Ah… sugar! There is nothing in the world I love as much as sweet treats. And I am not just talking about chocolates. Right from that jar of condensed milk hiding in my mother’s kitchen to hot gulab jamuns dripping with sugar syrup—I can nosh on it all for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
But as happy sugar makes my taste buds, it’s absolutely terrible for my body. No surprises there, right? I mean from a lot of weight gain to an increased risk of diabetes—my sugar addiction doled out a slew of health problems for me, including PCOD.
That’s why when the lockdown was announced, I decided to give up sugar—in all its forms—for 40 days. Tough feat, I know—but I gave up biscuits, desserts, sugar granules (bland tea is the absolute worst you guys), chocolates, and basically everything that has added sugar. All I allowed myself to have was fruits and foods with natural sugars.
The first few days were horrible
My system was so high on sugar that by the time the first day of my sugar fast ended, I almost fainted. This despite eating fruits like mangos and bananas which are teeming with natural sugars and not skipping any meals.
Not to mention that the cravings were unbearable. All I wanted to do was binge on chocolates and dig into that can of condensed milk (my mother was guarding it with her life by now) with my fingers. Each time a wave of sugar pangs hit me, I would pop in a sugar-free gum or snack on almonds while waiting for it to subside.
After the first week, I started noticing some substantial changes
I didn’t give up sugar just for weight loss. I wanted to feel more energetic and move to on healthier coping mechanisms, instead of spending nights with a bar of chocolate after a fight with my partner. To my surprise, just one week of giving up sugar was enough and eye-opening! Here’s what happened:
1. My junk food cravings went out the window
Let me just come out and say it: I am a foodie with an affinity for things rich in carbs. So when I am not cravings desserts, I am in all probability craving pizzas. Surprisingly though, a week into my sugar fast, my junk food cravings were at an all-time low.
I did a little digging and found that foods that are high in sugar tend to leave behind intense cravings, thanks to the feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins that they release in the body. So literally, no one can eat just one—you’ll end up wanting more because you like the way it feels.
When I kicked sugar out of my life, thus wiggling my way out of the habit, I deprived my body of the satisfaction—slowly putting an end to the cravings.
2. Naturally, I lost weight
Desserts and such were never part of my main meals—these were treats I was indulging in between lunch, breakfast, and dinner. So when I stopped, I started consuming less calories over all, which prompted the weight loss.
Even tea-time was a healthy affair now, because I wasn’t adding any sugar to my tea or coffee and was only noshing on roasted pulses or nuts like pistachios and almonds, which kept me fuller for longer—thus ensuring I wasn’t snacking too often.
By the end of my 40-day sugar fast, I lost close to five kilos. I didn’t exercise or changed anything else about my meals. I just eliminated one thing from diet: added sugar.
3. I felt more energetic
Even though I was living in a stupor for the first few days of my sugar fast, eventually I started feeling more energetic. I wasn’t waking up tired anymore—I wasn’t sluggish or lethargic. In fact, I don’t think I have ever felt as energetic as I did during this time. Ironic isn’t it? After all, sugar is known for the energy kick it gives you upon consumption.
Well as it turns out, when you come down from as sugar high—especially when you are eating copious amounts of the substance like I did—you tend to feel tired and sleepy. The reason, a 2011 study from the University of Cambridge states, is glucose’s ability to inhibit orexin—a neuropeptide in the body that promotes wakefulness.
4. My skin became clearer than ever
As a long-time victim of PCOS, I am always vulnerable to the attack of the zits. Surprisingly though, during these 40 days my skin I noticed less acne. In fact, my skin looked younger and I was flaunting that envious glow for which I have spent a whole lot of money of illuminating foundations.
If you’re wondering why and how this happened, then allow me a moment to educate you: sugar breaks collagen and elastic—both of which are responsible for keeping your skin taut and pump.
5. I also slept better
Who would have thought that my post-dinner dessert was my slumber’s biggest nemesis? Turns out, high sugar intake also hinders rapid eye movement (REM) or deep sleep, during which we tend to dream vividly. That fact, that I was no longer hungry at odd hours of the night also helped a great deal.
So will I go on a sugar-fast again?
The results from depriving my body of added sugar for 40 days were astounding—but given how EVERYTHING has added sugar, it’s not exactly feasible. During the course of my fast, I even gave up ketchup and chips—both of which have surprisingly copious amounts of sugar in them.
A more practical solution for me, which I have been following ever since, is to keep my sugar consumption under check. I ensure I include at least two servings of fresh fruit in my daily diet, limit my biscuit fascination to one piece per cup of tea, add very little sugar to my coffee, and restrict my desserts to once a week—if at all.
Frankly, kicking out sugar from my life wasn’t easy—but damn, it was totally worth it!