Ah, sugar. The thing that makes literally anything taste good. It's in everything you love and, most importantly, in everything you might make an effort to avoid.
The worst of the sugars is sucrose, the artificial, bad-for-you stuff that's added into foods and sweets to make them taste delicious. Not only is there a correlation between excessive sugar intake and health issues like diabetes and obesity, it is also purported that sugar is linked to bad skin, bad moods and low energy. The commonly believed reason for the latter two is that, once the addictive sugar high weans off, your energy and mood dips. Like with caffeine, but tastier and less obvious.
I decided to take the plunge so you don't have to: cut out sugar for two whole weeks and see what kind of difference — if any — it would make. Even though I was eating quite a bit of sugary nonsense at the time, I went in pretty optimistic, thinking I could definitely tackle this.
When I started out, my skin was misbehaving quite a bit, with little pimples appearing mainly in my hairline. I wondered whether my no-sugar diet would eliminate this. I also generally have issues with maintaining a steady level of energy throughout the day, so I thought that maybe cutting sugar out might leave my energy levels more even.
For the first couple of days, I was sort of OK. It was a little bit challenging, but not, like, the worst. The easiest thing to cut out was sugary drinks, because I became wise to that whole 500-spoons-of-sugar-in-one-glass-of-soda thing ages ago, so I mainly drink water or diet drinks (I know, I know — those aspartame-containing drinks aren't much healthier) and I never take sugar in my coffee or tea, anyway.
After a few days, though, it was apparent that sugar is in everything, especially in things that are low-fat. It's in, like, every packaged food ever. I was having a bit of trouble avoiding sugar entirely and, sometimes, I'd already be eating something only to gander at the ingredients and realise I might as well have been drinking a Coke.
The only way to really avoid sugar, it seemed, was to eat only stuff at home, so I tried that.
I didn't cut out natural sugars, like fructose, which is found in fruit. My goal here was to eliminate the processed, unnatural stuff, and I mostly succeeded, with a few tiny, unthinking slip-ups, mostly thanks to deceiving hidden sugars. Like, why is there sugar in a pasta salad? My bad.
So, here I am, two weeks out and, to be completely honest, I'd love to say that I'm a transformed person and my entire life has turned around, but it didn't make that much of a difference. Maybe I wasn't eating as much sugar as I thought I was?
The main benefit, I think, is that I somehow feel healthier. Like, on any given day, I don't feel bad about myself and what I've eaten, which sugary foods have the ability to make me feel. My stomach isn't bloated, mostly because I haven't been adding extra, sweet treats throughout the day.
As for my energy levels, I honestly feel almost exactly the same. I still experience fluctuations in energy throughout the day, with most of my energy uselessly coming to me at night. I've just always been this way; I don't think cutting out one type of food is going to change that, I guess.
My skin did improve a slight, slight bit, but really nothing that anybody else might notice. I think if I did this for long enough, though, I might see a noticeable difference. Plus, I'd probably need to cut out a whole lot of other foods, too, but baby steps, am I right?
All in all, I'd probably recommend trying this just to show yourself that you can, and the feeling of accomplishing something is pretty worth-it. It's also a useful first step to better eating; I like cutting one thing out at a time so that I'm not suddenly deprived of 65 different food options on any given day, making me less likely to have cravings and subsequently stop eating healthfully.
Sugar is really addictive and delicious, and it's somehow comforting to know that if I want to not eat it, I can.
• Have you ever tried to stop eating sugar? Did you notice any differences?
• What's your favourite sugary treat?