What a silly question..
Sugar can’t be addictive, right? It’s not like nicotine in cigarettes, it doesn’t have the same effects that cause people to become alcoholics … or possibly worse, drug users. “It’s just sugar and I can stop it as easily and quickly as I like”, we say.
Well, the latter is true; we can change anything as soon as we decide, as long as the reasons for doing so are powerful enough that the change sticks. But the former, not so much. Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on our planet and fast becoming one of the most serious and frighteningly common causes for serious health issues & diseases. If you read my blog “Book Haul: My Favourite 7 Reads“, you would have spotted the book “Lick the Sugar Habit’ by Nancy Appleton – a not entirely perfect, but impressive eyeopener into the dangers of consuming sugar.
This post could go on forever, but I gather the more I dive into the science, the more focus my readers may lose! So, given the purpose of this post is to encourage and motivate you to join me in a 30-day no sugar challenge … we’re going to keep it relatively simple :)
A 30-Day no Sugar Challenge
Let me start by saying why I am doing this.
I’m a healthy person, I know my nutrition is ranked highly and I’m not lacking in any essential vitamins or minerals. My cholesterol is great, my body fat % is good (although could always be bettered) and most importantly, I happily sustain a life of balance. I love food, I love dining out, I love a glass of wine, but boy do I also love sugar. Ever since a kid – sweet tooth all the way. This is absolutely fine by me, as long as the sweet cravings don’t ‘control’ my life and I choose freely when to have them, not the other way around.
Of course, there are different ends of the spectrum when I say ‘control my life’ and the term ‘addicted to sugar’. Some of us will be just teetering on the edge where we need a sugar detox and reset, and some closing in on the further end. No matter where you are – it can be changed as soon as you decide you want it to be. My goal is to be the healthiest, happiest and most energy-rich person that I can be, for the long run (not just after eating a bowl of sticky medjool dates! – note, I’m using a natural sugar example, more on that later) and in order to achieve that, I can’t and don’t want to be even slightly reliant on sugar for energy.
Allow me to give you some examples of what being ‘addicted’ to sugar looks like;
- Do you crave something sweet after every meal?
- Are you hungry first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up?
- Do your moods fluctuate throughout the day? Do they pick up when you’ve had sugar?
- Do you have the 3pm lull?
- Do you need sugar as a ‘pick-me-up’ for energy? Does your body crave it?
- Does your energy fluctuate throughout the day?
- Are you pre-diabetic?
You’re probably all thinking, “But you’re a fitness blogger, how can YOU be addicted to sugar”.
Well first, I’m human, and we have been genetically programmed to like and source sugar. But secondly, I wouldn’t call myself ‘addicted’… I just feel that my daily diet is creeping up a little too much on my natural sugar consumption and therefore my dependency on those natural sugars for energy. As I know the negative impact too much of any sugar can have on your body, I fancy a detox … A push on that reset button to get my sugar balance back, and I thought there may be a few of you out there who would like to join in on the ride.
Here’s the plan!
For the next 30 days, I am cutting out ALL refined sugar and ALL natural sugars, with one exception. Refined sugars are self-explanatory, but natural sugars can be just as bad depending on your quantities.
Do you drink fruit juices, not even the ones from the cartons but your own morning fruit smoothies? Do you eat more than a few servings of fruit a day? What about raisons, dates, raw bars, protein balls, sweetners? The morning porridge – is is drizzled with plenty of honey? And of course alcohol – champagne, wine, after-dinner drinks.
These are all examples of natural sugars that can seriously damage your insulin sensitivity and create a sugar addict if you are having them in too large a quantity. Fruit is packed full of vitamins and minerals (not as much as your dark leafy greens) and there is certainly a place for it, but if you’re someone who is looking to change any of the habits listed above or reduce your body fat percentage, pay attention to the quantity of fruit (i.e fructose) you are consuming on a day to day basis.
I realise I’m at risk of giving off the opposite impression to what I stand for – which is a flexible and balanced life. That’s really not my intention. This is simply a challenge I am setting myself because I think its beneficial for us all to cut back on our sugar intake and occasionally do a sugar detox should consumption be too high. Post detox, I’ll happily go back to not being on a strict ‘regime’ with sugar intake and living and eating as I normally do … and in case that panics anyone, the ‘regime’ I’m going to do isn’t even too strict, just super healthy!
Here is what I’m cutting out and here’s what I’m allowing:
It’s not bullet proof, it’s not perfect, but it’s a good enough detox for me whilst still allowing myself the balance which I love!
All refined sugars.
You have the obvious ones; baked goods like cakes, biscuits, bagels, white breads, pastries etc, as well as the less obvious ones – lots of yoghurts, pasta sauces, snack bars, salad dressings to name a few. For example, do you know that the original Activia yoghurts actually have sugar as an ingredient!? How ridiculous is that! There are some like Fage total greek yoghurt that don’t have added sugar. Safe to say no sugary drinks, “flavoured water” etc – things that have added sugar in them and aren’t naturally occurring.
There is one exception to this, a personal one for me, which I’ll write down below.
I’ll be eating lots of vegetables, healthy fats and protein, allowing good quality dairy with no added sugars, for example the Fage total greek yoghurt I mentioned.
However, I’m also allowing 1 piece / serving of low fructose fruit a day as well as my love, one square of 85% Lindt dark chocolate or similar. The dark chocolate obviously falls into the refined sugar category but as I said, this is not me facing life or death because I eat too much sugar, it’s just cutting back on it and being aware of quantities. Therefore, a bit of dark chocolate suits me fine should I want it!
Just to clarify, I’m not saying fruits are bad for you or the ones not on this list should be avoided forever, it’s simply for targeting the lower fructose fruits for the purpose of the sugar detox. Fruits are incredibly beneficial, so long as they’re in the right quantities and generally eaten whole in their natural form with the fibre.
Example of low fructose fruits are;
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries )
Grapefruits / Lemons / Limes
As an aside, the higher fructose fruits and therefore ones to avoid for detox purposes only, are;
and of course all dried fruits…
Breads that have lower GL and more nutritional value like rye, spelt, sprouted breads are allowed too – the aim is just to make sure they’re not the focus of every single meal.
I’m not planning on becoming a hermit for the next 30 days, but I’m also well aware how sugary alcohol is. Therefore allowances I am setting myself for nights out are maximum 2 glasses of wine, 2 times a week.
Support and Start Date!
I will be setting up a private Instagram group with myself in it and anyone who wants to join in on the 30-day sugar free challenge. I’ll be posting my day-to-day eats and snacks on my Instastories and everyone can share what they’re doing and support each other. I will also outline the ‘rules’ again on there and support anyone who needs it! If you comment below with your Instagram handle OR comment on my latest Instagram picture (https://www.instagram.com/p/BZizMzuDnOd/?taken-by=leanlivinggirl) letting me know you’d like to join then I will add you to the group! There are ONLY 15 spaces on the group so it’ll be first come first served so please do comment or message me asap!
This blog itself is also going to be a support page for anyone who wants to get involved or ask me questions so please do comment below and lets get started! I’m also available on Facebook if you need me there, my profile is here; https://www.facebook.com/LeanLivingGirl/.
30 Days from tomorrow (28th September) finishing on the 28th October.
It’s not about cutting out ‘all the things you love’ and being super strict for one month so that you can indulge the next … it’s about doing what is best for our bodies and allowing yourself a chance to reset from a possibly not-so-sugar-free past. You can then flow back into balance very happily and healthy, something you can sustain long term!
LET’S DO THIS!
Please post on your Instagram if you’re joining in with me with the hashtag #LLG30daysSugarFree so I can repost! Look forward to supporting and meeting you! ;)
Here is your free 30 day calendar to download, print off and stick it somewhere you will see it each morning – of the fridge, mirror etc! Cross off each day you successfully manage your sugar-free detox and watches the crosses rack up! It’s really motivating to see how far you’ve come so be sure to download!
Free 30 day Calendar: LeanLivingGirl30DaySugarDetox