May 8, 2023

Sweet Nothing: 30 Days Without Sugar

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine

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I'm always in search of a new fitness challenge – 15 years in the military can do that to you.  With the fitness demands of being in the military, I’ve always strived to be one step ahead in the fitness department.  However, I’ll also be honest, the death of my mom at the age of 52, and my family history of health issues ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure make me want to do my part to break the cycle of poor health and short life. Add my two-year-old twins to the mix and I have double motivation to stay fit and healthy. After all,  I am going to need the energy to keep up with them and see them grow up.

It is no longer news that we, as a people, consume too much sugar.  If we could see the foods we consume converted into cubes or cups of actual sugar, maybe we’d be scared straight.  Sadly, sugar is such an addictive substance that the thought of going “cold turkey” should scare you.  I recently read an article about a family that stopped eating sugar for a year.  I was so touched that the motivation to try a no-sugar challenge for 30 days was reborn.

The “no sugar” challenge has always been my hardest and scariest. Frankly, it is not my first time embarking on one but it will be the most important should I succeed.  I have tried the no sugar deal before and failed. I mean, “Get real”, thirty days with no sugar, really? Am I crazy? Well, maybe, but then again, why not?  This time, I’m determined to succeed and to help with my efforts, I opted to blog about my journey, an accountability of sorts.  I also hope to touch others, even if it’s one person.

I want to see for myself how a no-sugar diet will benefit me.  To be clear, my no-sugar diet entails eating only foods that do not have added sugar or sweetener. Foods that naturally contain sugar, such as fruits, are fine. Studies show multiple benefits of a low-sugar and high-fiber diet, from managing and maintaining one’s weight to preventing diabetes and an improved physical appearance.

Before embarking on my challenge I had to do some research to find out what I can and cannot eat.  You will find that even fruits and vegetables are not created equal. You have to be careful when embarking on a no-sugar diet to choose your fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates wisely, especially if you are physically active.  As an avid runner, I put in  32-40 km (20 – 25 miles) a week as well as do extreme weight training 4-5 days a week.  This means I count on my diet to provide me with enough energy to meet these physical demands. If you have an active lifestyle (and even if you don’t), you need carbohydrates. The key is choosing the right ones.

One thing I learned at the beginning of my fitness journey 14 years ago is that a food’s Glycemic Index (GI) matters.  According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, glycemic index and glycemic load offer information about how foods affect blood sugar and insulin.  The lower a food’s glycemic index or glycemic load, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels.  Here’s Harvard’s list of glycemic index and glycemic load for over 100 common foods.

Armed with my research and some motivation. I’m ready to challenge my taste buds and test my willpower.

So here’s to the next 30 days!

Radiant is a bi-annual print and digital health magazine dedicated to the discerning African woman and her journey to wellness through health, beauty and culture. Available at Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers (see stockists) and online. Ships worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter and get a free digital copy of issue No.06.

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