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What Happens When You Quit Sugar?

The Yellow Kite team try to live what they publish and recently we have all been aware that we have all been indulging in too much ice cream, cakes and cookies from our wonderful canteen roof terrace 6th Story. Also as the weather got more summery and holidays approached, we saw more and more friends starting crash diets to get ‘beach ready’. None of us want to yo-yo between healthy and unhealthy foods, we all think a bit of balance is best, but sometimes a buddy or a whole community can really help you make positive changes that last long-term. So as an office we are trying to cut back on eating so much sugar, following Calgary’s tips, and making that ice cream a once a week treat, not an everyday addiction. This is what happened on our first week with 30g/7 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Day 1:

Dan– After the horrors of no caffeine, I am pleased to say that Day 1 of less than 30g of sugar was comparatively easy. I had to eat a light lunch in order to drink enough wine for a colleague’s leaving do, and also a light dinner. In fact a lot had to be sacrificed for alcohol, but happy to say the first day target was achieved.

Vero– Monday mornings always seem to be the time I crave sugar the most – whether it’s the shock of having to wake up to an alarm clock after two days of lie-ins or just my brain crying for some extra help as it computes the working week ahead. Either way, it was a struggle. By lunchtime I was already pretty much at the tail end of my sugar ration. And THEN there were two challenges:

Test 1, walking through Covent Garden on the way back from a meeting there was a girl outside a sweet shop wearing a bright pink t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Sugar Sin” – I kid thee not – it was like the Saccharine Gods were pelting me with some kind of Mars bar shaped lightening bolt.

Managing to resist I then came up against…

Test 2, leaving drinks for two of our marketing colleagues and a glass of fizz in the office (here I failed – Lord knows how many Sugar Sins this counted as). Dinner was a savoury affair without even a piece of fruit to sweeten it up. Finishing the day somewhere at 47 grams…

Lizzi– No sugar minus day one: ate four chocolate truffles in a row to prepare myself for the week of no sugar ahead. Unintended consequence was nausea so bad that I didn’t crave any on day one. Almost survived with no added sugars, save a couple of extra strong mints I used to distract my taste buds from their cravings.

Caitriona- My day was essentially exactly the same as Dan. Food sacrificed for the sake of a farewell drink (or several).

Day 2:

Dan- With the hangover from Day 1 slowly dissipating, the real test began. It started easily enough, I checked through sandwiches before buying them at lunch time, avoided fruit and cake, drank 20 cups of tea and I was well below 10g of the allowed 30 when I left work. However, on the way home the blazing heat drove me to grab what I assumed was just flavoured fizzy water from a fridge. How bad could that be? I darted onto the Tube, which felt like the descent into the Inferno and boarded a packed train of other condemned commuters, clutching the freezing cold can of nectar in anticipation. I peeled the foil from the top of the can, watched the icy condensation bead invitingly on it’s surface. Then I looked at the ingredients. Horror swept through me: 28.7g of sugar. I left the can sealed and held on. The journey felt as though it lasted an aeon. It was my biggest test so far but I emerged into the light feeling as though my willpower had strengthened. I’ll find out tomorrow…

Vero– Tough morning. THERE IS A SEEMINGLY BOTTOMLESS GIANT TUB OF PRETZELS FROM THE USA SITTING BEHIND MY DESK IN ARMS REACH. In the Tesco queue at lunch one of the employees was cheerily crying “anyone for sugar” whilst offering around a bag of lemon sherbets. Seriously? I think in my life I’ve spent roughly 719 hours in that very queue and not once has that happened. I love lemon sherbets. Drinks tonight for a work meeting. I can practically see the bottom of this slippery sugar-laced downwards trajectory…

Lizzi– Day two was not so easy, managed to vaguely satisfy my sweet tooth with half a punnet of cherries, which I’ve since learnt are among the worst possible fruits for excess fructose…

Caitriona– I have adjusted my diet to enable me to still eat apples and tomatoes, two of my favourite fruits for summery salads, sadly high in sugar. The adjusting means eating less of most other things, I feel like I am losing weight already. I’m getting into the habit of checking labels and being surprised- there’s way more sugars in pre-made green juice than I expected. I think this week will leave me looking at a lot of food differently.

Day 3:

Vero- The worst day by far in that I have not stuck to the curriculum whatsoever – it went ok up until 1pm and then I stepped outside at lunch to by some sugar-free goodness and failed… I blame the sweltering heat and its correlation with frozen-yogurt consumption which I happily chowed down with abandon in the sunshine. For the subsequent cupcake that I ate at 4pm there is no such excuse. *Nul points*

Caitriona- This really is much easier than quitting caffeine. I am very sad not to have an ice cream today, as it’s the HOTTEST WEEK OF THE YEAR, but apart from that I’m not craving sweet snacks as much as I expected. Maybe I have replaced cakes with tea, maybe it’s just too hot to eat much.

Day 4:

Lizzi- I crumbled (pun intended) during a four hour conference yesterday and ate one biscuit (I refuse to calculate the amount of sugar in this). Half an hour later, almost to the second, I could feel my eyes shutting after the sugar that had temporarily brightened my day wore off. Another half an hour after that and I wanted more. Sugar really is addictive, to the extent that even while eating my next biscuit, I was planning where I could find the next one. Disaster for sugar quitters everywhere!

Caitriona- I think I have broken the limit. I ate a salted caramel macaron. Just one, but google tells me that’s enough. In my defense, I was offered it by an author who had brought it in ESPECIALLY. So it would have been some sort of author care issue if I refused. And I stood infront of a counter of cakes at lunchtime and didn’t buy ANY. Publishing is not a sugar-free friendly space.

Day 5:

Lizzi- I TOO HAVE FAILED! What I’ve found really interesting about the failing is the noticeable impact of even the smallest bit of sugar.

Caitriona- After failing so miserably yesterday, I am finding this hard to maintain. Of course, one slip shouldn’t change everything, but I have an all-or-nothing personality and I’ve been more lax today. In the afternoon I accept a bit of doughnut and a chocolate from a colleague as ‘consolation sugar’ (I’m one of the few still in the office, everyone else is out at a book festival or on summer holidays). It’s times like these you need your diet-buddies to keep you on the straight and narrow!

As you can see from the diary, our good intentions for this challenge (and early assumption it was easy) have been proven misplaced. Quitting sugar is definitely difficult, but it’s also definitely one of the best things you can do to improve your health. We recommend getting a buddy and if you find yourself sidetracked, don’t give up! Let us know if you’re starting to quit sugar below or on social media, we’ll cheer you on!