5 tips: how to go 30 days without sugar

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Image via.

Someday I plan on owning a bakery where I can make treats from dawn until dusk, powdered sugar on my cheek and sprinkles under my fingernails. Until that day, however, I have realized I need to be okay with only one cookie or the smaller slice of strawberry rhubarb pie. If you're anything like me, sweets, chocolates, candies, and basically anything else containing corn syrup is an unhealthy weakness that needs to be reigned in.

A few years ago Harley and I started a 30-day sugar fast that we strictly maintained until Valentine's day, upon which we ate office treats until we decided another 30-day sugar fast was in order. I've never been that extreme (on either side) in sugar fasts since then, but I think I've refined the methods. Here's how to make it an entire 30 days guilt free.

Image via.

1. Do it with a friend.

A support system is good for any goal you have, but you may need more than a thumbs up when you're doing No Sugar. Har and I text each other when the sugary temptations seem too much ("Help...my boss brought doughnuts to work today!") and reply with encouraging and diverting comments. Having a friend actually doing it with you makes all the difference.

Image via.
2. Understand the concept.

Decide your purpose and limitations at the very beginning, based on how extreme you want your sugar fast to be. Are you trying to avoid all processed sugar? Do you want to wean yourself from wanting a treat after every meal? Whatever your reason is, you need to understand it. This will help you in knowing what to give up.

The first time I did No Sugar, I went to the extreme: I only bought plain, unsweetened yogurt, I didn't eat crackers, and I stayed away from granola bars. It was a great experience and I definitely felt cleaner, but it's too extreme for me to maintain. Right now I still put a teaspoon of brown sugar in my oatmeal and jam on my toast--the purpose of my sugar fast is to break the habit of junkfood being my go-to and after meal snack. 

3. Use a daily checklist.

I don't like food logs, they're too high maintenance for my schedule, but I do keep a calendar next to my alarm clock where I check off whether I went the day without sugar. It's a little easier to say no when you remember you have the choice between a check mark or an X. Accountability. That's the key.
Image via.
4. Pay attention to how you feel.

I find motivation in remembering how clean I feel when I go without sugar for long enough. Pay attention to your body and remember how good you feel. More energetic? Happier? Fewer slumps during the day? Let those be incentives as well.

5. Know it's not forever.

When I remember I only have to make it for 30 days, skipping dessert seems more doable. Another great thing about No Sugar: you'll become more appreciative of the smallest piece of chocolate if you're careful and aware enough. On the days I slip up (it happens!), I usually manage to only give in to something tiny. It's enough, since it's better than nothing!

Comment to let us know if you're taking the pledge!


  1. I love these tips! Especially the calendar by the bed (i'm a huge list maker so this would make me feel more accomplished). Ok, ok. I'm in, no sugar. But only for the next two weeks because when I hope on that plane to Thailand in February I'm on VACATION!

  2. These tips are great! I don't know if I could do it without a friend or someone urging me on, because I have a horrible sweet tooth. I think my main reason I can't shuck these last 10-15 pounds is because of my sugar addiction. If I have something protein filled or meaty or hearty I have to have something sweet...I need to break that though...Maybe I can start off by cutting off candy first...little steps! =) Best wishes girls finishing this challenge!

    Ergo - Blog

  3. I love this! I actually started my sugar cleanse yesterday, so this is perfect! <3

  4. Great tips! I do sugar bets with friends and family all the time. I've found what works best for me is to (like you said) make a clear goal from the beginning. My favorite bet is no soda, cookies, cakes, donuts, nutella (hardest for me) etc. Then it isn't a question when a food item is placed in front of you. And you don't end up reading food labels.
    The first two weeks are the hardest. If you can go two weeks, you can go forever.
    Also, frozen grapes are my favorite "treat" when I'm doing a sugar bet. It kills the craving in a heartbeat!
    Good luck everyone!


  5. wow! I love it! Thanks for the tips, I think I'll do it till Valentine's Day!

  6. I need to do this...sugar is my weakness! I'm sitting here drinking a coke as I type this & I told myself I wasn't going to drink one today...I'm so bad :(