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What Happened When I Stopped Eating Sugar

by Marissa on March 19, 2015

how to stop eating sugar

In all honesty, this is a post I’ve been wanting to write for years.

Only, something was standing in my way: sugar addiction. 

I wouldn’t say the addiction was as bad as it was years ago, but I was very aware of it. I relied on sugar so much that it became a daily afternoon thing. A fix I had to have. Chocolate (anything chocolate), icing from cupcakes (all the icing, just the icing, please). 

I wanted so badly to get off the sugar but every time I tried, I’d fail. Until Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar 8 Week Program.

I’ve now been successfully sugar-free for 8 weeks (and counting). 

Like drugs or caffeine, sugar is highly addictive. To nip the addiction, Sarah’s program focuses on eliminating all fructose for a period of time. To learn why you can read a thorough explanation here, because this post is going to get long!

In January, with a little more than two months to go before my wedding, I was researching blog topics when I came across the I Quit Sugar online program. I knew of Sarah since she’s a fellow IIN grad and I even had her book of the same name (I read it, finished it, then decided I would start the program she outlined in her book the following week). It never happened. 

I had no idea that Sarah had a live, online program until I found it. Sugar was the last of my vices (ok, maybe it’s wine), and I really wanted to look and feel my best for my upcoming wedding without resorting to crazy diets because you all know how I feel about those. 

Also, I love experimenting with different things for my health coaching work and this was one experiment I had been wanting to do for the longest time. Finally, here it was right in front of me. 

It was now or never!

how to stop eating sugar

I figured I would do the program and the worst that could happen was that nothing would change. Besides, I could still drink wine on this plan, so the decision was basically made for me. 

$125 later, I was on my way to living sugar-free. I told myself this was an experiment and that seemed to lessen the blow of not being able to eat any sugar whatsoever. Until the day before the program started and that was when sheer panic set in. 

What exactly happened during this experiment?

Here’s a week-by-week breakdown. 

Week 1

During Week 1 we were instructed to cut back on sugar. This was a challenging week for me and basically a wash. I started out fine but it was David’s birthday and the sugar snuck in. I also had my fill of fruit because I knew that I would be giving it all up the following week (Weeks 2-5 eliminates all sugar and fructose). All in all, not great, not perfect, but not bad. 

Week 2

Now things really got serious because we eliminated ALL sugar. The first couple of days were not at all easy and I relied heavily on all-natural, real, organic coconut milk from Juice Press. This was my saving grace for afternoon sugar cravings. I also made sure I was fully stocked up on snacks for the afternoon. I noticed my hunger was kind of crazy during this week. I let myself snack freely on real food and smaller portions of the meals I made for lunch and dinner – tempeh and baked butternut squash hit the spot. I also ate more cheese. Note: I typically don’t eat much dairy but I’ve noticed when I eliminate sugar, my body naturally craves cheese so I let myself have it!

Week 3

I started to get into a groove and really loved the meals from this week. I opted for the vegetarian plan since I don’t eat meat except for fish. I supplemented with seafood when my body craved more protein. I’ve always eaten healthy fats with no issue but this program is based on replacing sugar with fat so I was conscious that I was eating more fat than ever. This week I felt a little gross and bloated and while I loved the meals, this is when I doubted this plan was working for me. 

Week 4

Week 4 was Clean Week when we increased our intake of greens and eliminated caffeine, gluten and I guess we were supposed to eliminate wine but I think I missed that memo and didn’t do that. Typically, I don’t often drink during the week so I’ll let it go. This was my first run-in with IQS smoothies. I’ve always added banana to my green smoothies and the green smoothies on the plan this week was were sans-banana — and delicious! I started feeling better about the bloating and noticed my skin looking better. My cravings for sugar were becoming fewer and less intense and I was feeling totally satisfied after meals instead of feeling the need for something sweet. This week coincided with Valentine’s Day. I had a bite of a chocolate-covered strawberry after dinner at a restaurant and couldn’t have been less interested. 

Week 5

This was the week I remember feeling better than ever. I noticed my cravings were long gone, my appetite was regulated and snacking between meals was a thing of the past. My energy was fantastic. In it to win it! Here is when I started to dread the re-introduction of fruit. I was doing great without it and really started to wonder how I would deal with adding it back in after this week. This week coincided with my bridal shower so I made a conscious decision to have some cake. It was delicious but it knocked me out. I was exhausted, had a stomach ache and needed a nap. After this, I started feeling unsure about how I would maintain a sugar-free lifestyle long-term. I learned that these feelings are normal and the support in the forums really helped me work through the doubts and fears I had around this.

Week 6

Still feeling great with a natural appetite and it was finally time to add fruit back in. Because I felt ok without it, I decided to wait another week before I did. Also, so my body could recalibrate after the cake the weekend before. This was also the week that coincided with my bachelorette party. After a few too-sweet sips of what I thought was an IQS-approved cocktail when I ordered it, I decided to switch to vodka and soda for the rest of the night. At dinner, I requested that no sugar be added to the food just in case and hoped the waiter passed it along to the kitchen. When dessert arrived, a giant fortune cookie filled with chocolate and vanilla cream, I was able to take a couple of small bites and then I was finished. This was really huge for me because I’ve always been the person who obsesses over dessert. I would 1) look forward to dessert more than the meal and 2) could. not. stop. focusing on dessert while it’s on the table, spoonful-after-spoonful until it was gone. Now, when dessert is around, I barely notice it or have a taste and then forget about it. A huge milestone for me!

how to stop eating sugar

Week 7

Time to add some fruit back in. I stuck with berries and this was the week I discovered coconut milk blended with frozen raspberries, a new favorite treat. Nothing else notable except that we were supposed to eliminate snacking between meals this week. I struggled with that and noticed that this was the first week since early on that I actually craved a snack between meals. I suspect it was either the addition of the fruit, my meals weren’t big enough or I needed to add more protein. Still eating dairy but less of it than I was before. This week we were assigned an “Eating Out” Challenge, something I had been doing almost weekly anyway because we typically have dinner out on the weekends. The program offers a handy guide for choosing sugar-free dishes at restaurants. I did the best I could and we never ordered dessert. 

Week 8

Our final week and now sugar-free feels like a lifestyle to me. This week I experimented with adding half a banana to my morning smoothie and felt awful all day. Lesson learned! Since the reintroduction of fruit, I’m feeling a little more “off” than I was on Weeks 5 and 6 so decided to back off a little on it. I’m sad that the program is ending because I really enjoyed discovering new recipes from the weekly meal plans and I’m certainly motivated to continue this lifestyle and even make some of my favorite IQS recipes. 

Overall, I loved that this program forced me to be prepared with meals and snacks. Our fridge is always stocked and I found that having a delicious lunch or dinner to look forward to makes a difference at mealtime. My relationship with food has changed even more and I’m optimistic about making sugar-free a lifestyle. Throughout the program, I typically cooked at home for every meal during the week and on the weekends we tend to go out for dinner and a cocktail – nothing too crazy. That’s an important aspect of living a balanced and enjoyable lifestyle for me.

Other results I noticed were improved digestion, waking up feeling more rested, no more bloating and a lot more body confidence. 

You’ll also notice that I wasn’t perfect.

On the few special occasions that came up during the 8 weeks, I had a taste of dessert and I’ll definitely eat cake at my wedding. That’s part of how I’ll maintain this long term. Nothing is ever completely off limits and I never try to hold myself to standards of perfection: two sure-fire ways to invite failure from the get-go. I simply had a bite or three and moved on. 

Sarah’s philosophy on being sugar-free which couldn’t be more on point with my own: 

“I’m not militant about being sugar-free. If my friends are ordering Chinese take-out, I go with it. If I realise the curry I’m eating is sweetened I don’t freak out. I lapse, too. But only a little. Because I’m able to correct myself easily now. It’s not really lapsing. I’m just continuing the experiment.” 

I’m so proud of myself for finally being able to break my sugar addiction. Sugar is of very little interest to me and hardly something I think about. No huge weight loss for me but my body looks and feels the best it ever has (inside and out) which is a lot more important to me than the number on the scale. 

If you read this far and feel inspired, you can follow my I Quit Sugar Pinterest board and then comment on this post: 

Have you quit sugar or have you been wanting to? Do you have questions about my experience? Post them below!

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