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Congratulations ladies, you survived the NaturallyCurly No Sugar Challenge! The NaturallyCurly team (and over 7,500 of our community members!) gave up sugar, artificial sweeteners, high glycemic fruits, and refined flours for two weeks and lived to tell these tales.
I was expecting the hard part to be social eating. I had a birthday party at Olive Garden to go to (looking at the menu I could have water, lemons, and maybe some salt), and a girls' trip that'd involve a LOT of eating out. But due to medical interference canceling my attendance at both of those, the temptations of social eating never came up much. So I think the hardest part was that this struggle summoned some kind of Monkey's Paw/Be Careful What You Wish For type spirit.
Also meal prep was a little difficult. I'm still pretty unorganized, so there were a lot of nights where dinner was just fruit and Kefir. No regrets though.
My biggest takeaway was how fortunate I am not to have developed any food allergies. For some people reading ingredient boxes, apologizing to restaurant waitstaff, and risking hospitalization due to something as simple as a Starbucks order accident is a way of life. The constant reading and checking and brand deception drove me crazy at first, but support from my friends with dietary restrictions really put the fact that this was only 14 days out of my life in perspective.
I actually do intend to stay mindful of ingredients after this—I'm still salty about the brown rice noodles I picked up that contain white rice. Moreover, due to my negligent flossing in college, I have fillings that are sensitive to sweetness. Through this challenge, they haven't twinged at all, and that's been GREAT. I still want macarons, but maybe adjusting my shopping habits more won't kill me.
Real talk: everything, from the mental preparation to reading food labels was difficult. What put me off the challenge was the constant thinking about food; it's not something that I concentrate on (yes, I know that I have #skinnb*tch privilege). Regularly policing my eating habits was annoying, and for that reason alone I was done with the challenge after a day and a full afternoon.
I learned that going a day without sugar is not akin to going a day without water; depriving oneself of too much sugar is doable. If anything, this challenge has made me more aware of my soda consumption. I was able to go without drinking a Sprite or Dr. Pepper for 13 days... it was hard, but I did it (at least I did something, gosh!).
Even though I was a complete failure at this challenge, I can say that I am more cognizant of sugar's presence in almost every food available for human consumption.
Even though I was a complete failure at this challenge, I can say that I am more cognizant of sugar's presence in almost every food available for human consumption. Knowing this, I am going to choose my meals and snacks more wisely, but you may still have to pry a Big Gulp of Sprite from my hands every couple of months or so.
The hardest part was giving up white flour and starches such as bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta. Those are staples in my diet and I didn't realize how much I ate them until this challenge. I tried my best to limit my intake, but definitely failed when it came to those foods.
My biggest takeaway from this challenge was the importance of being mindful of what I put in my body and taking a moment to read the ingredients before I throw it in the bag. There are so many foods that have added sugars in them that I wasn't aware of until doing this challenge. It has definitely caused me to be more conscious of how much sugar I'm consuming daily, especially since I do have random sweet teeth. So after this instead of grabbing something sweet, I'll try my best to grab fruit instead.
The hardest part was cooking all of the time. Cooking a meal every night, times three meals a day plus snacking, is not something I am in the habit of. It's so many extra dishes! At the beginning I picked a bunch of recipes out, and I think I made about four of them. Most nights I just kind of improvised and sometimes the food tasted great, sometimes less so.
Snacking actually wasn't too hard. I ate a lot of berries, nuts and cheese. Or blue corn chips and hummus.
Cooking a meal every night, times three meals a day plus snacking, is not something I am in the habit of. It's so many extra dishes!
What I got from this challenge is being more aware of what's in the foods I'm choosing. I had always been more partial to foods that are healthier, but this just added another layer to that. I never got to a point where I felt the "benefits" of not eating sugar. Basically, I was just doing this challenge to prove to myself that I could do it. It was hard saying NO to free cookies and juice samples at the smoothie place and that day someone brought in homemade gorditas. Starting again today, if it's something that I want to eat, I am going to eat it.
I'll definitely keep up with choosing the healthier option of foods that are comparable. Like, a taro chip vs a Dorito. Or a sugar-free/homemade salsa vs the kind you can keep in your pantry for a few years and it's still good. But is there a sugar-free milkshake you can offer me that tastes just as good? Ok, I'll stick with this milkshake.
But like really, did we need to cut out bananas?!
The hardest part was cutting out sugar completely. I didn't realize how much energy it took to pay attention to all of the food that has hidden forms of sugar in them. I had no problem doing the act of cutting sugar out of my diet, but I'm not one to be mindful of reading instructions. I am too impatient, so that was my biggest challenge during this process.
I didn't realize how much energy it took to pay attention to all of the food that has hidden forms of sugar in them.
I need to continue practicing patience and have a better game plan ahead of time. I also realize that cutting a habit cold turkey doesn't always work, and sometimes it backfires completely.
My life is complicated enough minding a chronic illness, so I don't have the physical energy trying to monitor my daily sugar intake. I will continue rewarding myself every now and then with a slice of pie or some midnight hot chocolate. Hey, the heart wants what it wants.
The hardest challenge was cravings for items I couldn't eat. I got through it by eating the foods I could eat and trying not to overthink what I couldn't eat. I was also hungry all the time so I tried to eat every couple of hours.
My biggest takeaway was awareness of how much food had added sugar and which foods are high glycemic. I'll definitely be super aware of it going forward and keep that in mind even after the challenge when making decisions on what I'm eating. I don't want to go back to how much sugar I was intaking because I did feel less bloated on the challenge.
The hardest part was having to watch my friends eat bread and drink wine at a restaurant and not being able to have any of it. I learned that in order to survive this, I had to eat a pre-meal before the restaurant meal. This worked for the purposes of the challenge, but am I going to keep that up after the challenge is over? No way.
My biggest takeaway was just how difficult it is to figure out what's in the food we buy, especially processed food and the food we eat in restaurants. I did it for 2 weeks for the challenge, but if I had a serious dietary restriction it would be prohibitively difficult to go out to eat socially.
Overall I found this kind of diet way too restrictive, making it unsustainable.
Overall I found this kind of diet way too restrictive, making it unsustainable. I think the best way to approach "wellness" is by making it something you actually enjoy and that suits your lifestyle.