If you spend some time scrolling through your Facebook feed, chances are you’re going to come across a friend who is, given the typical Western diet, taking on a significant challenge: going 30 days without chowing down on foods with added sugar. No soda, no sugary cereals, no Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
That’s tough enough, but Sacha Harland, a member of the Netherlands-based Web video team Lifehunters, decided to ditch sugar—and alcohol, foods with artificial flavors or colors, and junk food such as pizza. He captured his physical and mental journey in the six-minute clip above.
Harland gets a physical before embarking on the experiment, and it turns out he’s fairly fit—his cholesterol is just a little high. Meanwhile, one of the other members of the Lifehunters team goes through the food in Harland’s home. From the iced tea to the teriyaki sauce, everything has added sugar. “So I have no idea what you’re going to live on, Sacha, but good luck,” says the team member.
Harland’s friend isn’t the only one noticing how much sugar is in processed food. A recent survey in the U.K. found that 75 percent of people are actively seeking out items with less sugar, and 85 percent are reading labels to avoid the sweet stuff. Thirty percent said wanting to avoid health problems related to eating large amounts of sugar, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, is driving their decision to eat healthier.
Four days in, Harland’s feeling fatigued, he’s hungry all the time, and he wants to eat foods that contain sugar. It also doesn’t help that he’s surrounded by tempting, readily available sodas and other junk food. In one scene, a friend orders pizza while Harland munches on his umpteenth salad, and in another he’s sitting outside a burger joint, tempted to go in.
The irony of that particular scene is that last year, Harland pranked attendees at an organic food convention in Holland by feeding them McDonald’s that had been chopped into appetizer-size portions. Holland and his mischievous partner asked folks if they liked the taste of the bite-size pieces of McNuggets and Big Macs.
However, as seen in this video, Harland soon learns that his taste buds have been trained to crave salt- and sugar-laden items. By the end of the 30 days, he no longer wants to eat foods that are sweetened, he’s dropped some weight, and he has lower cholesterol too.