We quit sugar for the week and wow, what an interesting journey that was!
You’ve probably heard a lot lately, that the government has introduced a new ‘tax’ on sugar. Inspired by that, the lovely Pomegreat, creators of a delicious and refreshing juice drink, set lots of families a really fun challenge last week. To go sugar free for an entire week! Not one to say no to a challenge, I couldn’t resist accepting.
Do you think we managed to do it? Or do you think this chocolate and ice-cream loving Mama caved?
Firstly, what Is The Sugar Tax?
Before I share with you how we got on with our ‘sugar free’ week, I’ll quickly share (to those that don’t know yet) what the ‘sugar tax’ is. Basically on the 6th April 2018, the government introduced a new ‘tax’ on soft drinks. This is part of the governments new steps to try and combat childhood obesity.
I actually think it’s a really good idea. This tax isn’t a consumer tax either, but it’s been put in place to encourage companies to make their food and drinks healthier, which I personally think is a huge positive.
I only just found out that the UK has one of the highest obesity rates among developed countries! How crazy is that?
Even more alarming is that it’s actually getting worse! They predict that by 2050, over 35% of boys and 20% of girls aged 6-10 are expected to be obese. Hearing figures like that makes me so sad.
But, to be honest, walking around the supermarket you can see why. Not only are sugary treats and foods so cheap, but there is so many of them just sat there tempting us. On top of that are all the products that ‘claim’ to be healthy, but they’re actually secretly packed full of sugar and we don’t even realise it!
So, do you think your family could go sugar free for one whole week?
I have to admit, saying yes to this challenge, I felt a little bit jammy. At first I thought that going 100% sugar free would be so easy for us. Our family are super healthy already and apart from my love for chocolate and my need for sugar in my daily coffee, I didn’t think we’d have to change too much.
Oh how wrong I was! We documented our whole journey on social media and I was so overwhelmed by the response we got. Thank you so much to everyone for being so encouraging and helpful throughout the week.
Now, I know that going 100% sugar free sounds a bit extreme and you really don’t need to do that yourself. But, we were so curious to see how much of a difference having absolutely no sugar would make to our family life and how much we would have to change our regular diet.
Our first challenge was navigating the food shop. The bulk of our food shop is always fruit, vegetables and meat. So, I thought we’d be absolutely fine. But, like most families we also pick up things like cooking sauces, table sauces, grains, bread, juice and few snacks.
I have to admit, I was a little bit shocked at some of the things we had to leave behind. There were some products that we normally pick up, that I didn’t even realise contained sugar.
Here are a few things we had to either leave behind or find alternatives for:
- Almond milk – I can’t have dairy and I had no idea that the almond milk I usually get has so much sugar in it. I had to get oat milk instead, which was sugar free, until I found a sugar free almond milk in another store.
- Yoghurt – I was also surprised at this one. Again, I get dairy free yoghurts and was shocked that my usual (supposedly natural yoghurt) had lots of added sugar in it. I was sad to leave that one behind.
- Fruit juice – Especially on warmer months, we tend to buy fruit juice as a refreshing drink. I couldn’t get over how packed with sugar our usual fruit juice was. Especially because it’s also heavily targeted at kids! But, we replaced it with Pomegreat which is even more refreshing and sugar free.
- Bread – I don’t tend to eat bread, but Aitan and Evie do. They both have gluten free bread and we had to leave it behind because of its sugar content. We replaced it with other grains instead.
- Cooking Sauces – Wow, I was particularly shocked with the amount of sugars in some cooking sauces we get! Instead of taking these with us, we decided to give making our own a go this week, as we found that there weren’t ANY without sugar in.
- Beans – Good old baked beans. They have loads of sugar in, which I had no idea about. We replaced these with the ‘sugar free’ version.
Overall, we had a really good experience of being sugar free.
Eating At Home Sugar-Free
Being at home and sugar free was so easy. We didn’t feel like we were missing out at all. I did have to get used to having ‘sugarless’ coffee, which I’m still trying to adjust to the taste of now. I know in the long run though, this will be better for me.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner was always a breeze. Aitan and Evie did replace their usual ‘cereal’ with oats instead, but they both added berries to it when they felt like something sweet.
For snacks, we all just enjoyed fruit as usual. But, we also made some ‘Pomegreat’ ice lollies with some blueberries mixed in. This was such a welcome treat on one of the super warm days that we had.
As a family, we do always drink lots of water, but we occasionally we have juice too. This week we drank ‘Pomegreat’ instead and it was absolutely delicious. I also love how many vitamins it is packed with.
It’s rich in vitamin a, c, d and e! It’s also completely free from preservatives and doesn’t contain any sugar. Instead it is sweetened with stevia leaf extract, which is actually sweeter tasting than sugar, but without the calories.
We’ll definitely be getting this at our food shop from now on, instead of our old fruit juice.
Dinner time was a little bit harder than normal. We usually are so busy that we rely on pre-made cooking sauces. These normally make cooking dinner so much quicker. This week though, we made all of our sauces from scratch. It was actually really fun learning new recipes and didn’t take as long as we thought it would. We’re even going to stick to doing this from now on and we’re excited to experiment with lots of new flavours.
Eating Out Sugar-Free
Being sugar free while we were out and about was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, but it was also very eye-opening.
I’ve always thought I was so healthy. But, I found out that I am actually a huge sugar eater and I’ve never noticed before!
Whenever I run errands, or go on days out with my family, I always get some kind of flavoured coffee (usually caramel) and a treat like a cake, ice-cream or glass of wine. I didn’t notice before how much of a habit this is. But, every time we went out I had to stop myself from going to ‘grab something’.
We also went to a food festival all weekend. I thought this would be so hard! Luckily, lots of the stalls had sugar free options, which made life so much easier. A lot more people seem to be taking note of food contents and making changes, which is amazing!
We did have to try and resist some tempting looking treats, but I was so pleased to see lots of alternatives available too.
I was also so proud of Evie. All week she was so enthusiastic about our challenge and she loved learning more about what is in different foods.
Normally she’d ask for an ice cream on a day out. But, at the festival when she was faced with the option of having an ice cream or making a ‘fruit kebab’ at one of the stalls instead, I was so pleased when she asked for the fruit. She even said ‘I don’t want sugar Mummy, lets have healthy fruit instead’.
She had a lot of fun making it and the stall was actually packed with other kids. I loved that she got to see other children making healthier choices too.
We Did It!
At the start of the week, I did have a few withdrawal symptoms from not having sugar. This included having headaches, mood swings and sugar cravings. Evie also seemed a bit grumpier than usual too, but Aitan absolutely breezed through this challenge.
At the end of seven whole days with no sugar though, I have to say we all feel so good! We all have a lot more energy, I feel a lot more focused with my work and so much less groggy in general. Also my skin and hair have started to look amazing, which I didn’t even realise would happen.
I also loved how quickly our family adapted to this new lifestyle. Although we probably will still occasionally have sugary treats, I think we are going to stick to this new routine. The benefits have been amazing!
You don’t need to quit sugar completely, but here’s some small changes you can make to lower your families sugar intake…
If you did want to cut back on the amount of sugar you generally consume as a family, it is a lot easier than you think. You don’t need to go to the extremes we did, but the smallest of changes to your families weekly shop could make a huge difference to how much sugar you generally have.
Here’s some of the small changes we made, that you might want to try out too:
- Change the kids snacks you get – even if you’re buying snacks from the baby/toddler aisle, you might be surprised at how much sugar is in kids snacks. There are some brands that do have sugar free though, so definitely look at the back of the packets (you can read my post about how much sugar is in your baby and toddler snacks here).
- Replace sugary cereals with oats – I eat oats anyway, but Evie and Aitan swapped cereal for oats and they now love it. They usually add honey or berries to make it naturally sweeter.
- Replace chocolate bars and sweets – We’ve actually been doing this for a while now. I love chocolate and often get lots of cravings for it. Nowadays though we’ll buy ‘Naked’ bars instead. There are made from fruit and nuts only, but they taste so sweet and yummy!
- Avoid sugar in your coffee and tea – I have to admit, this was the hardest one for me to get used to. But, you can always add stevia instead!
- Replace juices or fizzy drinks with sugar free alternatives – We now love Pomegreat. It’s such a great, sugar free juice for the whole family and its packed with vitamins.
We also love that Pomegreat fully supports the new ‘UK’ sugar tax implementations. They fully agree that positive steps need to be made to support health and to prevent obesity. We are with them on that one!
It also helps that their drink is super delicious and it’s the most refreshing juicy alternative that your whole family will enjoy!
So, we would like to challenge you, and your family, to have sugar free week. Could you do it? Would there be things you really miss? Or do you think it would be super easy? Let me know in the comments below.
* Collaborative – Thank you so much Pomegreat for setting us this fun and inspiring challenge!