written by Rachael Hunt
At the beginning of the year, I decided to finally put myself on a Candida Cleanse, which is like the most extreme sugar-free diet out there. It involves removing both refined and natural sugars from the diet, along with starches, grains, legumes, caffeine and alcohol. While this is a specialist prescribed diet and not recommended for everyone, I think there is some major value in becoming aware of how much sugar we are consuming. We all hear how bad sugar is for us, being linked to inflammation, various diseases, skin issues, mood disorders, and the list goes on. But, in my experience no matter how much we try to avoid it, you will likely find it in the most unassuming items (but for real, when you are consciously trying to avoid it, you realize that you might be doomed as you try to figure out what is safe on a sugar-free diet). I want to talk about the benefits of going sugar-free (based on what I experienced).
So with 3 weeks of a sugar-free lifestyle looming before me, I was nervous yet excited to see what the most noticeable differences were. Let me tell you, the first 5-10 days were the roughest with detox symptoms such as headaches, lethargy, and irritability I didn’t think I could go on. However, I had announced all over social media and amongst my friends and family that I was doing this cleanse, so I wasn’t about to back down (competitive, much?). Also, I had a lot of faith that the benefits of this would far outweigh the symptoms I was experiencing during it.
After 21 days, here is what I can say I gained from eliminating sugar from my diet:
1. Clearer skin
Ok, this one may be obvious, but I happily noticed a difference in my complexion. Less redness and irritation, and I did not suffer from a single breakout. It even warranted additional attention from friends and co-workers. As someone who is obsessed with glowy skin, this made me very happy, and also made me question what my skin looks like on sugar! For this alone, I find a sugar-free (or reduced sugar diet worth it).
2. Less bloating & gassiness
Whenever I indulge on gluten-free desserts, especially if they’re filled with refined sugars, I get so bloated and gassy, and it’s not pleasant. Cutting out those pesky sugars really helped my digestion and inflammatory reactions big time. I feel it’s important to point out that just because something is labelled gluten-free, vegan or even low-fat/calorie does not mean it is healthy. Often times these alternative goods have more sugar and fillers than their traditional counterpart (more on this in #5).
3. Balanced blood sugar levels
Bet you wouldn’t think that cutting out sugar would benefit your blood sugar level. I feel like most of us assume that sugar helps prevent us from feeling faint or light-headed if we haven’t eaten in a while. What I have learned is actually quite the opposite, consuming high sugar items may help in the short-term, but you will most likely experience a crash in a couple hours. A high fat, protein and fibre diet will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and make you feel fuller longer. I was amazed by how much less I was snacking in between meals because I felt satiated longer.
4. Reduced cravings
After that initial hump (5-10 day mark), I was feeling significantly better and noticed that I was not craving my usual snacks: dark chocolate after a hearty meal and salty snacks, like chips, for late-night munching. Once you can curb those cravings, you can actually listen to what your body wants and needs. I was eating a lot more fibre, healthy fats, and animal proteins like chicken and turkey. Therefore, I felt amazing because my body was getting was being properly nourished.
5. Conscious Consumer
Now that the three weeks is over, I didn’t just fall off the wagon completely and gorge on all the sugary things. In fact, I slowly started to introduce different types of natural sugars into my diet to see how my body reacted. My palate has definitely changed and I don’t actually want a lot of the items that I was eating before the cleanse. I am now hyper-aware of the sugar contents of so many consumer packaged goods, many that you would not think. I am avoiding added sugars as much as possible, and encouraging others to do the same.
If you’re interested in cutting sugar out of your diet (perhaps not as intense as a Candida Cleanse), then I hope these reasons above can convinced you! Also, stay tuned for my Candida-friendly e-book!