#sugarban: how we survived a month without sugar
Have you ever considered yourself addicted to sugar?
For years now I’ve been telling Danny he’s probably diabetic and he should see a doctor about it. He often complains his vision is blurry, he’s always hungry, and he drinks a lot… all symptoms that belong to diabetes. Plus, if you consider how much sugar he has regularly there was a high chance. About six months ago he finally went, got some blood tests done,, and found out that in actual fact he is not diabetic. So the only other possible explanation to his constant craving of Dr Pepper, Ribena, fruit, chocolate, and sweets is that he’s an addict.
On May 31st 2017, on our way back from a day working in London, neither of us was up for cooking and we didn’t have much left in the fridge anyway. So we decided to stop at our local chippy, the Sea Tree, for their delicious halloumi salad and chips. I know, why do we go to a fish n’ chip place to have halloumi?? But it’s seriously amazing (and so is their tuna burger). Over dinner I brought up the topic of “Danny you are so addicted to sugar, you should try quitting it for a few days and see how you feel”. To which he replied, “Right, tomorrow is a new month right? Why don’t we both give up sugar for all of June? If I’m doing this, you’re doing it with me”. So just like that, almost as a joke, we decided to cut refined sugar from our diet for a whole month. We didn’t plan it, we didn’t research how to do it. We were just going to wing it.
On the way home, we stopped at the supermarket because Danny wanted one last dessert. His last supper. He bought a pot of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to say goodbye to sugar. As you do.
On June 1st, we started with what we had in the house. The half empty jar of Nutella was off limits. Along with the remaining Ben & Jerry’s, about 200ml left from a 2l bottle of Dr Pepper, and any leftover chocolate. It was a hard day.
The following day my dad arrived to visit for the weekend. We went out for lunch in a pub and turns out it was #internationaldonutday, so there were free donuts on the counter. How cruel is that? Free donuts starring at you on your second day of #sugarban. Thankfully I am not a massive fan of donuts, but Danny is. So of course he had one, curtesy of my dad nudging him (thanks, dad!) and his awful experience the day before.
My dad was in town to celebrate my birthday and there was a cake arranged for one of the evenings, so we decided to pause the #sugarban for that weekend, and resume on Monday when we had to do groceries anyway.
On Monday we went to do groceries, read through each food label, and if the word ‘sugar’ appeared in the list of ingredients, we put it back. With one exception: coconut yoghurt for breakfast. I thought to myself, I have it with rolled oats and blueberries for breakfast a few times a week, how bad can it be? Danny was kind enough to grant the exception.
Danny’s mood was very swingy, but hopefully it would go away soon.
Days go by and the struggle becomes more bearable, but still hard. The hardest part was doing groceries. The temptations are everywhere, but luckily most of them are confined to the chocolate and sweets aisle. Danny is still a bit hangry.
By now my sleep patterns were affected. I was either drinking more coffee and too late in the day to compensate for sugar, or my glycaemic levels were readjusting as I was up for half the night (usually until 2-4am), and then wide awake again at 7am.
Danny was getting better, he was coping with the lack of sugar. But I suspect it was only because the end was near and he was planning what to do on Saturday, July 1st. My sleep was still messed up, despite having reduced my coffee to one a day, strictly in the morning. I wasstarting to think that I might carry out this ban for longer. As much as I never craved sugar that much, this ban has made me realise I don’t eat sugar all that much because I hardly felt a difference.
However, this week was really really hot. Temperatures are in the early 30s, and it’s been the hottest summer solstice since 1936. And all I was craving was one of Jack’s gelato. We actually had one last scoop of his chocolate ice cream in the freezer, but I was obviously not allowed to even go near it. This #sugarban is awful, when it’s a hot summer day and all you want is ice cream. So I stuffed my face with loads of fruit.
I think the #sugarban has worked. Despite my face breaking up like never before (not sure why), both Danny and I have been feeling healthier, no afternoon slumps, no bad moods. I started working out more than just once a week and feel great. We even lost some weight!!! Hurray!! We are considering carrying on this ban for longer, but in a more researched way. Although, I do have to admit… I had a slice of cake this week. I felt sooo guilty!!
I’m not sure we actually cut all sugar out of our diet. I’ve been reading more about it this week, including buying Sarah Wilson’s I quit sugar 8 week plan, and I think we could have gone even more cold turkey. I’m still confused as to whether carbs count as bad sugars or not, and giving up pasta for Italian is probably the hardest thing. But I will continue to research this and get back to you.
But I do feel A LOT better after this month.
FIRST DAY BACK TO SUGAR
After a month of no refined sugar, you can really tell the difference in your body. But both Danny and I wanted to finish that ice cream (remember the tub of Ben&Jerry’s and Jack’s gelato?) in the freezer. I think this Facebook post sums it up nicely.
It took about 4h for Danny to stop feeling sick after eating most of the remaining ice cream.
Moral of the story: sugar is bad for you and you actually feel a lot better once you get it out of your system.
- Change4Life app – NHS app that helps you detect which foods contain sugar and what swap you can make
- Sarah Wilson’s book
- Robert Lustig’s talk on Sugar: The Bitter Truth
- UK Sugar tax
Featured photo credit: Laura Ockel