It has been seven weeks since I committed to quitting sugar. Since the first January my total sugar intake includes one slice of fruitcake, half a ginger biscuit and 3 bowls of porridge sweetened with honey. There was also some sugar in a sneaky supermarket pasta salad and some fruity cocktails on a night out. Not bad going in my opinion, so how should I be feeling? If you search “stop eating sugar” into google, this is the first article that comes up: http://www.prevention.com/health/what-happens-when-you-stop-eating-sugar. So I want to explore how this might match up with my own experience…
1. Your heart will do a happy dance.
Your risk of dying from ticker-related trouble will plummet threefold, according to research from James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke’s Mid-Atlantic Heart Institute in Kansas City, MO. Why? “Added sugar chronically raises insulin levels, which activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing blood pressure and heart rate,” DiNicolantonio explains. “Within a few weeks’ time, you might expect to see a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 20 to 30% decrease in triglycerides.” Your BP would head in the right direction, too, he says.
I couldn’t possibly comment on this one. I can’t say I have ever measured my cholesterol levels or anything like that. It’s nice to know that this will probably be an effect I guess.
2. You won’t have to borrow your teen’s acne cream.
Good-bye, midlife zits! Systemic inflammation is a known acne trigger. And sugar—wouldn’t you know it?—is inflammatory. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when non-soda-drinkers consumed one 12-ounce can a day for 3 weeks, their inflammation levels increased by 87%. Give up the soda and other sweetened drinks and you might not need as much of that expensive concealer, the research suggests.
Let’s apply this point to someone in their late twenties rather than middle age. This is probably the main reason I decided to quit sugar. Much as I would love to say that I have seen a major difference, unfortunately the changes are so subtle. My skin does feel softer and smoother but breakouts are still occurring. Here are some before and after pics:
3. You’ll sidestep diabetes.
Eating added sugar promotes the buildup of fatty deposits around your liver. These deposits contribute to insulin resistance and undermine the work done by your pancreas, which normally stalls the production of insulin, says Robert Lustig, MD, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. In a study of sugar consumption in 175 nations, Lustig found that eating 150 calories of added sugar is 11 times more likely to contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, compared with 150 calories from protein or fat. So swap that sugary granola for a handful of nuts, pronto.
Again, I couldn’t possibly comment. More good news I guess.
4. You won’t have to fake smile.
It’s normal to be cranky for a while if you ditch sweets. (After all, they’re the foods we usually rely on for comfort and a quick hit of energy.) But once you’re over your sugar fix, you’ll feel better than ever. A Columbia University study found that women who eat a diet high in added sugars and refined grains are more likely to experience anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.
I am enjoying a more consistently optimistic outlook on life compared to a habit of self pity and general pessimism.
5. You’ll sleep when you’re supposed to (for a change).
The crash from a sugar high leaves you with mid-day sluggishness and an itching need for a nap. Also, added sugar triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which interferes with slumber, Lustig says. Give up added sugar, and you should be more awake and alert during the day, and also better prepared to catch some z’s come bedtime.
This was another big reason for going sugar free. I have never had a problem with falling asleep at bedtime but have always battled against the need for a snooze during the day. Sadly, I can’t say that I have noticed a change here.
6. You’ll remember the name of your boss’s husband.
Battling brain fog? Sugar may be to blame. One animal study at UCLA concluded a diet high in added sugar hinders learning and memory. Over time, eating lots of sugar may actually damage communication among your brain’s cells, the study shows. So when you’re eyeing the doughnuts in a morning meeting (damn that co-worker with a birthday!), tell yourself you’ll be sharper without the sugar
Have you ever lost your train of thought mid sentence? I find this to be a regular occurrence and I am disappointed to report that there has certainly been no recent improvement in this area.
7. You’ll finally lose that extra 10 pounds.
While you’ll probably replace some of those sugary calories with other foods—like trading a sugary granola bar for a handful of almonds—you won’t be eating as many calories overall, Powell says. Scaling back your sugar habit by 200 calories a day could help you drop 10 pounds in 5 to 6 months. Now that’s sweet!
Finally a point that I can confidently confirm! I have definitely noticed a drop in my weight. I can’t evidence this with figures because I don’t own a weighing scale but my clothes feel looser and my stomach is looking much flatter. This isn’t something I set out to achieve however, amongst other subtle, subjective and frustratingly immeasurable changes, it’s nice to note that there has been at least one definite effect from quitting sugar.
So in summary, my skin is looking a little bit better. I think I am happier. I’m still struggling with generally low energy levels. I certainly have not noticed an improvement in my memory skills but I have definitely lost weight.
Until next week,