For the month of may, I agreed to take part in what quite possibly may have been the toughest 30 day challenge around. I went sugar free. I cut out all sugar and things from the sugar family tree and some stuff that, while not really sugar, is just as junky, like potato chips. I entered this challenge with zero confidence (actually I bet a tenner that I'd be back on the sweet stuff with in 24 hours) and no strategy on how I would approach my love of snacking. I just jumped in with both feet and hoped for the best. The result being that I may or may not* have eaten my own body weight in salted cashews.
In the interests of full disclosure, there were three slip ups, day 2 I put vanilla syrup in my coffee without thinking, I realised soon after but I pretended I didn't and drank it anyway. Day 16 had me sampling some Yarra Valley dark chocolate (it was litterally handed to me on a platter, what am I going to do?!?) and then there was a regrettable honey soy stir fry incident around day 20. I decided not to exclude fruit, but did limit how much I could have to a single serving per day and no fruit juice.
I was told that it takes three days for the body to withdraw from sugar, HA! By day 15 I'd almost lost the will to live but somewhere around 10pm as I was desperately sucking the last drops of toothpaste out of Lil' Edges tube of Dora the delicious explorer, it occurred to me that I had hit the half way point. There was now more sugar free days behind me then ahead. The end was nigh.
It never got any easier. Every day I woke up and thought "Screw this, today I'm eating a box of Lindor balls and washing it down with a slurpie." It was like giving up smoking all over again. I'm moody and a little deranged at the best of times so as surprised as I am that I made it 30 days, I'm even more surprised that nobody got killed or divorced in the process.
So here's what I've learned:
1. Everything has sugar in it. Even the sugar free stuff has sugar in it, they just call it honey or agave nector or maple syrup or fruit juice. While you could argue they're better for you than sugar, it's still just sugar when you break it down, nothing more, nothing less.
2. Being sugar free does NOT improve concentration. Or judgement. Or mood. Or motivation.
3. Don't go to a chocolaterie on day 16.
4. Just as it's not healthy to overindulge in any one type of food, neither is completely omitting it. I think it throws off the balance and you just end up overindulging in something else (hello salted cashews). Sugar, carbs, fat, salt, wheat, these things aren't the enemy. Eating m&m's like they've just become a banned substance on the otherhand...
5. Artificial sweeteners, stevia and anything else you want to pretend is just as good as sugar are all bullshit. I suggest the truth is more like '600 times sweeter than satan's backside' and 'made from sugar but it tastes like arse'.
6. There are actually some pretty good low or no sugar recipes out there but you have to wade through a boat load of really shit ones to get to them. Just taking the sugar out of something and replacing it with fat (or a different kind of sugar) doesn't actually make it good for you, no matter how many pins it gets on pinterest. I saw a no sugar recipe for cake that had lemonade in it and choc chip peanut butter cookies that only had 2 ingredients (I'll let you guess what they were).
7. This one probably shocked me the most though, I realise I don't actually NEED sugar in my coffee.
So 30 sugar free days done and dusted. I struggled through each and every one of them and now that this madness is over, let us eat cake.
No seriously, somebody bring me some cake.
* I totally did!