A whole month sugar free!? Are you crazy?
That's pretty much the reaction I would get when I said I was attempting to go sugar free for a whole month.
That or people pulling a grimace at me, thinking I was a bit mental.
Rules: No refined sugar for the whole month. Some people went even more strict and decided to cut out all sugar including natural sugar from fruit, but for my first attempt I thought I would just cut out refined sugar.
Starting point for me - My normal diet consisted of: A smoothie in the morning (if I could be bothered to make it the night before), a sandwich or soup for lunch with crisps, and some form of meal prep for dinner, or a cheat meal and something to snack on after.
Honestly I didn't find it too hard as I try to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle, but its only the first day so I would have to wait and see.
The main thing I found hard, which took a bit of drilling into my brain is that most stuff has to be made from scratch... so no picking up a pre-made sauce to add into my meal prep and no picking up ham or processed meats for my salad. There was a lot of sticking to the outskirts of the supermarket and staying away from processed food as much as possible. But with everything which wasn't obvious that it was sugar free, it was a lot of checking the back of the packet to double check.
However, for someone who loves cooking I was in my element as I had the opportunity to experiment and spend time in the kitchen finding new things to make to adopt into my every day lifestyle once this month is up.
So far, so good. The occasional craving I had was sorted with a piece of fruit or a protein ball (pictured above, recipe coming soon!) Because I already did meal prep, I didn't struggle with getting to lunch and not knowing what to have and going to buy a sandwich or something bad for me. I would get my breakfast, lunch and snack into the fridge at work and be sorted for the day.
Week 2 & 3:
Difficulty - 3
Change in my body - 0
Decrease in sluggishness - 3
Honestly I don't feel much different, I never had caffeine in my diet and if I did I would be so hyper I would get a headache. So not much had changed if i'm honest, being very prepared with my food it just felt like a normal week for me, except I wouldn't have a piece of chocolate when I was craving it. I will 100% admit that I have a bad habit of looking at my body on a daily basis waiting for the bloating to start once I eat and being moody that I don't have the flattest stomach in the earth. So the change in my body may have been there but me being anal about how I look, I found it hard not to see it.
Instead I let my creativity take over in the kitchen and I made a sugar free hot chocolate which nipped my cravings instantly and if I'm honest, it tastes better than regular hot chocolate (sorry Cadburys)
Week 4 :
As we draw to the end of the month, I've honestly not found it that hard to stick with being sugar free. My energy levels have slowly picked up but not dramatically and I've found loads of recipes which I enjoy cooking and eating on a regular basis. I haven't seen much of a change in my body, but I think that's partly psychological.
Would I do this again? Yes, absolutely. I'm going to adopt at least 50% of my lifestyle choices this month and transfer them into my every day life.
Now that the month is over. What has my sugar free month taught me?
It's taught me that you don't need to be guzzling sweets or eating chocolate every evening to fix the sugar craving. There are healthy, delicious alternatives available which wont give you the guilty feeling after eating them. I will say though, that going sugar free is expensive... having to buy most of your food raw and unprepared does cost a significant amount more than buying packet sauces and pre-prepared food from the freezer isle. It does make a difference financially, especially if you're on a budget, but you feel better knowing that you are trying your best to have a healthy lifestyle.
My Top Tips
- Meal prep is everything! Make sure you have a plan on what you are going to eat, if you are prepared then you have less of a chance to slip up.
- Try something new - Attempt to make a new recipe once a week/month, depending on your schedule.
- Don't give up if you have a craving - you'll feel so much better in the long run.
- Remember that it is a lifestyle change and not a diet
- Still enjoy going out and socialising - make sure you do some research on what you can eat and drink outside of your home. G&T's are sugar free ;)
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a new segment from the Sugar Free Chef on how to cook easy and delicious meals without breaking the bank or not enjoying your sugar free lifestyle.
If you want to keep up with what Cassie is doing you can follow her on Instagram -@cassieimpey