I recently went off sugar for a week. Clarification: I abstained from foods that contained added sugar; naturally occurring sugar was fine. I posted a rambling preface here, and I think one line is more true than ever: “I’m going off sugar as a personal experiment, not as an indictment against sugar itself. Like with most things in life, I do not think sugar itself is bad; it just should not be used in excess.” I also went off alcohol, since I figured it was one less “bad” thing I would substitute in place of sugar. That wasn’t bad at all, but I now know that crackers and chips will magically appear as substitutes…
It was an interesting week, and I think I’m just going to list some of my observations in no particular order.
- Sugar is added to so many things! Pasta sauce. Mayonnaise. Taco seasoning. Jerky. Bread. Those little single-serve containers of coffee creamer. “Plain” instant oatmeal. Any peanut butter that says “no stir.” Salad dressing.
- Endurance exercise is hard when you can’t eat solid foods while doing it. A four-hour bike ride was just not possible; I need sports drink and gels because I can’t eat solid food on the bike without feeling dizzy and weak (something about digestion slowing my blood flow, apparently).
- The first day was fine. The second day, I got really angry in the afternoon — so angry that I even flipped off a driver in bad traffic.
- Plain oats for breakfast aren’t so bad once you just start eating them every morning. I put half a cup of quick oats in a bowl with some water, microwaved it, and added a giant spoonful of crunchy “just peanuts, please and thank you” peanut butter. It actually kept me full for awhile, and it’s now a regular breakfast-at-work for me.
- Sourdough bread is a lifesaver. No sugar! Smash avocado, spread it on the bread, sprinkle with salt — bam, lunch or breakfast is done and delicious.
- I really do not eat enough vegetables. At all.
- I ate at home more, and actually cooked. It was the only way to make sure I wasn’t accidentally eating sugar.
- My celebratory post-sugar-fast meal was a big chicken salad sandwich from Mr. Pickles. It was on a sourdough roll so the sugar content was probably quite low, but it contained mayonnaise and I had no idea what they’d done when cooking/prepping the chicken.
- That meal came with a chocolate chip cookie, which sounded amazing. When I actually ate it, though, it was disappointing. It seems that a week may have been enough time to wean myself off cookies.
- Related: Two weeks later, I’ve mostly gone back to normal life. But I have not bought cookies, candy or ice cream.
- I missed sugar a lot more than I missed alcohol.
- It seemed that I was more tired.
- I discovered one giant loophole that defeated the “eat healthier food” purpose: Cheez-Its and tortilla chips do not contain sugar.
- I think I lost two pounds. I have a feeling that number could have been higher if I hadn’t eaten so many Cheez-Its.
- Going to a Giants baseball game when you’re off sugar is a big disappointment. I just didn’t eat anything there, because I doubt any of the ballpark’s delicious food was sugar-free.