Update on the Sugar-Free Year: 1 month in

One month with no sugar or any other added sweeteners! Hooray! I’m really doing this!

All the positive effects I saw at 2 weeks are continuing, and I’ve been able to follow my sugar-free rules except for a one-bite mistake in a social situation (I hang my head — details below).


This morning, I weighed 140.7 (63.8 kg). This is 2.7 lb (1.2 kg) up from my  January 14 weight, but still below my starting (January 1) weight of 143 lb (64.8 kg).

I’m totally fine with this slight gain:

  • My waist measurement hasn’t changed, and my clothes still feel slightly on the loose side (LOVE this!)
  • I’m pretty sure it’s mostly muscle – I’ve been doing a lot of cross-country skiing (training for a race), and continuing to do CrossFit. My biceps are noticeably larger, and my glutes feel stronger. In the past when I’ve done CrossFit, I’ve seen this same pattern – numbers on the scale go up, but clothes get looser.
  • Losing weight wasn’t one of my goals for the sugar-free year. Thanks to 16 years of eating Paleo, I was fortunate enough to be at a healthy weight on January 1 anyway: 143 lb (64.8 kg) for my height of 5’8″(1.72 m). The slight weight loss during the first two weeks actually took me totally by surprise.

After a great ski with my husband and our friend Annie. That’s me on the left.

Energy and sleep

The high energy levels continue! Loving this.

Sleep continues to be significantly better than when I ate sweeteners. Sometimes I wake up too early, excited to start blogging (!), and a couple of times I’ve slept less well worrying about Trump (our son lives in New York City), but I’ve been able to make it through my busy days just fine, with ample energy and alertness.


The skin on my face and neck continues to be much improved – a friend who didn’t know about my sugar-free year commented on it recently.

For much of my adult life, I’ve also battled acne on my scalp (blecchh). This is almost 100% resolved now as well – such a relief.

A surprising effect

The most unexpected effect of being totally sugar-free for one month has been the spontaneous reduction in my appetite.

Previously, I would always feel snacky in the evenings after dinner, but now, after eating a good solid meal, I’m DONE, and the idea of more food is almost repellent.

For a person with very little willpower when it comes to food (see my “before Paleo” pictures for proof), this is a huge benefit.


The most difficult thing by far this month has been other people’s food – it’s risky in terms of sticking to my rules, and also potentially socially awkward.


Restaurants are usually a minefield, of course, and there’s a limit to the amount of grilling (ha!) I want to subject the waitstaff to, especially when I’m eating out with a group.

My only safe option at most restaurants is a plain green salad with olive oil on the side. Even adding grilled meat can be difficult, because in the past (before the sugar-free year) I’ve had meat that had definitely been marinated in — you got it — something sugary.

These were my three restaurant lunches this month — one easy, two more challenging:

  1. At Dragon Stone Mongolian Grill in Prince George: A great, healthy, sugar-free Paleo lunch. When I contacted them to check in advance, they said, “There’s no such thing as fussy – that’s what we’re here for!”
  2. At a higher-end downtown restaurant with a group from work: Plain green salad, no dressing
  3. At an informal sandwich shop with a friend: Half an avocado. This was a healthy, filling option, but I doubt I’ll be able to access it easily at most restaurants.

The last two lunches might sound like deprivation, but both times I ate a filling, protein-rich “pre-lunch” at my desk immediately beforehand. I also mentally reframed the restaurant meals as a chance to spend time with friends, rather than being about food.

Dinner at a friend’s

We went to a beautiful, fun Chinese New Year potluck dinner this past weekend at the house of friends, very generous hosts. It was my first dinner at someone else’s house since starting the sugar-free year.

This was my single cheat meal of the month (for Paleo, not for sugar – no cheats ever for sugar).

This meant I could eat grains, dairy, potatoes, and other non-Paleo foods. Wooo! I was excited!

What I learned:

  1. People are so kind, and will try and accommodate your sugar-free strangeness as best they can. For example, my thoughtful hostess made me a separate plate of Prosperity Toss salad (such a fun tradition!), so I could have it without the traditional sweet sauce. It was delicious, and I appreciated this so much.
  2. However, when you ask people whether there’s sugar in a dish, they seem to visualize spooning in the white stuff. They’ll answer “No,” even if there’s sugar in one of the ingredients – for example, the soy sauce. I mean no disrespect to any of the very talented cooks at this potluck; this just shows how embedded sugar and sweeteners are in our lives. Some dishes I was told were sugar-free still tasted a bit sweet to me, so I probably consumed some sugar despite my best efforts (although I stopped eating them as soon as I realized).
  3. There’s a limit to how much I want to interrogate people about the sugar in their lovingly prepared homemade dishes. I realized that in future situations like this, I’d prefer to be that slightly strange person who just brings her own meal. It seems the simplest way around this, and my hosts will probably be secretly grateful.
  4. Casseroles, soups, etc., are especially difficult, because of all the hidden ingredients and sauces (vs. say, steak and baked potatoes, where you can see most of what’s in it)
  5. And, my most shaming discovery of all, one that I’m embarrassed to tell you about: I love trying new dishes, and this led me to take one bite of some shrimp toast, even though I’d been told (1) it contained Asian fish sauce, and I knew some brands contain sugar; and (2) it contained Sambal sauce, and again, I knew some brands contain sugar.
    So, major fail with the shrimp toast. It didn’t taste at all sweet — more of a savoury spiciness (delicious!), but still….definitely a good lesson for the rest of the year. I learned I’m not as strong as I thought I was, especially in a social situation when the (very talented) cook is right there and I don’t want to hurt her feelings, and more importantly, I know to watch out for this kind of situation in the future.

My delicious Prosperity salad (pre-toss)

To sum up, I’m definitely going to continue with the sugar-free year, and I’m excited to see what new challenges February brings!

Have you tried giving up sugar, or cutting back? What was it like for you?



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