Giving up sugar for an addict like myself was one of the hardest things I ever had to do — and I've been through two natural childbirths! Yep, I am comparing not eating chocolate, cupcakes, and ice cream to pushing a 7-pound, 11-ounce baby out of my vagina. It was almost that painful, but after hours of labor, I got a baby out of it. All I got from not eating brownies was sad.
But I did it. I gave up sugar for an entire month, not only to get a handle on my sugar addiction, but to cure the extreme bloating I had been suffering from for six months that a slew of doctors couldn't figure out.
I cut out all white sugar, so no more baked goods, cereal, sweetened soy milk, or dairy-free ice cream. I even cut out natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, agave, and coconut sugar. It was pretty miserable those first couple of weeks, but I soon found that sweetening my foods with fresh or frozen fruit and dried fruit was enough sweetness for me.
And what was even sweeter? My belly bloat disappeared, and that wasn't all — two other surprising things happened. The first I noticed was that my acne cleared up. Since high school, I haven't gone a day without a few blemishes on my skin, especially my chin. I tried every acne medication I could find at the drug store, and even tried some prescription meds — they only irritated my skin. But after two weeks of ditching sugar, I noticed a huge difference in my face. I know sugar was the cause because when I started eating cookies and chocolate once my month-long experiment was over, boom — I broke out. What I wouldn't give to have known this 20 years ago when I was dealing with horrible skin. Such a simple solution! Why didn't anyone ever tell me this before?!
Aside from embarrassing acne, I also suffered from extreme sinus congestion in college. I was on heavy doses of antibiotics for over a year to cure my chronic sinusitis, and an ear, nose, and throat specialist even recommended sinus surgery. I wasn't about to cut open my face, so I just dealt with it, knowing allergy season and cold and flu season would be brutal. But after a month of no sugar, I could breathe! Even after catching a little cold, it didn't turn into a sinus infection like it always did. Spring allergies are starting and I haven't had to take any medication! This is seriously a miracle.
I'll add that the first thing I did that helped with all three of these issues — belly bloat, acne, and congestion — was giving up dairy. I noticed a huge difference in how my belly felt, what my skin looked like, and how many boxes of tissues I went through. But it wasn't until I gave up sugar that I felt like a completely new person.
I'm grateful I figured this out, but man, it definitely sucks a little. I'm off sugar 98 percent of the time, but I do allow myself a few bites here and there. I love baking, so I'm not going stop making (and devouring) cookies with my kids. I'm just more aware of how much sugar I'm eating, and make sure when I do eat it, it's something really worth it, which has made me appreciate and enjoy those treats more. And I'll take feeling healthy over a slice of cake any day.