I know a lot of people don't believe in giving things up for lent, but I actually find it a really good way to give myself a little nudge towards healthier habits and it can be the kick start that I need (often ending in a good old binge when Easter arrives, but hey ho). In the past I've given up chocolate, coffee or crisps (which was a bit of a cheat year seeing as I hardly eat any crisps anyway), but this year I went big and decided to give up refined sugar. It's something I've been thinking about for a while, mainly because I was definitely eating too much of it - chocolate in one form or the other was a part of my everyday life - and I was just curious to see whether I could live without it. I'm nearly three weeks into no sugar so I thought I'd write a little about what it's been like so far.
I have actually found it surprisingly easy to give up sugar, although the fact that it is in so much savoury food makes things a little trickier (bye bye ready made sauces). I had severe chocolate cravings for the first two days, but since then I've actually not felt like I need sugar and have been surprised at how easy it's been to resist treats at work when someone brings something in pretty much every day. I did accidentally eat a biscuit about a week in and got a headache pretty much immediately - I'm guessing because my body had got used to working without refined sugar - but I had none of that 'it tasted too sweet' effect that a lot of people get when they give up sugar. It tasted pretty darn great if I'm honest.
One of the main things that people talk about when giving up sugar and one of the main reasons I wanted to try it is energy levels. Giving up sugar is supposed to make you feel more energised because you no longer have the highs and lows that sugar creates. I had visions of myself transforming into this new kick-ass version of myself who could juggle a million things at once and ace them all. So, do I feel more energised? Well, no, in a word. I feel just as exhausted as I did before so maybe I just need more sleep. Or maybe I just need to keep at it for a bit longer and it'll happen. The only other negative is that I appear to have replaced sugar with caffeine. I'm drinking a lot of coffee, averaging three or four a day because it means I still get a treat after a meal. I am going to try and cut down although I have read that four a day isn't all that bad so maybe I won't, we'll see.
There are three positive changes that I've noticed. Firstly, I'm eating less in general, presumably because I don't have sugar cravings anymore and also because I guess I've got less choice of what to eat! I'm also feeling fuller quicker and finding that I'm eating smaller meals and snacking on fruit and nuts throughout the day, whereas before I'd eat bigger meals and not really snack. The positive change that has had the biggest impact on my life is the fact that I haven't suffered from acid reflux since I stopped eating sugar. This is something that I suffered from quite regularly before and although I knew things that definitely made it worse I couldn't quite pin the exact cause down. I think I may have found it and unfortunately it's something I love dearly - sugar. I'm so happy not to suffer from it anymore and although I'm disappointed that I can no longer be a cake fiend I'll hopefully be going very low sugar for life after lent finishes. You may notice I said low sugar because I am no way disciplined enough to give it up entirely unfortunately.
In general, giving up sugar for lent has definitely been a positive experience and much easier than I'd expected. I may do an update about my experience when lent has finished, but if nothing has changed then I won't because who wants to read an identical post to this?
Have you given up anything for lent? Have you ever tried giving up sugar?