We’ve seen people cutting out gluten, dairy, and soy for some time, but now even fruit is being cut out of health bloggers’ diets. Seriously, the foods on the “no” list just might grow until all these bloggers are eating are artfully shaped avocados (although, did you know avocados are technically also fruits?).
In these one-week- or one-month-long no-sugar challenges, participants in the challenge eliminate all forms of sugar (and sugar replacements) from their diet.
It seemed as though the sugar detox had reached its expiration date. Popular in the 1990s and early 2000s under names such as “The South Beach Diet” and “Zero Sugar Diet,” removing sugar from your diet entirely has been proven a poor plan again and again.
And yet, the trend is here to stay — especially on Instagram. On Monday June 19, MindBodyGreen launched its No Sugar Week, hopping on the trend that’s been making a fierce comeback. The popular wellness site gained the endorsement of five Instagram celebrities from the healthy eating online community. While in previous decades no-sugar diets were blatantly advertised as a way to lose weight, modern iterations have claimed to have goals entirely separate from weight loss.
Weight loss has gotten a shocking amount of negative press; dieting, restriction, and low-calorie meal plans have been outed for their ineffective tactics and ability to actually cause weight gain in the long run.
To remain on top of the wellness game, MindBodyGreen has termed this No Sugar Week “not a diet.” However, the definition of a diet is “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.” Inherently, the No Sugar Week is a diet, since it places rules, restrictions, and regulations on food. MindBodyGreen’s website lists five rules on their page — so is the diet really for promoting weight loss after all, or are there justifiable medical purposes?
Alongside other new diet plans that eliminate sugar, MindBodyGreen claims that the No Sugar Week isn’t a weight loss diet but is instead a “reset” or a method to “cure your sugar addiction.” This proposes sugar addiction as a real and caustic health problem.
However, sugar addictions have been proven time and time again to be a myth. One Cambridge study found “little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans.” Other investigations revealed that the science supporting notions of sugar addictions had severely distorted the evidence — by only testing on small rodents, for example, or choosing a sugar-biased sample population, or warping the evidence to resemble addiction when in actuality the brain responses did not.
So if we aren’t addicted to sugar, what is the purpose of this no-sugar trend? Flaunting themselves as “not a diet,” these trends have thousands of people dieting. Thousands of people are restricting their food intake and missing out on essential nutrients from the healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber from fruits. Other nutritious foods, such as milk (non-dairy milk included), grains, and honey contain various forms of good-for-you sugar as well.
Are these trends really as innocent as they seem, or are they a thickly veiled intervention into modern ideas of wellness by the diet industry?