For some time now the diet concept – in a short-term perspective, as a sacrifice or as damage control – is being replaced by the concept of healthy eating as a lifestyle. Diets – which used to be yo-yo, based on a violent exclusion of whole food groups (such as cereals and derivatives, for example) – have given place to a way of living where healthy eating is seen as a daily and stable way of eating; a balanced lifestyle with regular work outs, 8 hours of sleep, stress control and wellbeing hobbies.

All points out that this trend will become more common, with more people seeking to re-educate themselves when it comes to food and creating habits for a broad and long-lasting wellbeing. It is in this re-education, in the will to be well informed, that we find ourselves facing new theories and movements every day: the raw-vegan diet, the paleo diet, the dairy-free diet, the gluten-free diet, among others. We face a multitude of data and thesis that every now and then go against each other and do not facilitate the process of finding the best way forward.

It is then that it becomes important to know our own bodies, our needs and what works – or does not work – for us. It is crucial to read, learn and assess in order to adapt and create our own routines, in which we feel good physically and psychologically, able to meet our needs in terms of health, respecting the values in which we believe – regardless of approaches or trends. I have been trying this exercise – I haven’t drank milk for almost two years, for example – and that’s where the following idea comes from.

For some time now I have wanted to experience spending some time without in taking any sugar to understand the impact on my body, mood and well being. I am not addicted to sugar: I do not drink coffee or tea with sugar, for example, so I spend days without eating or drinking any sugar – and I am selective when I allow myself a treat, I am not easily tempted by pastries or cakes. If it is to have something sweet I prefer to have my chocolate brownie or my mother’s orange cake (with ovos moles, which means sugar and eggs) – moments I try to have only on weekends (but I fail sometimes).

Why sugar? Well, unlike the above mentioned restrictions, such as dairy products, sugar isn’t good for anything. Dairy products – such as milk, yogurt or cheese – enclose vital nutrients for a healthy life (such as protein for cell repair or calcium for bones, for example) and should take part of a balanced diet (well, each case is singular). Sugar, once again, does not carry any nutritional value to our bodies. Zero. However, in the last 50 years its consumption has tripled worldwide.

But let’s focus:

Challenge: 30 days without eating sugar. Added sugar (like in cakes, biscuits, little toasts and so on) and natural sweeteners (such as honey, I will have to reinvent my granola), leaving out of the challenge all food where sugar is naturally present (such as fruit). Strategy: not to eat or drink any food containing sugar by controlling all labels – sugar is hidden everywhere, more than we think. Goal: to understand how my body reacts and adapts, how my mood is affected and what’s the impact in my daily life.

I must admit that the time of the year is very convenient for this challenge: there are no upcoming birthday parties from my closest ones and Christmas with of its temptations is still distant. On the other hand, it seems like the cold weather is here to stay and the rainy afternoons (good to stay cosy at home), easily related with hot chocolate, are coming. But it’s all a matter of self-control. Is anyone else in?


This post was originally written in Portuguese. Click here to read the Portuguese version.