Lessons from Our Sugar Fast



My family embarked on a month-long Sugar Fast from late October up until the Thanksgiving holiday. The main goal of our Sugar Fast was to hit the reboot button on our sugar cravings, so that we could once again be satisfied with a lesser amount of sweets.


For our Sugar Fast, we avoided foods with any added sweeteners, including the following:

  • sugar

  • honey

  • sucanat

  • maple syrup

  • any other types of added sweeteners (including those we always avoid such as xylitol, agave nectar, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup)

We didn't stress about foods that contain trace amounts of added sweeteners, such as sausages and mayonnaise.


Lessons Learned

The following are some of our big takeaways from our Sugar Fast.



  • The healthiest choice isn't always obvious. For instance, Larabars have a no added sweeteners and are made with only whole foods. Nonetheless, each Larabar has over twice as many grams of sugar as a Kind bar.

  • Planning ahead makes all the difference. When we mindfully planned in advance whether or not to partake in sweets at birthday parties and holiday gatherings, that made it very easy to stay on track with our Sugar Fast goals.

  • Kids really can learn to make good choices. Because I've purposefully talked about nutrition with my kids over the years, they were enthusiastic about joining me in the Sugar Fast. I left them free to choose their own goals and any exceptions they wanted to make, and they made great choices! For instance, they chose not to have any cake at a couple birthday parties, and had an easy time meeting their own goals for consuming only 2 pieces of Halloween candy because they had planned it in advance.

  • Porridge and pancakes are still good without any added sweeteners, and instead topped with extra butter and some fresh fruit.

  • Afternoons are the hardest time for me, as it is very easy to rely on baked goods for a quick-and-easy snack. I need to plan better for healthy snack options in the afternoons. Some better options for me include veggies with ranch dressing, string cheese, or even just a small apple.

  • Group support and accountability really do help. If I had not announced my Sugar Fast goals to others, it would have been much easier for me to backslide. By undertaking the Sugar Fast as a family, we were able to support each other in making healthy choices, and commiserate in dealing with our temptations and old habits. Having a Facebook group of others who were sugar fasting also made it easier to share tips and trials with others in a supportive atmosphere.

  • Banana bread is yummy with no sweeteners added! Although the other no-sweetener baked goods I made were mediocre, the banana bread recipe is a keeper.



Looking Ahead

Our Sugar Fast left us ready to make more mindful choices about what we're eating. I don't think that avoiding sugar altogether is attainable or necessary. (Been there, tried that.) But I do think that sugar consumption should be moderated. I'm going to try to maintain the principle of having sweets less regularly. For instance, when I make a big batch of sourdough pancakes or porridge for the week, I may have them with syrup or jam the first day, but then just top them with fruit the rest of the week.

I'm also going to resist the urge to regularly make our beloved candied ginger and dark chocolate trail mix, as it is too easy to just keep eating it day after day. I'm still going to bake Christmas cookies, but I'll eating cookies will be more of a special occasion occurrence rather than an any-day occurrence.

It is interesting to me how much sweets have become a part of every holiday, and from there the overabundance of sweets spreads into the whole holiday season. I'm going to make an effort going forward to enjoy sweets in moderation on special occasions with no guilt, but then quickly get back into a norm of lower sweets consumption.


Have you ever tried a Sugar Fast?

What was your experience?





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