I Quit Sugar for a Week

i quit sugar for a week

I Quit Sugar for a Week; my experiment into whether ditching the sweet stuff is really as life-changing as some tell us it is…

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I’m a cynic. I question everything and generally don’t expect much. It’s a good way to never being disappointed by anything. This attitude is no different when it comes to health. While it would lovely to be in tip-top condition, it’s not always practical or at all possible for us all to GLOWWWW from the inside out.

Public health enemy number 1 is sugar. A few years ago it was all about dodging fat, but nowadays we dodge sugar. Sugar free, no added sugar, naturally sweetened, refined sugar free, you’ll have seen it all by now. It’s a cringe-worthy Western phobia of happiness and enjoyment that shakes sense out of us, just because we love to have something to demonise. There are even talks of introducing a “Pudding Tax” to punish us all for enjoying the sweet things.

While I fully advocate the ingestion of sugar and all things sweet, I thought I’d undertake a little experiment during the most boring month of the year. So this January, I’m going a full week without any sugar. After all, I’ve said many times in the past that if you can’t drop something for a week (aside from oxygen and water and other annoyingly vital components of human life), you probably have a problem.

So here it is. A baker, food blogger and sweet junk food reviewer dropped sugar for a week. This is what happened.

i quit sugar for a week


What I ate:

Sunday

  • Banana pancakes (scroll down for recipe!) with warmed berries and peanut butter
  • Jacob’s Cream Crackers with leftover cheeses, mashed avocado, carrot sticks, and two small clementines
  • Baked potatoes and homemade beans (scroll down for recipe!)
  • Gingerbread Nakd bar

Monday

  • Porridge made with unsweetened almond milk, topped with banana and peanut butter
  • Curried lentil soup (scroll down for recipe!) with two slices of buttered toast
  • Pork and black pudding burger with potato wedges and leftover homemade beans
  • Gingerbread Nakd bar

Tuesday

  • One slice of toast with banana and peanut butter
  • Gingerbread Nakd bar and Salt and Vinegar Graze snack
  • Hummus with carrot and cucumber sticks, crackers, a Babybel and two small clementines
  • Slow cooker chicken coconut curry with brown rice

Wednesday

  • One slice of toast with banana and peanut butter
  • Two bags salted popcorn and clementines
  • Leftover lentil soup with crackers and cheese
  • Trek peanut power bar
  • Scrambled eggs, sweet potato waffles and hot sauce

Thursday

  • One slice of toast with banana and peanut butter
  • Halloumi, cucumber, squash and spinach salad with lemon dill dressing
  • Lemon Drizzle Nakd bar
  • Slow cooker turkey chilli (scroll down for recipe) with rice and cheddar cheese

Friday

  • Two slices of toast, one with avocado, one with peanut butter and banana
  • Salted popcorn and two tangerines
  • Halloumi, cucumber, squash and spinach salad with lemon dill dressing
  • Lemon Drizzle Nakd bar
  • Heinz “soup of the day” tomato soup with crackers and Crowdie cheese

Saturday

  • Muesli with oat milk and two pears
  • Macaroni cheese, garlic bread and salad at The Wild Boar
  • Scrambled eggs with avocado toast and hot sauce

All I drank for these seven days was water, or unsweetened coffee and tea. What joy…

i quit sugar for a week


What I missed:

CHOCOLATE. I eat the stuff at least once every single day. It can be the cheapest sugary milk chocolate or some expensive single origin high-cocoa-content chocolate, I love it in equal measure. It wasn’t so much that comforting feeling that chocolate provides that I missed, or the well-known energy boost. It was the flavour. I adore the richness of strong cocoa as much as I do a strong cup of coffee. Having to deny myself that little pleasure on this busy week was just a bit shite, for want of a better word.

SEASONINGS. I missed Worcestershire sauce like nothing I’ve ever missed before. I missed soy sauce, I missed stock cubes, I missed a lot of delicious umami flavours that make my meals taste good. The meals I cooked for us from scratch were fine, and I was happy enough to eat them, but my palate just missed the extra layer of flavour and richness that store-cupboard staples can add. Marmite was my saviour, as was my spice rack, adding bold and punchy flavour where my sugar-tainted seasonings couldn’t, but I really did long for that little something that was missing.

CONDIMENTS. This got way more difficult and restrictive that I’d imagined. I knew that sweet-tasting contenders such as ketchup and BBQ sauce would be off-limits, however, I was not prepared for cutting the likes of mayonnaise out of my life. While I don’t use condiments with every meal, this made the ones that did require a little squirt of ketchup or dollop of mayo to be pretty dry. The only thing I was able to use as a condiment of sorts was vinegar, hot sauce or lemon juice, which certainly added flavour, but not much in the way of enjoyment when it comes to eating potato wedges or meat.

i quit sugar for a week

How I felt, physically:

BLOATED. I spent the week eating 1-2 more portions of fruit and vegetables than my body is used to. I was also trading in my sweet snacks for saltier foods. Both of these facts meant an uncomfortable, firm, distended stomach accompanied me wherever I went. Snacking on raw carrot sticks and little clementines for some sweetness had me looking 4 months pregnant by the end of the week.

HUNGRY. Contrary to what you might expect, I’m a very active person. I don’t do much in the way of planned exercise and visit the gym only on the rare occasion that I’m sick of being such a little weakling bitch. However, I do walk a lot. I tend to park my car wherever I don’t have to pay for it, which is usually a mile or more away from my destination, meaning I get a lot of steps in a day. I’m also a generally restless person that doesn’t like sitting for too long, and even sometimes stands while playing video games. This means that I have a fairly fast metabolism, burning through more food than you might think I eat. This week saw me losing out on a lot of the calorie dense food I am used to, such as cereal, chocolate, desserts, biscuits, cakes and most bread products. Instead I was eating more vegetables and savoury snacks, which were tasty but definitely not as satisfying.

NO DIFFERENT. Aside from my need for more calorie dense foods and a semi-spherical stomach, I felt no different. I didn’t have the promised extra bundles of energy, I wasn’t any less tired, I didn’t have headaches, I didn’t have cravings. My skin looked the same at the end of the week as it did at the start, I still have bags under my eyes, and I’m no closer to looking like Kendall Jenner. This outcome doesn’t surprise me, as these restrictive diets are always geared towards weight loss, under the guise of “wellness” or “feeling better.”

i quit sugar for a week


How I felt, mentally:

APATHETIC TOWARDS FOOD. For the first time in years, I had absolutely no excitement about eating. While I obviously did eat, and very regularly due to my increased hunger levels, I had no desire to eat the meals and snacks I was planning. Even though most of them were not that bad, feeling so restricted and rigid with my diet is something I am not accustomed to or happy about. This is Maverick Baking for a reason, food is my creative outlet. Playing around with ingredients and flavours is what I enjoy, as is consuming a diet full of variety. This week was a drain on that creativity, and made cooking feel like a chore rather than a treat.

RESTRICTED. It felt like there were more things I couldn’t eat than things I could eat. Cooking from scratch for every meal was my only option to make sure I was eating well. Shopping was dire, reading the back of every package I picked up and feeling more and more disheartened as I went. Something we forget nowadays is that sugar is not only for desserts and treats, but a great seasoning too. Sugar is used in so many sauces, seasonings, condiments and convenience foods not to make us gain weight or become “addicts” but to add flavour and round off a dish’s acidity or heat. Not being able to buy more than half of the things I normally would just felt horrible, like I was on some kind of extreme diet that I didn’t need to be on, or that I was back in the dark days of my disordered eating.

UNHAPPY. Above all, I was just not living my best life. In this busy week between work, university, creating content for my blog and YouTube, and cooking all the time, a little bit of joy was much needed. Watching my boyfriend enjoying his lovely Christmas chocolates while I settled for a cup of tea was painful. I felt like those middle aged women on diet meal plan adverts, where they watch their husband and children eat a nice meal and they instead eat a child’s portion of some low fat rubbish in a bid to be more attractive. Knowing this was a challenge and I only had a few days to manage, I didn’t get too down about it, but it’s no secret that if I (like many do) tried to carry this restrictive way of eating, I’d be bloody miserable.

i quit sugar for a week

What I learned:

Salted popcorn isn’t actually as bad as I remembered.

I had to plan EVERYTHING.

This diet is too restrictive.

This diet is not enjoyable.

Do not bother with this pseudoscience-led diet. It’s too extreme, it made very little difference to my life other than making me pretty glum. Life is too short.

Stay tuned for more “a week without” type posts. I already have some gluten-free and dairy-free challenges in mind, which I look forward to sharing. Until then, you can find some of this week’s recipes below!

Sugar free banana pancakes

  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 egg, separated into yolk and white

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.

Mash the banana with a fork until smooth.

Add the mashed banana to the dry ingredients along with the milk and egg yolk and whisk together gently until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until fluffy.

Gently fold this into your pancake mix until combined.

Spoon blobs of the pancake mix into your preheated pan (amount depending on the size of pancakes you like!), and cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping and cooking for a further 1-2 minutes.

Serve warm with berries, peanut butter, chocolate chips or whatever you like!

Sugar free baked beans

  • 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tins haricot or cannellini beans
  • 500ml tomato passata (or 400g tin of plum tomatoes)
  • 200ml water
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ hot chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place a large frying pan over a low-medium heat, add your oil.

Peel and dice your onion and garlic.

Cook the onion and garlic gently for 5 minutes, stirring every so often, until beginning to soften.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.

Allow to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the beans are soft and flavourful.

Serve hot on some buttered toast or baked potatoes with a little grated cheese on top.

Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Lentil Soup

  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 mug of dry red lentils
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • ½ can coconut milk
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder or dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Generous amount of salt and pepper to taste

Place a large, deep pan over a medium heat.

Peel and chop your onion, carrots and leek into rough slices.

Add the sliced vegetables to the pan.

Stir in the lentils, coconut milk and spices.

Cover with boiling water. How much you add will determine how thick your soup will be!

Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

At this point the vegetables and lentils should be soft.

You can either blitz the soup until smooth or leave it chunky.

Serve up and enjoy!

Slow cooker turkey chilli

  • 500g turkey mince (ideally leg or thigh for better flavour)
  • 500ml tomato passata (or 400g tin of plum tomatoes)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large frying pan, over a high heat, cook the turkey mince until no pink is visible.

Meanwhile, add all remaining ingredients (excluding what you are serving with the chilli) to your slow cooker and stir to combine.

Once browned, add your turkey mince to the slow cooker.

Place on low for 6-10 hours.

Serve and enjoy. We like ours with boiled rice, Chilli Heatwave Doritos and extra extra extra mature Cheddar cheese!

2 Replies to “I Quit Sugar for a Week”

  1. You are incredibly gorgeous, pet! Excellent blog post, very interesting and refreshingly authentic. Well done.

    1. Aw thank you very much! Glad you enjoyed.

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