7 Surprising Things I Learned When I Cut Back on Sugar for a Month

Despite what most people think, I-an avid runner and nutrition writer-can’t just eat whatever I want.

I still need to fuel my body and my miles with whole foods, good fats, fruits and veggies, and make sure I’m not eating more than I’m burning.

But I’d been hearing a lot about the no-sugar craze and some talk about if sugar is really bad for you, and it got me thinking about my diet. The truth is: I have an insane sweet tooth. I eat ice cream every day. I even held a taste test at Runner’s World once. So if anyone could stand to cut back on sugar, I figured it was me. I gave myself 30 days to see what would happen. But it wasn’t all or nothing-I made a few guidelines:

No Refined Sugars

Natural sugars, on the other hand, were fine. I would not cut out fruits, and I would still be able to sweeten my (full fat!) plain yogurt with a little bit of honey, for example.

No More Than 8g per Day

My go-to breakfast is the aforementioned yogurt with granola, so I looked for stuff that contained fewer than eight grams of added sugar. If I’m being honest, I made that number up: I’m not a registered dietitian (although I work with them quite a bit). But eight grams seems like an appropriate amount of sugar, especially if it’s mostly natural.

Finding a granola with so little sugar turned out to be difficult so I ended up making my own and adding a little bit of honey for sweetness.

I Could Still Have Fun

This was about cutting back, not depriving myself and feeling miserable, so if something came up (a work birthday party, a nice dinner with dessert), I wouldn’t turn it down. Besides, I’ve learned over the years that it’s easier to form good habits if you’re not so strict with yourself. A total sugar deprivation probably would have lasted until day two. Okay, okay, day 1.5.

Through the experiment, I learned a lot of things-most of which were surprising. Here are the top takeaways based on my experience.

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