I Survived My No Added Sugar Month!

Today is the last day of my no added sugar month. I decided to try eliminating all added sugar (and sugar substitutes) from my diet for a month, after reading this article, and this book. (You can read more about my motivation and framework for this challenge here.) My primary motivation was to draw my attention to the amount of sugar in the foods I regularly consume. Here are some of my take-aways from this month of hell sugarless eating:

The inspiration for my no added sugar month
  1. There’s added sugar in almost everything we – or at least – I, eat. I started scanning ingredient lists for sugar a week or two before I started this challenge, so I was pretty aware of which of my regular foods – and I’m a fairly regimented eater – I would have to avoid. Some things, like pita bread, “healthy” cereals, rice in the sushi I grab at the grocery store, and some dried fruits, surprised me, though.
  2. I don’t consume a huge amount of sugar on a regular basis. Yes, there’s some sugar in many of the foods I eat. And yes I go overboard with sugar one some occasions. (I’m looking at you birthday ice cream cake and Christmas cookies!) Do I consumer more sugar than I should? Probably. (Definitely, according to Gary Taubes in The Case Against Sugar.) But overall, I think I have a good amount of moderation in my diet.
  3. Not everyone notices much of a change when they eliminate sugar. I did not lose much weight, feel more energetic, experience a miraculous improvement in my sleep or clearing of my skin, or notice any other significant difference in the way I looked or felt. This was not the goal of this torment exercise, but I’ve heard many people claim these things happened for them when the stopped consuming sugar. Why not me? The few potential explanations that I’ve come up with are that a month is not enough time to experience a significant change; those other people were consuming more sugar than I was when they cut it out, so the difference was more noticeable for them; or that sugar simply impacts some people differently. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the miraculous changes some people experience is just the placebo effect.
  4. I’m a more regimented eater than I realized. I essentially ate the same things every day this month: toast or oatmeal for breakfast; salad and an apple with peanut butter, or one of the Lean Cuisine options without sugar for lunch; and nuts, fruit, cheese, or crackers (Triscuits or Saltines) for snacks. I also really struggled with feeling like I wasn’t “done” without a treat after dinner. I had grown amazingly accustomed to having a chocolate (or two), some ice cream, or something else sweet, in the evening.
  5. It’s much easier to avoid sugar when you cook your own food. Making dinner at home was easy to do without sugar. Unless a recipe called for ketchup or some other condiment, I didn’t even have to give much thought to the presence of sugar. Dining out was more challenging. I ate several burgers without buns, had to retract a reflexive Diet Coke order, and looked on wistfully as my husband ate tortilla chips.
This burger would’ve been better with the brioche bun it usually comes on!

Did I Cheat??

Sort of, but only once. One of the Blue Apron meals we had this month included a number of Asian condiments, and I suspect at least one of them contained sugar. There was definitely a sweetness to the rice, which I think came from the mirin. Other than that, I never knowingly cheated. I include “knowingly”, because I wasn’t willing to badger restaurant servers about every ingredient in a menu item, such as the burrito bowl I ordered at a local Mexican restaurant. (It was supposed to be a burrito, but I did ask the server about sugar in the tortillas.)

Have you given up added sugar for any period of time? Did it make a difference in how you felt/looked/slept,or anything else?

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Author: My Upstate Life

Wife, mom, and lover of books, podcasts, and blogs. Not a fan of cooking, winter, and snakes.

17 thoughts on “I Survived My No Added Sugar Month!”

  1. Congrats on completing the challenge. I’m surprised to hear you didn’t see/feel any benefits from eliminating sugar. I would think even over the month that you experience some difference. I have never given up sugar totally, just gone low consumption. I generally try to not eat after 8PM and no caffeine and find I wake up feeling better that if I eat later.

    1. I think the moderation approach works best for me, too, Brian. I did still consume naturally-occurring sugar, like in fruit and dairy. Maybe if I cut that out, too, I would’ve noticed more of a difference…

  2. I have done a three week stint of this and its not too bad. You have to plan ahead… yeah and eating out is hard. But its a good reminder to look at the ingrediants and pay attention to what is in the food. Plus to eat more fruits and veggies

  3. I have been eating sugar free for about 10 years (I do use stevia and honey though). The first few months were definitely “torment”! The longer you go without, the easier it gets. And cooking your own meals certainly does make it easier!

  4. I’ve been trying to cut back on sugar but haven’t had the guts to completely cut it out! I usually cook at home so that wouldn’t be too difficult but I have such a sweet tooth I usually bake some sort of treat at least once a week. Good for you for sticking to it! Thanks for sharing, found your post at Awesome Life Friday.

  5. This is inspiring. I’ve been trying to give up sugar for lent and I’m not doing to well. I don’t eat too much but more than I’d like. I didn’t look at food labels, but I will continue trying as I know it is not healthy for us. Thanks for sharing on SITS linkup today

  6. Four years ago, I started avoiding foods with added sugar. Certainly, the changes weren’t immediately visible but now I can say it’s made a huge difference in my life. Most important is my glucose level is down. It was a bit high before I started avoiding sugar, and my doctor warned me I could become pre-diabetic. Avoiding sugar also made it easier to lose weight, although I also had to start eating healthy and doing exercise. The lack of added sugar in my diet made me less prone to sugar highs and lows and hunger pangs. I eventually lost 50 pounds, so that was a really good thing.
    I would definitely recommend avoiding added sugar. It’s has a lot of long-term benefits.
    Greetings from the Blogger’s Pit Stop!

  7. I did this a few years ago, I actually lost a lot of weight and felt better, I know I consume a ton of sugar, I really need to do it again, but I just love sweets so much! Lol. Thanks for sharing this at #HomeMattersParty

  8. Great job! I did a no added sugar week and it was hard! I don’t eat as much sugar as I thought but I love my sweet espresso drinks. :/ Thinking about doing a month. I will have to read the book! Thanks for sharing!

  9. As I’ve gotten older, I find I don’t tolerate sugar well, nor crave it as much – and when I do, one bite of something really decadent will take care of it. So I have pretty haphazardly cut it way back and the biggest thing I’ve notice is how very noticeable it is when sugar is where it doesn’t belong, or where there is so much of it it buries other flavors. Thanks for sharing with Awesome Life Friday!

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