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Sugar… clearly my arch enemy – well in fizzy form anyway. When I was talking through my food intake with Jessica when I started with FITTSteps Training (you can read about it here) I think that we were both surprised (well me anyway), with just how high my daily sugar intake was. So I made the decision to go cold turkey on sugar and it was much harder than I thought.
My main vice was drinking fizzy drinks – my favourite being the one that you get thirsty just hearing the opening of that red can – well it turns out that having 2-3 cans of it a day can add up to about 18-21 teaspoons of sugar. And I know that everyone says sugar is ‘bad’ for you but sometimes you just don’t think of that and grab it in the store when you need an extra pick me up.
I also did like chocolate and crisps etc. but nothing like my fizzy drink addiction. And I am calling it an addiction as when you have so many in a day you do rely on it. Well, it was VERY difficult to quit it. I was also quitting both sugar and caffeine at the same time so the side effects were probably slightly more than if it was just sugar I was giving up.
Cold turkey was the only way I thought I could give it up. Everyone to their own but to me when I made the decision to stop having so much sugar, I just stopped. I was expecting to feel more tired than normal but the other side effects really surprised me, and to be honest I doubted I would make it through to the end.
These were my side effects of sugar withdrawal:
- HEADACHES: I am luckily someone who does not suffer from headaches. But wow – on the second day of no fizzy drinks, chocolate or crisps (the big 3 to me), my head would not stop pounding! Since I do not normally get them I found these really hard to handle. At one stage even moving made me feel so queasy. And what was worse was that I knew if I just had one can then they would be gone. I increased my water intake dramatically to try and make them subside but in the end had to resort to painkillers. They lasted a good week – and they were really tough to deal with.
- FATIGUE: The tiredness was expected – when you suddenly take that level of sugar and caffeine out of your daily diet, it has to have an effect. And it did. I was certainly more sluggish during the first two weeks but now weirdly I feel clearer headed.
- MOODS: I was not expecting to feel so down and as my other half called me ‘cranky’ and to be honest I was – certainly for the first few days. I felt really, really down and I am not used to that – I found it quite difficult to come round from it.
- SLEEP: My sleep after going cold turkey was sketchy. I think it was more to do with the headaches being there ALL of the time. But that passed after a few days – and now I am sleeping deeper than I was and actually feel more rested than before even if I have an hour less sleep.
- CRAVINGS: And yes, of course, there were cravings but I didn’t cave and I think that if I had of had some chocolate etc. then I would have just gone back into my old patterns. Stay strong – have 2 glasses of water and it may help distract you.
My tips for sugar withdrawal:
- Don’t over pack your schedule – you may feel tired
- Bump up your water intake
- Get to bed early on the first few days
- Fill your presses with yummy good food – think lots of delicious veggies
- Fruit has sugar in it – so if you think you are going to absolutely crave have an apple or any orange
- Read the back of the packets of food that you are eating – firstly you may be surprised at how high up the list of ingredients that sugar often is and also secondly – how many ingredients that I know I didn’t know what they were!
- Don’t bother replacing your sugar foods with ‘ sugar-replacement products’ – just commit to giving up sugar and do it once and for all
- Tell your other half / housemates etc. what you are doing – it is much easier having supportive people around you
- Remember that it won’t last for too much longer and then you will feel SO much better.
My own sugar withdrawal took approx. two weeks and they were really tough but I feel better in myself now and since I know how bad the withdrawal can be I don’t plan on taking back up drinking fizzy drinks again. I just don’t want to go through It again.
Sugar withdrawal is really tough, especially if your intake is as high as mine was. BUT it is worth it. I feel 10 times better than I did before and yes did lose weight. But mentally I feel clearer and am certainly more productive daily than I was before. And since I am no longer relying on sugar to give me multiple pickups throughout the day – my day overall is more balanced. And also – I have saved quite a bit of money which is an added bonus as I hadn’t even thought of that being a side effect! 🙂
There are still some sources of sugar in my diet that I am slowly working on eliminating but since I have now tackled my largest addiction I know that I can do it!
Also, the images of the yummy cakes are not helping me right now 🙂