or, alternative title: update on my month-long sugar fast. but that was too boring to put as the actual title.
if you hadn’t heard, i took the month of march and cut out all added sugars.
and then, on march 31st, i celebrated with a homemade fudge pop for dessert with friends!
it was glorious. oh and let me tell you – these fudge pops were pretty amazing. super easy to make and utterly rich and delicious. they literally tasted like a creamy frozen brownie on a stick. (and if you make 8 pops, according to this recipe, they are under 160 calories each! the recipe called for whole milk but i only had 1% – still tasted amazing AND reduced the calories to less than 150 each! w00t w00t!)
but this post is not about delicious fudge pops. i’m here to tell you how the sugar free month of March went.
overall, it wasn’t all that bad! i mean, you can still eat lots of really yummy things without consuming sugar. heck, you can still eat lost of really UNHEALTHY things without consuming sugar, haha! and while my reasons for doing this fast were primarily health oriented, in no way did i assume that this magically made me “healthy” on all levels. don’t worry, i’m not that delusional. healthier. we’re going for healthier.
i only had 2 “cheats,” and one was by accident. during the first week i got a passion tea lemonade from starbucks with no classic syrup. i could have sworn that someone had told me that the classic syrup was the only added sweetener in that drink! it wasn’t until several hours after i had consumed it that i found out that the lemonade they put in is sweetened. bummer. but at least it wasn’t an intentional cheat, right? the other cheat was gum. i chewed gum several times during the month and it wasn’t sugar free. and i don’t feel bad about that at all.
there were definitely some tough moments throughout the month…
– afternoons and evenings were when i wanted sugar the most.
– going to starbucks was no longer fun. i basically had 2 options: coffee w/ half&half or naturally sweetened tea (because i don’t believe in artificial sweeteners). neither of which are favorites. or why i go to starbucks in the first place!
– i had to watch out for little things like iced tea or the fortune cookies at pei wei.
– i was tempted to cheat on bready things, like cornbread or naan bread – both of which i wanted to make to accompany a meal, but both typically are made with sugar.
– i was really closing to cheating at disneyland. but i didn’t. but like i said before – there are still lots of delicious foods to be eaten that aren’t sugary!
– my in-laws were super nice and didn’t plan/prepare desserts for family night so that i wouldn’t be tempted or have to sit and watch them enjoy ashley’s homemade cookies (which i LOVE) while they ate them in front of me. i kept telling them that it was fine, but they stuck it out with me. 🙂
– sweet beverages were the hardest, hands down. several times zach and i would get burgers and i just really wanted some of his soda. just a sip! or the weather warmed up and i really wanted a passion tea lemonade from starbucks. or a vanilla iced coffee w/ milk. or an iced nonfat chai.
i think that’s what i realized toward the end – that the hardest thing for me to give up was the sweet drinks. passing on cookies or desserts wasn’t nearly as hard as going to the movie theater and getting 100% orange juice. or getting a burger and not being able to wash it down with a few sips of my husband’s coke. or going to starbucks and ordering the vanilla rooibus tea latte (it’s not bad, it’s just nowhere near any of my sbux favs). or watching the World of Color show at Disneyland (in the cold) and holding a cold water bottle instead of a small nonfat mocha. it was the drinks that i found myself really missing and “craving” during the latter half of the month.
ways i found to substitute/modify:
– all fruit smoothies (either made at home or from Jamba Juice) were a great alternative to my mid-afternoon or post dinner sweetness craving. however, given the blood sugar issues that i already have, i can’t do a smoothie as a meal replacement. even the natural sugars still spike my blood sugar too quickly if i’m really hungry or there’s no accompanying protein.
– swapping out plain yogurt (no sugar) instead of vanilla yogurt (has added cane sugar) for my strawberry-yogurt-granola parfaits made minimal difference in taste – awesome!
– honey is my new best friend. yes, i recognize that it’s still an added sugar in the technical sense, but it’s far more natural and WAY better for you. i’ve started using it in a lot of baking now.
– i found a recipe for cornbread that didn’t include any sugar (see 4th item above). a little butter and honey on top and i was a happy camper!
– i made my favorite bran muffin recipe and instead of adding 2/3 cup brown sugar, i used 1/3 cup molasses and 1/4 cup flax and they turned out pretty good. even my husband liked them, which is rather shocking! i’m planning to make them again and use honey instead of molasses because i do like a slightly sweeter muffin.
– i now spend a bit more money on no-added-sugar strawberry preserves. i have a special place in my heart for butter/jam on toast with my scrambled eggs. and while i do actually like the sprouted whole grain bread i’ve been eating from trader joe’s, not having anything sweet on there just makes it a little bit tougher to get down. i need mah jelleh!
– remember the chai tea concentrate recipe i shared with y’all a number of months back? i tried making it with just honey and no brown sugar and it tasted great! now i can have decaf AND sugar free chai – score!
– i enjoyed a german pancake at a friend’s house (hers had no sugar in the batter). drizzled with honey and topped with fruit – it was delicious!
changes i’m making semi-permanently:
– nearly all of the things listed above were so easy and really didn’t make very much of a difference taste-wise, that i’m planning to continue doing them!
– turns out, i can handle drinking coffee with just half&half. i don’t drink coffee every morning, but when i do, i can live with no sugar.
– i’d like to try picking up some stevia to use sparingly when i do want to sweeten something up a little (not necessarily as a sugar substitute in baking or anything).
– i do best with hard lines and firm boundaries. even if i set them for myself. gray areas are not helpful for me when it comes to discipline and planning. (i thrived on chore charts and check-boxes as a child. shocker, i know.) so my new, semi-permanent plan for being healthier when it comes to sugar intake, is this:
~ Wed-Sat are no sugar days (just like during the month of march).
~ Mon & Tues are the days that are ok to have treats and fun drinks and sugar.
~ Sundays I will try to refrain, but allow exceptions (if we decide to go to Starbucks on the way to church, or we go out for lunch with friends after church, etc). I think this plan will work out really well because Wed-Sat are our “week days” (the days Zach works). Mon is when we have family night and Tues is typically our date day/night when we do fun outings together and enjoy treats.
a couple days after my “fast” ended, my mom sent me this video that 60 Minutes did about recent studies and discoveries about the negative effects of sugar on your body. most of this stuff my mom – and tons of other people in the naturopathic world – already knew, but still. helpful and very cool that 60 Minutes aired it!
(what is especially exciting to me now, is how much Zach has been getting on board with wanting to improve his diet and lifestyle as well. he has started to make similar eliminations and we’re eating a lot of the same things these days!)