28-Day Challenge FAQs


I want to offer some detailed answers to some great questions participants have sent me about the 28-Day No-Sugar Challenge. If you have additional questions, please feel free to email me at nicole@foodandhearth.com. Here you go:

What can’t I have on the 28-Day No-Sugar Challenge?

In this challenge, we will focus on eliminating added-sugars. This is a detailed list of foods and ingredients we will be banishing for 28 days.

Is this a GRAIN-FREE challenge too?

In this challenge, we will focus on eliminating added-sugars. Unlike Whole30 and other challenges where all refined grains are eliminated, I focus on added sugars in this one.

With that said, I strongly recommend avoiding refined grains as they are metabolized much the same way as sugar. If you decide to eliminate white flours and refined carbohydrate foods from your diet during this challenge, you will most likely amplify the benefits of this challenge. Those refined carbohydrate foods are factory-made breads, pastas, tortilla chips, crackers, pretzels, just to name a few.

You used to allow green stevia on this challenge? Why did you change that?

Green stevia is an unrefined sweetener like honey and pure maple, and when it enters your system, your pancreas gets alerted that a sugary food is in the house, and the hormonal cascade your body engages in to deal with that sweet food is set into motion.

This is not healthy for the body when it’s a bad actor like refined sugar or a chemical artificial sweetener, and it is also not the best thing even if it is a naturally occurring sweetener like honey, maple or stevia, when its happening too much and too often.

Furthermore, I’d like your tastebuds to have the chance to be changed when this challenge is over, and if you are substituting out the things on our avoid list for natural sweeteners like stevia, you aren’t giving your body a chance to really evolve. I hope you need less sweetener in the longterm, and avoidance of sweetness in all its forms is a way to that result.

What about wine? Can I have alcohol on this challenge?

If your alcoholic beverage of choice contains added sugar, artificial sweetener or any of the ingredients on the list of avoided foods and ingredients, then it is not allowed at all during the challenge. From there, it’s important to know that I encourage you to abstain from all alcohol for the first 10 days. From Days 11–28, the challenge allows for four servings of alcohol.

Ideally that would mean one drink over the weekend #2, one over the weekend #3, and a splurge of two on our last weekend. As an NC, I often recommend a boundary on wine and other alcoholic beverages for day-to-day life outside the challenge. For some people, that means 1-2 drinks on 1-2 nights per week, and it varies for others. But on this challenge, the first 10 days without alcohol are critical.

One serving of alcohol =

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, vodka, etc.)

Can I have any sweeteners at all on this challenge?

It is important to note that outside of the challenge, natural sweetners can be used very sparingly by some people as part of nutrient-rich diet. That includes raw honey and Grade B maple syrup, on occasion. But for this challenge, the sweetners we will be allowed to use sparingly are:

  • sweet fruits like bananas and dates
  • applesauce

Will I need to count calories while on this challenge?

No. This is not a calorie-restricted diet. This is a way for you to remove added sugar and sugary foods from your life, and add more nutritious, less-addictive whole foods to your life. Food is more than calories. Food is information, and this is a chance for you to give your body quality information. We know that sugar is the culprit when it comes to degenerative disease, most notably raising blood sugar in the body and contributing to diabetes. Not only is added sugar a health bandit, it offers no nutrients or benefits.

I am committed to taking added sugar out of my diet for 28 days, but I will I also have to commit to spending more time and effort in the kitchen as a result?

This is a great question. It is no secret that sugary, processed foods are not only tasty, but they are easy to grab and go on a busy schedule. With that in mind, I know that meal planning, sourcing ingredients and preparing food are all things that require energy, time and bandwidth. Eating in a way that takes added sugars out of the mix even requires creativity! But with all that said, I whole-heartedly believe you can evolve to enjoy the process of preparing healthy foods, and employ shortcuts when and where you can.

When I first did a sugar cleanse back in 2011, I was spread way too thin, and any benefits I could have experienced from that challenge were mitigated by exhaustion and stress. Balance, recovery, efficiencies and a realistic approach are all part of the spirit of this program.

I know I have to eliminate added sugars, but what about other processed foods?

What is fantastic (and scary) about this challenge is that you are going to discover that most processed foods that come out of a package have sugar in them! Not only do cookies, cakes and ice-creams have sugar, so do some breads, crackers, condiments and many salad dressings. I am excited for you to cut out those food items, and I am here to help you find better alternatives for those foods with hidden sugars.

So what will I be eating on this challenge?

You can get as creative as you like, but I will also be sending daily ideas, resources and inspiration as well as recipes! I will be sharing meal plans and recipes for every time of the day including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. After the challenge is over, you will surely keep some of these recipes in your rotation.

You talk a lot about gluten-free foods and avoiding vegetable oils. Do I have to eliminate those too?

No, not for this challenge, but all of my recipes are gluten-free and vegetable-oil-free.

When and where will we meet if I opt in for the additional 1-to-1 consults?

We will schedule 20-minute calls when we can talk live.


A Nutrition Consultant does not diagnose or treat disease, but is an educator who can work in an integrative and complimentary fashion with a person’s medical treatment program. Information on foodandhearth.com is to be taken as recommendation and not medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.