Last January I completely cut out added sugar, changing my life for good. It was something I’d spent several months thinking about, researching, planning and mentally preparing for. Over that time I became aware of my old habits. I would binge on sugar from Halloween through Christmas. I believed I didn’t have a sweet tooth, but I was definitely wrong. So I took on the no added sugar challenge, cutting out sugar completely for thirty days. It reshaped the way I look at sugar and permanently changed my life. Now one year later, I can easily say it was the best thing I ever did for myself!
Cutting out added sugar completely for thirty days showed me just how much sugar I really ate. Wow! Sugar is added to a ton of foods that I never imagined. Sometimes it’s added for taste, but it’s often used as a binding agent. I was surprised how many types of breads, crackers, chips and cheeses have sugar added to them. I considered all those items to be savory enjoyments, but our mass-produced society adds sugar to almost everything. This is especially true of items labeled “low fat” and “low calorie.” The latter rocked my world. I loved the idea of low fat and low calorie foods, but when you cut out fat and calories you need to add something back. That is sugar.
Going without sugar taught me how to be picky about the sugar that I now choose to eat. I needed to go cold turkey and break my addiction in order to learn. I used to say yes to candy or sweets, because I wanted to try a little. No more. If I went to a party I always tried the dessert. No longer the case. I no longer have a desire for dessert. It all tastes like sugar. Instead I’m now very picky. When I do have a sweet, it’s something special and I appreciate it that much more. Over the last year there’s been multiple times where I tried something and it was way too sweet. Over the holidays I tried a very sweet piece of apple pie, and everyone around me was complaining that the pie wasn’t sweet enough. The apple filling tasted like apples and cinnamon, but my family missed that sugar taste.
I used to think I was aware of what I ate, but cutting out sugar made me question everything, and made me accountable. I loved that and have never looked back. Once you open the box, you can’t close it. I thought I was reading food labels properly, but I wasn’t. Cutting out sugar made me look closer at sugar content and everything else. I’m always surprised when I look at a pre-packaged food and sugar is added. It’s disappointing. I was recently looking for some frozen dumplings and all but one had sugar added. I did the same with tamales, and only one didn’t have added sugar. Now I ask myself, do I need or really want to buy this item? Nine times out of ten I will opt for a different brand or style and see if I can find one without sugar. If not, I don’t buy it.
The best thing about the challenge is that it changed my taste buds. Ice cream, cookies, cakes and puddings should all taste very sweet! Now they do. Lattes, especially flavored ones, are so sweet! Do I even want one? These are all treats, but we’ve added them to our daily diets. I honestly would have thought I’d miss these things, but I don’t. I occasionally crave some ice cream, but that’s about it. I now find fruits and veggies to be plenty sweet, and the perfect alternative. I love indulging in these natural sugars!
After tackling the no added sugar challenge, I’m confident in my eating habits. I don’t feel guilty if I indulge, and when I do it’s the smallest little bit. It’s having a small dish of ice cream or a bite or two of cake and not feeling guilty or ashamed.
I still feel liberated a year later, and the foods I said goodbye to are still gone. Plus, I don’t miss them! The no added sugar challenge was incredible, and I’m still flourishing in its affects. I’ll ever go back to my old ways.
Mandi Mellen is Lead Editor, Staff Writer, and Featured Vlogger at BuzzChomp. She’s an actress, writer, and producer. Get lost in her youtube comedy channel PillowTalk TV. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram
Photo credits to www.thefitindian.com & www.nomoreaddedsugar.com