31 Days Without Sugar

On October 23 I gave up all added sugars and most fruit. With Halloween on the horizon, I knew I wouldn’t be tempted by processed candy, and since I’d given up sugar at least twice for lent, I imagined an easy success.

My guidelines

  • Absolutely no foods which contain added sugar;
  • No natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, etc.);
  • No alcohol;
  • Limit fruit to 3 servings per day (aim for seasonal fruits, which basically means apples and dried fruit);
  • Read every label;
  • Remember: this is an experiment – be forgiving.

This year, I allowed my children to participate in Halloween, acquire copious amounts of candy, and the freedom to eat one piece of candy the night-of. It was then that my daughter offered a Skittle.

My first instinct was, “No way!” Then I remembered my vow not to ostracize candy, in fear that my kids would covet it. So I replied, “Sure, orange is my favorite!”

The sweetness blew my mind! I had been sugar-free for eight whole days!

Another ten days went by with relatively few hitches. Then I found myself devouring four homemade, apple cider reduction donut holes. They tasted amazing! I simply couldn’t refuse them, as I had been coordinating food preparation with Syringa Mountain School kids, teachers and parents for the fall fundraiser event. When one of the moms delivered the donuts and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, she insisted I try a donut to ensure that it was, in fact, tasty.

The next day, at the fundraiser, I simply had to try the cookies and the gluten-free apple scones prepared by another parent, as well. I allowed myself to be caught up in the moment. Ah, well…

In hindsight, I should have planned for this temptation.


  • I am still drinking both coffee and tea without sweetener;
  • I continue to limit my fruit intake to 3 servings or fewer per day;
  • I’ve switched back to purchasing plain yogurt for my entire family;
  • I’ve rid the house of those “special” holiday nut butters, which contain sugar;
  • I’m not particularly interested in alcohol, other than bourbon (and I’ve managed to mostly steer clear).


  • There is sugar in EVERYTHING;
  • I had a hard time feeding no-sugar-added foods to my children;
  • In moderation, I had to eat some foods that contained sugar, so as not to be wasteful or to create a completely separate meal for myself.


  • Even coffee shops who use alternative milk use the varieties containing added sugar;
  • My husband loves sugar, even though he claims he doesn’t have a “sweet tooth”;
  • I had a headache for the first three no-sugar days;
  • Immediately, I started craving sauerkraut and whole-fat yogurt;
  • I had a hankering to boost my immune system!

In conclusion, it’s really no surprise that humans are addicted to sugar – our gut bacteria literally thrive off of sugar. It’s the amount and type of sugar that we must watch carefully. As my own microbiome was starved of sugar, my cravings shifted to probiotic-rich foods containing salt and fat. I needed sustenance.

On Thanksgiving, I indulged in a slice of my homemade apple-blueberry pie and ice cream. My body’s response was immediate! The next day, I craved caramel in my coffee, a square of chocolate after lunch, and ice cream after dinner.

Was I back to square one? Do I truly have to eliminate all sugars entirely? It would certainly make for a lovely winter experiment!