I gave up sugar for a week and it was worse than quitting smoking
No fruit, no milk, no condiments
No sugar, for one week – how hard can it be?
As it turns out, it’s very hard indeed. It’s probably about as challenging as winning an argument with a bouncer on a night out, or trying to avoid Kim Kardashian news in the media.
This may have something to do with the fact that, unlike Instagram fitness models, I wasn’t just cutting out added sugar – I was cutting out all sugar. There would be no fun selfies with avocados for me. There would be no fruit juice, no chopped tomatoes, and certainly no microwave mac and cheese.
As I went for my weekly shop, I quickly learnt that cutting out sugar completely was a drastic change to my lifestyle.
Everything has sugar in it. Everything.
Going round each supermarket I was amazed at how few foods didn’t contain at least some sugar.
Even most supposedly healthy foods like vegetables had a small amount of sugar in them, so as I was racing round the supermarket I was beginning to regret my decision and wanted nothing more than to curl up into a bed with a Ben and Jerry’s and write an article about prices at the Union or something.
There was light at the end of this tunnel however, two pieces of food so healthy and wholesome its amazing I hadn’t thought of them earlier. I’m talking of course about cheese and bacon, well known for their healing properties and well loved by fitness freaks across the globe. I had finally found something I could eat that wasn’t celery – Hallelujah.
Maybe I had overreacted, considering that these two foods combined make up a considerable portion of my diet anyway, how hard could it be? I could basically have a mini fry up every morning and still be sugar free and, what’s more, pretty much any meat has no sugar in it.
For the first couple days, this is exactly what I did, and it wasn’t too bad at all, especially for lunch and breakfast I was actually eating fairly respectable meals. The main problems came in the evening. This was mainly because my meals lacked any substance, a last missing ingredient that would have tied it all together, mostly a sauce of any kind. The trouble is, pretty much any sauce is going to have some sugar in it, even the humble chopped tomatoes have 2.7g of sugar in them.
This meant that a lot of my meals, whilst they filled a hole, left me feeling wholly unsatisfied, especially because I’m no Gordon Ramsey. No matter how many spices I threw at the meat I was cooking, it still tasted as bland as eating just rice and meat.
However, the choices I had when I went out were far more challenging than any meal I was cooking for myself. Whilst everyone else was drinking homemade mojitos at a birthday pres, I was drinking straight the bizarre combination of white rum and diet lemonade (I wouldn’t recommend it), and when I ran out of lemonade, just rum.
Pretty much any alcohol other than straight liquor contains some sugar. Even a G&T contains half your recommended daily sugar allowance. Meaning that while everyone was downing Margaritas and Sourz shots, I was forced to sip on cheap whiskey straight, as they didn’t have any diet mixer.
Having said all this, I know some of you may be thinking, what the big deal? None of this seems particularly difficult, it seems inconvenient at most. However studies have indicated that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine and also has some effects on opioid pathways within the brain, the same system manipulated by drugs like heroin and morphine. I can tell you that by the end of the week, I didn’t need to read up on any studies to tell you how addictive it is, as I was experiencing cravings more intense than any nicotine craving I’ve had from smoking. I was cranky and felt a slight tightness in my chest that intensified at certain points. Those last few days were the only time I’ve wished the weekend would pass quicker so I could relapse into sweet sugar heaven, and boy was it great when that day finally came.
The truth is, we’re all sugar junkies, we just don’t know it.
I wish anyone good luck who tries to go sugar free, but after a week I was completely ready to throw in the towel. What’s more I didn’t exactly feel any healthier. If anything I felt like I was eating more unhealthily simply due to the fact that so many healthy foods (like most vegetables) contain a small amount of sugar.
After a long week, I was finally reunited with an old friend and I’m never looking back