’m a busy college student with a job and a social life, and I don’t have time to cook meals from scratch that have absolutely no sugar. I also happen to be a very picky eater, so my alternative options were limited. Fruits technically have sugar, but my goal here wasn’t to avoid healthy alternatives to my usual habits. Instead, I wanted to make a habit of choosing these healthy alternatives. Instead of a sugary cereal for breakfast, I wanted to get used to eating a banana. So I ended up deciding that only added sugar is what I wanted to avoid.
3. I didn’t have physical withdrawals, but the cravings were strong
I have always had a major sweet tooth, and I was expecting to have physical reactions to cutting out sugar cold turkey. I was surprised at the fact that I didn’t actually feel any physical changes at all. I did, however, have cravings. I would get a sweet food in my head that I really wanted, and no other food seemed to do the trick.
4. I’m more motivated to keep track of it now
Now that I’m aware of how much sugar I consume regularly, it’s always going to be in the back of my mind. Because of this, I think I will instinctively try to make better decisions when it comes to eating sweets and the amount of sugar I’m consuming.
5. It wasn’t that bad, until there was temptation
I remember thinking about halfway through the first day how swimmingly it was going. I wasn’t even thinking about sugar and didn’t have cravings yet. However, as soon as a cookie was in my vicinity, I was having a rough time. That stayed consistent throughout the week. There were so many opportunities to eat delicious sweets that were painful to turn down. The temptation was probably the worst part throughout the week.
6. I felt more confident
I definitely wasn’t expecting to gain confidence from the experience, but that was one of the most noticeable takeaways from my week. I think realizing that I had the power to make those changes contributed to gaining confidence from the experience. I also felt good about making healthy choices throughout the week, when I normally wouldn’t think twice about resorting to my unhealthy habits.
My week without sugar definitely wasn’t an easy one, but I would recommend trying it out to anyone. Maybe cutting it out completely for a whole week isn’t realistic, but I was surprised at how much I learned so quickly from this experience, and I think you would be too.