This year I decided to participate in ‘Stoptober’, opting to quit sugar for the entire month. So I thought I’d share my experience, plus a few handy ‘alternative’ products that quite frankly, I probably couldn’t have survived without.
To clarify, by ‘no sugar’, I mean cutting out the refined stuff, or anything where the top 3 ingredients are sugar (or products which are clearly laden, though may not make it clear on the pack).
So, things like biscuits, sweets, chocolate, most cereals, baked beans, yogurts, store bought sauces, cordial and fizzy drinks, cereal bars, cakes etc.
To be honest, most of these things I’ve generally avoided for a long time anyway (I haven’t had fizzy drinks or cordial for years, and since I switched to a plant based diet I only ever make my own sauces), but chocolate admittedly is my weakness, as can be cereal (if I’m bored at night I can put away 3 bowls without blinking). So to say it was a challenge is still somewhat an understatement.
In our western culture, we’re introduced to sugar from almost day 0. And quickly we become addicted to it, going through childhood with fists full of candy, throwing tantrums if we can’t get our fix. Then progressing into later life, as adults we find solace in chocolate bars and cakes (I know this is the main thing that gets most of my work colleagues through their day in the office, besides gossip). And if we try to resist, the temptation is more often than not too much, despite the huge sense of guilt that usually accompanies even just one Miniature Hero.
Now, many studies have emerged showing not only how detrimental the white powder is to our health (leading to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer), but also how highly addictive a substance it is (it stimulates the same pleasure receptors in the brain as cocaine!!).
Personally I’ve known this for a long time, never being able to have just one bite of anything that’s laced with it. And who knows how many times I’ve woken the next morning with a ‘sugar hangover’, belly feeling like it took a powder beating, hardly room left for real food yet feeling like I’m starving.
So when I quit, I found that the ‘hunger’ I often feel, despite having had substantial meals throughout the day, isn’t hunger at all but just a sugar craving.
Here’s what happened when I quit:
- I stopped waking up feeling groggy/ inexplicably hungry.
- I lost weight, particularly that stubborn belly fat.
- My cravings reduced.
- I had more energy throughout the day, due to replacing it with more natural/sensible energy sources.
- I was generally happier.
Of course, these things didn’t all happen at once, but did precede one another.
The main change for me I noticed really was in the mornings; I was no longer dragging myself out of bed, subconsciously looking for my fix. Instead I had lots more energy, and really looked forward to my breakfast.
Here are some of the (delicious) alternatives that helped get me through:
- Fruit (fresh, frozen, dried)
- Maple syrup
- Raw Bran Flakes
- Home made popcorn
- Raw cacao
- ‘Plamil’ sugar free dark chocolate
- ‘Pulsin’ raw brownie bars
Admittedly, once October was over I did succumb to 3 bars of cooking chocolate in one week (ugh, gluttony). But I’m trying my best not to fall back into that pattern again. And avoiding the sweets aisle in the supermarket is actually easier than it was before!
I’d recommend anybody give detoxing from sugar a try- there are so many alternatives out there that help us maintain our energy levels without spiking then dropping our blood sugars (which only leads to further cravings). Like any drug, it’s a vicious circle and we all know addiction to any substance isn’t the ideal.
Why not give it a try? 🙂
Peace and love, Warriors