Sugar-Free Update

A couple of weeks ago I filled you in on my sugar-free experiment. Basically, the upshot is that following my son’s third birthday I consumed vast quantities of cake. So much cake, in fact, that I no longer felt good. I recognized that this over-consumption of sweets was something that I did often, and it wasn’t working for me. So I decided to give up refined sugar for two weeks to see what effect it would have on me.

My definition of “sugar-free” meant not adding sugar to my food, and not consuming sweets. I still ate lots of fruit. I even ate dried fruit, like raisins and dates. I chose not to worry about small quantities of sugar in processed foods, like bread and salsa, and instead focused on my big sources of sugar – candy, ice cream and baked goods. The point of the experiment wasn’t to deprive myself or to make my life difficult, it was just to see if I felt any different when I wasn’t constantly eating sugar.

I did last two weeks without consuming sugar. I wouldn’t say that I felt amazing, or noticed any obvious benefits. I didn’t lose weight, I didn’t sleep better at night and I did not become a more patient mother. However, there were some upsides. The first is that after a few days I lost most of my sugar cravings. I could eat apricots for dessert while the people around me were eating cake, and I was able to enjoy the fruit without feeling as if I was missing out. The second is that I discovered that many of the things that I add sugar or honey to, like tea, oatmeal and my chocolate coconut snacks, are really just fine without added sweeteners.

Probably the biggest benefit, though, was that I had to get creative with my snacking. Normally, when I feel the nibblies coming on I grab a handful (or five) of chocolate chips or I eat a few cookies. I couldn’t do that. Instead I started eating fruit, or (of all things) green beans from my CSA share when I needed something to nibble on. In fact, even after the experiment is over green beans remain my snack food of choice. I feel like I’m eating better, even if I don’t feel noticeably healthier.

Going sugar-free wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. One hot afternoon while out on a walk I nearly wept when I thought about how good a frozen treat would taste right at that moment. Also, in addition to snacking on fruit and veggies, I also started eating lots and lots of salt and vinegar potato chips in place of sugary snacks. And finally, my big cheat was my gummy vitamins, which I continued to eat because they are vitamins. But I still only had two every day, as directed on the package, so I doubt that I got that much sugar from them.

My two weeks ended on Sunday, and I did have some sugar in celebration. I sampled the blueberry sorbet and blueberry pie I made, and they tasted good. After eating them I felt jittery. And then I developed a low-grade headache and got really crabby with my kids. I decided that sugar was the culprit, and that I just hadn’t noticed the lack of crabbiness until it returned. But then I got my period about 20 minutes later, so likely that was the source of the headache and the hormonal mood swings. I’m totally pinning the jittery feeling on the sugar, though.

Since then, I haven’t felt compelled to consume many sweets. I bought myself some good bittersweet chocolate, which I’m doling out to myself one small piece at a time. I will likely eat some ice cream from time to time, and have at least one more piece of pie. But I am finding that I am satisfied with less, and that I don’t feel the same kind of continual drive for sweet foods that I was feeling. So I’m calling the experiment a success, even if it didn’t change my life.

Would you consider giving up sugar for a short period to see what effect it had on you? Or have you done it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  1. Giving up sugar would probably be a good thing for me. I eat too much. But it would be very very very difficult. I’m not sure if I have the will power. The main culprit? My colleagues at work and my boss. We take turns buying tubs of gummy worms or bags of mini chocolate bars and leaving them for the dept to nibble on. I walk past that file cabinet with the sweets numerous times a day. It’s brutal!

    Being on vacation will be a bit of a break. I find I don’t eat as much sugary treats at home. Surprisingly 🙂

  2. Rebecca B says:

    Like Carrie, I found that I ate a lot more candy at work. Now that I’m not working I can control my environment. There is a nutritionist on PBS that suggested eating fruit every four hours to reduce sugar cravings. That makes sense to me. Great job accomplishing your sugar-free goal. It’s definitely a good lifestyle change.

  3. My husband had to give up sugar a few years ago because of high triglycerides. It was either that or be on medication. He gave up sugar, lost 15 pounds, feels great. Now he eats sweets on occasion, but it’s all under control. I myself only eat sweets on Fridays and Saturdays (except if there is a birthday and I have to eat cake). I limit it a lot because sugars can suppress the immune system and also they can be inflammatory (I really notice it in my yoga practice if I eat too much sugar).
    Nicole’s last post … Where will we be when the summer’s gone?My Profile

  4. I don’t really have a sweet tooth (although I LOVE fruity popsicles ;), it’s the salty snacks that catch me off guard. I have a particularly retro addiction to dill pickle chips! I have a lot of allergies and my fear is that WHEAT is the culpirt and I simply can’t cope with giving it up.

    Anyway congrats!
    harriet Fancott’s last post … Are you an adoptive family by chance?My Profile

  5. Good for you!

    I did an herbal detox one time and felt AMAZING but then slipped back into my old habits really quickly. I am definitely addicted to sugar. I eat it when I am tired, I eat it when I am stressed, I eat it when I am bored… Might be a good time to attempt a sugar free experiment of my own soon!
    Amanda’s last post … Wordless Wednesday: MaggieMy Profile

  6. I already restrict my sugar, but I could do more. My blood sugars would probably be happy. Yet another goal for myself.
    Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves’s last post … The Neverending Sounds of SummerMy Profile

  7. After several years of battling yeast infections I decided I could stand to try a similar experiment. It didn’t really help much with infections but I had similar results: suddenly I was satisfied with far less sugar! This was 5 years ago and this affect has lasted until present day, so that’s pretty good as far as my health is concerned. Although I ALSO replaced much of my sugar snacking with salt and vinegar chips, so…..
    Kudos to you! It’s a tough habit to kick, and those first three days with no sugar are torture….and no ice cream ona hot day is pretty darn sh*tty, I must say!
    Melissa Vose’s last post … Because You’re UglyMy Profile

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  1. […] my friend Roxanna made an offhand comment about how diet can affect us. I was in the middle of my two weeks sugar-free at the time, so I was going through a dietary experiment of my own. Plus, I was in a place where I […]

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