We dare you: Say no to sugar

... A great step for your health


Sunday, February 11, 2018

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FEBRUARY is month two for 12 Months 24 Dares — the wellness initiative that uses community support to help people create and stick to healthy wellness habits.

The fitness-based dare has the subscribers trying new and different fitness classes with wellness partners: Body Forte, Fagan Fitness, Rize Fitness, TrueSelf Centre of Being Yoga Studio, and DanceFyah. The nutritional dare/challenge for February has the subscribers saying “no to sugar”.

Not just for a meal. Not even limiting it for a week. We challenged our dare-ees to go sugar-free for 28 days.

What is going sugar-free?

Sugar is naturally present in most foods, including dairy. Going sugar-free is the term used to eliminate added sugar.

This is sugar added to food to change the taste, rather than sugar that is naturally occurring. The World Health Organization recommends that only five per cent of your daily calorific intake come from free sugars. Not just brown or white sugar, this can be artificial sweeteners, processed foods, flours, breads, and so on.

In a world where more than 70 per cent of the food at the supermarket has added sugar, going sugar-free is frustrating —

especially with products calling themselves 'sugar-free' that still lean on unnatural ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and all natural zero-calorie sweeteners to deliver their signature sweetness and addictive properties.

We were asked to rethink the dare and many already decided they would fail the challenge.

In the face of mutiny and grumpy subscribers, The 12 Months 24 Dares team held strong and provided alternatives and community support.

Then something amazing happened.

The dare-ees made an effort, one meal at a time.

The true challenge wasn't to cut their sugar intake cold turkey, but to realise the high amount of sugar that was present in their diets and actively find alternatives to sugar in a world that runs on it.

Effects of sugar

The are many detrimental effects of sugar, such as:

1. Sugar causes blood glucose to rise and fall. Unstable blood sugar causes fatigue, mood swings, headaches, and sugar cravings. Research from the National Institute of Health in America shows that while naturally occurring sugars consumed as part of whole foods satisfy a sugar craving, high-intensity sugars actually cause some of our dopamine receptors to shut down due to overstimulation, meaning you need increasingly large amounts of refined sugars to get the same high.

Cravings lead to an addiction — waiting for your new high.

2. Sugar increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Numerous studies worldwide show that consuming a lot of foods containing sugar results in a higher risk for becoming obese, developing diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, and many different forms of cancer.

3. Sugar accelerates ageing.

Wrinkles and sagging skin go hand in hand with sugar's friend. Studies show that sugar attaches itself to proteins and contributes to the loss of elasticity found in ageing body tissues, from your skin to your organs and arteries.

What can I do to cut my sugar cravings?

•Sleep more: This boosts serotonin or “the happy hormone” and cuts down the need for something sweet.

•Drink more water: Sometimes you are really just dehydrated when you crave something sweet.

•Walk with your fruits.

•Make popsicles with blended fruits.

•Try sugar cane.

•Have smoothies.

•Try nuts.

•Popcorn: I sometimes sprinkle cinnamon or turmeric, garlic and cayenne to up the flavour.

•Have more greens: This will boost your energy and make you less dependent on something sweet.

•Beetroot: This earthy, sweet produce can be added raw or cooked down.

•Cinnamon: This sweet spice can be added to your dishes.

•Fennel: Add this sweet herb to your dishes.

There will be stumbles

The most important thing is not to beat yourself up about it, just pick it up again the next day. Be realistic and make sure you have something sweet but free of refined sugars. The month isn't finished but being able to truly decide what you eat is so rewarding and will leave you energised, with your skin and body thanking you.

It's not too late to challenge yourself to be sugar-free!

Be sure to monitor your sugar intake and you can always join the movement! Email us at or follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook using the handle 12months24dares.

Jo-Hanna is the wellness coordinator of 12 Months 24 Dares. She is an internationally certified America Council of Exercise Personal Trainer, Group fitness instructor and Power Vinyasa 200YT Yoga Instructor.

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