Curly hair woman eating chocolate

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Hey Curlfriends, I hope your year is off to a wonderful start!

As you know, it's that time of year where everyone is working on their resolutions and striving towards kicking the old habits. Here at the NaturallyCurly headquarters, we've decided to cut out the sugar in our diets to jumpstart our 2018! We'll be ditching sugar for two weeks beginning January 5th - January 19th. Though it will be extremely challenging - especially when co-workers love bringing sweets into the office to share - we know we can do it because we'll be able to hold each other accountable when the cravings to try creep in. If you're considering joining us, keep reading to discover the amazing benefits of giving up sugar, what to expect and the most common foods that have hidden sugars.

Why give up sugar?

Yes, sugar is delicious, tempting and even comforting. But eating too much can lead to all kinds of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, kidney disease and more. Sugar is one of the most consumed products worldwide and many Americans eat up to five times the recommended amount according to the American Heart Association.

Of course, the donuts, candy, and cupcakes are easy to spot and steer clear from, but the real issue lies in the foods that have hidden sugars such as fruit yogurt, granola bars, energy drinks and even ketchup. I know right?

Now, I understand this may seem overwhelming, especially since added sugar is used in approximately 75% of packaged foods, but just be sure to read your labels carefully.

Added sugar is used in approximately 75% of packaged foods

Remember, sugar is an addiction, after all, and you can't kick most addictions without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. According to Ian K.Smith, MD, breaking up with added sweeteners isn't as torturous as it sounds, even for the most hardcore chocoholic. "The truth is, if you're able to gradually reduce your sugar intake and replace it with something else—like foods with more fiber and more protein—you can stay off of it [indefinitely]."

The withdrawal

Okay, let's get the bad news out of the way first: Dr. Smith warns that you should brace yourself for withdrawal symptoms during the first three to five days of reducing sugar. "The first thing people notice is they typically get headaches, similar to caffeine withdrawal," he says. "They also report having decreased energy levels and mental acuity, as well as gastrointestinal distress." It's not totally clear why this happens from a biochemical standpoint, but research shows that giving up sugar creates a similar reaction in the body as ditching drugs.

Now, let's talk about the benefits.

Once you get past the rough patch you'll not only start to feel better, but you'll start seeing the results! By giving up sugar you'll start to reap numerous benefits such as better sleep, increased energy levels, healthier skin, balanced weight, stronger immune system and reduced risks of heart disease and diabetes.

I don't know about you, but these benefits are too sweet to pass up. Fight the urge and stay focused sis, you got this!

Here are the foods we'll be giving up during this challenge.

Will you be joining us for the #NoSugarChallenge? Let us know in the comments below.

Want more from Alexandra? Stay connect with her on Instagram as she shares all things health, beauty, and fitness.