Following on from my earlier results post, I’m now going to share what I learnt. I’m going to begin by saying that the first ten days were the hardest, I have never craved sweet food so bad in all my life. It wasn’t a want, it was a need! It was at that point that I realised I was a total sugar addict and I really did need to do something about it. Going cold turkey was tough and there was a point when I didn’t think I could do it and I was ready to throw in the towel and binge on huge bars of chocolate. It took every ounce of willpower and determination to persevere and I am really happy that I did. The positive changes that I have experienced to my body made it all worth while.
- My cravings have vanished. I half expected to binge on sugary foods the moment the thirty days were up (by day seven I had already conjured up a list in my head of all the foods I was going to indulge in – guilt-free). In all honestly I don’t fancy anything sweet. It is now technically day thirty-three and all I have had in the last few days is a handful of pic n mix and I have to say that it didn’t satisfy me the way sugary food used to. I didn’t get that high from it, in fact it tasted kind of bland to me. In only thirty days my tastebuds have changed for the better. Eating the pic n mix actually made me feel sick and the next day I felt nauseous just thinking about sweet food – I couldn’t even stomach my strawberry flavoured green tea because of the sweetness. It’s strange, I have read stories about people giving up sugar and saying they didn’t miss it, even my Mum said to me at the beginning that I will probably go off chocolate and find it really sickly. I found this hilarious, I lived for chocolate, there was no way thirty days without it would make me not like it anymore. Chocolate is one of my favourite foods and yet they were right, I don’t want any.
- I sleep much better now. I am able to fall straight asleep, get a full nights sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. I am able to get up within ten minutes of waking, rather than having to drag myself out of bed after snoozing the alarm several times. On top of this, I now find I need less sleep and I am actually able to stay awake in the evenings rather than falling asleep on the sofa mid way through a movie.
- I have more energy meaning I get a lot more done in my day. I feel alert and more pro-active. I don’t get those mid-morning and mid-afternoon energy slumps, so much so that I can now skip snacking between meals. I have also been able to do a lot more exercise, which in turn gives my energy even more of a boost.
- My stomach is flatter and doesn’t get bloated anymore. I’ve toned up my body using various methods of cardio and strength training and successfully managed to lose inches from all over my body. My stomach however has always been a problem area for me, I have managed to shed inches from it but not at the same pace as the rest of my body. I said to my husband mid-way through the challenge that my stomach felt flatter so I was over the moon when I measured it and found I had shed three inches from it in just thirty days. There is evidence out there that suggests sugar contributes to us holding onto belly fat and I think this challenge has kind of proved that.
- My skin looks brighter and my dull tired looking skin is refreshed. I have found that my normally dry complexion has been significantly less dry. It is blemish free and (I am prone to spots at certain times of the month) I have been spot free! I have even been ditching the foundation and letting my natural naked skin shine through. Sugar allegedly adds to the ageing process and I can see how this is true.
- I have been less hungry. I find that I have a lot of calories left over each day where I am not using them on sweet food. Looking back at my food diary, sugar did take a large percentage of my calories and I pity my poor body. I’ve been ultimately fueling it with poison. I find myself now snacking on healthier food and actually feeling satisfied – Greek yogurt in particular helped my sweet cravings so much and is excellent for the body. I no longer need chocolate, cake or donuts to feel satisfied.
- This is one isn’t a change I have noticed on my body, but more of a change to my purse. I think I have saved so much money not buying the sweet junk food. I have had to make most of my meals from scratch and when I bulk cook it has worked out cheaper than buying pre-made stuff. I like the fact that I have complete control over what goes into my food and then ultimately into my body. I mean sure it’s tough to make a meal when you have had along day and just want to chill, but the pro’s of being healthy override that. I no longer have to make emergency trips to the supermarket to stock up on sugary treats. Someone said to me once about food: “You only live once.” Thinking about that now, it’s true, but surely that’s even more of a reason to look after ourselves. Life is short and we should be doing all we can to enjoy and prolong it.
Another thing that I have learnt along the way is just how little manufacturers seem to think of their consumers. Sugar is clearly bad for us and our bodies don’t even require it to function and yet they still add copious amounts of it to our food (To either make it more addictive so we consume more of it or a cheap way of giving food a longer shelf life). I watch people piling the sugar-laden foods into their trolleys and I can’t help but think about the the state the NHS is in. Surely if the amount of sugar that is put into our food was reduced dramatically then there is a small percentage of people out there that wouldn’t need to rely on the NHS. Obesity and type 2 diabetes, amongst other health issues, are a massive drain on the healthcare system and yet it is knowingly being fed by the food that we consume. There is even rumours and studies that show sugar can potentially feed cancer, surely that is a reason to minimise the amount we consume. It surprises me that it is even allowed in our food in such large quantities and in food that doesn’t necessarily need sugar (pasta sauces, low fat yogurt etc). Sugar has the same effects on our bodies as drugs. I’m sure people would be outraged if manufacturers began pumping cocaine into our pizzas, peanut butter, cereals…! It seems to be all about money and less about care. People need educating on the harmful effects of sugar, not encouraged to consume it by fancy adverts, special offers and product placement at tills. I went into Morrison’s yesterday and by their self service tills they now have chocolate bars and I pointed out to my husband that there wasn’t one healthy option there.
So what’s next?
As I am still continuing not to crave sugar, I have decided to carry on eating as little of the stuff as possible. I will still have it in very small amounts, but no where near the scale I used to. Gone are the days of eating huge chunks of cake and packs of biscuits. I’ve decided that if I crave something sweet I will allow myself to have something I really want. I will opt for dark chocolate and I will enjoy every piece of it, rather than wolfing down a chocolate bar just for the hell of it. I really do feel that I have turned a corner and I have beaten my cravings – something that I wasn’t sure was possible. I can now honestly say that I am no longer a sugar addict.