1 YEAR OFF SUGAR
I’VE BEEN OFF SUGAR FOR 1 YEAR, WHAT!?
February is naturally one of my favorites months. It’s pink, it’s lovey-dovey, and it’s my birthday month! This year, I have another reason why February is my favorite month….Feb 28th, 2018 marks my 1 year anniversary being OFF SUGAR! Can you believe it!?
Let me take you back a couple of years ago when this journey started.
DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to persuade you to be sugar-free or remove it from your diet. Simply sharing my story to help anyone out there who relates to it.
2 years ago I stopped taking birth control after years of use. Although it seemed to regulate my period and keep my skin clear, I decided to get off of it because of the adverse effects it had on my body (hello, mood swings!).
3 months after I stopped taking birth control (usually the timeframe when all the synthetic hormones leave your system) I started to experience terrible side effects.
My hair started falling out in chunks, and my skin was TERRIBLE. I had always struggled with blemishes but nothing like this.
On the plus side, I got my period back right away which is great because a lot of women struggle to get their periods back to normal after using birth control. I contribute this to my overall healthy lifestyle.
I continued to enjoy the same healthy habits I had always enjoyed for the next year not realizing what was contributing to the awful cystic acne I had on my chin and nose area after getting off birth control.
I always ate “clean,” 70% plant-based, ate fruit, limited refined sugar, and drank lots of water! I would have some margaritas on the weekend, but surely the healthy sugars and the few margaritas were not the cause of my cystic acne, right?
I experimented with everything to help my acne. Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, Whole 30, vegetarian, you name it- I tried it! While I saw some improvement and learned a lot about what food works for my body, nothing cleared the cystic acne. The only thing I hadn’t tried was removing sugar. I thought the fruits and smoothies were healthy and the few treats here and there weren’t problematic.
Eventually, I decided to remove sugar because I reached a breaking point. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I had tried every cream, antibiotic, and fash wash under the sun. NOTHING WORKED. My skin had taken over my confidence, and I was desperate.
I started with removing refined sugar, and when that didn’t clear the acne I decided to quit all sugar on Feb 28th, 2017. Sweet treats, fruit, margaritas, ketchup, dressings, YOU NAME IT! If it had sugar and it was within my control- it was gone!
During this time I looked for support in other people who had given up sugar but didn’t find too many success stories, tips, or people who openly shared their journey about giving up ALL sugar like I was trying to attempt. Most people still enjoyed fruit, ketchup, etc. Sugar is usually correlated with cookies, ice-cream, and sweet treats.
I eventually came across Gabby Bernstein’s journey with removing sugar. She talked about removing ALL SUGAR just like I wanted to attempt. When I found her blog post and videos about this she had been off of sugar for a few years (now it must be 5 or so- incredible!) I suddenly felt hope that I wasn’t alone and that I could do this. So I started.
As I started to learn more about reading labels I learned that everything has sugar- it blew my mind- it still blows my mind! I have horror stories about this- it’s kind of funny. Imagine a grown adult throwing a tantrum over how much sugar is in everything- it’s quite entertaining unless you’re my fiance and has to deal with it of course… muahah! More on that in a later post though.
The hardest part of removing sugar for me was eliminating smoothies and acai bowls. I lived off of those “healthy treats” but little did I know- they are loaded with sugar! Some have more than 50g of sugar! YES it’s natural sugar, and it should be good for us, right? Sugar is sugar, and although fruit has some fantastic benefits like fiber and antioxidants the sugar is not what is right for you, it’s those other benefits.
Some things to consider in smoothies and acai bowls (just as an example)
Is the milk sweetened or unsweetened? Most are sweetened with 13g of sugar per 8oz serving… let’s double the serving because most smoothies are 16oz.
What about acai? Did you know there are sweetened and unsweetened versions of that? Most shops use sweetened which is 16g of sugar per serving as well.
Now add your apple (19g of sugar per apple), blueberries (15g of sugar per cup), banana (14g of sugar), pineapple (20g of sugar per cup).
Now add your fruits to your milk or acai. You can do the math and see what I’m getting at here. This is too much sugar in one sitting!
Again, sugar from fruit is still sugar. The only difference is that fruit has other health benefits which are why it’s better to eat sugar from fruit than a donut. However, it’s still sugar! Keep that in mind if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake.
Okay back to me quitting sugar- I had a goal of 3 months to stay off of sugar. I took it day by day and promised myself that if I started to see clearer skin- I would stick to it. Month 3-4 is when I began to notice the results.
I’ll never forget when I looked in the mirror and wanted to cry because all of the cysts on my chin were gone. I wanted to keep looking at my face rather than turn the lights off and walk away from the mirror like I usually did. This gave me so much hope that I continued to stay off sugar.
Of course, sugar sneaks into my diet when I am dining out. However, I have given up Ketchup (4g of sugar per tbsp), dressings (usually loaded with sugar), honey (17g of sugar per tbsp), maple syrup (13g of sugar per tbsp) and any other food, drinks, and condiments I know has sugar in it. And no more margaritas (30-50 grams of sugar). I’ll stick to a tequila and soda water with lots of lime!
Here we are now, 1 year later. Sugar-free, my cystic acne is gone, and I have gotten maybe 2 pimples on my chin all year. My skin is not entirely clear. In fact, I have blemishes on my cheeks now (I’m curious as to what the trigger food for that is– I’ll find it this year, though!)
I’m proud of myself and love that February is my favorite month for a healthy reason!
Now before you think being sugar-free is lame, boring, and gross– that is far from the truth! So many companies are becoming aware of sugar-free consumers needs and are making HIGH-QUALITY SUGAR-FREE items that I will list below.
Also, I have learned to get very creative in the kitchen and make sugar-free cookies, brownies, and chocolate balls! There is no reason that being sugar-free should prevent you from enjoying the SWEET LIFE! My Instagram is fulled with sugar-free inspiration: CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT!
SO HOW THE HECK DOES ONE ACTUALLY QUIT SUGAR?
I wish I had a formula for you but I don’t. It takes a lot of self-control and the desire to quit because the pain that sugar is causing you is no longer worth it. For me it was acne. I would do anything to help clear my skin. I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I got fed up with my skin and myself.
You can also replace your sugary sweets with the above recipes and below products that are truly delicious and sugar-free of course!
Here is a list of my favorite sugar-free brands:
- Sweeteners for coffee, baking,: Stevia and MonkFruit sweetener (both can be found at any health food store such as Whole Foods or Sprouts).
- Lakanto (Syrup and Chocolate): Amazon
- ChocZero (Syrup and Chocolate): Amazon
- BulletProof Chocolate Bars: Website
- Diabetic Kitchen Brownies: Amazon
- Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix: Amazon