How Avoiding Refined Sugar Changed a Woman’s Life

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Sometimes making one decision, such as removing refined sugar from your diet, can lead to big changes in your life. Today, Jennifer shares her inspiring story. I hope that it encourages you to make this one week challenge into a lifelong change!

Jennifer, you cut refined sugar from your diet three years ago. What
lead you to make that decision?

Basically, I was sick of feeling like crap about myself.  I was tired all the time, I was 30 pounds heavier, I never worked out because I just didn’t have the drive for it.  I was eating what I thought was “healthy”; granola bars, protein bars, bagels. I was always what I would call a “sugar-addict”; I was just eating the junk 24-7.   I finally decided I would give not eating sugar a try, even for a little while, to see if I felt a difference.

What was the hardest part about giving up sugar?

Pressure.  Especially at birthday parties.  People will always pressure you, I’m not sure if it’s a self-conscious thing that you’re doing something so epic?  I sometimes feel like a jerk when I’m at a sibling/friend/nephew/niece’s birthday party and I don’t eat cake.  But it’s been three years, most people have given up pressuring me to “just eat a piece already”.

How did you feel the first few weeks?

The first week was utter garbage.  I wanted cookies and brownies SO badly.  Sugar is so far ingrained into our bloodstreams between the refined sugar/corn syrup/random “extrin”s, as I call them- of course we crave it.  It’s in basically every single processed food, right down to turkey meat and spaghetti sauces.  But I lost ten pounds within the first couple of weeks just by saying goodbye to dessert.  I wasn’t even hardcore yet back then- I was still eating processed foods like boxed dinners and frozen meals.

How did you persevere and deal with sugar cravings?

Bananas were and remain my go-to food.  Aside from being a fantastic post-workout recovery food, they are high enough in natural sugar to switch my brain off of sugar crave over-drive.  I also like Lindt’s 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark chocolate; less than a gram of sugar per square, and a good source of iron.  Once you get the sugar out of your system, that super-dark chocolate tastes amazing.

What difference has it made in how you feel?

I feel… great.  Much more energy than I used to have.  As I said, I started with just nixing dessert.  Which branched into not buying frozen meals, and instead cooking my own meals and freezing them.  Which branched into shopping the perimeter of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy), with stops in the center aisles only for pasta and oatmeal.  Once my energy levels were so high, and my moods started stabalizing, and my body started responding by shedding the extra weight… I thought, “Ok, what next?”  So I started training for a 5k.  Then a half-marathon.  Then a 25k (15.53 miles).  Right now I’m a team leader for a run camp here in Michigan, training for the very first Kalamazoo Marathon in May of 2010! (ps- first person from every state to register gets free registry and a free pair of shoes! google it up!)  I recently started playing with buying/eating all organic food; it’s expensive, but worth it to eat chemical/pesticide-free foods!  I’ve noticed that between the foods I buy, the daily multi-vitamin I take, and the exercise I do… I hardly EVER get sick.  You know, it’s exciting that a whole world of opportunities has opened up to me, and all I had to do was change the way I eat.  I just feel so confident.

What are your favorite sugar free treats?

Favorites are bananas, pineapple, and mango.  Of course, those all have natural-occurring sugar, but they also have a host of vital nutrients.  I also like SUPER dark chocolate, 85% or higher.  Lindt and Green & Black are favorites!  Just stay away from artificial sweeteners.  I used to make the mistake filling up on “sugar-free” candies and ice creams, because they were sugar-free.  But they aren’t really danger-free; they are full of chemicals, and send a signal to your brain similar to sugar… they’ll royally screw your body over.

Any last thoughts for those doing a sugar free week?

Be prepared for it to suck at first.  Be prepared for people to judge you.  Be prepared to fall at least once (maybe a few times).  But also be prepared to feel great.  Be prepared to lose weight.  Be prepared to expand your world.  Be prepared to finally have a grip on your own life, instead of the food you eat having a grip on it.

Thanks so much Jennifer!

Anyone else have inspiring stories to share with us? And how are all of the people on the challenge doing today?

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. McKinley says

    Hi Jennifer! I just recently went off refined sugar and cut down on breads but yesterday I ate half a sweet bun that was part of my salmon burger..about 10 minutes after i finished only half the burger I yawned for the first time that day and slowly dropped off after that. I was so fatigued and tired i literally could not even think straight was moody and felt heavy. I knew it had to be the bun! Before the bun I had been feeling so energized and just plain happy all the time!!! I’m starting to wonder how flour effects me, I know now I’m sensitive and should keep up the no sugar and maybe no flour too! Thanks for your article gives me strength to keep going!!!

  2. Cory says


    Thanks for all the tips. I am embarking on a refined sugar free life and after two weeks am already feeling much better.

  3. Tamara says

    I was getting alot of headaches, upset stomach and overall feeling of “ick”. I also drank alot of pop and other suragry drinks. So last week I stopped. I only drink water or milk. A week later, I can FEEL the difference..even just cutting out pop. I have started cutting out other sugars and just relaying on fruits. When I tried to have a candy, I got an headache and that feeling of being sick. It sure sucked at the beginning, and by drinking alot of water throughout the day and no sugar, i felt as though my body was detoxifying itself. I wake up with more energy, I have more energy throught the day and just an overall feeling of “good”. My next step is to completly replace white pasta and breads with wholegrains. I do eat wholegrains now, but I also have white pasta and white bread. I want to slowly “take out the bad” and “incorperate the good” so that it is not such a chock to me and I’m less likely to go back to my old eating habits. Then I am going to slowly start incorperating excercise. Good luck to all. Your health is priceless.

  4. Amanda says

    A few years ago I removed desserts, soda, and refined sugar, flour and white bread from my diet. I ate fruit instead and dropped 40 pounds in less than two months. A year later I began eating those very things again and gained the weight back and more. I’m on a terrible cycle where I continue to plan on eating healthy the next day, the next day arrives and I want chocolatey-sugar or refined sugar/flour snacks!
    It is so simple: eat nutritional food, exercise, and remove empty calories from diet and I know I will drop the weight steadily and healthfully. Whats stopping me is I go to the refined sugar filled desserts for comfort food. Being on this website and typing is actually helping me right now, and I’m more determined to replace sugary food and artificial ingredients (that make me want to eat more)with fruit.

  5. mike says

    I saw a man on a website who sugested not eating sugar,bread or potatoes,i have done this sucessfully for a week and half so far,i was told to eat,porridge in morning with a splash of fruit ,lean meat ,brocolli of good leafy veg.

    here are the results so far,i do not have strong sugar cravings just eat a bit of fruit if i feel
    energy levels droping,i am amazed at loss in fat levels already,slight stomack upset,and lose of energy im told this will pass after a few weeks,i do also do a little light weights as this speeds you metabolisim up.i will let you know more results after a few weeks im not going to quit now

  6. Barbara Boyer says

    Hi All,

    Just stumbled here… and stopped. My story short, I stopped eating refined sugar foods (cakes, ice cream, cookies, etc.) three and a half years ago when it was discovered I have the diabetic gene. I know there is sugar in other foods I eat…. but now my blood count is 93, not 103. It is only difficult if you want it to be. It’s your journey…. If you don’t want to be sick, don’t eat that stupid stuff.

  7. says

    Hi, I recently had my blood work and it was not what I wanted to see. Also, I had tried to get my numbers down, but they were only going so far without any changes or medical drugs. Well when the New Year came in, no actually the last week of December 2013, I started to stop eating ice cream by the half gallon, oh yes in two days it was gone and I was at the store buying some more. Well I stopped that, and then I decided to stop using so much sugar. Cut back on smothering my bread with butter and jelly and cut the syrup, cut back on scrambling eats in a lot of butter and stopped eating junk in between meals. We the evenings where the hardest, because I love watching my TV programs and I am an x smoker. I still was looking for the hand to mouth movement. Well I just stopped buying the junk one by one. Now it is going on 7 weeks of only have on two occasions a small piece of cake, no chocolate, candy, cake, ice cream and cut back on eating anything between my meals that wasn’t good food. I have now dropped 13 lbs and I feel so much better. I have also purchased strap on leg weights 2.5 lbs each leg and started small walks. I am also trying to take the stairs down at times while at work. It’s hard to get started, but I am started and since I am feeling better and I am so happy about just changing my eating, its not a diet, its just changing what I am putting in my mouth when I am hungry. Oh, and one more thing I have slowly cut back on the amount of food I am eat three times a day. If I want something in between breakfast and lunch, I turn to a healthy snack and I don’t look for the sugar junk. I just tell myself at the grocery store, “you don’t need that” and walk away. It is working. I am so happy.

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