Sugar

This one is tough. This is oh, so tough.

Anyone who knows me knows I've always been quite the sugar addict. But the more I learn about healthy eating, the more I know that my historically poor eating habits have been ruining my life.

For some reason, it never takes long after giving up sugar before I forget all the good reasons why I eliminated the delectable sweetness in the first place. I'm quickly reminded, however, as soon as I consume that first Snickers bar or Hostess cupcake after a sugar-free streak; all the benefits of eating a low-sugar diet vanish, and the associated problems reappear.

Here are eight worthwhile benefits I have experienced from saying “no” to my sweet tooth. Reminding myself of these helps me stay on track!

1. Better Skin

This one I notice almost immediately. After only a week or two of not eating sugar (sometimes sooner), my adult and hormonal acne clear up, and my pores get smaller. I no longer have breakouts, and I have a much healthier glow. Who doesn’t want that?

2. Better Smell

Sugar feeds the unfavorable bacteria in the mouth and gut, which can cause a whole host of digestive issues, including bad breath[1] and intestinal gas[2]. After giving up sugar, my mouth feels cleaner, breath smells fresher, and I no longer have embarrassing digestive struggles.

3. Better Mood

Without the constant blood sugar crashes, my mood is much more stable. Even when I don’t notice a big change in myself, my husband tells me he can really tell a difference in my mood when I’m eating healthy versus when I’ve been eating sugar and junk.

4. Better Relationships

This is largely due to a better mood. When my emotions and mood are stable, I’m not as cranky with those around me, and people have an easier time being in my presence!

The state of my marriage also improves when I opt to eat well because my husband feels more loved and respected when I feed him in a way that benefits his health. Since we generally eat together, when my eating habits are poor, I tend to drag him down with me. When I choose to cook low-sugar meals and choose to eat out at places with healthier options, it benefits us both!

5. Weight Loss

I’ve never been one who has to worry too much about weight gain, but I will say that when I stop eating sugar, my stomach gets flatter and I drop 5-10 pounds without making any other changes in my life. I feel trimmer, more attractive, and my clothes fit better. Win!

6. More Energy and Mental Focus

When I cut the sugar out of my diet, I no longer feel the need for a nap every afternoon. My usual brain fog is gone, and I’m able to focus and concentrate on tasks at hand. I also have more energy for work, play, and the people in my life.

7. Better Overall Health

Sugar causes inflammation in the body[3], which can contribute to everything from acne, joint pain, and fatigue, to more serious chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and a number of other maladies[4]. While I’ve always been a reasonably healthy person, by eliminating sugar from my diet I’m greatly reducing the risk of serious health problems later in life and helping to ensure that I remain a healthy person.

8. Contributing to the Health of Others

As much as I don’t want to believe it sometimes, my food choices do in fact affect others. How hard is it to refuse dessert when everyone else at the table is having dessert? Or how hard is it to resist a brownie or cookie when a family member has spent the afternoon baking fragrant treats? When others see me eating sugar, or if I'm providing sugary treats to others, I'm making it harder for them to resist the temptations they may be struggling with.

One of the most rewarding benefits of giving up sugar is the knowledge that I’m helping my family members and others in my life (many of whom have sugar related health problems) stay on track with their own health goals. On days when I just don’t care much about my own health, the benefit of helping someone else and not putting a stumbling block in their way helps me avoid the sweets that are only poisoning my own body.