Okay, it is time to come clean. I’ve been keeping a secret from everybody, and most importantly I haven’t been honest with myself. I, Mikayla Liston, am a sugar addict.
Being addicted to sugar has always been a problem for me. I have something worse than a sweet tooth, it’s a constant chocolate craving. I was never one to go for the Sour-Patch Kids or the Skittles, no, I always went for the hard stuff: the salted caramel brownies that we sell at my work, my mom’s homemade blueberry pie, Betty Crocker’s chocolate chip cookies, or even the locally made red velvet cupcakes that they sell at a bakery near my campus. I never settled when it came to my desserts.
Having the opportunity to go sugar-free for an entire month seemed like a sign that maybe I needed to change my sugar-filled ways. Going into the month I viewed my assignment as a mission, no, an adventure. I was excited to talk about my new adventure and to really see results. Sugar can be detrimental to your health in more ways then just gaining weight.
Two weeks in and I was going strong. It was easier to turn a blind eye to sweets than I thought, I really realized how much will-power I had. So, how did I fail?
Why I failed my attempt at a sugar-free month was not due to me caving and biting into that gooey salted caramel brownie… it was the fact that sugar hides in almost everything we eat, and even though I thought I was being good on my dietary restriction, I didn’t realize that I was still having more than my daily sugar limit by eating meals I assumed were sugar-free. I was two weeks in before I realized that the reason why I wasn’t seeing any of the results I was looking forward to was because I still was loading sugar into my body. Besides getting my daily dose of sugar from a late night ice cream and movie session or using chocolate chips as some extra homework motivation, I was still consuming the same amount of sugar I was before, I was just fueling my addiction with other foods.
Even though I failed miserably at going sugar-free for a month, I lived to tell the tale, and I want to let you know what I wish I knew before I headed out on my adventure!
RESEARCH THE BENEFITS.
This is the one thing I did do before going “sugar-free” for a month. I want to reiterate this because doing extensive research on what your benefits may be if you eliminate sugar can be the fire that fuels you! Make a list of these benefits and even post them on a bulletin board or on your wall to keep you motivated! Or, you can make the below image your cellphone wallpaper!
Say goodbye to the at-home or prescribed acne scrubs!
One of the most positive benefits of quitting sugar that you can outwardly see is how it lowers inflammation. Systemic inflammation is a well-known trigger for the bumps that spoil our complexion. Sugar is an inflammatory, so by taking it out of your diet in ways such as sodas and sugary drinks could help you put away the concealer some days.
No more mid-day slumps!
This was the benefit I was looking forward to. As college students we all are running around from classroom to library to our work location throughout the day in blocked out time frames. I, for one, hate the feeling that hits me mid-day when I am on a roll! It’s that sluggish feeling that not even a coffee can fix. By nixing sugar, you’ll actually have more energy throughout the day since you won’t have any post-sugar-high crashes.
Reduce your stress and gain some sleep.
Not only will the sugar crashes disappear, but with more added energy throughout the day your sleep cycle may actually become somewhat normal (finally). Eating added sugars releases a hormone called cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol does a wonder of destruction to your body not only related to stress but it also can add some weight to you as well as inhibit you from wanting to hit the pillow.
Erase the brain fog.
Having a “foggy brain” or more easily recognizable as not easily being able to pay attention in class or trying to remember what episode you were on in your binge watching last night, can be a symptom from too much added sugar in your diet. So to improve your to-do list and note taking skills, skip the donut for breakfast and you’ll say goodbye to fog and walk in the sun.
Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Diabetes, Oh My!
Having high blood pressure and high heart rate are direct correlations to added sugar intake. By eliminating sugar you can have a drastic change to your internal health as well as lower your risk of getting diabetes! It’s always good to keep your heart and body healthy!
You will lose those extra pounds.
By deleting sugar from our diets, most of those sugars will come from processed foods or carbs. By taking out these calories in your diet and replacing those with healthier options, your body can cycle out all of those unwanted toxins, taking the added muffin top with it!
CRAVINGS ARE COMING… YOU CAN DEFEAT THEM.
I knew I had a sweet tooth going into the month, but I had no idea how bad my addiction was until the cravings hit. That sentence sounds like the opening line in a monologue of the next big blockbuster thriller, but it is entirely true. Going sugar free, for even a short time, you need to go in with the mind set that you will crave sugar. 24/7 actually until you hit the two week mark. Once you get the mid-month hump out of the way, your benefits will show and you will shine, but until then you have to be prepared to be attacked with the need for that new cinnamon cronut that will gnaw at you until you cave. To defeat these cravings you can do two things: replace the glucose with fructose (natural fruits) or replace the sugar with healthy fats! By swapping snack and sugary cravings you still give your body that instant satisfaction, but avoid the sugary downfalls!
SUGAR CAN HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT!
This was my ultimate demise when attempting a sugar free month, and is the main thing I wish I knew before going into it. It was easy after awhile to turn away from the obvious sugary treats, but harder once I realized I was still consuming them. A rule of thumb is almost every packaged food item could contain some sort of sugar. Sugar has at least 61 different names to disguise itself under on a food label. So even though you may be feeling good by ditching that left over Halloween Candy and making a frozen turkey burger, beware! My turkey burgers have sugar in them, and yours could too!
Listed below are just some of the names for sugar to look out for, but to be well equipped check out the entire listing here.
With this arsenal of knowledge, there is nothing that is stopping you from going sugar-free! Take my cautionary tale and go ahead and conquer sugar for yourself! Better yet, grab a friend that can hold you accountable and give someone to cook meals with that will help curve those cravings! (Or maybe take that extra sugar in your house and turn it into a body scrub!)