Could YOU survive going sugar free? From headaches to chronic cravings, woman shares her VERY honest diary charting what happened when she cut out the sweet stuff for 28 days
- EXCLUSIVE: Femail challenged Alice Welch to cut out sugar from her diet
- The sales and marketing executive, 30, struggled with cravings and headaches
- By week three, the cravings subsided and she discovered sugar-free swaps
- Benefits included less bloating, weight loss and clearer skin after 28 days
First came Dry January, then Stoptober – and the latest health craze to sweep the nation is Sugar Free February.
The brainchild of Cancer Research UK, the month-long challenge is designed to make Brits rethink their sugar intake and promises a range of health benefits, from weight loss to clearer skin.
But could you really give up the sweet stuff for 28 days? Femail challenged sales and marketing executive Alice Welch, from London, to cut out sugar from her diet completely over the course of a month.
Alice, 30, admits that while she’s no ‘sugar monster’ she relies on it in hot drinks and after savoury meals – and can’t resist a sugar-laden dessert.
Here, Alice charts her sugar-free journey in a candid week-by-week diary.
Femail challenged sales and marketing executive Alice Welch, pictured, to cut out sugar from her diet completely and she shares her week by week diary with MailOnline
Porridge with fruit/honey
Tea with one sugar
White bread ham and cheese sandwich
Prawn Cocktail crisps
x1 bag mini cookies
Spaghetti Bolognese with white pasta and cheese on top!
After: Dairy Milk
Two slices brown toast, butter and marmite
Tea with Stevia sweetener
Chicken salad sandwich with brown bread
Boka sugar-free marshmallows mini pack
Jacket potato with tuna and salad
After: Total greek yoghurt
‘I found the first day fine, it was the second, third and fourth day which were more challenging. I wasn’t aware I was addicted to sugar as such but I had a headache for the first few days which I can only put down to drastically reducing my sugar intake.
‘I found drinking tea hard without sugar and after lunch I really craved something sweet. I bought some Peppersmith Sugar Free Mints to help when I was struggling and tempted to buy a chocolate cake and consume the whole thing.
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‘I also looked into an alternative natural sweetener (aware of the bad ingredients in some sweeteners) and decided to try Truvia, which was actually a good substitute taste wise.’
‘I had really intense sweet cravings on week two, but the headaches had eased off. Now I was more into the swing of things I began looking for sweet alternatives for after meals which is when I really wanted to gobble a chocolate bar.
Alice Welch, pictured, discovered sugar free drinks and snacks which were ‘great on the go for a quick sweet hit without the sugar come down’, she told Femail
‘When browsing the supermarket aisles, I found with a lot of products quite hard to tell at first glance their actual sugar content and had to really search to see on the back of packaging a lot of amber/red labels signalling high medium/high sugar levels.
‘I discovered even lots of savoury items had quite high sugar contents, particularly pasta sauces, pre-prepared meals, and snacks items.
‘Desperate to find something that would get me through the sugar cravings in between meal times, I looked online for sugar free snacks and came across Boka who have sugar free marshmallows (24 mini packs, £10) so I decided to buy some for after meals.
‘These were great on the go for a quick sweet hit without the sugar come down and I noticed they are actually stocked in hospitals and schools so actually stack up.’
Alice Welch, pictured with her partner, says she initially struggled with cravings after quitting sugar but these became ‘a bit more bearable’ by week three and her skin looked healthier
‘The cravings were a bit more bearable and I noticed my skin looked healthier, I have never suffered with ‘bad skin’ as such but it was less dry and dewier (which I put down to drinking less alcohol due to the high sugar content).
‘Normally when I’d go out I would usually opt for a sugary glass of prosecco so instead I went for soda/fresh lime and vodka (I allowed myself the natural sugars from the lime) which actually gave me a much less of a hangover. Bonus!
‘At home I also opted for sugar-free soda and vodka from M&S. I find my energy levels were better this week and I wasn’t having that dreaded sugar crash about 4pm after my usual sugary afternoon treats.’
Alice Welch says she has seen a big difference to her skin which she is keen to maintain. She also feels more toned around her midrift, which she is keen to keep up ahead of summer
Alice Welch, pictured, says that while she is naturally slim and the sugar challenge was not ‘weight motivated’ she did notice that bloating had gone down and she had shed a few pounds
‘I have always been fairly slim so this challenge wasn’t really weight motivated, although I did notice my tummy was less bloated and I had a lost a bit of weight round my middle (which if I do put on weight is where it tends to go.)
‘This in turn made me feel more confident and as a result my relationship benefited.’
‘Going sugar-free is a little extreme for me, but I will definitely reduce my sugar intake moving forwards. Now I am much more conscious to look at the traffic light label system on front of packs to see the sugar content and have noticed a lot of snack items I was consuming were actually very high in sugar even if they were low cal/fat.
‘I have also seen a big difference to my skin which I am keen to keep and feel more toned around my midrift, which I’d also like to stay with summer around the corner.’
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