$500, the Year Without Sweets

Jordy Peterson, Reporter

Hi, my name is Jordy Peterson, and I used to be a sugar addict.

Growing up, I had a sweet tooth. I could inhale an entire batch of warm snickerdoodle cookies in one sitting, while spraying canned whipping cream straight into my mouth. A favorite pastime of mine was licking cake batter off the spatulas, while it was still raw.

My parents were seriously worried about my health. My mother often told me I needed to stop overeating sugar before I contracted Type 2 Diabetes. Stop eating sugar? Why would anyone do that to themselves? I continued to eat chocolate chips by the handful, until my mom promised that she would pay me $500 to quit eating sugar for an entire year. Being the competitive girl that I am, I accepted the challenge.  

On Jan. 1, 2016, I ceased eating sugar for the whole year. But wait, you may ask, there’s sugar in everything, even fruit. And you’re right. I could consume fruit, minuscule amounts of pure maple syrup, and honey. I wasn’t allowed any cheat days, not even on Christmas or my birthday. Even some packaged oatmeal, yogurts, energy drinks, granola bars and cereals were packed with hidden sugars, so I had to stay away. I even limited my intake of rice, potatoes, dairy, pasta and bread, because once digested, they break down into sugar as well.

Gone were the days of snacking on Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds, or slurping a strawberry Slushie during the blazing summer months. At birthday parties, my friends guzzled fizzy sodas and devoured M&M’s, while I settled with celery from the veggie tray. It was frustrating to be invited out to Shakes for sundaes, because while everyone else happily licked their ice cream cones, I had to sip on water instead.

On my birthday, my mom baked gluten-free lemon squares made from honey and Stevia. I was surprised to discover that they tasted the exact same as their sugary counterparts, perhaps even better. I soon realized that it was possible to stay healthy, yet still enjoy the occasional treat made from wholesome ingredients. I researched some recipes to recreate my favorite snacks, but with nutritious substitutions.

After a few months, I noticed some changes. I had more energy throughout the day, and it became easier to wake up early. My complexion cleared and brightened, and my hair was softer and shinier. I even had more motivation to succeed in school and excel in my extracurricular activities.

Although it was sometimes difficult to eat differently from my peers, it soon became easier to avoid temptation from the enticing lure of junk food. I became more conscious of feeding my body, instead of feeding my taste buds.

On Jan. 1, 2017, at midnight, I earned my $500 and I could finally eat sugar again. The first thing I ate was mint chocolate chip ice cream, and several spoonfuls of Nutella. The flavor was quite a shock to me, and my taste buds were momentarily surprised. The next morning, I groggily and lethargically woke up with a terrible headache and a sore stomach. Eating that much sugar was a complete surprise to my body, especially after an entire year without it.

Now that my year of no sugar is over, the way I will eat will be very different. My body seems to be thanking me for it, as I am stronger, happier, and healthier. As a result, I have decided to execute the sugar challenge once more. Ceasing to eat sugar has now become a lifestyle.