As I work toward 30 days without sugar, I want to document the benefits I’ve noticed and tips I’ve implemented along the way. I think doing it this way, rather than looking back once the 30 days are up, will help me stay up to date and not forget anything.
Running List of Benefits from Quitting Sugar
This is everyone’s, including my own, favorite part of implementing any new habit or breaking any new addiction. What are the benefits to me right now? Forget the fact that your chance of getting diabetes or heart disease will lower if you cut out sugar long term, just tell me what benefits I’m going to see in my immediate future. I’ve got you.
For the past few months, I have had some mild to moderate acne going on. Not sure if it’s related to sugar or to generally unhealthy eating and not always showering after a workout. Regardless, my skin has cleared up! I only have one or two pimples at one time, so that’s awesome.
But better than the acne is just the overall complexion of my skin! 9 days ago, my complexion was pretty blotchy and my skin was fairly puffy a lot of the time. But since putting down sweets, I’ve definitely noticed the blotchiness and puffiness are both significantly reduced. It’s awesome.
I’m Less Hungry
Now that I’m not eating sweets, I’ve just noticed that I’m less hungry in general. I believe the constant blood sugar spikes and crashes were wreaking havoc on my appetite. I was always grazing and just feeling like I constantly needed more food. I track my diet in MyFitnessPal and I’ve actually noticed that I consistently satisfied at around 2100 calories per day whereas before I was eating 2500-2700 and still sometimes feeling hungry throughout the day.
Food Tastes Better
Now that my body isn’t accustomed to the intense taste of sugary sweets, I feel as though my appreciation for normal food has increased. I often eat a rice, chicken and broccoli bowl for dinner and I was getting so sick of it because I knew I had these powerful, delicious, sugary protein bars to eat afterward. The taste of this healthy dish just didn’t compare to my other options and so I would always end up eating junk food and more sweets instead. But now? Now this dish is just great. I honestly enjoy it. And even things like yogurt and blueberries, tuna salad sandwiches, and salmon are at least 3x more enjoyable.
More Energy (I Think)
I don’t know if I can attribute this simply to quitting sugar, but I have noticed that I have had significantly more energy in the last week or so than I have had in some time. I’m working on this blog, getting deep into interview processes for a potential new job, doing a lot of volunteer work, and waking up at a more consistent time. There are some other factors that could be affecting my energy levels, such as getting close to getting a job after a long hiatus, exercising more consistently, improved mindfulness, and a host of others things. But I can’t discount the fact that my energy has been consistently higher ever since I quit sugar.
Running List of Tips for the Quit
Quitting sugar is not easy. We are conditioned as a society to indulge in it heavily and to view it as a normal, fairly innocuous vice. It’s not. Our brains are hard-wired to crave it and when we take it away, those cravings only intensify. But all hope is not lost. So long as you make a commitment to quit and to the process, it is eminently possible. I’m hoping that some tips I’ve learned along the way will help make it a little easier for you.
This is absolutely crucial. Not only should you stay hydrated throughout the day (if you don’t have a water bottle, you need to get one ASAP) but you should also be using water as a tool when cravings hit. On a number of occasions, I’ve found that chugging some water was an easy way to curb a craving. The first time I thought to myself as I raised my water bottle to my lips, “I don’t think this is going to work, I guess I’m just going to have to battle through this craving.” As soon as I took a big gulp though, my craving was diminished almost entirely. Water is the elixir of life and it can be your elixir to quash sugar addiction forever.
Don’t Quit Multiple Things at Once
If you’re quitting sugar, I recommend that you focus solely on that for at least 30 days. I only mention this because I’ve fallen victim to trying to quit everything at once. I’ve tried to quit sugar and nicotine at the same time (this is a terrible idea). I’ve tried to quit sugar and carbs at the same time (also a terrible idea). The result? Failing at every change I tried to make.
Quitting sugar and nicotine at the same time results in extremely low blood sugar levels from both the reduced sugar and the nicotine withdrawals. Insanely tough to handle. I’d quit them at different times.
Quitting sugar and carbs at the same time? Same thing. Carbs essentially break down into glucose, so blood sugar levels will again be really low and make it tough to handle. Having some bread has been a godsend so far, helping to curb my munchies without eating sugar.
In general, trying to quit multiple addictions at once is extremely difficult. You have no relief from the withdrawal, no relief from the discomfort. I recommend just doing one at a time. Perhaps quit sugar for 30 days then quit nicotine for 30 days. Quit sugar for 30 days then eliminate carbs from your diet from that point on.
Adjust Your Environment
In Benjamin Hardy’s book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, he promotes the idea that changing our environment is the most effective way to achieve radical change. It’s not about willpower or who you are as a person, it’s about the environment you’re in. And environments are changeable, we can adjust them to better suit our goals. So when it comes to sugar, this means eliminating sweets from your home and avoiding places where you typically indulge.
It should go without saying but do not buy anything sweet during your 30 days of quitting sugar. There should be nothing sweet accessible to you in the place that you live. But you will likely need to make more adjustments than that. For example, if you often find yourself going out to ice cream with friends on Tuesdays for instance, you need to either not hang out with those friends or inform them about your quit and offer an alternative place to go. Take a good, hard look at where you often find yourself shoving sweets into your mouth. Is it in the break room at work? Take a break in a different spot. Is it at a certain friend’s house for a social event? Avoid that house until you are more solid in your quit. It’s a small sacrifice to make to finally be free of that evil sugar monkey on your back.
Adjusting your environment will not only help you be successful in quitting sugar (or anything), but it also makes it significantly easier and less stressful.
More to Come!