January the 1st I decided to give up sugar. I wasn't going to be super strict and start looking how much was in Ketchup (I rarely eat it anyway but still) or other sauces but more just focussing on the obvious sugars. I completely gave up chocolate, cakes, cookies, brownies (sob) etc. Basically, anything that tasted like heaven. If you didn't know, I have a sweet tooth. I cannot get sick of chocolate. My sickly meter has no limit so I could just keep eating until I popped - and a lot of the time I would get close. So I know I had to do something about it.
I was initially inspired by the book by Sarah Wilson - I Quit Sugar. It covers some really good points and although I wasn't being as strict as the book suggests, I did use it a lot to inspire my food choices and just understand more about how sugar affects the body. Buy the book here.
Now I know one chocolate every so often is not going to kill me. My problem is that once I start I can't stop. It is easier for me to say no to the first craving than it is to stop myself from going up for seconds, thirds, fourths - you get the idea. I knew if I was going to lead a healthier lifestyle that I would have to give it up for good, so I gave it a go. And here are some things I learned along the way.
1. I Started Replacing it With Other Crappy Food
I was a big snacker, that was my main problem. I wouldn't even be hungry but I would pop into the shop and get a chocolate bar because I fancied it. Now when I initially gave up the sugar I was still addicted to the snacking. So instead of chocolates and cakes, I ended up filling myself up on sausage rolls and buttered bread when I got home from work. When I didn't lose any weight in the first week I was so annoyed, "There are other people that just give up sugary drinks and they lose so much weight! Why am I not losing it?". Until I really looked at what I had been eating.
I was replacing the chocolate with so much pastry and bread and crisps, just savory alternatives. That is when I know I had to give up the mindless snacking all together and that was slightly harder as I had nothing to fill that void anymore. So I don't think it is the sugar alone that is making us overweight or sluggish, it's just the unnecessary overeating that we need to curb. But nevertheless, I was being motivated and ended up cutting all the crap from my diet, not just sugar.
2. It Was Easier Than I Thought
I was only planning on giving up sugar for January but then the 1st of February came and I didn't want to quit. I just want to keep going.
The first week or so was a little hard as I was still craving all the sugary treats I had said goodbye to. I would not want anyone to eat around me as it would make me green with jealousy. But now I feel like I don't crave it at all. There are some occasions where I imagine taking a mouthful of a rich chocolate cake but it passes so quickly I almost don't notice. And they aren't as intense as previous cravings have been.
I didn't get any headaches or anything the first couple of weeks like is often told. I haven't lapsed once, even when I am surrounded by sweet treats in work, around my nan's house (the worst place I know) and at home. But I just found it so easy to say no. Because I had gotten into the mindset and started thinking of it as just something I am not allowed full stop, I wasn't really tempted. To be totally honest, I am not 100% sure how I have been so well behaved because I haven't in the past.
3. I Love The Smell of Chocolate Now
Although I have always loved the taste of anything chocolatey, the smell has never done much for me. Now though I tell you what, the smell of luxurious chocolate or donuts is just the most heavenly scent to me. Whenever someone brings in a box of donuts at work I can't help but go over and have a whiff. It just smells so good, I do get a little stab of jealousy that I can't dig in but the scent itself is enough to satisfy me for now.
Also chocolate scented creams and lotions. I was gifted a chocolate scented Body wash for Christmas and wasn't overwhelmed by the scent immediately but I have started using it now and oh my goodness, it is the best smell in the world. It's like showering with Hot Chocolate instead of water, but I still come out refreshingly clean with just the lingering smell of chocolate on your skin. If you want in on this amazing shower experience the body wash is Palmolive Chocolate Passion Body Wash. Buy it here.
4. I Am Losing Weight
Finally, I am losing weight. I know the first couple of weeks was a little hard with me still eating a load of other crap but now that I have taken away the other snack items I am back on track. I have lost about 14lbs now in total and I couldn't be happier with my progress. I am not quite at the stage where I am happy yet with what I see in the mirror but I can see myself getting there. I know I can do it this time because of the progress I have made already so I am feeling good.
Also knowing that I have some holidays coming up in the summer is keeping me motivated, and I have accompanied my dietary habits with working out to help me lose weight and tone up. In fact just this morning we did an amazing HIIT session followed by a swim. I think that because I am being so good with my diet, I am feeling motivated to better my health overall. Once you get one under your belt it is super easy to want to overhaul the rest of your health as well.
5. My Skin is Clearing Up
My skin type is oily and I had terrible skin as a teenager. It had gotten a lot better but still would have a fresh spot every morning when I wake up. This coupled with me picking them, then a red mark being left for a good few weeks afterward made my skin look even worse. I was under no illusion that this was not anything to do with my diet, I just didn't have the motivation to do anything about it. Until now.
As well as giving up sugar I have also been drinking a hell of a lot more water than I used to so this could be either playing a part - or both. But my skin is just getting so much better. I have only got one or two new spots recently, and even then they are never the angry ones that you can literally feel pushing against your chin. I used to have a collection of red bumps along the bottom of my jaw which have now all gone. I do still have some red marks from previous spots, but it is just a waiting game for them to fade and keeping on top of my skincare regimen in the evenings. But I can't tell you how happy I am with the transformation of my skin.
In the broad sense, yes I am. I have gone past the need to have a sugar hit regularly and seeing how well I am doing in my weight loss without it I don't want to go back.
I am not ruling it out for special occasions though. I am not about to start making every other day a "special occasion". I mean only the birthdays of those close to me (especially if their birthday cake is chocolate) or Valentine's day I know my Fiance will make me some cupcakes (cutest tradition). So maybe every couple of months I can indulge, and only for one sitting.
I gave up sugar for a couple of weeks last year and when we went away for the weekend I just gorged on anything sweet I could get my hands on the whole weekend. It totally undid my motivation and when I came home it took me almost two months to quit it again. So if I do have it on these occasions I will have it once and no more. But I am really happy and don't feel like I am missing out too much. I would highly recommend giving it a go if you want to improve your health.
Have you ever thought about giving up sugar?