Today is the last day of my no added sugar month. I decided to try eliminating all added sugar (and sugar substitutes) from my diet for a month, after reading this article, and this book. (You can read more about my motivation and framework for this challenge here.) My primary motivation was to draw my attention to the amount of sugar in the foods I regularly consume. Here are some of my take-aways from this month of
hell sugarless eating:
- There’s added sugar in almost everything we – or at least – I, eat. I started scanning ingredient lists for sugar a week or two before I started this challenge, so I was pretty aware of which of my regular foods – and I’m a fairly regimented eater – I would have to avoid. Some things, like pita bread, “healthy” cereals, rice in the sushi I grab at the grocery store, and some dried fruits, surprised me, though.
- I don’t consume a huge amount of sugar on a regular basis. Yes, there’s some sugar in many of the foods I eat. And yes I go overboard with sugar one some occasions. (I’m looking at you birthday ice cream cake and Christmas cookies!) Do I consumer more sugar than I should? Probably. (Definitely, according to Gary Taubes in The Case Against Sugar.) But overall, I think I have a good amount of moderation in my diet.
- Not everyone notices much of a change when they eliminate sugar. I did not lose much weight, feel more energetic, experience a miraculous improvement in my sleep or clearing of my skin, or notice any other significant difference in the way I looked or felt. This was not the goal of this
tormentexercise, but I’ve heard many people claim these things happened for them when the stopped consuming sugar. Why not me? The few potential explanations that I’ve come up with are that a month is not enough time to experience a significant change; those other people were consuming more sugar than I was when they cut it out, so the difference was more noticeable for them; or that sugar simply impacts some people differently. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the miraculous changes some people experience is just the placebo effect.
- I’m a more regimented eater than I realized. I essentially ate the same things every day this month: toast or oatmeal for breakfast; salad and an apple with peanut butter, or one of the Lean Cuisine options without sugar for lunch; and nuts, fruit, cheese, or crackers (Triscuits or Saltines) for snacks. I also really struggled with feeling like I wasn’t “done” without a treat after dinner. I had grown amazingly accustomed to having a chocolate (or two), some ice cream, or something else sweet, in the evening.
- It’s much easier to avoid sugar when you cook your own food. Making dinner at home was easy to do without sugar. Unless a recipe called for ketchup or some other condiment, I didn’t even have to give much thought to the presence of sugar. Dining out was more challenging. I ate several burgers without buns, had to retract a reflexive Diet Coke order, and looked on wistfully as my husband ate tortilla chips.
Did I Cheat??
Sort of, but only once. One of the Blue Apron meals we had this month included a number of Asian condiments, and I suspect at least one of them contained sugar. There was definitely a sweetness to the rice, which I think came from the mirin. Other than that, I never knowingly cheated. I include “knowingly”, because I wasn’t willing to badger restaurant servers about every ingredient in a menu item, such as the burrito bowl I ordered at a local Mexican restaurant. (It was supposed to be a burrito, but I did ask the server about sugar in the tortillas.)
Have you given up added sugar for any period of time? Did it make a difference in how you felt/looked/slept,or anything else?
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