Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sugar we're going down

A couple months ago Nate watched the documentary Sugar the Bitter Truth. He hadn't even made it all the way through before he announced that he was going to be doing a three-week sugar fast. I'm always down for eating healthier so I decided to join him.

The three weeks was completely arbitrary. We wanted it to be long enough to actually try it, but not so long that we gave up our goal because it felt too overwhelming. I was surprised that the three weeks came and went and I really didn't miss sugar all that much.

One thing I should add, we didn't give up fruits and vegetables. My personal benchmark for whether a diet is good or not is whether it allows you to eat fruits and vegetables. My feeling is that any diet that prohibits fruits and vegetables can't be that healthy or sustainable. I know some fruits and veggies are better than others, but completely restricting them just doesn't seem right to me.

The hardest part about this diet was all the research. I read a ton of articles and blogs to find ways to cut out the sugar and I thought I'd share some of the things I learned.
1. Allow for more time. The hardest part for me was the time it took. I had to really search to find good recipes. In order to not miss the sugar, I wanted to cook good meals. I was surprised that finding sugar-free lasagna noodles was easy compared to finding sugar-free tomato sauce. Also, I was making trip after trip to the market to buy more fresh produce. It is crazy how fast we have been going through it.

2. Set some rules. Make sure to create your own parameters that you feel good about. Like I said before, we kept eating fruit. We also allowed for bread baked with honey (as opposed to refined sugar). We didn't use any artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Stevia, etc.). I feel like the jury is still out on the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners and I didn't want to replace one bad habit with another. Nate has a friend who has been doing this for a while and his rule is that if he is in a bind, it must have less than 6g of sugar.

3. Plan ahead. There will come a time when you feel like you don't have options and you'll need to grab something fast so plan for this. For some reason, almonds have become our go-to for this. I can't believe how satisfying they are. We are kinda addicted now.

4. Sugar is everywhere. Be prepared to be shocked by how much sugar there is in everything. Basically if it has a label, it has sugar.

5. Use your common sense. I was surprised that a lot of bad things don't contain sugar. (Reddi-wip doesn't have sugar!) I didn't let myself go crazy with these items just because they didn't have sugar.

6. Don't try to do too many restrictions at the same time. We didn't restrict calories at all. We could eat whenever we wanted and however much we wanted.

7. Let your friends know. It was also difficult in social situations. However, I feel like it's a lot more acceptable lately to say, "I'm just not eating sugar right now." People get it. In fact, we found out a lot of friends have a similar diet.

8. Mindless sugar eating is ridiculous. You will also be surprised how often you were eating sugar. It's everywhere. I couldn't believe how much sugar I had been eating mindlessly. That is the easy stuff to cut out and makes you feel a lot better about yourself.

9. Don't expect the results of refined sugar. I couldn't have done this if I had given up fruit as well. It saved me every afternoon. I read somewhere that when you have a sugar craving, eat fruit and then wait 20 minutes. I guess that refined sugar gives you an immediate sugar rush, but natural sugar takes longer. It takes patience, but it honestly worked every time I ate a piece of fruit.

10. I've got nothing. I don't have a #10. I just feel like lists of 10 are cooler than lists of 9.

I thought this was going to be impossible, but I ended up enjoying it. I honestly don't think I have ever eaten this well or felt this healthy in my entire life. (I feel like I'm on one of those infomercials, "Not eating sugar cured all my health problems!") The benefits definitely outweigh the time and commitment. And, after doing it for a little while, it has become easy and natural.

And yes, we do now enjoy our treats. However, I am more conscious of it. I don't eat as large of a portion or as often. We try to make treats that have fruit or other naturally sweetened ingredients.

At least I was doing great until Surf and Slurp opened up for summer. Now we'll see how well things go...


amanda said...

Wow! Way to go... but yeah, I'll be at Surf N' Slurp daily this summer!

annie leavitt said...

I cut out sugar for 2 months a few years is depressing that it is in everything!

Funny...I just cut outsugar for a week 2 weeks ago. Felt so good! Great minds think alike eh?

Margaret said...

You have the self-control of a Jedi Master. This was hard to read when sandwiched between a recipe for Nutella truffles and a cocktail post in my Google Reader. May the force be with you.

Brenda said...

Good advice!

Shannon said...

I've wanted to try cutting out sugar for some time now. Thanks for the great tips!