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A month without sugar

I stayed away from anything containing sugar for 31 days, and the results were surprising.

I’d heard about the long list of health benefits that supposedly come from cutting the sweet substance, but I was skeptical. The thing that pushed me over the edge was a suggestion from my physical therapist to try eliminating sugar in hopes of helping my chronic neck pain and headaches — other patients had had success.

Before my sugar fast, I wasn’t the most healthy eater. Most mornings, I had a bowl of Captain Crunch and some sort of hot drink loaded with flavored creamer or straight white sugar.

It wasn’t until I had to completely avoid sugar that I realized how much I ate in a typical day. Even unsweet things like crackers and peanut butter are loaded with sugar.

My sugar fast exceeded my expectations. Here’s what happened:

1. Goodbye acne
I didn’t have terrible acne, but I did have some blackheads plus occasional pimples. At the end of the month, my skin was not only much clearer, but it also wasn’t as red or blotchy.

2. Muffin top shrinkage
I didn’t see any sort of huge weight loss (though others do), but cutting sugar definitely did give me a little more room in my jeans. I suspect if I had continued past one month, the scale would have dropped more.

3. Headaches no longer had control
It was incredible, within days of quitting sugar, I went from miserable, pounding headaches every day to occasional small headaches. And it just got better from there. By the end of the month, I barely noticed any headaches.

4. Less neck and back pain
Along with a drastic decrease in headaches, I also saw a decrease in my constant neck pain and secondary back pain. My husband was pretty happy I no longer came home every day asking for a neck massage.

5. Meals were more satisfying
Before my sugar fast, a lot of my meals were overly sweet, especially breakfast. When I had relied on sugary cereals for the first meal of the day, my stomach was growling by noon. And then my typical sandwich with white bread for lunch didn’t exactly hit the spot. But when I was forced to find new meal options, I prepared and ate more real foods; eggs, oatmeal, nuts, veggies. And they were so much more filling and satisfying.

6. No mid-afternoon slump
Apparently sugar is the culprit of that afternoon slump a lot of us experience. You know, when you’d give anything for a nap but you still have hours left to work? After quitting sugar, that tiredness and low energy feeling disappeared for me.

7. Saved money at the grocery store
I’m not talking hundreds of dollars, but I noticed my grocery receipt was lower than usual. I was buying oats in bulk instead of pricey name-brand cereals, and fruit instead of Ben and Jerry’s.

8. A good feeling
I really did notice an overall health improvement that I can only describe as “feeling great.” I didn’t realize how groggy and heavy sugar made me feel until my sugar fast made me light on my feet. I had more energy throughout the day and at the gym, I got better sleep and I even felt an improvement in my mood.

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