Why it’s time to cut ties with sugar

“Cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in.”

(David Pacey/Flickr)

(David Pacey/Flickr)

I have a confession. I have done something horrible, something so fundamentally un-American that I am hesitant to put it in writing. I am aware of the consequences that will inevitably follow — dizzying confusion and brutal comments, along the the lines of “what the hell is wrong with you?” And yet, I must admit my cold-hearted deed to you.

I have given up sugar.

Go ahead and laugh, spit your soda across the room; get it all out of the way. I get it — when I first heard about this lifestyle change, I couldn’t believe it either. I was convinced that there was no way a 20-year-old girl in college could cut sugar out of her diet completely.

It took a lot of warming up to the idea, and an entire summer of trying and failing to fit into my bikinis, before I realized that this change was no longer just something that I wanted to do, but something that I needed to do. Hopefully in time for spring break.

For a little over two months now, I have been completely sugar free. I find my revelation and commitment to no longer consume nauseating amounts of processed sugar comparable to an alcoholic’s commitment to sobriety. We don’t realize it, but the majority of us are sugar addicts. Believe me, it’s not easy.

The withdrawals

I really wanted a double-scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream in an Oreo cone, with chocolate sprinkles on top. Scratch that, I didn’t just want it — I felt that I desperately needed it. Day and night, I couldn’t think about anything else except for that ice cream. For about a month straight, I fought the temptation and, let me tell you, that was no small feat.

During this cleanse period, I began researching the sugar-free lifestyle and the things I learned shocked me. I had no idea that, though Chobani claims to be a super healthy yogurt brand, an average serving actually contains upwards of 20 grams of sugar. While that may not seem like a huge number, consider this: you are, ideally, only supposed to consume 30 grams or less of sugar per day.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy starting your day with yogurt. And, like me, this news may have just rocked your world. Though there are very few, there are some yogurts you can settle for that are actually healthy. Stonyfield plain Greek yogurt, Oikos triple-zero yogurt in any flavor and Sigiis vanilla yogurt all contain 9 grams of sugar or less. They taste just as great too!

The alternatives

Since carbs turn into sugar, I restrict the amount of “bad carbs” that I eat. Yes, that means no rice and no pasta. In their places, I’ve discovered the magic of Quinoa. If I crave stir-fry, I add Quinoa as a rice substitute. If I crave pasta with sauce, I replace run-of-the-mill pasta with Quinoa pasta. Go out and buy some; you’ll be surprised at how filling and satisfying it is.

A lot of people believe that natural sugar should be consumed in moderation, but what could be wrong with eating an apple or two? As far as I’m concerned, fruits are allowed.

The contradiction

Give into your cravings — within reason.

After your one-month cleanse, you’ll be surprised to realize you don’t crave sugar as much, but that’s not to say you aren’t human. You are going to want a candy bar every once in a while, and that’s OK. Eat it. Savor it. The worst thing you can do is try to eliminate a craving by overcompensating with other food. If you eat a jar of peanut butter, a bag of popcorn and two apples trying to satisfy a craving, you will end up consuming more calories than you would have if you had just eaten that piece of chocolate. Moderation is key.

Let’s talk alcohol

I hate to be the one to say it, but you have to watch what you drink. Alcohol is chock-full of sugar. Vodka alone contains an insignificant amount of sugar, but add cranberry juice and suddenly one drink sets you back about 30 grams, your daily limit! Healthy folks drink vodka and soda water, and there’s a reason for that.

Though beer contains very little sugar, it is very high in carbs (there is truth behind the adage “beer belly”). You can rejoice, though, because red wine rings in at about 5 grams of sugar per glass, and white wine at about 1.5 grams. This is one happy statistic.

This lifestyle may have once seemed out of reach, but even small changes can bring about great benefits. If you aren’t convinced yet, hear this: I have lost over 10 pounds, dropped a size, no longer feel bloated and feel a significant increase in energy since committing to living life sugar-free. I am nowhere near ready for my itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini, but I am on the road to recovery from the years of abuse that I’ve put my body through.

Take the no-sugar challenge because once you start, you’ll never look back. 

Email Ericka at [email protected].

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