Meet the Warwick student who has given up sugar for an entire month

She’s had to give up the pints

Emma Johnson is a second year International Management student who has decided to cut out added sugars in her food for the whole of February. We caught up with her to find out what the challenge has been like so far.

What exactly are you doing any why?

Good question. So it’s a challenge promoted by Cancer Research UK to try and get individuals to reduce their sugar consumption and help raise money for R&D. This can be done either by eating foods low in sugar or cutting out foods that containing added sugar.

I chose to cut out added sugar which means I can still eat foods containing natural sugars, take fruit for example! It was quite a spur-of-the-moment decision to sign up. I was just browsing through Facebook in my lecture – as you do – and came across an advertisement for it. Since I aspire to be healthy and I love fundraising, I thought it was something I could definitely achieve.

How has it been so far?

The first three days were the hardest for sure. On day two I had a netball match and was really lacking in energy, but I wasn’t able to have any sweets or an energy drink to keep my energy level up! I found this quite hard to deal with, but I convinced myself that it was purely psychological and that I was finding ways to be dissatisfied with my new lifestyle. However, as time went on I became more used to looking at labels and identifying what constituted as added-sugar. You’d be surprised this doesn’t only appear as ‘sugar’ on the ingredients list, but also as Dextrose, Corn Syrup, Fructose etc.

Luckily I always prepare my own food so I know exactly what is going into it, but buying food on campus and in restaurants has been a different story! Having to change my normal choices on menus, refrain from the free Steamhouse bagels at the Marketing Conference, no longer being able to buy hot chocolates or chai lattes in the library and not being able to drink pints has probably been my biggest hurdles. On the plus side, a spontaneous decision has raised £181.00 so far for Cancer Research UK!

Have you noticed any differences in your lifestyle

It’s hard to say. However, a waiter I met at Turtle Bay had gone two weeks without added sugar and says his skin has drastically cleared up – I’m noticing the same. The best thing about going sugar free is that I no longer binge on loads of chocolate, sweets and biscuits and feel ridiculously groggy and guilty after, so yes, you could say I am in higher spirits!

Would you continue this diet after the challenge is over?

Continuing may be a little ambitious. The social aspects of university life don’t quite accommodate a sugar free lifestyle. I mean, I want the freedom of choice in restaurants and I want to be able to drink pints on a Wednesday night! Last year I went vegetarian for a month with Warwick RAG and I eat less meat as a result, therefore I’m pretty sure my total sugar consumption will reduce in the future!

If you’re interested to find out more about Emma’s sugar free journey, check out her blog, where she has logged in all of her experiences from this month. If you would like to donate, click here.