Sugar-Free January

Jesse Hausknecht-Brown, Reporter

It’s midmorning, New Year’s Day. You stumble downstairs to your kitchen, half asleep from the short hour of sleep you got the previous night. You reach for a box of cereal only to realize that you can’t eat it. Not for the next thirty days at least. Welcome to Sugar-Free January.

For the past five years, I haven’t eaten anything with added or processed sugar in it during the month of January. This all started when my mom decided that it was the next biggest thing and that she would start the following January. She did it for two years before I decided to join her. The idea behind cutting sugar for a month is to stop wanting to eat it. During the holiday season, from Halloween to New Years and everything in between, we tend to eat a ton of sugar. By not eating sugar for the month of January, the sugar craving cycle is altered, resulting in less of a “need” for sweets.

The first time I committed to a month without sugar I struggled a lot. The rules my mom and I have created for ourselves look something like this; you can’t eat anything with processed sugar (if sugar is listed as an ingredient, it’s out), no honey, and no artificial sweeteners. The beginning was hard, not because I wanted to eat chocolate, but because so many normal foods have sugar hiding in them. Most store-bought breads, yogurts, condiments, frozen pizzas, and pretty much everything from restaurants has some form of sugar in it. Not being able to throw a granola bar in my backpack before school was annoying and having to find other snack foods was difficult and more time-consuming.

A few surprising snacks and potential lunch foods to take with you to school include avocado mango smoothies, cayenne popcorn, and modified greek yogurt. To make an avocado mango smoothie, throw a whole banana, half an avocado, a spoonful of Greek yogurt, a splash of orange juice (store bought without sugar), and an optional scoop of sugar-free protein powder in a blender. This is a great thing to make for breakfast or lunch or even have as a snack. Cayenne popcorn is a great snack and is super easy to make; pop a bunch of popcorn and toss it with butter, salt, pepper, and cayenne powder. Another more substantial snack can be made by adding things to Greek yogurt to sweeten it is another of my favorite sugarless snacks. Some surprising add-ins include cinnamon, ground ginger, mashed banana, and frozen blueberries. Eating new and different things and mixing foods that you otherwise wouldn’t is one of the best parts of Sugar-Free January.