FLARE Dare: Nancy Won Gives Up Sugar

Fashion news editor Nancy Won tries kicking her sugar habit for 10 days straight


Ever since Nancy Won, FLARE’s fashion news editor, started a month ago, the office has been a whole lot sweeter. Every week, she lugs in a Costco-size container of sour keys to sooth our collective sugar cravings. Most of us descend on them like rabid children, while a few virtuous abstainers shoot us cut-eye.

We all know sugar is bad, but a new documentary called Fed Up reveals exactly how bad: nearly 17 percent of U.S. children are obese, lifespan projections are actually getting shorter for the first time in generations, and the rate of adolescent type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed since 1980, when sugar and glucose became standard ingredients in tens of thousands of mass-made foods. Sugar, the film contends, is the new tobacco.

Watch: Fed Up Theatrical Trailer

The documentary’s team, which includes Katie Couric, two doctors and a neuroscientist, has unrolled a global challenge, asking people to give up the sweet stuff for 10 days. In that short time, the organizers claim, energy levels will spike, weight will melt off, sleep will improve.

So we challenged Nancy to give up her beloved sour keys, along with honey, molasses, agave and artificial sugars. She graciously agreed and offered to document her withdrawal, cravings and feats of willpower in a 10-day diary. Here, Day 1.

To say that I have a sweet tooth is a major understatement. In the immortal words of Bow Wow Wow: “I Want Candy” … all the time. And these days I’ve been indulging more than usual. I try to eat mindfully most of the time (a protein-packed smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, a green juice every now and then), but lately, no matter how virtuous I’m feeling, by the time 3 p.m. rolls around my brain is screaming for (a fistful of) sour keys.

So when the team dared me to take on the Fed Up Challenge (intervention much?), I embraced it. I was ready to rein in my sugar habit.

Day 1 started with me putting my entire candy stash, which included Cherry Blaster Linkz and Mint Chocolate M&Ms, on the share table, and watching miserably as my coworkers devoured every last morsel. I spent most of the day daydreaming of cookies, cake and candy while munching on incredibly unsatisfying almonds. Tomorrow I would need to find some fruit, which is (thankfully) permitted.

At 4 p.m., an email: “Everyone meet at the table for a sweet treat!” It was a coworker’s last day at FLARE and there were, of course, cupcakes. It took every ounce of willpower in me not to grab the entire box and make a run for it.

For dinner: homemade chicken noodle soup with garlic toast. Sort of. The Fed Up Challenge is about going sugar-free, but they suggest cutting out all flour (which turns to sugar in your body) as well. So I skip the toast (heartbreak) and eat around the noodles. I’ve dabbled in no-carb before so this behaviour isn’t new to me.

I always crave something sweet after dinner, and having nothing Fed Up–friendly in my kitchen, I decide to make like a senior citizen and go to bed early, i.e., sleep the cravings away….

Day 1 state of mind: cupcake, candy, cupcake, candy, cupcake, candy …