Monday, April 27, 2020

How the 40-day sugar fast went

Some time ago, I promised to check in and share from time to time how the 40-day sugar fast was going for us.  We had started it on February 24, and I thought I would have plenty of time to write a post or two updating how we were doing.  I actually started documenting it on Instagram a bit, using Scripture graphics (like the one above) I made using Canva.  The last post that I did about that was from March 3, so you can see that I didn't keep up with that very long either.

However, we did keep up with the 40-day sugar fast!  And we finished it on April 3!

Neither one of us found eliminating sugar for 40 days as difficult as we thought it would be.  We did determine ahead of time that we would allow ourselves natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, and my hubby did use stevia in his coffee.  But otherwise, we just didn't use sugar during the 40 days.  We didn't even use honey or maple syrup very much.  I had made sure we had a fresh jar of honey, but I'm not sure we even opened it!

Another thing we did in preparation was to buy a couple of packages of pitted dates.  Our daughter and son-in-law have done the sugar fast several times, and Jim likes to make a sort of homemade Larabar to have for snacks.  His recipe uses dates.  Accordingly, I thought we would be prepared.  Would you believe that we never opened either package of dates in the entire 40 days?

So how did we manage without sugar?  We both enjoy sweets, and Mr. T was nearly addicted to sugar.  (Remember how those Christmas cookies would call to him out of the freezer?  Granola bars often called to him out of the cookie jar, too. ) During the sugar fast, we ate a lot of fruit, and when we snacked, it was mostly on either fruit or almonds.  Oh, and cheese sticks.  Our local supermarket carries a store brand of cheddar cheese stick that we really love.

We found that it was best not to create sugar-free goodies to enjoy, as we wanted to break the habit of eating sweets as a default response.  We wanted it to just be a treat when we had something sweet.  So for company, I found a delicious chocolate cake that was gluten free and used maple syrup for sweetener.  The peanut butter frosting is also sugar free.  I will plan to share those recipes soon.  That cake became our default dessert to serve to guests during the sugar fast, since we could also enjoy it ourselves.

One of our biggest challenges was finding a sugar free bread.  Nearly all bread contains sugar.  Mr. T took up breadmaking as a challenge and made -- over the 40 days -- a half-dozen loaves of oatmeal bread sweetened only with maple syrup.  We also bought the pricey but delicious Dave’s Killer Bread in the Powerseed variety, which is sweetened only with organic fruit juices.  It has nice big slices though and we felt that such high quality bread was almost worth the price.  It's definitely worth having a loaf or two in the freezer if you are doing this sugar fast and happen to run out of the homemade sugar-free bread.  Some people handle the bread issue by just eliminating bread entirely during the fast, but neither of us thought we could handle that.

I was much more impressed than I expected to be with the devotional book that went along with the 40-Day Sugar Fast.  My daughter had told me that she enjoyed it very much, so I knew it would be good, but I had expected something more basic.  But no -- each day's devotional reading included not only Scripture and a spiritual challenge, but some real "meat" to chew on throughout the day.  

I had been doing a Scripture writing challenge in February, so I continued that and just read the devotionals and Bible verses from The 40-Day Sugar Fast.  Then in March, I switched over to journaling through the daily devotionals.  I would write out the Scripture verses and jot down thoughts from the readings that spoke to me.  Here is one, from Day 8 of the sugar fast:

"The problem with leaning on sugar as a crutch is, almost immediately it breaks and I break too, because God never intended for sugar to sustain me.  Instead, God says, 'Cast thy burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.' (Psalm 55:22)  All other crutches will break under the weight of your burdens ... So praise God for sending His Son so that you don't have to hobble through another day alone.  Because of Jesus, you can run, full speed ahead, into this abundant and eternal life.  Lean your full weight on that." -- Wendy Speake
On Day 23 of the fast, we were encouraged to crank up the intensity of it -- perhaps by eliminating other foods, such as bread or pasta, or by delaying breakfast until after having a significant time with the Lord each morning (which works also as a sort of intermittent fasting).  It was suggested that we could even use hunger pangs as a nudge to pray more fervently.

My hubby and I talked it over and decided we would delay breakfast until after our time with the Lord.  (Prior to this, he usually ate breakfast while reading his Bible and then had his prayer time.  I usually did my Bible reading and study early, then had breakfast, then went to my prayer time.)  So for the remainder of the fast, we delayed breakfast until after our complete quiet times.  We did allow ourselves to have coffee during that time.  Yes, there were hunger pangs for sure, but it was good to feel them.

Interestingly, this renewed intensity, and the turning of a sugar fast into a daily intermittent fast as well, happened right at a time when we wanted to make praying for our country a priority.  So we were fasting and praying for our country daily during these weeks.  What a blessing that God would arrange that for us!

Wonderful graphic by Little Birdie Blessings
Another thing along that line is that I'm so thankful we were already doing the sugar fast when life turned upside down due to the coronavirus.  Had we not been fasting from sugar, I'm pretty sure both of us would have consumed far more chocolate and other sweets than we should.  So much better to turn to the God of all comfort rather than to comfort food!

Another real blessing is that the devotional book didn't stop on Day 40, but went on to Day 41 to help us move forward into our regular lives again.  There is also an Appendix A with some very helpful suggestions for living life beyond the fast.  As the author notes, "Just because you can eat sugar doesn't mean that you should."

So how are we doing now?  Our intent going forward is mostly to live sugar-free.  If we want an occasional treat on a special occasion, we will have it.  (And if the ice-cream places are open this summer, we will be patronizing them!)  But in general we won't use or consume much refined sugar.  I find that if I do eat sugar, I tend to crave more and more of it.  So it's easier for me to just not eat much of it, and only occasionally when I do.  Mr. T is consuming more sugar than I am, but he agrees basically that he feels better without it.   Both of us feel as if we have more energy for life.

All in all,  the 40-day sugar fast was a great experience and a spiritual blessing as well as a physical one.  I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to feel healthier and deepen their spiritual life as well.


  1. Very interesting... I wondered, with all the benefits, why you wouldn't continue. Now I see that you are. Personally, I find hunger pangs so distracting that I am unable to think. I want to be able to think and, most especially, during quiet time.

  2. Good for you. I find that when I eat it I crave it as well. It is better not to have it too often and as a special treat. Over the quarantine Jeff has done the grocery store shopping. He has come home with some cookies from the grocery store bakery each week. I told him he was not allowed to let me see them. I find I eat them simply because they are there. Not good. I have put them out of sight and hope to stay away from them. I try to reach for nuts or an actual piece of fruit.

  3. This is very interesting, and I am happy that you and your hubby did this together, as I am sure that made it easier to do. I personally do not eat a lot of sugar, except one teaspoon in my morning cup of hot tea, although I often use honey instead. The rest of the day I drink either water or unsweet iced tea. I don't do a lot of baking anymore, unless company is coming (which they aren't right now). Sometimes I get into a cookie baking mood, and I eat a few cookies fresh and warm from the oven and then I am done with them. I like peanut butter and celery for a snack, or an apple. (but sometimes I do eat peanut butter and jelly on one slice of bread). We usually do our devotions before breakfast while we have our morning coffee/tea. Then we try to take a walk after breakfast. So I feel good about this after reading what you've written and about the recommendations. For the most part I feel like we are already doing a lot of this. And I do agree that I feel much better when I stay away from sweets. Once you get away from them, you find that when you DO have them, it is too much and you can't eat as much of least that has been my experience. And I believe artificial sweeteners are not really a healthy alternative. It's better to just learn to live w/o the sugar/sweetness altogether. Although that milkshake I had the other night sure was good. LOL.

  4. Great job! I agree when we consume sugar we end up wanting it more and more. I have done the Whole30 program in the past and those 30 days without sugar and a bunch of other stuff takes away the sugar cravings and makes me feel so much better. But once I start eating it again it is like I never did it ;)
    Have a great week :)

  5. It was so interesting to read about your 40-day fast, and to see what a blessing it became in your life. My husband and I went off sugar a little over 2 years ago. He was really addicted, while I was much less so. He found a tremendous difference in his energy level going off the sugar, and what we realized is that sugar causes a spike, and then drops you, and you need to keep eating sugar to keep going. But once you get off sugar (and it's really tough at times), you feel so much better, have so much more energy, and thought clarity. Lord willing, we will continue on this way. I bake very little, and we switched over to sourdough bread, which has no sugar in it, and is so much better for you. So nice to read of your sugar fast, and how it blessed your life! Happy Mother's Day!


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