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I love candy, and I have since birth. As a little kid, my greatest ambition was to own a hollow book that I could secretly store candy in (I don't think I realized how incredibly attainable this goal was). As a kid with an allowance, I spent all my money on candy and did in fact store it in a special "candy box" in my room (it was just a shoe box, but I made sure it was always stocked!). Over the years, my parents tried to curb my candy consumption, but time and time again they failed. My love was too strong!
I always thought I'd eventually grow out of my candy obsession, and I almost had — until I got a job at BuzzFeed. Here, there's candy everywhere: bins of mini chocolate bars, gummy candy in bulk, and new, exciting candy put out for every conceivable holiday. At first I tried to resist, but over the years I’ve given in; now, when I finish my lunch, I head down to the snack area and fill up a little bowl with sour gummies I bring back to my desk and scarf down. I’d like to say this happens fewer than four times a week, but, my friends, that would be a lie.
Recently, I've started to feel not-great about how much sugar I'm eating. I know it's bad for me (my body and my teeth), and I also know it's just not wise to be an adult who eats this much candy! So when I got the chance to work with Macy’s and Goodful to promote their new line of cookware, it seemed like a good opportunity to do something I'd been thinking about for a while: try giving up added sugar completely for two weeks.
The plan: I'd use the Goodful products to cook my own food, wean myself off sugar, and ignore the siren song of the sweet and sour gummies. Hopefully, it would help me cut back on my overall candy consumption long-term. Hopefully, I could become someone new.
I was terrified.
I happened to be staying at my parents’ house in Boston for the first week of this challenge — my sister was getting married the following weekend, so I came home early to help with final dress fittings and general bridesmaidy things. I thought being in my childhood home would actually help a little bit (at least there’s no free candy there!), but it turned out to be just as much of a challenge. In my parents’ house, sugar wasn’t just hanging around showing itself. Instead, sugar snuck up on me in unexpected places.
My plan for the week was to make eggs for breakfast every morning, buy ingredients for a homemade salad every day for lunch, and to have dinners made up of meat and veggies. After about three quarters of one day of this, though, I was already pretty bored and realized I’d forgotten the most important food group: snacks. How could I have forgotten snacks??
So I set to work doing some internet research and eventually landed on a few things I could safely prepare. First, I made my own granola.
Then I baked some lemon coconut bites.
The next morning, I started with the granola and some unsweetened soy milk, which was surprisingly refreshing even if it wasn’t sweet. I had my boring salad for lunch, but it didn’t feel as dire because I knew I had a lemon coconut bite to look forward to as an afternoon snack — and it really helped! Dinner was also boring, but I admit I had another lemon coconut bite afterward, which ended the day on the sweet(ish) note I generally crave.
I’ll spare you a day-by-day synopsis of the rest of the week because it was pretty repetitive. And, honestly, it FELT repetitive. Whenever I tried to pick up something else from the grocery store that seemed nice and safe — like beef jerky — I checked the package and, sure enough, it had added sugar. Sugar is everywhere! I even slipped up once when I grabbed a chewable antacid from the little bowl my mom keeps next to the sink in the bathroom (such a Mom move). I popped it in my mouth without thinking and then realized it was definitely a sugar bomb. Hey, I’m only one woman!
Other than that, I just kept craving sugar and not eating it and eating my boring salads instead. I do have to admit that during my sister’s wedding that weekend, I slipped up one more time and drank a single hard cider (also, it turns out, full of sugar). It’s my favorite drink, and it was my sister’s wedding… I don’t really have a good excuse. But I vowed to be better in my next full week.
I arrived back in New York after the wedding on Sunday night exhausted and hungry. Without having had time to prep for the week yet, I had absolutely zero food on hand, and I knew I’d have to order in. I sheepishly opened my delivery app and got myself a burrito bowl while praying my Mexican place doesn’t add any sugar to its beans.
The next day, I was ready to do better this week than I had the last. I was also so, so sick of salads. Something was going to have to change.
The first thing I did was hit the grocery store...hard. I decided to make spaghetti squash and ground turkey with my own tomato sauce on top (turns out every kind of store-bought tomato sauce is full of sugar). I also made some almond butter protein bars and more of my granola, and I picked up ingredients for a simple pasta-and-veggie dinner because I knew I was going to start running out of cooking steam sometime midweek.
With granola for breakfast, leftovers from my homemade dinners for lunch, and the almond butter bars for filler, I found I got through my days not hungry at least. I kept my Goodful water bottle ($10.99, originally $21.99) on hand at all times, which also helped. I was still craving sugar, and it was harder to avoid it now that I was back in the office, but so far I hadn’t snapped. I was proud of myself.
When my two weeks were up, it felt like way more time had passed — more like a month or so, honestly. And while I won’t lie to your faces about the fact that I ate some candy the day after this challenge was done, I can honestly say my cravings have diminished. I don’t get candy every day after lunch anymore, and I’m more aware of how much sugar I’m ingesting in other ways.
It’s practically impossible to live a normal life and completely avoid sugar in today’s world — and, of course, not at all necessary! Natural sugars are everywhere and are wonderful in moderation. Added sugar is also everywhere, and it's good to be more careful with it, but everyone deserves something sweet every now and then.
All that said, my challenge taught me it’s definitely a worthwhile experiment to give it all up for just a little while. And if I can do it, anyone can.
Whatever your health goals are, achieve them easily with beautiful new products from Macy's and Goodful — right now all 50% off.
Food Stylist: Lauren LaPenna
Photos: Taylor Miller
Design: Nicole Ench