I quit sugar last August.
I also gave up flour. And snacks. And diving head first into unlimited quantities of food.
I came to the decision from a few different perspectives. One of vanity (I had some weight to lose), and another out of curiosity (could my issues with food really be because of sugar and flour?). I pretty much knew that if I stuck with my food plan, I would lose weight. And I did!
Since starting the formal Bright Line Eating program, I’ve lost about 40 lbs and I’m dangerously close to my goal weight! But there were other huge surprises and non-scale victories that I did not expect. Here’s what happened after I quit sugar, added sweeteners, and artificial sweeteners.
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1 – I look forward to unsweetened coffee every morning
At first when I quit sugar, I was afraid.
Before I even started, I was mourning the loss of my delicious cup off coffee in the morning. I needed my flavored creamers to go with ever season. Couldn’t I just use the sugar-free one? The “naturals” one? The one with cane sugar? Please???
The fact that this sugar monster had such a tight grip over me was proof that it needed to go. Now, I did not quit coffee. I may cut it out someday, but I’m not there yet. So what did I do? I ditched the Keurig and bought an aeropress. I never realized what a crap cup of coffee my Keurig made. I bought freshly roasted beans and I now add collagen peptides and unsweetened nutpods to my morning cup.
It was tough to transition at first, but after a few days it got a lot easier. Now that I know how to appreciate the taste of a great cup of coffee, I can’t go back!
2 – Seltzer water takes like sweetened soda used to
I see you rolling your eyes.
Now, I was never a huge soda drinker. I never drank sugared soda, but I did enjoy the occasional diet root beer, fresca, or diet pepsi. There was always diet soda in my house growing up. While I didn’t buy it often since moving out on my own, I would order it when out of the house.
When I quit sugar, I quit soda, too.
I started to explore different flavored seltzers (the unsweetened ones, obviously!). I love to enjoy a cold can of polar seltzer, la croix, or bubly. A few months after I quit sugar, a funny thing happened. The seltzer started to taste like soda to me! Orange seltzer tastes like orange soda. Lime tastes like lemon-lime soda.
I used to need to sweeten plain water with sugar-free squeeze flavors just to drink it, but now seltzer or lemon water hits the spot. Side note, unsweetened cacao nibs taste like dark chocolate now.
3 – The insatiable craving dragon is dead
Do you know who I’m taking about? That hangry desire for something sweet or crunchy? It often appears after dinner and before bed? Or in the afternoon around 3pm?
If you don’t know what it’s like to need chocolate or something to the point where you can’t do anything else until the dragon is fed, then please consider yourself lucky. But if you do know who I’m taking about, let me just tell you that I’ve slain that beast.
Turns out, he’s a sugar dragon. If he’s not fed, he dies.
Enough with the metaphors. But seriously. I don’t crave things anymore. There are temporary temptations if I see an ad for something, or if someone else is eating it in my presence. But I can rationally decide to not indulge.
4 – Hunger is no longer an emergency
The hunger I feel now is true hunger. Not craving-type hunger.
I’ve actually forgotten to eat on some occasions. Since my diet is void of sugar or sweeteners (aside from the natural sugars in fruits and veggies), my blood sugar is more stable than it ever has been.
As a result, I don’t get those highs and crashes that lead to cravings and false hunger.
5 – My sense of smell is heightened
…particularly when it comes to sugar. I’ve noticed a weird thing happening at the grocery store.
Whenever I pass the big bulk candy aisle in the center of the store, my senses are hit by an overwhelming wall of sugar.
First, the smell hits me. My eyes sting a little. I can even taste the sugar in my mouth. I’m not being a sensationalist here. This is legitimately what has happened to me.
I had to do an annual mask fitting test at work recently. It involves putting your head under a big hood while the tester sprays aerosolized saccharin (the pink sweetener packet) under the hood. They do it once with a respirator mask on and once without.
They are checking to see if you taste the saccharin with the respirator mask on (meaning it’s not fit properly). When the nurse sprayed the saccharin when I wasn’t wearing the respirator, I tasted it right away, and very strong.
She said usually she has to spray it multiple times before others taste it.
All this to say, once your body goes without something for a while, it becomes incredibly sensitive to it in even small doses.
6 – My appearance has changed
Perhaps this is the most obvious change.
I’ve lost weight and am now no longer overweight or obese! For the first time ever, I can wear scrubs tucked in and look pretty good!
Also, I’ve been told my skin is brighter and more clear. My hair and nails are stronger, likely as a result of my overall healthier and clean diet.
This is all so crazy to me, and to be honest it’s still taking some time for my brain to catch up with my body.