30-Day Challenge: No Added Sugar

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I have decided that I want to eat in a more healthful and purposeful way. I believe that a big part of sustainable food is made up of everyone’s individual food choices and I am guilty of making many food choices that don’t align with my food values. That really bugs me! And I want to change it.

Part One of my plan to change my eating habits involves a new 30-day challenge. And it starts tomorrow, the 19th.

I was inspired to create this challenge by one of my aerial silks instructors when she casually mentioned that she doesn’t eat added sugars.

WHAT?!

I have a sweet tooth, I love convenience, and a lot of the pleasure of eating with my friends and family centers around dessert – so giving up added sugars wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. But then I kept thinking about the benefits of trying it and I decided I wanted to incorporate it into a challenge for myself.

I will still be eating some things that taste sweet (like fruit, including dried fruit), but I will not be eating traditional desserts. If things get desperate, I may allow myself some honey, but initially, I’m aiming to avoid it.

 

Why is this healthy?

To put it bluntly, sugar is not good for us. Ok, we all already knew that, but the part that we aren’t as familiar with is how much sugar is added to SO many foods. It is a big part of making processed foods irresistible. The sugar we eat that occurs naturally as part of a peach (for example) comes with fiber and other nutrients to modulate the sugar. The sugar we eat in chocolate chip cookies does not. Those cookies cause a fast spike in blood sugar levels, which requires insulin to be released from the pancreas. Insulin regulates our bodies by removing glucose from our bloodstream. Too much sugar over and over can lead to all kinds of chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease.

Interested in learning more about why sugar is bad for you? See here and here.

 

Why is this challenge sustainable?

This is an exercise in health and in that sense, it incorporates individual sustainability. Additionally, a LOT of those foods with sugar added to them are the unhealthy processed foods, so skipping those will cut down on my consumption, and financial patronage, of processed foods and big food companies (sweet!).

Because I will be bringing sweetness to my life through fruit, I will seek out the most delicious and most sustainable fruit I can find.

What will be hard about this?

This 30-day challenge will mean changing my post-meal patterns. I am very used to eating sweets, just a small --- ok, medium--- amount after a meal. It will be hard to skip that. I’m planning to stock up on delicious herbal teas to try as my post-dinner go-to and plenty of savory treats (Humbolt Fog goat cheese). I will have to check food labels carefully; sugar is added to many things that we wouldn’t ordinarily think of, for example: ketchup, tomato sauce, and yogurt.

In full disclosure, I’ve decided not to be extremely nit-picky about this challenge. If something has 1 or 2 grams of sugar added, I won’t sweat it. This is about the large amounts, not the tiny amounts.

 

A note on artificial sweeteners:

I’ve decided not to substitute real sugar with artificial sweeteners in this challenge. I know that it would make the 30 days easier, but artificial sweeteners just aren’t my thing. I don’t love the taste and I don’t love the idea. I hardly ever consume them as is, so staying away should be a piece of cake.

 

So that’s the plan. Got any recipes or advice? Want to join in? Let me know!