Since January 1, 2017, I’ve eaten no sugar or sweeteners of any kind — not even honey or stevia, not even in toothpaste or vitamins (see my ground rules for the sugar-free year).
Can I just say…WOOOO HOOO?!!!
I started my sugar-free-year on January 1, 2017 and I’ve stuck to it with only a handful of accidental slips (see my 6-month update).
1. Why I did it
- Because I hated being controlled by cravings – I’m a sugar addict and I always will be (my mum was an alcoholic — I see lots of similarities)
- I was curious to see what happens when you give up sugars for a longer timeframe (longer than just a month-long cleanse, for example)
- For fat loss and better health
- To see if I could! If you’re interested trying it, see my post “How to quit sugar“
2. How I feel — changes I’ve noticed
The cravings are definitely gone
For me, this is the biggest benefit. As I described in my two-weeks-in update, the evenings after my husband went to bed used to revolve around cravings for sugar, honey, etc. I usually succumbed, only to wake puffy and regretful the next day, resolving to do better.
Now, things are much easier. In the run-up to Christmas, someone put a box of chocolates in the lunchroom at work. My first thought on seeing them was, “Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that!” I walked right past them, feeling huge relief and thankfulness.
Previously, I would have immediately eaten “just one”, and then found ways to justify having one more, and one more, and one more… It was such a relief not to have to deal with all that guilt and shame, and the resulting bloating/acne/blood sugar swings/weight gain.
Your body keeps adapting, even months in
I suspect giving up sweeteners is akin to giving up smoking — the timeframe for full recovery isn’t days, it’s months or maybe years. A one-month cleanse or challenge simply isn’t long enough.
For example, my tastes keep changing. These foods started to taste unpleasantly sweet to me in October, a full 10 months in:
- Spaghetti squash
- Lemon-flavoured unsweetened sparkling water
- Green beans
As well, my cravings kept diminishing from month to month:
- Conscious cravings continued for the first 6 – 8 weeks (although they were much easier to resist after the first few days)
- It took a full 3 months to stop dreaming regularly about sugar
My appetite is more realistic
I only feel hungry when I’m actually hungry, and at the end of a meal, I don’t feel that need for a little something sweet. I feel full, satisfied, and done. This change happened early on, in the first few weeks, and it has persisted.
How about fat loss?
I started the year at 143 pounds at (64.9 kg) on my 5’8″ (1.73 m) frame. This was 15 pounds over my high-school weight, but I’m more muscular now.
After giving up sweeteners, I lost 5 pounds in the first two weeks of January 2017 without hunger or effort, but then gained them back by March because potatoes are sugar-free! (Who knew?!)
After reining in my carbs, I’m now at a happy 137-ish pounds (62.1 kg). I think losing the final few pounds of bodyfat will come down to adjusting meal timing, cutting down on snacks, lowering carbs even more, sprinting regularly, and continuing to lift weights. I hope to do a post on these ideas at some point.
3. What’s next?
I can’t imagine knowingly eating sugar or other added sweeteners again. I have no desire to get back on the addiction-cravings-guilt-shame merry-go-round, and I don’t want the health problems that come along with eating sugar. I’m not craving sugar at all, nor am I looking forward to being able to eat it on January 1.
So basically, I’ll continue to avoid sugar and added sweeteners.
However, I won’t be quite as strict as I was in 2017. I’ll make a limited number of exceptions for sugar-containing things that don’t have a noticeably sweet taste and didn’t spark cravings for me in the past. I’m going to add these in for the month of January and then assess.
- Bacon (Wooo! bacon for breakfast tomorrow, January 1! CAN’T WAIT. Sugar-free bacon does exist, but is only available intermittently at my local health-food store, and is quite expensive)
- Other cured meats, smoked salmon, etc.
- Chicken stock (Costco organic variety; currently, to get a sugar-free version, I’m spending $$$ at the health-food store)
- Liver pâté … yummmm!
- (Possibly) Avocado-oil mayonnaise. This new product came out during my sugar-free year. It has sugar as an ingredient, but fairly far down on the list. I don’t know whether it tastes sweet, but not having to make mayo from scratch would be a great time-saver.
- Lindt’s 99% sugar-free chocolate
- Probiotic supplements (many of them have an ingredient ending in in -ose, which signals a form of sugar)
- Sugar in medications as needed. Being strict about this was expensive in 2017; for example, in March 2017, when I bought the sugar-free version of over-the-counter cold medicine at more than twice the price of the sweetened version.
- Fluoride treatments at the dentist (I couldn’t do these in 2017 because all the flavours are sweet)
- The occasional glass of dry wine. I’m going to proceed with extra caution here, because of course wine lowers inhibitions, which could be dangerous in terms of sticking to my plan.
- And, I’m planning a glass of dry champagne at midnight tonight to celebrate my achievement!
Are you thinking about giving up sugar in 2018? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and best wishes to you for a happy, healthy new year!