Why 30 Day No Sugar No Whatever Challenges Don't Work

13 September 2015 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

Filed Under: Non-Diet Approach

January is here and with the start of the new year comes new beginnings and changes, often accompanied by new quick fixes and diets, detoxes or challenges.

I am seeing all sorts of  “CHALLENGES” on Facebook. The one that caught my attention was the 30 Day No Carbs No Sugar Challenge.  When I saw it all I thought was “OMG the horror of rules and restrictions”. If you are contemplating it, think again and again and once more…

I totally get how tempting it is to go on a 30 day Challenge. It promises you a solution after only 30 days! All you need to do is switch off and follow the rules! Hand over your power to the challenge. In some ways it’s easy but it doesn’t get to the bottom of WHY you overeat carbs and sugar.

Here are some reasons why I think challenges (aka diets) are a bad idea:

Cutting out food groups (unless you have a medical reason or a food intolerance) doesn’t serve us – especially if you have a history of dieting and you are prone to comfort eating.

We all have an inner dictator in us that can assist us to eliminate foods for 30 days and yes the weight will come off. BUT… what happens AFTER the 30 days? That is the question…

I remember going on a 21 day sugar detox a while back and stretched it to 30 days and guess what? On day 32, I was inhaling wine gums, jelly tots and Sally Williams nougat!

Challenges don’t help you normalise your relationship with forbidden foods. They entrench the idea that sugar and carbs are the enemy to be avoided and eliminated and at all costs! Whilst I agree that too much sugar and white processed carbohydrates don’t feel good in your body, they do give us pleasure!

Rules, restriction, control, elimination and willpower eventually just lead to overeating, binge eating and create a dysfunctional relationship with food. If you want to read some more manageable and sustainable guidelines for eating, Food Rules by Michael Pollan is a good place to start.

Challenges focus on short-term change and not long-term, lasting behavioural change, because they don’t address changing habits.

Basically a challenge is just another term for diet – and they don’t work for the same reasons diets don’t work. The more strict and rigid the challenge is, the worse the backlash post-challenge will be. Once you revert to your normal habits, the weight you lost on the challenge will come back on again.

Read this blog for more reasons why diets don’t work long in the long term.

Now, what can you do instead?

  1. Moderation NOT elimination. Eat sugar and carbs some of the time just for the pleasure of the taste.
  2. When eating food for pleasure – eat slowly and savour your food for maximum enjoyment.
  3. Eat Mindfully – here’s how you can benefit.
  4. If you overeat sugar and carbs don’t beat yourself up emotionally. Learn and let go.
  5. Instead of giving up carbs and sugar, here are some ideas of what you can give up instead.
  6. Focus on progress and not perfection. Small, consistent changes to your relationship with food lead to long-lasting results.
  7. By taking small turtle steps you create a path, whereas with giant leaps (challenges) there’s just a lot of air in between and a path to sustainable change is not created.

So before you jump on the CHALLENGE bandwagon remember there is another way, the middle way. Moderation not elimination.


Are you tired of overeating and feeling out of control around food? Ready to end the war with your body?

I can help you find peace and freedom around food, eating and your body:


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