For my service learning project, I thought I’d share a dieting technique that isn’t meant to help you lose weight, at least, not directly. The “No Sugar” Challenge from a couple years ago is designed to remove all the added sugars in the foods we eat from our diets for ten days, with the results for most being a shift in our pallets away from excess processed sweeteners. My project would focus on the process, rules, and health benefits of completing it. My father and I did the challenge when it first came out, myself for ten days and him for twenty, and we both agreed that something definitely changed.
I lived off oranges, Triscuits, and whatever other simple foods I could find as well as sparsely-seasoned meat. When we went grocery shopping for the first week, we were both surprised at just how many foods were off-limits. Ritz crackers, for one. Peanut butter, too. It may not say “sugar” in the ingredients, but fructose, corn syrup, and almost 50 other names no one can pronounce are hidden in almost every processed product on the shelves. Triscuits only have salt, wheat, and oil.
Naturally occurring sugars were fine, hence the oranges, milk/dairy, vegetables, so long as it wasn’t added in the process of making the product, it was fair game. After the first two days, I was already missing my favorite foods, the next six were even worse. Days nine and ten, though, started looking up for me. I was used to my oranges and Triscuits, I was used to not eating corn syrup, and when I had the opportunity to have a cupcake to celebrate making it through to the end, I scraped off all the icing and only ate half. It was horribly sweet and tasted very manufactured. A classic Publix chocolate cupcake.
I can’t say it removed added sugar from my diet completely, that’s impossible, but my sweet tooth had diminished greatly during those ten days and still remains that way. I still want the occasional Reese’s, but not an entire six-pack at once like I used to. So, in a way, it can help you lose weight, but the purpose of the challenge is solely to point out how much added sweetener we consume, and what it feels like to be free of it.