Historically, this time of year commonly involves a period of fasting. I'm assuming it's because February often falls within the religious period of Lent...either that or everyone's collectively freaking out over the fact that those extra Christmas kilos are still there, even after we bought that gym membership and that new pair of lycra pants and have spent 31 days willing the kilos away. The act of fasting often accompanies a cleanse (physical and/or mental), a religious doctrine or a form of protest. While our modern preoccupation with food and eating disorders means that any suggestion to voluntarily starve ourselves can trigger a red flag, there are many studies that demonstrate the health benefits of short, regular fasting periods (anti red flag caveat: 'within the context of a well balanced and healthy diet').

As much as it sounds good and cleansy, I have to admit I'm not a faster type. I get 'The Hanger' (hunger/anger) and it isn't pretty, pleasant or safe for fellow citizens. I haven't even done so much as an all the rage juice fast yet. I'm more into the modern version of the straight up fast, which is more aligned towards removing either one or several components from our diets for a set number of days. The usual culprits are carbs, meat, alcohol, caffeine or - as in my own February challenge - sugar.

I've done this once before so far - but only for a week. I found it challenging partly because of the sugar hidden in (what seems like) absolutely everything processed, packaged or pickled, but also because my place of work is a devil's pit of temptation. Someone is always bringing in a delicious baked treat. There is an entire drawer in the work fridge full of 50 cent mini chocolate bar treats. Sometimes the only thing that makes the tedium of desk sitting, report writing and file management bearable is the promise of a sweet reward.You know how it goes...

I first got onto the sugar free idea after stumbling across Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar blog. I bought a couple of her e-books, swapped chocolates for cheese, learned to take my coffee unsweetened, discovered nut butters and ate a lot more eggs. Meals wise it was delicious, I certainly didn't feel deprived. But I still had a regular sweet craving to contend with. My sugar free experiment was a short lived but interesting lesson. For starters I learned that my frequent afternoon bloatiness was not down to the milk in my morning beverages and/or the result of sitting down for too long but was in fact sugar induced. I also figured out that stressful moments trigger an instant and intense sugar craving.

Just to clarify, I am not a chronic sweet tooth. There are some occasional sweet treats I love and will scoff like an 8 year old on a sugar binge, but on the whole I prefer savory foods. If offered the choice between a cheese platter and chocolate mud cake, the cheese wins 9 times out of 10. This doesn't mean I don't get sugar cravings though. Another issue is that I can get very shaky after a big hit of sugar or highly refined carbs (I've had this issue as long as I can remember but my blood sugar levels are normal according to all of my routine medicals to date) so I have a natural tendency to moderate my sugar consumption. Again, this doesn't mean that small but constant treats don't still find their way in.

I'm a day late in starting my February challenge, and I do have a couple of sweetened things in my fridge to finish off, but beyond that I'll be a sugar free zone this February. No sugar, natural sweeteners (eg honey), and minimal fruit (maximum veg) or heavily processed carbs. I've also got a couple of food themed books on my reading list for this month;

Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System - Raj Patel

The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan 

How about you? Are you quitting anything for February?


  1. I've quit sugar before and it's hard - I recommend buying up loads of pink, fruity herbal teas (I relied heavily on rosehip and hibiscus to get me through) and for the first week, don't be afraid to indulge in chips! Also get loads of hummus and carrots, they made things easier.

    Be prepared for the sugar headaches! (tea helps this, I swear!)

    Good luck! You'll feel amazing and it's so worth it! I am now only sugar free on weekdays (I like my ice cream saturdays :P) and it's done wonders for my skin and tummy! Can't wait to hear how you go.


    1. Great tips innercitystinge :) Going sugar free does also help you appreciate the natural sweetness of a lot of food too. I had been doing ok last year, but since the festive (and post festive) season I fell right off the wagon. Thanks for the thumbs up, much appreciated!

  2. Good luck Nathalie! The Febfast website have a good resource for managing your month without sugar (I am not affiliated with them, but had a read last night and was impressed that it contained sensible advice!)