I Gave Up Gluten, Sugar And Alcohol For A Year And This Is What Happened.

Impossible. That’s what immediately consumed my mind when I first felt to give up 3 of my most favorite things. Ever. These were my dietary staples and what society flaunts in front of my face on the daily. Giving up gluten, sugar AND alcohol? IMPOSSIBLE.

And yet, here I sit over a year and a half later, having done the impossible. And feeling healthier, stronger and more nourished than ever. In skin, soul and spirit.

This past year hasn’t been easy – I won’t sugar coat it 😉 – but isn’t it crazy and so true that sometimes the hardest decisions really are the best ones for us? I knew all about the negative effects that gluten and sugar had on my body, my mind and my skin – I had visited naturopaths, read articles and watched documentaries – and beautiful skin was a big deal to me.

Being a part of the beauty industry for nearly a decade and working as an esthetician, I quickly became passionate about caring for skin from the inside out. And I felt that if I wanted to be a leader in the industry and have authority with my guests who came to see me for skin advice and provide answers from an authentic place for holistic wellness, I needed to live it out first.

How could I continue to eat bread (seriously my favorite food!), pasta and pastries when I knew how gluten caused issues with digestion and digestion is essential for gut health and gut health is essential for skin health?

How could I keep treating myself to foods full of refined sugars when I knew how sugar caused inflammation in the body and the breakdown of the health and strength of our cells + skin? And how could I down a glass of wine (pass the Chardonnay please!) or pour a cocktail when I knew how alcohol actually contains both gluten AND sugar?

When this conviction came over me, I started realizing how hard this was actually going to be as I skimmed restaurant menus, read food labels and passed by dessert trays at parties. Gluten, sugar and alcohol are everywhere. And more times than not, gluten and sugar are hidden in ingredient lists (looked at your yogurt or salad dressing labels lately?), disguised under different names (i.e. high fructose corn syrup or fruit juice) or replaced with other unhealthy alternatives.

I knew if I was going to succeed, I was going to have to get creative.

Creativity is fun and exciting and adventurous – it doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. And that’s what I’ve discovered along this journey of going gluten-free, refined sugar-free and becoming my sister’s certified DD. I’ve found that any foods I used to enjoy that were made with wheat flour, white sugar or red wine, I can actually create the same delicious flavor + food but with very different ingredients. Ingredients that are nourishing and life giving and that strengthen my skin, make my mind clear, heal my gut and give my body the boost it’s actually hungry for.

Since incorporating new, creative and fresh food choices, I have seen a significant shift in my skin + entire self. Our skin, soul and spirit are all connected and getting creative with beauty + well-being has abundant benefits that extend deeper than what we can simply see. I can truly attest to that.

My family and friends have even consistently made comments on how they believe this is the best I’ve ever looked. I agree, and will also add, this is the best I’ve ever felt.

Once plagued with problematic breakouts, my skin is now consistently more smooth and clear. (And of course, joining the PP team and switching to non-toxic skincare has had a big part to play in that!) My body feels stronger and my belly and legs have naturally slimmed. My mind is sharper and I definitely don’t miss those hangover headaches. My spirit feels more connected to myself, to others and to the world around me.

Giving up gluten, sugar and alcohol has caused me to slow down before making decisions and mindfully choose what to put on my plate and pour in my glass. I have become more conscious, I have become more aware and ultimately, I have become more alive.

This choice I made over a year ago started with a conviction, was sparked with creativity and suddenly became contagious. I’ve been able to share the story behind my “no thank you, I’m not drinking tonight” and my “hold the bun, please” with curious minds and people who feel stuck in their sugar rut.

My story may be different from your story. You don’t have to go cold turkey. You don’t have to radically change your diet all at once. But I hope you can pull some positive perspectives or encouragement that anything is possible.

You can transform your health and way of life. It is possible to say no. It is possible to say yes. You’re not alone. You’re worth it.

I share my story to show how conviction and creativity can fuel a fresh way of living that’s contagious. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s fulfilling. And actually, I don’t view my decision to give up gluten, sugar and alcohol as cutting out anything. I’m really not missing out. I’m gaining so much more than I ever gave up.

My gluten-free go-tos:

  • replacing grains with greens (lettuce wrap everything)
  • coconut + almond flours

My sugar swaps:

  • coconut sugar
  • raw + local honey

My alcohol alternatives:

  • kombucha
  • sparkling water + lime + mint leaves

"Giving up gluten, sugar AND alcohol? IMPOSSIBLE. And yet, here I sit over a year and a half later, having done the impossible. And feeling healthier, stronger and more nourished than ever. In skin, soul and spirit."  Get the whole story here, plus inspiration for your own clean eating journey! | Primally Pure

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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.