I cut out all sugar for a week, now I don’t need it anymore
But everything tasted like water
Sugar has always been a huge part of my diet. On an average day, I drink about five cups of coffee, each with two sugars in. I will have jam or chocolate spread on my toast for breakfast, I’ll snack on biscuits, crisps and chocolate through the day and smother all my meals in mayonnaise.
But it rots your teeth, makes you sluggish and can even cause diseases, so I decided to see if I could cut it out. For a whole week, I cut it out completely – I didn’t even eat fruit. I knew it would be hard, but didn’t realise how bad my sugar addiction was until I tried to go without it.
Here’s what I learnt.
I woke up feeling enthusiastic about the challenge ahead of me. For about five minutes, until I realised I couldn’t have any sugar or even milk in my morning coffee. I couldn’t get the black coffee down quick enough – partly because it was so bitter and partly because, with no milk it was too hot. By the time I had managed half, I was already late for work and had to skip breakfast.
For lunch I had an avocado, cucumber and lettuce salad. You can’t really call it a salad though, more of the foundations for a salad. It was a struggle not to cover the whole thing in mayonnaise, but the avocado did give it some taste, and I went back to work after my break without feeling bloated for once. It filled a hole, but not for long and only half an hour later I was all ready craving the sugary snacks I would usually have.
The first dinner I had was grilled lemon sole, spinach and a poached egg. It looked really impressive, and the fish tasted nice. But without putting butter in the spinach, the whole meal tasted quite watery.
I felt so tired by the end of the first day that I went to sleep really early and slept straight through until my alarm went off.
I woke up Sunday morning with a headache. The day before, I had invested in some sugar free soya milk, so swapped the usual Sunday morning fry up for porridge. I knew that carbohydrates would increase my sugar cravings, but I had been so hungry the day before I needed something that would fill me up a bit more.
I felt groggy and it took me a while to wake up properly at work. My colleagues kept saying to me. ‘Are you okay? You’re usually so hyper, you seem a bit moody today.’ I’m not moody, now stop eating that Mars bar in my face, arsehole.
For lunch I had tuna salad. Tuna without mayonnaise tastes so dry and horrible, it was a struggle to eat it and I needed lots of water to get it down. It filled me up though, and when I went back to work my headache had gone and I felt more energetic than I had in the morning.
My sugar cravings were worse than the day before. I just wanted to eat anything and everything that was sweet and it was a real struggle not to give up.
Dinner that evening was chicken with cauliflower rice and broccoli. The cauliflower rice was really quick and easy to make and didn’t actually taste much different to normal rice. This was probably the worst meal I had all week though. It was really bland and although I was hungry, I couldn’t actually finish it.
I slept really well and woke up feeling strangely energetic. My friend made me a green smoothie for breakfast, made of spinach, avocado and watercress milk. It tasted as green as it looked, a bit like eating grass. Normally she would put banana in for sweetness, but obviously I couldn’t have that in mine.
Because of my sugary cravings from the last few days, I decided to stock up on sugar-free snacks. These consisted of hummus, celery and some olives. They were not as delicious as my usual crisps and chocolate, but it was nice to have something to munch on during the day.
For lunch I had yet another salad, topped with sardines. The sardines did give it a bit of flavour, but it was too much of a fish overload and for the rest of the day I felt a bit sick and kept doing fishy burps. My sugar cravings dipped slightly this day, and I felt very energetic and well concentrated at work, not making any slip ups like I usually do.
That night I had my favourite meal of the whole week. Needing to add some colour to my very white and green meals, I decided to cook ‘not fish and chips.’ I oven baked parsnips and carrots and topped them with a grilled piece of cod. I covered it in pepper to make up for the lemon I would usually have for taste. The carrots added a lot of flavour and this was a really enjoyable and filling meal.
Today I woke up looking forward to my porridge and soya milk. I was feeling really good, high on energy and a lot healthier for quitting my sugar binge. Already, my skin was looking brighter and I had lost my spots and blemishes.
Lunch was a chicken salad. I must admit, I was getting bored of the green salad. Even a few tomatoes would have made a huge difference to how samey everything was tasting. I felt like I never wanted to eat cucumber again.
Feeling adventurous and optimistic, I decided to make a homemade vegetable and lentil soup for dinner. It tasted almost as bad as it looked. It was just flavourless mush and if it hadn’t have made me feel so sick afterwards, I would have caved right then and gone back to the sugar.
This was the hardest evening for me. I felt miserable and the realisation that I had such a bad sugar addiction made me feel miserable. I felt agitated and restless, so had a strop and an early night.
The most surprising thing I found during this was how much my sleep pattern had improved. I did some research and found that the problem with high sugar diets is the sugar crash you get, making you want to sleep in the middle of the day. I hadn’t felt the need to nap during this week and I was getting proper full nights sleep for the first time in ages.
I made a really nice breakfast Thursday morning of scrambled eggs with spinach. I added sugar-free soya milk to the eggs. Apart from being a bit watery, the eggs didn’t taste much different to usual and I really enjoyed this breakfast.
It kept me full for a long time and I realised I wasn’t bothered by the sugary snacks other people were eating around me. I knew I didn’t need them. I was however, bored of just drinking tap water, so I pushed the boat out and went for sparkling water. It didn’t have any more taste, but the bubbles made things a bit more exciting.
For lunch I forced down some left over mushy lentil and vegetable soup. It still tasted really gross.
I was really impressed with my dinner that night though, opting for a prawn and avocado salad. Although I was still pissed off I couldn’t smother it in mayonnaise, I was pleased with how pretty it looked and the avocados and prawns gave some nice flavour to an otherwise bland salad.
I had some dippy eggs Thursday morning for breakfast which actually made me really full. I realised I was feeling better and better every day, my eyes had got brighter and although I was more energetic, I was less hyper and more calm during the day.
For lunch it was another dry tuna sandwich which I washed down with loads of sparkling water.
I had a massive chicken salad for dinner that night with the olives giving it the flavour it needed. I noticed my mood this day had improved dramatically. Smiles at customers were real, not fake and I didn’t have any moods or strops during the day.
My last day was the most nerve racking day for me as I knew I was supposed to be going out for drinks with the girls. Obviously, with a sugar free diet, I knew I would be on the tap water watching them get more pissed and more happy.
I had more dippy eggs for my final sugar free morning. For lunch I had the last of my disgusting soup and was glad to see the finish of it.
I headed out into town, after not drinking all week to meet the girls for dinner. We went for a Nando’s. It was the cheapest and most boring Nando’s I had ever had in my life. A plain quarter chicken and a side salad. I tried not to get pissed off with my friends as they sipped their wine whilst I was still on the sparkling water.
I watched on with jealous eyes whilst they ate their deserts. I knew at this point that if I went out for drinks with them after, I would cave and give in to the sugary alcoholic drinks. So I was the bore and went home early, getting another early night.
The end of the week
I woke up knowing that I could have sugar, but this week I learnt that it wasn’t as necessary to have as much as I used too. Although I used normal milk in my coffee, which tasted like heaven, I decided not to put in two sugars, knowing I could go without.
Realistically, I could not stick to such a strict sugar free diet for a long period. It is way too much effort as pretty much any processed food you can buy will contain some sort of sugar. I had also missed eating fruit and tomatoes – even natural sugars like these taste so sweet and delicious when you have gone without them for a week.
Although I went back to my jam on toast, I didn’t have any sugary snacks throughout the day, as I did not want to lose the new found energy I had gained this week.
Not going to lie though, I was so ready for my Saturday night glass of wine.