Brain fog, headaches, low energy, and breakouts were just a few things Stephanie was experiencing when she decided to cut refined sugar out of her diet.
Two months ago, the 30-year-old who lives in Australia completely eliminated refined and added sugars from her diet and the changes she has experienced have been dramatic.
“I’ve been overindulging in chocolate, other sweets, and highly processed foods for a few months and was experiencing some negative side effects that I wanted to try to lessen and change,” said Stephanie Newsweek.
“I honestly felt like I was addicted to sugar, and it wasn’t a good feeling in a lot of ways,” she said. “I had headaches, sugar cravings all day, low energy all the time, fatigue, poor sleep, poor mental health, brain fog, breakouts, inflammation and swelling.”
After some research, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube and TikTok videos, she discovered the benefits of eliminating refined sugar from her diet.
Refined sugar refers to sugar that has undergone processing to remove any impurities and molasses, resulting in a product that is essentially pure sucrose.
During refining, the natural components of the sugar cane or sugar beet are eliminated. This removes any fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants leaving a product that is high in calories but provides little or no nutritional value.
Widely used in processed foods, baked goods, desserts and beverages to impart a sweet taste, excessive consumption of refined sugar has been linked to multiple health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Giving up refined sugar can have many health benefits, including weight loss, improved dental health, better energy levels, reduced inflammation, increased nutrient intake, and even better mood and mental clarity.
After looking into refined sugar, Stephanie was inspired and decided to change her life.
“I felt motivated to give it a try and thought if I documented it on TikTok, it would be fun and make me responsible for the challenge,” she explained.
Since April Stephanie has eliminated anything containing refined sugar in the ingredients.
“They’re obvious things like chocolate, sweets, cakes, sodas, juices, sauces,” she explained. “But I also read the nutrition labels on other foods like yogurt, milk and bread, as they often contain refined or added sugars. I make sure I’m buying the best possible option with the least amount of refined or added sugar I can find.”
Like any big change, cutting out refined sugar isn’t easy, and Stephanie struggled at first.
“I found it really hard in the first week of cutting out refined sugar. I had a lot of cravings and had headaches,” she recalled.
But after just a week, she started experiencing the positives too.
“After the first week, I started feeling good and noticed some changes in my well-being, which motivated me to keep going with the challenge,” Stephanie said.
In just two months, the benefits have added up and Stephanie said she now feels great.
“I’ve lost about 12 pounds, I have less general inflammation and swelling around my face, my skin is clearer, my appetite has reduced, and I snack less.
“I have clearer thinking and more focus, more sustained energy during the day, and sleep better at night,” she explained.
There are also positives she didn’t expect, like improved mental well-being and fewer PMS symptoms that lead to her period.
“I usually have bad cramping a few days before my period is due, however, I haven’t experienced it since cutting out sugar,” Stephanie said.
Choosing foods that don’t contain refined sugar isn’t always easy, and Stephanie sometimes finds it difficult.
“Sometimes I find it difficult now, especially when I’m hungry and want a quick snack,” she said. “But the challenge has been making me really prepared with snacks and food so that if I’m hungry and craving sugar, I have something on hand.”
Instead of high-sugar candy or chocolates, Stephanie opts for things like hard-boiled eggs, a can of tuna, fruit, mixed nuts, or plain Greek yogurt.
“These satisfy my hunger cue and then I forget I have a sugary treat because I’m not hungry anymore,” she explained.
Initially, Stephanie was only going to cut out refined sugar for a short time, but after all the benefits of her new diet, she decided to stick with it.
“I feel great, I feel so happy to have made the change,” she said.
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