I get it, in order to live fitter and healthier lives we are told that diet and exercise are essential. Simple, understood. But if exercise only accounts for 20% of healthy living and the other 80% relies on diet, I’m doomed! For someone like me who gyms religiously 5 days a week at 6am before work, but then can’t resist that 3pm chocolate biscuit (or five), am I really healthy?
The media can’t seem to make its mind up with regards to trends, one minute we should east fewer/no carbs, the next we need to balance all food groups, protein is a big popularity winner but how much is too much? I can never decide what is right and what is a trend. But in a bid to clear my skin before my Masters graduation and do a last minute.com cleanse for the Christmas party slinky satin dress, I decided to go sugar free for a fortnight and heres what I learnt:
- Sugar is in E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!!! From my morning porride to what I thought were healthy snack bars. So, a dramatic switch was required! Breakfast was replaced with poached eggs, and snack bars became a vegan alternative, a totally alien concept to me! (But I highly recommend the NAKD range).
- The first three days are the worst. I craved sugar at every opportunity, even at times when I would not usually eat something sweet I would crave chocolate, but I knew that this was because I had told myself that I couldn’t have it so I wanted it all the more. I learnt to (somewhat begrudgingly) quiet down cravings with fruit or just keep downing green teas!
- My skin thanked me for my efforts. Even after just a couple of days my skin began to see results of going sugar free, old blemishes cleared up and became less angry before disappearing all together! New ones did not appear with their usual vengeance if at all and my skin felt and looked smoother. That is not to say that all of my problems disappeared as pollution and stress still played their parts, but I definitely saw a difference.
- I had more energy! After the initial cravings and ensuing grumpy state, I began to notice that I had more energy and, as a result of not consuming sugar before bed, I was sleeping better. I did not find my 6am gym session such a slog as I was not experiencing a crash from my sugar consumption the day before, and I was more consistent throughout the day with fewer spikes and slumps.
- The detox worked! Steering free of sugar not only helped my skin and my energy level but my waistline too! I dropped those few pounds I wanted to for my christmas party and graduation dresses and felt leaner and fitter. This was in part due to me cutting out sugar filled options from my diet and so opting for lower calorie alternatives, but partly because, when I snack I do it to satisfy my sweet tooth which meant that because I was not allowed sweet things I did not bother to snack.
The verdict: having spent my fortnight without the sweet stuff I have become increasingly aware of all the alternatives available to us out there. From snack bars to recipes (such as sweet potato brownies… oh my), and as a result of cutting sugar from my diet my sweet tooth has reduced, meaning that I have reduced cravings and find satisfaction now in less sugar anyway. My skin, energy and waistline benefitted too which was a definite positive!
But would I carry it on or do it again? With Christmas just around the corner I know that I stand no hope of continuing this through the festive season, but once it has passed, I may well try to pick it up in the New Year…