I quit sugar for six months and this is what it did to my face and body

By | March 28, 2024

Confession time: I always believed my face would forever resemble a fluffy marshmallow. It wasn’t just a self-perception; it was a belief I held tightly to, reinforced by years of staring at what I thought was a round, shapeless face in the mirror. Little did I know that my journey to rediscover my face, body and self would start with a simple decision: quitting sugar.

My relationship with sugar wasn’t particularly unhealthy, or so I thought. Like many people, I enjoyed a sweet treat every now and then, without realizing the impact it could have on my skin and overall well-being.

It wasn’t until I started delving into nutrition and wellness research that I began to discover the hidden truths about sugar’s effects on the body, especially the skin. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism and it was time for me to take control of my lifestyle and eating habits.

While researching studies and articles, I was amazed to learn about the correlation between sugar consumption and various skin problems, including inflammation, acne and premature aging.

Suddenly, the innocent pleasure of enjoying a sweet snack didn’t seem very enjoyable. I quickly made the decision to say goodbye to sugar and be more conscious of what I put in my stomach. Goodbye, cakes (and happiness)! To be clear, I wasn’t absolutely sugar-free. I still ate foods made with sugar, but I avoided sweets and anything made with processed sugar, such as desserts, candies, and carbonated drinks.

The first few weeks were challenging to say the least. Breaking free from the grip of sugar cravings took a level of discipline I didn’t know I possessed. But with each passing day, I found myself becoming more attuned to my body’s needs and more aware of the choices I made regarding what I put into it. I cut out sugary drinks and replaced them with herbal teas and black coffee.

Cutting out the sweet treats was a little trickier than expected. I saw people around me enjoying a donut, and a little voice in my head said, “Can you eat one, or maybe just half?” The struggle to keep such intrusive thoughts away was real. I slowly got better at controlling my cravings, even during times when all I could think about was chocolate.

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, nutrition editor at TODAY, says research has shown that excessive sugar intake is linked to inflammation in the skin and psoriasis flare-ups.

“That said, the daily recommended added sugar is less than 50 grams (about 12 teaspoons). some sugar does not cause inflammation. These studies look at people who eat more than the recommended amount. Generally, skin inflammation presents itself in the form of pimples or acne, but it can also cause eczema flare-ups, which are linked to dry skin,” she adds.

She also says that artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, have been shown to have the opposite effect on the skin. “That said, the studies on aspartame use very high doses and are mostly done on animals, so they are not the most conclusive.”

The first tangible change I noticed? My face. As the weeks passed, the puffiness that had once plagued my cheeks began to disappear, revealing contours I never knew existed. It was like uncovering a hidden treasure, buried under layers of sugar-induced inflammation. Suddenly, the face staring back at me in the mirror bore little resemblance to the face I had become accustomed to – and I couldn’t have been happier.

This is me after the experiment.  I noticed my skin became more radiant and my face was less puffy.  (Courtesy of Shweta Sengar)This is me after the experiment.  I noticed my skin became more radiant and my face was less puffy.  (Courtesy of Shweta Sengar)

This is me after the experiment. I noticed my skin became more radiant and my face was less puffy. (Courtesy of Shweta Sengar)

“Eating more than the recommended amount of sugar daily can cause weight gain, which can manifest as bloating or bags under your eyes. The inflammation that excess sugar causes can also cause mild bloating,” says Rizzo.

But the transformation didn’t stop there. Oh no, my energy levels were having a renaissance of their own. I was no longer subject to the erratic highs and crashing lows that had plagued me for so long. Instead, I found myself supported by a steady, reliable source of energy that got me through the day with ease.

And then there was my skin. Freed from the shackles of sugar-induced inflammation, my skin took on a newfound glow. I also noticed fewer bumps and acne on my face. It was as if my skin had undergone a rejuvenation and emerged from sugar-induced sleep to reveal a vitality I had never known.

Rizzo also points out that excessive sugar consumption can promote acne, pimples or eczema flare-ups, all of which irritate the skin.

Of course, the journey was not without challenges. There were moments of doubt, moments when the siren of sweet treats threatened to derail my progress.

The last six months of my sugar-free resolution have been amazing, to say the least. There are times when I feel like giving in to the occasional craving, but then I think about my skin and my overall energy level. In the morning I eat a big bowl of strawberries, oranges, apples and blueberries, and that’s enough to satisfy all my cravings.

To anyone considering taking the leap into a sugar-free life, I offer this advice: arm yourself with knowledge, trust the process, and above all, be gentle with yourself along the way. The road may be challenging at times, but the rewards are immeasurable. As for me, I’ll be here, basking in the glow of my newfound vitality – and enjoying the joy of rediscovering my face, my body and myself.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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