Blog post

I quit sugar for 7 weeks and here’s what happened

April 2, 2018

I mentioned a few times on the old ‘gram that I quit sugar and it’s without a doubt the one thing which I’ve got the most questions and comments on. So I thought I’d put all my thoughts into this little post so that you’ve got the low-down if you’re planning the same thing.

First things first, I did NOT give up all sugar. I still drank alcohol, ate some fruit and enjoyed bread. I gave up what I like to call ‘obvious sugar’, so all your sweet treats – chocolate, cake, biscuits, ice cream, cereals, yoghurts and basically anything yummy. It was not a planned ‘ban’.

Another thing which may be coming from the scientist in me, but this wasn’t a ‘controlled’ experiment. Alongside quitting sugar, I have generally been a bit healthier, eating less and exercising more. So are my results just because of sugar? Who knows, but I do think it has an impact. Now, onto some of the key questions I’ve been asked!

How much sugar was I originally eating?

So where was the starting point? A few people have said how they couldn’t even imagine giving up sugar. And tbh I was in exactly the same place. My normal eating routine wasn’t great, often I’d have a sugar-y cereal bar as a mid morning snack, then a sweet treat in the afternoon – usually a mini kitkat or a mini bag of chocolate fingers. Theeeen I’d head home, maybe eat a little square of chocolate before I start cooking dinner, then often have a dessert after dinns too.

As you can see, I was putting away a heeeeap of sugar every day. I am very much a grazer, and even though I was having little portions of chocolate, I was having them so frequently during the day that it probably equalled up to a big bar of chocolate everyday!

So how was quitting sugar at first (weeks 1-2)?

My sugar ban was NOT planned. Literally, one day I went ‘I’m going to give up sugar until Easter’. I knew I had some holidays so I allowed myself two ‘cheat’ days in there. I think doing it on a whim was maybe easier, as I didn’t have time to dwell on it!

I also think that I had kind of hit the sugar peak. I was honestly a bit sick of the sweet treats. So the first two weeks were actually pretty good. I most definitely got the headaches in the first week but they quickly went away and for two weeks I was like ‘oh why didn’t I do this sooner?!’.

How about later on (weeks 3-7)?

Oh yeah, then it hit two weeks and OMG I MISSED IT SO MUCH. Seriously, I started dreaming about sugar. About just eating a chocolate biscuit, cookie dough ice cream and anything I could get my hands on. And so I 100% missed sugar, probably every single day.

As time went on, it got harder too, I went on holiday and whilst everyone tucked into ice creams by the seaside, I chewed on a lovely piece of gum… I went out for dinners where the desserts looked amazing… The best ever baking was brought into work and left in my eye view… Sugar was everywhere!

But I think as the challenge goes on, I tend to get stubborn, so suddenly I don’t want to break 4 whole weeks of sugar ban, so my will power did get better as we went on. I thought that when I hit the final day, I’d be inhaling sugar, but actually by then, it had been SO LONG that it didn’t phase me too much.

How did I replace sugar?

It was haaard to replace sugar. I tended to just go with will power when I was at work. I wasn’t really hungry in the morning, it was habit so I just quit that one. In the afternoon, I made sure I had my handy can of diet coke which generally gave me enough of feeling a ‘treat’. When I was at home, I stocked up on little portions of cheese – can’t beat a babybel!

After dinner was definitely the hardest. I tried eating my dinner a little later so I didn’t get as hungry. If that didn’t work then I’d go for a piece of toast with light cream cheese which was filling enough to get me through.

Did I notice any changes when quitting sugar?

Well the obvious one is that I lost weight. I lost half a stone in the 7 weeks which makes sense as by quitting the sugar I stopped eating the same number of calories. How much of that half a stone was attributable to sugar – I’m not sure but it definitely helped!

It’s weird, other than that, during the 7 weeks I didn’t really feel like I felt any actual changes. It was only when I got back on the sugar that I felt gross. Seriously, I felt sick the majority of Easter and I can only attribute it to the sugar. I didn’t really go overboard but I think my body was just not ready to handle the sugar spikes again.

So I do think it made a difference – I didn’t ‘crash’ in terms of my energy levels as often. But, when you read some sugar books they claim that quitting it CHANGED THEIR LIFE. I definitely wouldn’t say that was the case. Yes, I felt better off the sugar, but sometimes the joy of eating a square of chocolate outweighs it.

Am I gonna stay off the sugar long term?

Well, I am going to quit sugar again. This time until I go on holiday in May. I am trying to lose some of the weight I’ve put on over the past two years (another half stone to go!) and I think that quitting sugar helps with that. I find that I’m not great with portioning sugar – it’s kind of all or nothing for me!

After my holiday in May, who knows! I’ll plan it out then and see what I feel like doing.

Should you quit sugar?

Well, if you want to then yes! Give it a go, see what happens – I honestly think anyone can do it. If you love sugar too much, then don’t bother. I’ve been very inspired by Ruby Tandohs recent book Eat Up (Lauren wrote a fabulous review of it) – it basically advocates for intuitive eating. Listen to your body and what you want. If you do decide no sugar is the way, then I promise you can do it!

Have you ever quit sugar?

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