I Gave Up Gluten, Sugar + Alcohol: Here's My 3 Year (And Very Honest) Update

Two summers ago, I wrote this post on our blog that quickly became our most popular. It wasn’t your typical deodorant or skincare post, it was much more personal.

I shared my story about how I gave up gluten, refined sugar and alcohol for a year, the why behind it all and how it changed more than just my appearance, but my perspective on life.

Well, that year turned into 2 and this month marks 3 years of saying goodbye to bread, chardonnay and sweets. I never would have thought my decision to cut out these 3 things cold turkey could have lasted this long – or created lasting change in my mind, body and soul.

But before I continue, I have a confession.

I’ve accidentally taken a bite of gluten and I know sugar has snuck into some bag of something I’ve eaten at some point and I enjoyed a glass of champagne on my 30th birthday. It hasn’t been a perfect streak over the past three years, but I’ve taken every effort and intention to stick to this way of eating, to this way of life.

And along the way, I’ve discovered that making these diet decisions hasn’t meant that every other part of my health will be perfect. My gut still sometimes feels out of whack and my energy levels can dip more days than I’d like and my skin still experiences the occasional bout of breakouts.

It’s actually opened my eyes to an even bigger picture of holistic wellness – and nutrition is just one piece. And while I thought I had that nailed down, there’s still so much more to nourishing my body than removing refined sugar, gluten and alcohol.

But – it has been a solid foundation to build upon and has begun to shape my body, sharpen my mind and strengthen my soul to be more disciplined and discerning with what, and how, I choose to consume – not just with food, but with all areas of life.

With that said, I want to share a Part 2 to my post and give a bit of an update on my journey and the top 3 things it’s taught me over the last 3 years.

1. Stay conscious.

While my decision to give up gluten, sugar + alcohol has become second nature to me now, I’ve realized that even with this lifestyle, it’s still all too easy to become complacent.

Even though I’ve started + sustained these healthy habits, I’ve found myself in certain moments operating on autopilot. Reaching for the same cacao granola each morning, the same sweet potato chips to snack on, and the same almond milk cappuccino every afternoon.

What really inspired me at the start of this journey was that I needed to get creative. I needed to try new recipes + new restaurants and slow way, way down before making a decision about what I put on my plate or poured in my glass.

Becoming more mindful was a huge piece of my story at the beginning, and that continues to take practice, even 3 years in. Living consciously, especially when it comes to what I choose to put in my body, definitely requires daily effort, but the return is always so much greater.

2. Stay committed.

This one has been a big learning curve for me. Making such a radical decision in my life meant that if I was going to succeed, I needed to stay committed. Committed to more than just saying no to the hamburger bun or no to the ice cream cone, but staying committed to the big picture – the WHY behind it all.

I was most committed to my integrity as a holistic esthetician, to teach others from a place of authenticity and to live out the values + beliefs I held about health and skincare. It’s so much more than what you put on your skin before bed, it’s how you live your life.

I always say I’m going to drink again and I definitely don’t pass up an opportunity to smell my friend’s wine when we’re out for dinner (I know, it’s weird, but the aroma is seriously satisfying ☺️) – and maybe someday I will enjoy a glass again. But for now, because of how far I’ve come and the positive impact I’ve experienced, I’m continuing to be committed to this road – at least for a little while longer.

3. Stay courageous.

If I can do THIS – give up my daily diet staples + my most favorite foods (and drinks!) and not just for 1 year, or 2, but going on 3… I can do anything.

Honestly, those who knew me before I became gluten-free, sugar-free and sober, would have said, “No way, absolutely not.” And I would have agreed with them. This is one of the most powerful points for me. Even if everyone else around me is saying no way, and even if in my mind I may be saying the same – to me, my story proves that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

No matter what dream is on your heart or difficult decision is on your mind, it just takes courage to go against the crowd and commitment to stay the course – regardless of what comes your way.

So that’s it. Those are a few of the things I’ve learned on this crazy, so-not-like-me, beautiful journey. Thanks for joining me and encouraging me and I wish you all the BEST on your own wild, wellness path.


I went gluten free, gave up sugar and got sober - cold turkey. Here's my honest update and the top 3 things I've taken away from this experience. | Primally Pure Skincare

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Courtney O’Connor

Courtney Joy O’Connor is Primally Pure’s In-House Holistic Esthetician and Content Curator. Being in the beauty industry for over a decade, her experience + expertise with pure products, the healing power of touch and holistic skincare rituals are at the core of all she creates. She has trained extensively with industry experts across the country to offer her community the most educational content and transformative treatments. Courtney lives at the beach with her plant babies and loves road tripping, blending superfood bliss balls and exploring our big, beautiful world.