After a sugar-free February I thought I’d be desperate for a sweet treat but something odd happened yesterday; I turned down the offer of chocolate. Having given up sugar for a month, I had the chance to indulge myself, but I didn’t. This is extraordinary! Let me explain…
I love sugar!
I am a sugar-holic, if there is such a thing. Although I try to be healthy, I have an 80/20 rule and love to indulge in sweet treats, and I can be extremely greedy when I’m ‘in the zone’. I can demolish one or two family bags of Buttons or Twirl Bites. One slice of cake is never enough, and my record for Millies Cookies is seven in one sitting! It’s staggering really. But the thing I love most of all is Easter egg chocolate. It’s the thinness of it (is that a word?), and there’s nothing like it. In fact, the chocolate manufacturers are missing a trick by not providing a year-round alternative for addicts like me.
At the end of January, Easter eggs started appearing in the shops so I had to do something serious or else I was going to be egg-shaped by April. My friend Emma shared a “sugar-free February” link with me, which was inspired by Cancer Research, and suggested we did it as a challenge. I thought it was a great idea and doing it with a friend would give me more motivation to see it through as I can be very competitive!
We set some ground rules as it’s impossible to be sugar-free these days as it’s in everything, from bread to fruit, and all sorts of things which wouldn’t be sensible to give up. I decided to avoid cakes, sweets, chocolate, biscuits and alcohol. I would still have fruit in moderation, Herbalife shakes and protein bars, which I know contain sugar, but would otherwise not have any of my usual sweet treats.
The sugar-free alternatives
It started well. I found that I was able to find alternatives to desserts and treats which satisfied my sweet tooth. If I fancied something in the evening then I’d have a can of Diet Coke. I know fizzy drinks aren’t super healthy but compared with a sugar mountain it seemed like a better choice. It wasn’t plain sailing though – far from it. I had massive cravings, especially at work. I would wander past the vending machine and eye up a bag of Minstrels, or a Snickers bar, but didn’t give in. Knowing that Emma was doing it too really spurred me on, and it was only 28 days, hardly a lifetime.
There were plenty of challenges though. I went to some pretty chilly football matches, when usually I’d have a hot chocolate to warm me up. Unfortunately I’m not a tea or coffee drinker so my options are limited. I hadn’t had a Bovril since the 1970s and didn’t really fancy one now, so I bought a cup of tea just to keep my hands warm. I did try sipping it but it was as horrible as I’d remembered, yuck! For the next match I had a brainwave! I took a flask of hot squash, apple and blackcurrant flavour (no added sugar, of course) and it was a genius idea. It kept my hands warm and was very comforting to sip.
As the month progressed I dreamed of what I would have on March 1st. An Easter Egg was top of my list. Not a massive one, but one of the £1/£1.50 ones. Maybe with Mini Eggs, or a Creme Egg. It was all that kept me going…
I did it!
Amazingly, I did it. I avoided temptation for a whole 28 days. And the best thing was that I lost half a stone too! And this was at a time of the year when I usually put on a couple of pounds (at least), so it was a massive bonus to end up lighter.
So, what did I do to celebrate? This is what completely astounded me. Yesterday was March 1st, but I didn’t have any desire to rush to the shops to buy chocolate. In the evening, my son fancied a treat and offered to buy us all something from the shop, but I didn’t want anything! He brought back a bag of goodies and the whole family sat munching their sweets, while I was quite happy with a Diet Coke!
It will be interesting to see how the next few days unfold… I’m relaxed about whether I eat sugar again, and I am meeting an old friend today for lunch, having specifically made plans to do it today so that I could indulge in a dessert again. But I wonder if I will fancy it when the time actually comes. We shall see!
And my friend Emma? Well, she had an ‘accidental’ hot chocolate half way through the month and then an evening of cocktails a week later, so wasn’t exactly sugar-free. But she did amazingly well with the rest of her diet and completed a half marathon with only three weeks training, so I will forgive her slip ups!
It’s now 3 weeks after the end of February and I still haven’t reverted into a sugar monster. I’ve had the odd treat but they are isolated and I’m like a ‘normal’ person who can take it or leave it. Somebody told me recently that it takes 14 days to break a cycle, so going without for 28 seems to have reinforced the message to my brain – that I don’t need so much sugar in my life!
If you want to read more about Cancer Research’s Sugar-Free February campaign, or to donate, please follow this link.
Read my blog about healthy ice creams to see which one wins the taste test!
Could you give up sugar? Please do comment with any sugar-free tips!