On December 31st I decided to conduct a little experiment with my diet to cut out as much sugar as I could. I still have fresh fruit but no longer have fruit juice, dried fruit and, as much as possible, anything with added sugar (which is hidden in everything!).
Fuelled by desperation as my baby doesn’t sleep well and I’m perpetually tired, I started to wonder if the sugary drinks and snacks I was increasingly reaching for was part of his sleep problem. As I’m breast-feeding, he eats what I eat after all and I was willing to try anything to get a bit more shut-eye.
A secondary reason for reducing sugar is that I have rosacea on my cheeks, which means I look quite rosy and spotty. As karma for being a smug clear-skinned teenager, this came on in my late twenties and I’ve noticed that my diet definitely affects it and I wanted to see just how much by.
I thought I ate relatively healthily. I don’t have caffeine or fizzy drinks but I did drink a lot of fruit juice and Nesquik, and cakes were an everyday staple of my diet. As a treat my husband would bring me sugar mice from the old-fashioned sweet shop on his way back from work. When I first reduced the sugar in my diet I knew I would feel it and I had some pretty bad headaches & much grumpiness in the first week. To add insult to injury my family kept forgetting and offered me things I was trying to avoid. But more than a month into my experiment and since the sugar withdrawal lessened, I can see some real benefits.
The biggest and most immediate change was my son’s sleep, he had previously woken around nine times each night but he very quickly woke only three or four times. This may still sound like a lot, but believe me when I say I almost wept with joy after the first night. On the occasions when I slip up we certainly know about it at night.
A slower change that has become more and more noticeable over my low sugar month, is my skin. The redness of my cheeks has greatly reduced and the texture of my cheeks is much smoother. It has made a bigger improvement than anything I’ve tried over the last five years, including antibiotic creams and laser treatment. I would say it looks about 80% better and almost unnoticeable with make-up.
Another really big difference and one that I wasn’t expecting, is how much better I feel in general. My energy levels are higher and more constant and mentally I feel more level and alert. I’ve also lost a few pounds in weight.
Despite all the benefits I do have some sadness about the sweet treats I’ll be missing, but I am definitely extending this experiment to the longer term.
How do you feel about sugar? Would you give it up?
If you’re interested in finding out more there is a lot of useful information over at Happy Sugar Habits & A Life Less Bullshit.