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I Gave Up Sugar For 8 Weeks And This Is What Happened.

10 March 2019 4 comments


Until February 28th, I had, rather unwillingly, been 'sugar-free', for just about 9 weeks.

A few things were hardly a surprise, but I learnt quite a bit along the way and I'm sharing that all with you today.

I'm a huge sugar fiend.

I'm nothing like the more typical blogger that indulges in deliciously aesthetic sweet treats once in a while (making sure to Instagram it before a single spoon goes out of place ;) but generally has a very healthy, perhaps vegan or wheat-free diet.

I could eat sweet things all day, to my heart's content if I were left to my own devices. And I don't discriminate between good and not so good sugars either, I love fruit just as much as I love cake.

I'm the person who would own and happily eat a tub of Jelly Belly jelly beans from Costco. Which weighs almost two kilograms.

So when I inevitably ran into a couple of dental issues, both as a result of excess sugar and wisdom teeth problems, and had to undergo surgery (a bit more on that here), I was told no sugar after the surgery, and just decided to start ahead of time with that ethos.

I'd say I was about 95% strict, as I wasn't going to worry about some naturally occurring sugars (sweet potatoes, parnips, bananas in my smoothies etc) but most fruit was verboten, along with all the obvious culprits. Basically everything delicious.

And here's what happened.

Did I lose weight?

Because that's the first thing anyone I've told has asked. And interesting every single person assumed I gave up sugar to lose weight. Not the case, but in their mind, it was clearly the only possible explanation, I don't know why that is. In short anyway, yes I definitely did lose some weight (about 12lbs) although I do think that was more down to not being able to eat as much food (surgery) rather than cutting out sugar. The first 5 days after surgery for example I could pretty much manage yoghurt, and dropped 5 lbs, which all went straight back on when I began eating more food again.

I experienced far fewer headaches.

I'm prone to migraines and terrible headaches and I noticed I had a lot fewer during the last 9 weeks or so. Not a coincidence I feel.

I realised there is sugar in EVERYTHING.

Forced to start really looking at the ingredients of everything I was consuming, I found that sugar is in ruddy everything. Sometimes going by sneaky names like maltodextrin or syrups, or agave syrup, which apparently isn't the 'healthy alternative' everyone makes out because it's so high in fructose. Breads, pre-made soups, mayonnaise, nut butters, organic pumpkin seed oatcakes - buying anything that's processed in any way seems to contain sugar. Interestingly, I've been making a lot more from scratch, like mayo/aioli and beurre blanc, to omit the sugar. I felt like I wanted a carb-laden treat several weeks in and found that even my crumpets contained sugar. Not that this particular one has stopped me mind you, crumpets have been my life-blood lately, piled high with butter. They're low-sugar in relation to what I could have been eating, so I allowed them as my single vice. And bananas. As entirely delicious in an almond smoothie they indeed are.

It had an impact on my social life and mood.

I sort of took on the attitude of  "well if I can't have what I'd want from the menu, what's the point in going out?" which meant we ate out a lot less. Perhaps better for the bank balance (arguably completely negated by the dental-related costs) but as "restaurants" are a hobby of mine all on their own, it did make me more miserable that I had so much to consider before putting anything into my mouth. My mood suffered because food shopping and eating out etc are joys to me. Although my energy levels, and general mood didn't spike and drop so much. So both positive and negative in that respect.

It helped with my hormonal blemishes.

I was secretly hoping the lack of sugar would have a positive effect on my skin, because that's all you hear about in books showcasing low-sugar recipes and tips. And I'm happy to report it did! And most surprising of all, it seemed to really help with my hormonal blemishes, moreso than any skincare I've used. The kind that pop up every month. Actually, ironically don't pop up, but lurk deep down in the skin, under a painful red mound and refuse to rear their ugly heads to be squeezed and dealt with. So troublesome. But yes, I had noticeably fewer of those, and my skin in general felt in far better condition. So much so that, whilst yes I've been using skincare and makeup that boosts a glow, I've had many a comment about how radiant and clear my skin has been looking.

It did absolutely nothing for my hair.

In a similar vein as my last point, I was rather hoping the lack of sugar would help out with my ever-problematic hair. Maybe with breakage, thinning or falling out. But no such luck unfortunately. I've not noticed any improvement in that regard, so whilst you might still try eliminating sugar for your hair concerns (if any), it didn't work for me.

Sugar shock.

Eating chocolate again after the 8 weeks felt SO sweet, and although the reset has been shortlived, I'm now much more of a fan of very dark chocolate than I ever was. Which suits me just fine ;) During December I was infatuated with stem ginger covered in dark chocolate, and could have easily sat there of an evening and devoured a whole box. I'm glad to say I still enjoy them just as much, but couldn't eat more than maybe.. 4. So that's something! Fruit tastes better too I think. Rather than perpetually being disappointed by 'substandard' mangoes etc, any mango now seemingly feels sweeter and ripe. Even just 9 weeks of sugar-free has changed my tastes a little, and whilst I won't be continuing to omit sugar from my life completely, I don't think I'll naturally be wanting to eat quite so much of it.

I'd love to hear about your experiences and thoughts if this if something you've tried, or if something you want to try. And of course if you've any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.