You drink your coffee… BLACK? I’d exclaim to those aliens who’d pass by the sugar corner at Starbucks. Just the thought of it gave me shudders. My addiction to sugar was real.
But still, the idea of sugar-free living sparked a curiosity in me. What would it be like? I’d ask. I wonder if I’m strong enough.
And so, my quest started. Quitting sugar was easier than I thought, and here’s how I did it.
I quit cold-turkey (but only for two weeks)
This statement probably goes against everything you know about habits. The most common school of thought is “everything in moderation,” but the truth is, it won’t work in this case. Sugar is too addictive and too pervasive.
At the same time, telling yourself that you’ll never eat sweets again will only make you crave them more. Which will lead to caving in. Which will lead to giving up. Which will lead to feelings of guilt and failure. Which will lead to wanting sugar even more.
My solution – quit sugar for only a week or two and treat it like a challenge. I asked myself “What would happen if I had absolutely no sugar but only for two weeks?” I genuinely wanted to know if I could do it, and if it would give me the results I dreamed of – like clear skin and more energy. I also told myself that I was more than welcome to start eating sugar again afterwards if I wasn’t happy with my experiment.
Here’s why this works:
It focuses on curiosity – this was a challenge, an experiment. All I was doing was testing if I could do it and what changes it could bring about. It’s not really about willpower or complicated schedules. Just curiosity.
It lets you back out gracefully – Once your two weeks are done, you can reassess whether you want to stick with this sugar-free lifestyle. Maybe you liked it but want to do it differently. Maybe you want to choose not to stick with it. Making a choice is way more powerful than giving up. Besides, you’ll find that you like it.
It’s short and sweet – when you commit to something forever, usually your brain immediately goes “NOPE!” Doing a challenge for two weeks (or even less) gives you an endpoint to look forward to.
I also recommend giving yourself a reward – like a long, luxurious shower or a coffee date (sugar free.)
Also, this goes without saying, but remove all sugary products from your home. They’ll only tempt you. If your family is not onboard with this “lifestyle change,” too bad. They can stick it out for just two weeks. (Even if it means getting their fix elsewhere.)
I got clear on the WHY
Want to hear a vanity confession? I desperately wanted clear skin. I’ve tried all the things to make it happen, but deep down I knew the change had to come from my diet. And honestly, now that I have that clear skin I’ve been pining for, my motivation is even stronger.
Maybe your reason is different. Maybe it’s about losing weight, boosting your immune system, or improving your health overall. The key is to be honest and clear about it. At least with yourself.
There were other reasons I wanted to try sugar-free living. I wondered if it would result in more energy, I wanted to feel in charge of my health, I wanted to see whether I even could break that sugar addiction. These are all noble reasons. But when I was standing in front of that cookie tray in the staff room at work, my vision of having clear skin was my guiding light.
I know my triggers and anticipate how I’ll react.
You can have all the best intentions, but what are you going to do when someone comes over and brings those delicious Portuguese tarts? Theoretical question.
I have two major weaknesses that lead me to question this whole sugar-free thing. The first is at family dinners on special occasions. I’ll get to this one shortly. The second is when I’m out and about, and I just need a little snack.
Now I’d like to tell you that I anticipate that problem and always have a healthy snack on-hand, or that I engage in constructive self-talk that reinforces my values. But that would be a lie. The truth is, I remind myself of WHY I don’t eat sugar, and then I buy another snack. Like a bag of chips or a bagel. I know it’s not healthy, but it lets me stick to my goal and feel good about it.
I cheat by the rules
Okay, so let’s go back to my other weakness. When I’m at something like a birthday party or a Christmas dinner, saying no to sweets is just impossible. Not because I crave them, but because of the social pressures.
Even though they’d probably understand, I don’t want to hurt my family and friends when they’ve made the effort to treat me. I’d like to say my conviction is stronger than that, but it’s not true.
So that’s my rule. I eat sugar when it would be rude to say no. And you know what? I savor and enjoy those treats because they’re rare. I eat them guilt-free. It’s pure celebration.
Here’s how you can make it work:
It can be a scheduled “cheat day.” Like once a day, once a week, or whatever keeps you from going crazy.
It can be on special occasions – like for me at birthdays and get-togethers.
It can be “in moderation” – you can have sugar whenever you like, but only once you break the addiction.
Having a rule of when you can cheat really helps. If you absolutely have to break your sugar-free streak, there’s no guilt or shame. It’s part of the rules
In case you’re wondering, here is what happened after I quit sugar:
My skin did become clear. (Hallelujah!)
In terms of energy – I don’t know. I do have more energy than before, but I think it’s more about other changes I have made – like leaving my draining career and prioritizing fitness.
I did relapse. When I became pregnant, it was easier and easier to justify cheating. Find me a pregnant woman impervious to Haagen Daz. And honestly, I still do have those moments of weakness when faced with chocolate.
So now, years later, I’m re-resolving to live my sugar-free life using the same principles.
Let’s do it together!
Did you try living sugar-free? How did it go? Leave us a comment on Instagram. @marsandstarsbaby