This is the week ladies and gents, that we are going to all try to go totally sugar free for two weeks. If you are reading this any day other than Monday, start your 14 days from the day you read it.
- Here’s the thing about sugar: It is addictive, it is REALLY bad for your health, and the ONLY WAY that you can give it up permanently is to give it up by creating what I call a “NO MATTER WHAT” in your life. And for many of you, this means going cold turkey. Now I am going to dive straight in and give you a bunch of bullet points that hopefully will answer the many questions that you might have. Here you go:
- Anything that is a “sweetener” is a sugar (this includes artificial sweeteners, honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar etc). This hard core/cold turkey deal is only for two weeks, and then you can choose to find your “sweet spot” (see below), or stick with it.
- It really takes 14 days to wean yourself off sugar, so if you can go a full 14 days you will start to feel amazing. Don’t give up before the miracle!
- You may feel awful for a few days – these unpleasant feelings may include headaches, irritation, even nausea. But stick with it. These feelings won’t kill you. Drink tons of water, breathe through it and you will survive to see another day!!
- Yes, you can eat a bit of fruit. But don’t go crazy with it. An apple or a pear a day would be ideal. Or you might get a bunch of fruits in your morning smoothie. If you are pre-diabetic, I would definitely try to go for fruits that are lower in sugar.
- Beware of hidden sugars in almost all processed foods. Get good about reading ingredient labels. The obvious one is high fructose corn syrup, but there are many more.
- Once you are weaned off sugar for 14 days, you will start to experience sweetness as your taste buds were supposed to taste it. An apple or strawberry will suddenly taste stunningly sweet. This is a great place to get to.
- Herbal sweeteners such as stevia and monkfruit are allowed in my challenge (if you are desperate), but I do ask that you try to hold back a little because these sweeteners are hundreds times sweeter than even table sugar, and so it kind of messes with your taste buds and the messages they send to the rest of your body.
- Soda and diet soda is now allowed on my challenge. I PROMISE you will feel amazing after one week off diet soda. Stock your fridge with chilled Pellegrino, loads of fresh lemons and you’ll be good to go. Remember that diet soda actually increases belly fat!
- Prepare for your challenge by creating all kinds of delicious alternatives that will sate your taste buds. Lily’s Sweets do an amazing sugar free chocolate, strawberries dipped in plain yogurt, and you might even want to treat your taste buds to some unique fruit flavors such as passion fruit.
- Anticipate challenges and be prepared for them. For example, it might be a habit for you to crack a diet soda when you go to the movies, or sit down at a restaurant. Make sure you have planned a great alternative. When I go to a restaurant, I ask for a large glass of sparkling water, with plenty of fresh lemon slices.
- Always carry snacks with you such as raw nuts, air-popped corn, sachets of nut butter, or toasted seeds. Allowing yourself to get hungry is a recipe for disaster.
- Remember that you get quite enough sugar from all the whole plant foods that you are hopefully including in your diet. Grains and starches actually should really be a big part of your diet for this challenge because they will make you feel really satisfied and full. These grains and starches can include gluten free grains too. My favorite starches are butternut squash, sweet potato, and zucchini. Always think of creating a balanced plate: a healthy protein around the size of a deck of cards, tons of greens, a healthy starch and/or whole grain. Eating proper balanced meals like this will ensure that you keep your energy levels good for the day.
- Drink tons of green tea, and sweeten with a drop or two of stevia (if you must).
- Get excited about the way your are going to feel, and the gift you are giving your body.
Your Sweet Spot
This is a place that you may be able to move to after the 14 days. My sweet spot is that I allow myself sweeteners such as Date Sugar, Erythritol, raw honey etc. I love to bake and these ingredients work well. I also allow myself the very occasional dessert. However (here’s where you need to brutally honest with yourself), if you know you are addicted to sugar and that you always will be, I would try to stick to being as sugar-free as possible. I have friends who have one piece of candy or a “healthy” cookie loaded with sugar, and they are back on! For some people it’s like smoking. So, if you have a hunch that is you, or if you have a history of sugar addiction, your sweet spot is probably to enjoy the sweetness of fruits (and trust me – even carrots will taste amazingly sweet after a bit).