Sugar-free zone: What happens when you ditch the sweet stuff for a month?
Could you survive without that mid-afternoon chocolate biscuit, or a spoonful of the sweet stuff in your morning coffee? Sugar has become public enemy number one when it comes to your diet due to it causing obesity, tooth decay and hyperactivity in children. But by cutting it out your diet for a month, you’ll be able to reap the benefits and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. We’ve looked at the areas where you’ll be able to notice a difference during your 30-day challenge.
The Sugar-free Zone, week by week:
WEEK 1 - Going cold turkey
Sugar is in a lot more things than you would ever imagine, so catering your meals to suit your sugar-free diet can be a difficult task at first.
David Leonhardt, a columnist for the New York Times, went cold turkey on anything sugary for a month, and commented on the difficulties he faced at first. He said: “mine (breakfast) used to revolve around cereal and granola, which are almost always sweetened…..now I eat a combination of eggs, nuts, fruit, plain yogurt and some well-spiced vegetables.”
With a stark contrast in meal choice you’ll have to make, you’ll be seriously craving that piece of chocolate or sugary cereal to boost your blood levels - but this won’t last for the whole month. In the words of Leonhardt, “the unpleasant parts of a month without sugar are temporary, and they’re tolerable. Some of the benefits continue long after the month is over” - so be sure to keep at it, even when you’re gagging for a sweet fix.
WEEK 2 - Living the nap-free life
With a sugar-free diet, the afternoon nap will become a thing of the past. If you have sugar during the morning or have a sweet treat with your lunch, you’re likely to feel more sluggish and in dire need of a nap to rejuvenate you for the afternoon ahead.
Robert Lustig, MD, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, claims that sugar will also hamper your slumber at night, as the hormone cortisol is released by the sweetener and can interfere with your sleeping pattern. Giving up sugar will help eradicate that afternoon crash, keep you more alert and awake through the whole day, and allow you to effortlessly drift off to sleep.
WEEK 3 - Get glowing skin
Nobody wants to have a faceful of acne, and cutting sugar out of your diet for a month can help keep your skin clear and pimple-free. As a known systemic inflammatory, sugar can cause spots and acne to flare up, especially when consumed in large amounts.
A study found that those who drank sugary drinks on a regular basis were 87% more likely to suffer from acne compared to those who don’t. Stick to the water and sugar-free drinks for a month and your skin will be looking fresh, smooth and healthy.
WEEK 4 - Drop pounds without the exercise
This is a rather obvious one - cut out the sweet stuff and your waistline will reap the benefits. Sugars are a carbohydrate, so will eventually turn into fat and a cause you to gain more weight.
But that’s not the only reason - sugar will have an effect on your insulin resistance which will cause your blood sugar levels to rise and make you hungry, and when you’re hungry all you’ll want to do is devour everything in front of you.
TV presenter Davina McCall undertook her own five-week sugar-free diet and noticed the difference, stating how she “felt a sense of freedom and wasn’t expecting that – I stopped feeling that I had to go to the fridge and scan for something sweet every evening. It took a while to get to that point but was worth the wait”. Ditch the cravings and you won’t feel the need to be grazing all day.