No sugar for a year? You're crazy.

That's the response I've been getting for the past month. I feel less and less crazy each day that goes by. In fact, I'm feeling quite great about it and wondering why I didn't do this sooner.

Every year I like to give myself a challenge. I'm not a big fan of resolutions because I find the decision to do something with no end in sight unsatisfying. I'm a competitive person by nature and with a yearly challenge, I'm more likely to be successful starting something new or giving up something old.

When I first started doing challenges, they were things like going a year without soda or a year without fast food, both of which were extremely hard at the time (think college days), but now wouldn't be much of a challenge at all. For me, that's the point - loosening the hold that a particular thing has had on my life so that I'm no longer dependent on it or to improve my overall life quality.

The most transformative challenge to date was going a year without buying anything new (don't worry, I had some exceptions including personal care items and food)!  Anything else, and I had to get it used, secondhand or not purchase it at all.  It made me think twice about what I was going to spend my money on.  Shopping became more of an inconvenience than something fun to do to pass the time. It used to be a struggle for me to go a week without spending money on new, useless items or dumping money on buying new clothes. These days I rarely go into any store unless I need something specific.

This year, there's one thing that I'm struggling with - sugar. If you know me, you know that I have a deep love for baking. I love to make people happy by giving them yummy things to eat and indulge in. But I also know that sugar has huge implications to health (and skin!). I'm committed to my health in so many other ways - using natural skincare (obvi), buying organic, gmo-free foods and truly good meat from our favorite local farmers, improving indoor air quality, and so-on. Sugar has been the one thing I haven't been willing to give up. Sure, I've gone some time without it... two months here, a couple weeks there. But a year? No way. There's always some reason I fall back into the sugar trap...

"but, I'm at a birthday party.."

"but, the holidays are coming up.."

"but, i'm on vacation.."

And then I'm right back at it full-force. Not this year. This year I'm doing it. I'm giving myself a few clear perimeters because I believe that's important for success. My rules for this year's challenge:

*sugar means actual added refined sugar, not fruit. 

*any packaged food with greater than 1 gram of sugar counts as off limits unless there is no "sugar" in the ingredients. For example, if something has sugar in the ingredients but it's one gram or less, I can have it. If it's over a gram but there's no sugar in the ingredients, only honey, I can have it. 

*special occasions celebrating me, such as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, my birthday, and our anniversary along with Christmas Day will be cheat days. Chances are my palette will change after a couple months without sugar and anything sweet I eat will taste too rich anyway. However, I think it's important to be realistic so I'll succeed.

*eating out doesn't count except the obvious like balsamic glazed brussel sprouts or desserts. I'm not interested in investigating every entree at every restaurant to see how many grams of sugar is used in my chowder or if there's added sugar in the rolls.

That's it! I'm 33 days in to being sugar-free! Would you want to join me? It would be so encouraging to know you are in it with me. If you'd like to join me, or if there's a goal you're trying to reach this year, email me and tell me about it. I read every reply and I want to hear from you!

PS. Many others have already blazed this trail, so I look to them for recipes and encouragement. One of my favorites is The Spunky Coconut. I have a few of her cookbooks and read her blog religiously. She has pre-made mixes and all kinds of resources to make a challenge like this easier. Thank goodness for authors like her!

Amber Hawthorne
Amber Hawthorne


Amber Hawthorne is the founder and formulator of Bambu Earth, a natural handcrafted skincare line made in small batches based out of Southern California where Amber resides with her husband and children.

2 Responses

Naomi Paris
Naomi Paris

February 02, 2017

My daughter Melissa just a few days ago told me that she is doing this NO SUGAR. She is only eating Fruits & Veggies. Both my daughters have inherited low blood pressure from my Mother, so I worry a little of No Carbs. I’v done the watermelon cleanse for several years of summers past & loved it. I actually went for 10 days, not recommended for the beginner though. Started with 1/2 day, ,than full day, than 3 days, a week, etc. Not all in the same year though. I want to try it, but just desserts-cakes, pie, cookies. I would like to cleanse again & lose about 10 lbs. Don’t know about the whole year, but for sure through LENT time up till Easter. Maybe my itchy ears will improve from NO SUGAR!!!!!


February 02, 2017

Love this! With my history of being too restrictive and getting crazy about rules, I can’t go “NO” sugar, but I am definitely inspired by you and taking the challenge of going “MOSTLY NO” sugar… with the very occasional bite here or there. Thanks for sharing and trail blazing!

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