I Gave Up Added Sugar For Two Weeks, And Let's Just Say I Won't Be Doing That Again
I apologize to anyone who had to deal with me during those two weeks.
Hi! I'm Stephanie — and in a typical day or week, I eat a LOT of added sugar.
So I decided that for the next two weeks, I am going to try to cut out all added sugar from my diet [pause for sad music].
And while I love sugar, I also have a self-proclaimed "savory tooth" — so going into it, I actually thought this would be a pretty doable task. Still, for the sake of doing it right, I asked a professional for advice. Meet Pam!
Pam's main advice was that I need to focus on what (and when) to eat, rather than what to avoid.
As she told me, eating smart throughout the day keeps the sweet tooth away. Pam explained that when your blood sugar is enabled to act like a roller coaster, your blood sugar will inevitably drop — and your body will crave something that is quick to spike it. I have to focus on stopping that back-and-forth of needing sugary, then savory, then sugary, then savory foods.
My goal for the two weeks is also NOT to feel like I rely on sugar to feel energetic — and to get way better sleep.
Here's how I could put that all into practice, according to my new BFF, Pam Smith:
• Eat something right when I get up in the morning to start stabilizing my blood sugar.
• Eat more frequently throughout the day.
• Eat the right things at the right times.
• Eat every two to two and a half hours, and avoid IBS trigger foods.
• Drink WAY more water.
My daily schedule would basically look a bit like this:
• 8–8:30 a.m.: Breakfast (shortly after waking up)
• 11 a.m.: Snack
• 1:30 p.m.: Lunch
• 4 p.m.: Snack
• 7 p.m.: Dinner
(Pam said that if I stay up past 10 p.m., I should have a small snack around 9:30 p.m.)
She was also lovely enough to provide a guide that walks me through the days when I might feel the worst — and when I will start feeling better. Bless you, Pam Smith.
• Days 1 and 2: I'll be slightly sluggish, irritable, and dissatisfied with my foods.
• Day 3: This will the most difficult day, as my body will begin to feel the chemical change.
• Day 4: If I survive Day 3, this won't be as bad.
• Day 5: It will get worse again. My appetite for sweets may take over, and I might want to eat everything in sight.
• Days 6 and 7: The light at the end of the tunnel will start to appear.
So let's do it!
Day 1: Not the strongest start, tbh. I'm completely dissatisfied with everything I eat and relatively grumpy that I can't have sweets. I start off with a bowl of savory oatmeal for breakfast.
Day 1 Thoughts
It's quickly become apparent that there's added sugar in EVERYTHING. After dinner, I was seriously craving some Oreos — and I went to bed early just to end the day.
I found that I was hungry more often than before, despite eating way more and more frequently. I was also bloated all day and had a lot of gas. My nutritionist said to add more protein to my meals, so that's the goal for tomorrow. She really wanted to focus on the timing of when I eat — versus any specific macronutrients (i.e., protein, carbs, and fat) — and see how I do from there.
Day 2: I've had a mild, dull headache all day. I really don't know if it's because of the lack of sugar yesterday or if I just think I have one. I also woke up starving, which I don't know if I actually was or if it was all in my head. Either way, I started the day off with peanut butter oats, which tasted ridiculously bland.
Day 2 Thoughts
Breakfast was...gross. Maybe when I'm not thinking about sugar (and lack thereof), it'll taste better. But for now, I think I'll stick to my savory oats.
After breakfast, I took a nap because I was SO sleepy. The no-added-sugar aspect means that I've also had to ditch my recent iced coffee obsession: the Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso at Starbucks. 😭
The headache eventually disappeared, and my energy returned. Snacking on fruit helped. I finished the day with a platter of fruit and some cheese, and it was actually really satisfying.
Day 3: I've decided to keep the snackable-fruit train going, and this is the first day I surprisingly don't feel like I'm craving sugar beyond that. Pam recommended that I eat lots of fruits and vegetables to offset the lack of added sugar I've been eating, so I've been taking that seriously.
Day 3 Thoughts
For breakfast, it was back to my savory oats — I'm definitely digging them. It really satisfies me in the morning, so that's nice. I was so full from it, I didn't eat a huge snack and moved into my avocado toast for lunch. Later at night, I had a veggie-based bowl and fruit again.
Day 4: I want an iced coffee so bad. 😭 I can't stop thinking about it. Ahh, the delicious sweet nectar of angry bean water sweetened with oat milk and syrups. I just want a Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso in my arms once more. Is that too much to ask?
Day 5: I got my period today, so I've spent the entire day wanting junk food. It was easy to ignore during the daytime, but at night, the cravings are so much more intense.
Day 5 Thoughts
I ended up skipping dinner. Instead I ate a ton of fruit and the rest of my block of cheese.
The peanut butter and banana toast is actually so sweet that I definitely think it helps me a lot with my sugar cravings. Just...not enough today.
Day 6: I've found myself to be annoyingly irritable and whiny today. I feel bad for my fiancé.
Day 6 Thoughts
My fiancé and I went for a drive around our scenic town, and instead of getting my usual (delicious) iced coffee, I got an herbal passion fruit tea. It was surprisingly flavorful, but I was absolutely not satisfied.
Day 7: How much fruit can a single person eat in two weeks? The limit does not exist.
Day 8: The good news: My fiancé came home and brought me some unsweetened creamer, so I can have coffee again!
Day 8 Thoughts
The bad news: I tried to have a cup of coffee with the new creamer, and it was just okay. It didn't satisfy my ever-growing obsession with drinking my go-to Starbucks version.
Day 9: I will say, this challenge has made me cook a lot more fun meals than I usually do. Typically, I go for convenient options, but it's been fun making things and focusing on not adding sugar to anything — this has taken me out of my comfort zone, and I don't hate it.
Day 10: I seriously cannot stop thinking about iced coffee. It's consuming my entire day. I've become incredibly annoying about it. It's all I can think about or talk about. Interestingly enough, I don't have any sugar cravings except for that.
Day 10 Thoughts
My headaches are gone at this point, and I feel way more energized than before. I'm also sleeping so much better already! My only issue is that I wake up and my first thought is, I need an iced coffee. It's not even the caffeine, because I get DECAF.
Day 11: I think my craving for iced coffee has grown into a rebellious state of mind where I can't function unless I...order an Impossible Whopper from Burger King. 😅
Day 11 Thoughts
Do I feel like a failure? Kind of. Sorry, Pam Smith!
Maybe I was missing something from my diet that caused me to order this, or maybe I'm just an annoying trash goblin.
Day 12: Jumped right back into my usual schedule of post-Whopper shenanigans, and I'm feeling pretty good! I've eaten way less fruit than usual, but I feel pretty good regardless.
Day 12 Thoughts
But yes, I'm still thinking of iced coffee.
Day 13: I'm so proud of my ginger sesame noodles! It is creamy and delicious and has no added sugar. This is another day where I've been eating, you guessed it, a lot of fruit.
Day 13 Thoughts
I have noticed that I don't really feel like, Oh, I can totally do this for the rest of my life. Instead I just keep thinking, Just one more day, and I can have an iced coffee!
Day 14: Ahh, the last day. A bitterswe— who am I kidding? I'm so excited to drink my favorite iced coffee drink. I have absolutely NO other cravings for sweets. No candy, no desserts, no sweet drinks. JUST iced coffee. I truly have no idea why.
Day 14 Thoughts
The best theory I came up with is that I simply love the idea of drinking iced coffee. It's a huge part of my routine, and I felt like I lost it during these two weeks.
Well, I did it! (Sort of.) I made it through the 14 days and only deviated from Pam's advice once. I finished the challenge with no more headaches and way more energy, and I just felt better overall. I felt like I was healthier and happier, despite my childish responses to not having an iced coffee.
Something I do want to note is that I ate A LOT of fruit. Like, I spent a lot of money these two weeks on fruit — and it's worth calling out that expense. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
As we know, there is (unfortunately) added sugar in almost everything you buy, especially if it's a prepackaged food. There are many people who just can't afford to buy fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or even just a healthier bread that doesn't have added sugar. We all do the best we can with what we have, and cutting added sugar can be extreme for a lot of people, both physically *and* financially.
After the two weeks was over, I wanted to regroup with Pam with my final thoughts — and ask her a few leftover questions. Here's what she said:
Over these past two weeks, I ate a ton of fruit to offset my sugar cravings. I know the sugar in fruit is naturally occurring (as opposed to added), but can you eat TOO MUCH of it?
Pam: Fruit is a nutrition powerhouse — energizing and powering the body with essential nutrients and antioxidants — and it naturally fulfills our sweet desires. Unlike something sweet and processed, like Oreos, fruit is also so filled with fiber and water. So it’s difficult to overeat without getting overfilled — especially if you're eating it with a balance of other foods.
I really missed my go-to Starbucks order. By the time the two weeks wrapped up, it was the thing I missed most. Are there ways to sweeten coffee without (or with less) sugar or artificial sweeteners?
Pam: A bit of sugar or sweetener in a daily cup isn’t going to ruin anyone’s health, but there are a number of other ways to offset the bitterness of coffee. Frothing the hot milk/mylk adds an extra touch of enjoyment. Cinnamon, chai spice, and pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste are not sweet in and of themselves — but are flavors that give an expression of sweetness.
A touch of honey and pure maple syrup, often used for tea, works well for coffee as well. You can also choose a coffee that has overtones of chocolate — like Starbucks Verona — or add unsweetened dark cocoa powder to your brew to enhance sweetness.