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Nutrition

No-sugar-Challenge with mySugr

8/11/2022 by Michèle Hofer

No-sugar-Challenge with mySugr

Since there are also challenges in the mySugr app, we started our own personal challenge at mySugr a few weeks ago. The goal was to avoid sugar for 6 weeks and to reduce alcohol consumption to a maximum of 1 glass per week. As it turned out, easier said than done...

Maybe some of you are wondering why would you do this to yourself?

I was inspired to do this by a friend who does this every year during Lent before Easter to get himself back into swimsuit shape before summer. Admittedly, he's a pretty vain guy, but a very nice one.

Of course, as a dietitian, I'm quickly sold on a no-sugar challenge like this, albeit for different reasons. For me, it's mostly about realigning my taste buds and breaking away from cherished, but not essential, habits like snacking after meals. Sugar is highly addictive and has many other negative effects. Daily and increased sugar consumption promotes the development of obesity, a fatty liver, insulin resistance and accelerates the aging process. So the arguments are obvious.

20 other colleagues were quickly convinced to join in the 6 weeks without sugar.

What we tried to avoid:

  • Sugar of any kind
  • Honey
  • maple syrup, agave syrup and other syrup
  • sweet drinks of any kind, even if they are natural organic apple juice
  • artificial sweeteners and “light” drinks sweetened with them
  • large quantities of dried fruit
  • crunchy muesli, muesli bars
  • ketchup and other sauces with added sugar
  • More than 1 drink of alcohol per week

What we wanted to use as an alternative:

  • Stevia for sweetening
  • xylitol and erythritol (to use for baking)
  • fresh fruit

What was easy for us?

  • Swapping the sugar in our morning coffee for a few drops of liquid stevia.
  • Snacking on nuts instead of sweets when cravings hit.
  • Matthias was able to create his little evening moment of indulgence with a square of extra dark chocolate (85% cacao).
  • Sweet drinks were swapped for mineral water and tea sweetened with stevia.
  • Pascal created his first sugar-free gin and tonic. His mix: gin sweetened with lime juice, mineral water and liquid stevia.
Gin sweetened with lime juice, mineral water and liquid stevia

The cake fans among us created delicious treats with xylitol, erythritol or ripe bananas instead of sugar.

Cakes with no sugar

What did we find difficult?

  • Some colleagues said that it's especially hard when your partner doesn't join in. Sitting on the couch next to your loved ones and watching them snack is, I think, an added challenge.
  • Two colleagues said that it was especially hard to keep up during a period of great professional and personal stress. (Info: Stress increases the brain's need for glucose, causing some people to experience ravenous hunger, which is almost impossible to control).
  • Croissants or warm rolls with jam and honey were missed by some of us!
  • Milan found it hard to do without his beloved sweet soy-vanilla yogurt.
  • For Marco, shopping took longer. Products now had to be checked on the basis of their list of ingredients, and alternatives had to be found in the case of high sugar content.
  • Invitations and celebrations at which cake and alcohol were served were also a particularly big challenge.

What did we learn, what tips can we give?

All of us who took part would do the Challenge again. So take heart, on the whole it's a great experience!

If you want to try it, don't do it at a particularly stressful time in your life. Relieve the stress first and then master a no-sugar challenge.

Anna Maria said that next time she would be more careful not to necessarily compensate for cravings with extra large portions of something hearty. She'd rather plan for small exceptions next time.

Markus recommends: Find an ally or a small group that helps you stay motivated and where you can celebrate each other's small successes and perseverance.

In conclusion, the No Sugar Challenge did not turn us into swimsuit models. But then, that was never our goal.

Matthias summed it up nicely: The Challenge has given him the confidence and the notion that he can influence his diet through many small conscious decisions. Being more aware of the sweet temptations of everyday life from this Challenge will help us to be more mindful, not only now, but the rest of the year.

And there's one more thing we learned: respect!

Many people with Type 2 Diabetes are given the well-intentioned advice in often brief doctor-patient discussions to "just lay off the sugar and drink less alcohol". Yes, if only that were so easy...

We have just tried this for 6 weeks and have learned that there are days when it is easier and days when it is more difficult to adhere to such recommendations.

Giving up something you are used to is not easy and we have the utmost respect for all of you out there who are trying to do this day after day for years as best you can.

Our technical support is a small contribution but the real heroes are you in everyday life!

Michèle Hofer

Michèle Hofer is our Principal Diabetes Coach and has been a dedicated mySugr monster tamer since 2017. She is a certified dietician and certified diabetes educator DDG (German Diabetes Association) and studied Health Care Management at WU Executive Academy in Vienna on a part-time basis.

Michèle found her specialization early on in diabetology. She has supported people with diabetes in all forms of therapy for many years already. Before diving into building up the online coaching department at mySugr, she gained editorial experience working for Burda Publishing House.

You can listen to her talk about the mySugr coaching project in an episode of the German Zuckerjunkies podcast.

When Michele isn’t helping tame the diabetes monster, you’ll find her on the playground with her little daughter or cooking.