Intuition told me in April 2018 to cut out gluten and it was the easiest lifestyle change I’d ever made. The benefits have been motivation to remain gluten-free. Recently, I was guided to go sugar-free too… Sugar addiction isn’t agreed upon by scientists but maaaaan, it’s gotta be a real thing. It’s been years that I’ve had to have candy every day! I think my candy habit alone was keeping the nearby gas station in business. Now I’m 5 days sugar-free. This means I’m no expert on quitting sugar, but I wrote this post because I love showing you what I’m up to in my quest to live a better life.
This post covers what quitting sugar means, how to feel satisfied without sugar, some sneaky ways sugar “gets you,” and the biggest takeaway from a sugar-free life!
I knew it couldn’t be good for me to consume as much sugar as I still was. But there was a persistent thought, until very recently, that I could never and would never quit sugar.
What or who inspired me to quit sugar?
For years I’ve heard of friends cutting back on sugar or about people like Gabby Bernstein demonstrating how she makes gluten-free sugar-free treats on her IG story, and both admired these people and thought, I couldn’t do that!
Then fatefully, I was chatting with my soul sister Jacquelynne Kristen Holmes and she told me she’d been studying the carnivore diet. She shared some links with me. And I watched most of the videos. One of the suggested videos on YouTube was an interview of Ken D Berry, MD, author of Lies My Doctor Told Me, who at 54 says he feels better than he did at 40. He credited the carnivore diet for this improvement.
I’ve been watching Dr. Berry and his wife, Neisha Salas-Berry on IG, and some of their videos on YouTube. They’re so compelling to me as a couple and I feel a lot of trust in them, perhaps especially because of their laid back attitude toward making a change for your health. Their message feels clear: Don’t pressure yourself to do it perfectly, just make improvements. Do one thing better today than you did yesterday.
How did I decide to quit sugar?
I honestly don’t remember making a decision in advance that Monday would be my first day sugar-free. I just tried to avoid eating any sugar that day. And when I succeeded, I decided I’d do it the next day.
What symptoms have I experienced since quitting sugar?
Then SYMPTOMS happened.
A headache kicked in at some point on Monday, I believe. Monday night I had taken a nap for a few hours in the evening. I woke from that nap after the CRAZIEST dream I’ve ever had, which ended with a baby sitting in the street, surrounded by three other babies it had beheaded. #WHATTHEFUCKWASTHAT
I went back to sleep at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning. My alarm was set for 7:30 a.m. But I woke up multiple times in those early morning hours. When I woke up I was sweating and felt so nauseous. Maybe T.M.I. but I am seriously surprised I didn’t puke.
I debated calling out of work. I pushed myself to go in and I felt like death, especially with the headache I had. So I made it through four hours and left early. I have been finding excuses to walk our neighborhood every day lately, and I wondered how exercise would help the discomfort I was feeling so I walked to the shops nearby and the library. The walk felt good, but I still had the headache, and I think I took a nap again that night, waking up around 9 p.m. I fell asleep again around 12 a.m. knowing I once again faced an alarm at 7:30 a.m. I woke at some time between 5 and 6 a.m. slightly sweaty and feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom. I laid back down and fell asleep again until my alarm.
I think it’s worth noting that both of these nights I had nausea and sweating, we had our air conditioner on full blast. The A/C didn’t seem to help at all. Ugh.
On Wednesday I woke up and felt much better. I still had a slight headache that manifested along a line on the left side of my head. I finally caved and took ibuprofen. Then I felt 99% perfectly well!
Yesterday was Day 4. Today is Day 5 and I feel pretty fantastic.
What does sugar-free mean in this blog post?
- Started by cutting out the sugar from my coffee 10 days ago.
- No candy.
- No ice cream.
- Avoiding anything with “added sugar” on the label or sugar in the ingredients.
- Also, no chips, or other similar snack foods.
Have I truly consumed 0 grams of ‘sugar’?
No. (Hey, being honest here!)
- I’ve had half-n-half in my coffee to void using sugar, and the brand of half-n-half in my fridge has 1 gram of sugar per serving. (More on my coffee below.)
- Wednesday and Thursday I’ve had up to three tablespoons of Teddie natural peanut butter. It has no added sugar but does have, like, 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
- I think there’s a little bit of sugar in the bacon I’ve been eating; will look for a different brand without added sugar. I suspect based on one of Neisha’s YouTube videos that the Wright brand might be a good alternative.
What did I eat in a day before quitting sugar?
Normal for me to eat/drink in a day before quitting sugar:
- Coffee with ~3tbsp of sugar.
- Maybe a second cup with ~3tbsp of sugar.
- Fries with cheese and bacon at lunch.
- Plain old spring or filtered water throughout the day.
- Chips or homemade hash browns after work.
- Other veggies a couple of hours later, like brussels sprouts or cabbage. (Or more potatoes if that’s all I had.)
- Maybe protein like salmon or a burger or a pork chop.
- Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaandy. Maybe Sour Patch Watermelons, or king sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or a Milky Way, or a Snickers.
It all tasted so good. LOL
What HAVE I been eating?
- No breakfast, just coffee. (More on my coffee below. And yes, I like fasting.)
- For these four days, I’ve still had mega fries at lunch; that’s fries with mozzarella cheese and bacon (I order them without cheese whiz).
- Black Angus burger eaten like “steak,” topped with butter and shredded parmesan cheese, and/or two eggs over easy. 4-5 half-strips of bacon on the side. Something interesting? I eat the eggs and/or burger and often find myself not feeling hungry for the last 2-3 half strips of bacon on the side.
- A couple of days I’ve had beef jerky (focus on it being gluten-free! and also checked to ensure no sugar added) bought at the gas station.
- Like I mentioned above, a couple of days I’ve had about 3 tablespoons of peanut butter. It’s not keto but it feels like a better choice to me than the things I used to stuff in my face, and I think at some point I’ll eliminate this too.
Have I totally eliminated all the sugar from my home?
No. There’s a 4-lb tub of sugar that will be for Chris’ coffee. There’s an open bag of Starburst Jelly Beans in Chris’ space, but I did ask him to hide them out of sight because the bright colors on the bag were tempting me. (I didn’t give in!) I have an open box of gluten-free Eggos in the freezer that I don’t know if or when I’ll finish (they have 4 grams of added sugar per serving which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m avoiding them for now). I’m really very super proud of how strong my willpower is!
Wanna know more about my coffee? (No, I’m NOT selling you anything.)
I returned to using half-n-half in my coffee about 10 days ago so that I could stop adding sugar. (I simply do not enjoy it black without sugar.) If you know anybody who does Keto, they probably swear by heavy whipping cream and/or butter in their coffee. I don’t yet have a frother to add butter and… sorry… I haven’t been able to bring myself to spend $8 on a quart of HWC. So I use up to 2 ounces of half-n-half with like 10 ounces of coffee. Starting today I added a pinch of unprocessed pink Himalayan salt to my coffee, which really helped me feel satisfied, and made the half-n-half taste more like true Bulletproof coffee (which I have had and it honestly amazing!).
What else do I plan to add in or try since quitting sugar?
- Get a milk frother so I can switch to butter in my coffee.
- Adding the minerals Potassium / Magnesium / Iodine into my coffee.
- Choosing a brand of bacon, specifically looking for one that has no added sugar.
- Try longer fasts; there’s a state where our bodies destroy old broken cells and build new ones and its thought to be reached most effectively by fasting for 48-72 hours; dunno if I’ll ever go THAT long but I have made it 19 hours before… So I’m going to test myself!
What’s my motivation for quitting sugar?
- To start, quitting sugar been about proving to myself that I CAN do it.
- My goal is to see some weight loss from this and generally just feel even better than ever so that I want to continue to abstain from sugar just because it feels so good.
What’s been my biggest takeaway from quitting sugar?
Since quitting sugar, I’m truly, radically aware of how much I turned to sugar for emotional satisfaction. I am hit with a craving for a candy bar after lunch. If I come home from work feeling hungry and tired, the thing I crave is a quick sugar fix. If I’m bored, I wanna eat sweets.
I catch myself wanting to slam sugar down my throat multiple times a day. I let the craving come up and I decide that it would actually be disgusting to eat sugar. Then I intentionally switch activities as a distraction.
I see a lot of room in my life for more excitement that doesn’t come from a sugar product, and even though a small part of me judges myself for it, the larger part of me finds that notion inspiring. Realizing how much capacity you have for introducing new fun & rewards feels like a gift!
Do you have advice for someone else who wants to quit sugar?
Firstly, let’s recap this: I’m NOT a health coach or health professional. I’m only sharing my personal experience here!
Empower yourself to change one way you consume sugar, like how I started by removing sugar from my coffee. From there you’ve got momentum. I did that for a week until I was ready and able to go a full day without any added sugars and no candy.
By the time I realized, very late on day 2, that the pains and unpleasantness I was experiencing were because of quitting sugar, I was committed. Yeah, I totally thought about going to the vending machine in the lobby for a quick “fix” in the form of a Snickers bar. But I googled side effects of going sugar-free and realized that if I gave in, I’d just have to experience this shit again at a later date. That was when I decided to push through.
I also made a conscious decision then that quitting sugar could be as painless as quitting gluten had been. Following that decision, the sugar-free side effects I experienced — as unpleasant as they were — ended on day 3.
So if you’re flirting with quitting sugar, I highly suggest you make a firm conscious decision that the experience will be easy for you. Then stick to it, even if you’re dealing with nausea, sweating and/or disaster pants or constipation. Remember it won’t last forever. (But you’re safe to see a doctor if you need to!)
Update! Sugar-Free Day 7 (May 26)
A friend asked me on Day 5 after I published this blog post how it was going, and I shared with her that every time I’m even slightly hungry, my mind still asks for sugar. But as I wrote to her, “I’m smarter than my mind.”
That’s the most exciting part of this for me: Realizing *I* have control over my mind, even when it comes to food. Exercising this control over my mind is a sexy reward that is easy to perpetuate because I feel so damn proud of myself.
Now it’s Day 7 since quitting sugar and in the past few days I’ve completely cut out added sugar (as you may have noted above, I was still eating bacon that had some added sugar). Yesterday I was at Walmart and the only brand I could find with no-sugar-added was Gwaltney. So I bought the 3-pound package and… YUM.
As I write this update, I’m sipping on black sugar-free coffee (with a little dash of pink Himalayan salt) for the first time. I didn’t add in half-n-half because I thiiiiink half-n-half breaks a fast and I’m still fasting at the moment. Want to see how long I can fast today.
As for fasting… I’ve done up to 19 hours fasting before but I also realize that that was on a day when I’d eaten high-carb the day before… and I think the amount of calories I’ve eaten each day the past two days is really low so I’m not going to push myself or endure any unnecessary pain with fasting today.
But I’m not gonna lie… I’ve been researching sugar-free treats and no-churn ice cream recipes. I TOTALLY have my eye on The Keto Cookie sampler pack, maybe as a special treat for my birthday (on June 28th). The Keto Cookie brand’s treats are seriously low-carb, look utterly delicious and are made with natural sugar alternatives. Worth checking out if you’re going to quit sugar or maybe have a diabetic in your life who still loves to eat cookies! (And I’m just sharing because I’ve spent a few hours looking at sugar-free treats online; it’s been my alternative to actually stuffing my face with sugar LOL.)
Yesterday, I not only had absolutely no added sugar in any of my food (again, that Gwaltney bacon is YUM)… I also ate only like… 10 grams of carbs all day. I’m excited that a day of low-carb eating gets to feel like such a win!