You’ve been wondering about my no added sugar challenge, right? You’ve been thinking about me every time you eat a piece of candy, or a pastry, or a bar of chocolate, isn’t that so? You’ve been asking yourself: how is Jessica doing with that crazy challenge, anyway?
I’m here to tell you. It’s been stinking hard!
But not for the reason I thought.
Remind me again?
I decided last month to do a 30-day challenge of eating no added sugar. That meant I gave up eating desserts, cookies, candy, syrup, jam, etc. I skipped Halloween’s traditional candy binge and instead I’ve sweetened my life with things like fruit. Yep.
Sugar is added to so many foods and is not particularly healthy, so I wanted to take a break to reset my attitude and my palate.
Where are we now?
Today (Tuesday) is the 28th day of this 30-day challenge! That means I’ve got two more days and on Friday, I’ve completed it!! It dragged by in the day-to-day, but in retrospect, I feel like it wasn’t SO long.
What has been the hardest?
It turns out, the lack of added sugar wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was my HABIT OF FOOD INDULGENCE. Post dinner, while out at a coffee shop, with friends, or when I’m stressed (ie. the election) – eating something delicious as a “treat” is apparently a deeply ingrained habit for me. Without traditional “treats” as an option, I branched out…into carbs. This was not my intention, but suddenly, after dinner, I was reaching for the pita chips or eating popcorn. I’d get home late from an aerial class and head to the kitchen, later chastising myself for eating when I wasn't even hungry because it felt relaxing.
I realized that I haven’t been physically craving sweets, but I relied on them psychologically. It was disappointing to discover that I couldn’t all of a sudden be satisfied with a cup of tea, I wanted more. Alas!
As the challenge went on, I did enjoy a bit of dessert wine in the evening in an attempt to curb the extra carb intake. Then, just last week, I started going straight to the source and sugared up by eating grapes. WOW, they are sweet. And quite satisfying.
What has changed?
My tolerance for sweetness, definitely. I’m noticing that foods are sweeter than I thought and I can immediately tell when something has sugar added to it (because it tastes awesome, duh). What a snazzy trick!
I have been feeling really good too. I haven’t had any sugar-induced mood swings or crankiness and my health has been great. This is anecdotal evidence, and luckily, I rarely got sick before...but still, I think it’s made some difference.
So now what?
I would love to keep up with 100% no added sugar full-time in the future. But I am pretty sure I won’t. It was easier to quit cold turkey temporarily than it will be for me to hem and haw over how much sugar is okay and how much is too much for the foreseeable future. I will try though. I’m planning to limit dessert eating to fruit and dark chocolate at home. I’m planning to celebrate with desserts out at restaurants less often.
And I did discover that I can enjoy (yes, I can!) both almond milk and granola with no added sugar. Incorporating both of these into my regular diet instead of the sugarier versions I used to eat seems like a worthwhile and completely doable permanent change.
And now, onward into a minimally sugared future!