Self-experiment: No Sugar

sugar addiction

Is life better without sugar? I did a self-experiment to find out.

Sugar Life

My mother did not keep much sugar in the house. Usually just a small bowl of sugar to offer guests with their tea or coffee. She never made us desserts, unless fresh fruit counted. I really didn’t mind because I loved eating fruit.

After trick-or-treating on Halloween I would save the candy for later. Some time the following summer, my parents would throw away whatever candy they had not eaten themselves. However, our refrigerator was always stocked with diet sodas, Snapples, and fizzy juice drink. All these were low fat, but high in sugar.

I drank sodas whenever I could until my second year at university. I became obsessed with strength-training and used my strength for a new sport (rugby). One of the team trainers warned me that soda was bad for the bones, among many other things. This is because the body uses calcium to create an antacid to protect your stomach. This precious calcium should be used to strengthen bones. So I stopped drinking sodas.

Later, I had a personal policy to only allow myself soda when I was traveling. But when I was living in Moscow, I was traveling a lot and wasn’t being an expat in Moscow sort of like traveling? I was looking for ways to justify drinking soda too often.

There are many different diet philosophies pushed by different fitness gurus. Low carb, no carb, gluten-free, vegan, paleo, etc. I could not find anyone who recommended eating more sugar.  This seemed to be a consensus. Maybe I should try it.

No Sugar for 30 Days

I was curious to try life without sugar. Being curious was a good starting point.

Before starting the self-experiment, I had deep cravings for sugar. During the first week I had to fight constant urges to put chocolates, cupcakes and anything sugary in my mouth. My tongue and taste-buds needed to gorge on the sweetness. It was an exhilaration I missed.

Sugar is added to almost all processed foods. Even ketchup is mainly sugar and vinegar. I did my best to avoid all refined sugars.

The cravings continued during the second week.

The urge had changed by the third week. I still wanted to buy desserts, but only because they were so beautiful. They were just very pretty objects I wanted to eat because they were edible. But I had no cravings for the taste and rush of sugar.

By the end of the self-experiment I did not feel different. I was ready to declare it a waste of time.

Then I tried sugar again. It felt very different.

I noticed sugary treats did not taste as sweet as before. Next, I did not get the satisfaction I previously enjoyed. It was fine, but nothing amazing.

Later I noticed a familiar pain in my stomach. I had always assumed this ache was just tiredness or stress, but I had not experienced it during the past month. Ah ha! This effect was caused by sugar.

There is natural sugar in fruit and other foods, but the highly concentrated form of refined sugar we add to some food is difficult for the body to process. Self-experimenting with no sugar allowed me to observe these effects when I tried it again. I decided the momentary rush from added sugar was not worth it. Later I found this video which confirmed what I experienced.

I have small amounts of dessert at birthday parties or other social event when it would be too awkward to say no. Each time, I have experienced the same reduced taste and same discomfort. I am still curious each time I have sugar, but I’ve noticed enough of the negative effects to eliminate my cravings for processed sugar.