One thing you need to know about me, I love a good dessert. I’m also rather partial to a biscuit or two. Yet during lock down, I’ve found myself maybe ‘treating myself’ a little more than normal. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I can see that it’s possibly not the best long-term habit to develop.
Therefore, I thought why not try a sugar free challenge for a bit, and let me tell you, the results were very interesting.
APPROACHING THE CHALLENGE
To start with, I wanted to keep things simple. For breakfast I tried eating plain porridge and fresh fruit. This wasn’t too bad as I love eating fresh fruit anyway but to be honest I’m not too keen on porridge, as I always find hunger hits me soon after I eat it.
However, in the spirit of the challenge I thought “let’s just see how this goes”.
Next came lunch, which involved grilled chicken and couscous. Other options included scrabbled egg with vegetables, jacket potato with sweetcorn and cheese among other sugar free items.
For my snack, I opted for a spoonful of healthy peanut butter (no added sugar or salt), occasionally accompanied with rice cakes or slices of banana.
Then after a few hours came dinner. This was a little tricky with meal planning and sides to the sauces I would use when cooking. However, keeping things simple I opted for dishes like grilled salmon, grilled chicken, garlic sautéed vegetables, jacket potato and fresh chickpea curry with plain rice.
As night time came around, all the cravings came along too. For me, past 9pm was the toughest part of the challenge as I am prone to a sweet treat after dinner (mostly on the weekends).
This is when I realised it probably wasn’t the best idea to start a challenge like this on a weekend, when I am more likely to indulge in a chocolatey dessert but I held strong and carried on.
I decided to persevere and opted for a caffeine free green tea with a little honey. The sweetness helped tie me over, although not completely satisfied I managed to make it through the night comfortably.
However, by the morning I could tell that I was gravitating towards making pancakes with maple syrup (because who doesn’t love making pancakes on a rainy Sunday morning, am I right?).
IMPROVED ENERGY, ANXIETY AND SKIN
To my surprise I managed to last a week, which I was really proud about as I thought I would give in at some point.
What I noticed during the challenge was how I felt refreshed and calmer afterwards. I am certainly not saying that this is what I was expecting, as I know that everyone’s bodies react differently when they stop eating sugar for a while.
For example, you may feel more tired if you’re used to having a considerable amount in your diet and then find yourself stopping it for a while. For me, my sugar in take wasn’t exactly high but it was something that I wanted to try curb for a while and to my surprise it also aided my anxiety a little too.
This is because when I was feeling anxious during the challenge instead of comforting myself with a piece of chocolate I opted for a fruit salad/ a hot cup of green tea.
I also found that I had a lot more energy and my skin looked a lot better as well. I definitely feel I would revisit this challenge at some point to give my body a little break from sugar.
Even going without sugar for a week has already made me more aware of what I am putting into my body and also how much sugar I am consuming/if I really need to indulge in a sugary treat when I feel the craving come along.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously birthdays and Christmas are still an exception as I can’t be denying myself of too much sugary happiness.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM THIS EXPERIENCE:
Sugar can give you an instant boost, however there are different types of alternative sugars (such as natural ones- e.g. fresh fruit), that can you give more energy without breaking out your skin.
Taking a break from sugar can adapt your taste buds over time and curb your cravings, making you less likely to go on a sugar splurge.
Eating sugar before you go to bed can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Therefore, if you fancy a slice of cake or another sweet treat, make sure you’re not having it before your bed time as this can interrupt your sleep and reduce the quality of it considerably. Instead, you can always opt for a caffeine free, herbal tea with a little bit of honey to fulfil your craving and not disrupt your sleep as much as having a sugary treat before bed time would.
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