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Monday, April 20, 2015

Going No Sugar

Last month Mike, Trish and I went on a strict no sugar diet. (I hate that the word diet implies a desire to lose weight. I use it to mean "eating plan.")  The rules we followed were fairly strict- no sugar, no added sweeteners, no artificial sweeteners, no honey, no fruit, no starches (bread, flour, potatoes, corn, sweet peas, rice, etc), no peanut butter. It was 21 days of strict eating. We went into it because we all had some poor eating habits, and some dependence of eating something sweet as a pick me up. I honestly thought," this will make me not want candy, but that that's all I (might) get out of it."

I was so wrong. I learned so much about food in general and processed food in specific. It completely changed the way I think about everything I eat. I learned that there is sugar in everything. Every. Thing. All those bottles of condiments, dressings, sauces, soy sauce, salsa, mayo. All of it. There is sugar in roasted almonds. There is sugar in most lunch meat, bacon, sausage, ham, jerky. Most yogurt, even plain yogurt. It was a long 3 weeks of reading labels. We ate a lot of salads and grilled chicken. Some days two meals a day.

I learned that even though  I thought sugar didn't really affect me, that I was so so wrong. That mid-morning "low sugar" shaky crash that I was just attributing to not eating "enough" breakfast? Completely gone. Even if I was hungry, it was just a localized feeling, not a full body faintness. In general, so long as I ate meals, I stayed on a more level keel. Also, I never thought of myself as someone who was regularly bloated or had um, digestive issues, but when I returned to eating sugar, specifically bread and pasta, I was suddenly aware of just how they make me feel and make my body react. While I was following the diet I didn't realize how well my body was working, but it was abundantly clear after eating pizza and cake at the boys' party last weekend.

Things that people said would happen, but didn't: My skin isn't magically glowing and clear. I didn't suddenly feel less tired/have more energy. When it was over and I had some Easter candy, it wasn't disgustingly sweet. I did want much less of it, but it wasn't shockingly sweet to me.

What I really truly didn't expect? That I'd lose 8 pounds. That it would linger, that I'd hold onto a lot of the new habits. That I'd consider doing it full time (with a few modifications, I'll get to that.) That snacking would be SO hard- every snack I ever relied on was out, leaving only nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, and cottage cheese. These get really old, really fast. Especially if these are also what you eat for breakfast. That I would absolutely cringe when I tried to drink a soda afterwards.

As for doing it again- we are still working out how we want to approach it, but I think all three of us are going back to it, with some modifications. For example, I'm going to allow sweetened coconut milk in my coffee. Small amounts of fruit. Sugar Free peanut butter. Granola with a low sugar content. I'm going to "choose well" at restaurants, but not worry too much about being perfect. I'm going to allow beer. I'm going to look for sugar free options for sauces, but I'm not going to disallow soy sauce for having sugar. I'm not going to eat candy, pastries, fries, pizza, or bread with every meal. I'm going to allow myself a "fancy coffee" if I ever happen to be in a town with a Starbucks. When the local ice cream place has "coconut" for the flavor the day, I'm going to have some. I realize that some people just live like this, which is my goal. I'm realistic. I know I can't maintain it forever, but if I could make it my normal that would be terrific.

Now if I could only get my running routine back...


  1. I am so jealous of your twenty one days without sugar. It is soooooo hard to give that up. I have had spans of time where I really limited my sugar intake, but it is hard. I just had a weekend where I was totally off any healthy eating plan and it stunk. I didn't feel good at all, but I liked how the food tasted while I was eating it. I do feel much better without sugar in my diet. It's just hard since everything seems to have sugar in it. Congratulations! I am interested to see how you modify this for the future.

  2. I really try to limit my sugar intake but have never gone without it completely. I'm sure this will change your eating habits for the rest of your life.

  3. There are a few things that have stuck with me--I never did add sweetener back in my coffee and even at Starbucks I'll just get a regular latte. The milk makes it so rich that I don't miss the sweetness. Or maybe I'm trying to convince myself that I can't remember what it tastes like. I did binge a bit on candy but haven't really touched it in a while.

    But the bloated feeling! My midsection felt SO much better off sugar. Now that I've been off for a few weeks, have binged on wine and margaritas, I'm ready to try to make the lifestyle change. More veggies, pairing fruit with protein. Not as much junky snacks (I mean, really, why did I buy that huge bag of BBQ chips?)

    SO glad you did this with me. :)

  4. It's been interesting reading the experience that you and Trish had. I'm still trying to formulate what might be a reasonable 'low sugar diet' for me. I will say that I turned down cake the other night with the family and didn't feel bad about it. And I didn't finish the piece of pecan pie that I got a week or so ago. Just too sweet. I'm trying to limit the sugar to fresh fruit, but I've not started yet on condiments - ketchup, etc. So many things have sugar. It's shocking.

  5. You gals are amazing. So I say as I sit here and eat my second donut.

  6. I find this very inspiring to hear and it really makes me want to try this myself. I hate the idea of no creamer in my coffee but we've discussed that already. Lol! I am currently trying to work on working out on a regular basis which is a struggle in itself. If you guys do is again please do let me know. I would definitely like to try! Great job!

  7. I know you posted this a while ago, but wanted to share that I am doing the Whole30 right now. The no sugar thing is so hard! I am only at Day 10 so far. I felt like I might have had a chance to lose weight doing this, but then I wend and broke my finger (and ripped the fingernail out of the nail bed), so I haven't been able to work out. :(


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