Sugar-free is… The Way to Be?

If you are what you eat

then I must be sugar

which means I am sweet!

That could have been my song a little over a week ago, before I decided to (gulp!) cut sugar out of my diet for a month!  Many people have been asking me about this new sugar-free journey I’ve embarked on, so I thought it would be appropriate to share some more about it with my readers.

Why sugar free? (you might ask)  While I would love to say that I’ve gone all health nut and organic and believe this is what is best for my body blah, blah, blah, I have to be honest and tell you that there is really only one reason that I am going sugar-free: weight loss.  I’ve got about 15ish lbs of baby weight left to lose and I’m just ready to do it.  God has been teaching me a lot of lessons in my issues with body image so I’m ultimately thankful that the stubborn 15 lbs have stuck around for awhile, but now it’s time for them to go!  There are so many other diets out there though, so why sugar free? (I know, I’m so good at reading your mind and knowing what questions you would to ask me if we were talking to each other over coffee).  Well for one thing, I know that cutting sugar out for weight loss really does work, I’ve seen it happen in other women’s lives.  So, there’s that.  But I am also still nursing Riley, so that eliminates many diets from the list for me.  When you’re nursing you should eat healthy, but you want to be careful not to cut back too many calories or fat because your body and your baby need it.  So I figured going sugar free was a way that I could lose weight but not worry that it would affect nursing at all.  I am simply cutting out 1 ingredient that is not good for me or for Riley anyway.

If you’ve ever looked at nutrition labels in the grocery store (you know, if that’s like your Saturday morning hobby or something), you will have noticed that (in America) sugar is pretty much added to EVERYTHING!!  So you might also be wondering, how in the world do I do this whole sugar-free thing?  It is definitely a challenge, that’s for sure!  There are different extremes to which people do sugar free.  I am of the non-extremist sort.  Meaning: I still eat fruit because it’s natural and, let’s be real, I’m already restricted enough with sugar-free so I’m not about to cut fruit out too! Basically, what I can eat is: vegetables (except for potatoes.  Also, don’t you ever wish there were a diet where they were off limits? No, just me?), fruit, protein, most dairy, meat, and whole grain bread or pasta (with 1g or less of sugar). There are so many different books and blogs out there on how to go sugar-free; I personally have been using “Sugar Busters!”  A friend lent the book to me but what I like about this specific one is that it teaches you why it is beneficial to cut sugar out of your diet but allows you to eat fruit, anything with 1g or less of sugar, dark chocolate (if it has a large cocoa content), and BONUS: dry red wine!

What do I think so far? (So nice of you to ask!)  Honestly, days 1-3 were miserable.  A friend of mine who had gone sugar-free for a few months earlier this year warned me that in the beginning I would probably feel a little under the weather, and she was right!  For the first few days I had a headache and just felt SO grumpy and lethargic!  It seemed like anything with sugar consumed my thoughts and I even found myself drooling over a Reece’s commercial and switched channels while groaning.  It is pretty sad to think about how much sugar my body must be used to consuming daily if my body was feeling the detox so strongly only a couple of days into the diet!  Here are some example of facebook statuses of mine during those first few days:

“I never liked sugar anyway. I’d much rather eat spinach, eggs and carrots.” – a liar

Jordan
(who is also going sugar-free with me): babe, what can I eat for a snack?
me: umm…hummus, hard boiled eggs, veggies, or…. (looking around), string cheese!
Jordan: … 😦

Day 2 of sugar-free and I was already missing peanut butter cherios so bad that I straight up added sugar-free, natural peanut butter to plain cherios for breakfast. It was disgusting, I case you’re wondering. Apparently adding 1 gross item to another gross item does not equal a delicious meal. Who knew?

I made the mistake of wearing “warm vanilla sugar” scented perfume today… now I want to eat my wrist.

That is straight up drug fiend talk right there.  But then after the first few days, it got a lot better.  Here was my status on day 5:

Day 5 of sugar-free has actually been ok. It’s getting much better :). I’m getting used to the food choices I have to make, actually starting to enjoy most of them, feel like I am eating “clean” for the first time, and am not as grumpy as I was in the beginning.

oh yea, and we cheated today. So there’s that…

Ever since day 5 I’ve been feeling fine and, like I said, feel like I’m actually eating “clean.”  Yes we did cheat on day 5, but that is simply because some family friends in Richmond had invited Jordan and I over for dinner, not knowing about our diet.  We weren’t going to be rude!  I actually made it through the dinner sugar-free (I just didn’t eat the rice) but couldn’t be rude enough to resist the warm oatmeal raisin cookies and decaf coffee with sugar that they offered… (why did I just describe that?  Now I may or may not be drooling again).  No but really, I actually am stating to like it a bit.  Or am better able to tolerate it.  Whatever.  But the best part is… I am already seeing results! 🙂  We’re only a week in, but my clothes are already starting to fit a bit loosely.  I bought a pair of shorts I love a few weeks ago that had fit me perfect then, but just in this past week have gotten to the point of needing a belt.  And Jordan noticed too!  No, not in a “honey do you think I look skinny?  Or fat?” where I back him into a corner way, he just told me yesterday that he can tell a difference in a week already.  All this to say, I’m actually (gulp again!) thinking of doing this for more than a month now, maybe 2 or 3!  I figure, if it takes a couple of weeks to detox then why turn right back around and put the stuff back in my body?  Besides, by that point I will be pretty used to living like this, so might as well just keep going for a little longer, right? 😉

OK, OK, but what the heck do I eat each day?  Good question.  A couple of days into the diet I told Jordan, “I am 100% sure I am going to lose weight on this diet because not only am I eliminating sugar, I am just eating less in general because nothing I’m allowed to eat actually sounds appealing to me!”  It was true, I started eating out of necessity rather than just “ohh that looks/sounds good, I want that!”  But I am starting to get to the point where I like some of it.  Or I’m just getting used to it.  Either way.  We’ve actually been eating delicious dinners and lunch isn’t too bad, it’s breakfast and snacks that are the hardest.  Traveling is hard too.  Did you know that even Subway doesn’t offer one single thing that is sugar-free?!   You have to be careful with salads too because they LOAD sugar into salad dressings.  So sugar-free living definitely requires a lot of planning.  You can’t necessarily just “grab something on the road.”  I did find that Panera is helpful though.  On their website you can look up how much sugar is in everything, and they have some tasty options that are sugar-free!

Anyway, here are some examples of things we’ve been eating:

Breakfast (the worst):

  • plain Cheerios (blah), or with added strawberries (eh), natural peanut butter (a food atrocity), or bananas (pretty ok.  Bearable at least)
  • Whole grain English muffin with natural peanut butter (yuck)
  • in an attempt to not hate breakfast I am going to try making a breakfast casserole-ish thing for the next few days with Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough, eggs, turkey sausage, and cheddar cheese.  We’ll see how it turns out!

Lunch:

  • Salad (my favorite is spinach with berries, goat cheese, and turkey) with homemade salad dressing
  • a sandwich or panini on whole grain bread with turkey, avocado and cheese
  • On Sunday I got a mango salad from Qdoba (just didn’t eat the shell) and it was delish!

Dinner (the best):

  • salmon with roasted veggies and whole grain garlic bread
  • taco casserole (I layered crushed tortilla chips, taco seasoned ground beef, black beans, tomatoes, salsa, and cheddar and topped it with Trader Joe’s light sour cream)
  • talapia with roasted veggies (we eat a lot of fish.  And roasted veggies)
  • grilled pork, green beans, tomato & mozerella, and sliced fruit
  • tonight I made this yummy Chicken Broccoli Cheese Pasta Bake!
  • A few things on next weeks menu: Chicken mango quesadillas, shrimp & feta over whole grain pasta, and roasted sausage, peppers & sweet potatoes!

Snacks:

  • pitas with hummus
  • tortilla chips & salsa
  • whole grain Melba toast with pimento cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • string cheese
  • cucumbers with tomato bruschetta sauce & cheese on top
  • This past weekend my mother-in-law made us sugar free brownies that turned out pretty good!  I’m going to make some this weekend for when we host a dinner get-together, and I’m thinking of attempting this homemade sugar-free icing to top them 🙂  A nice little treat!

Another thing that I think will be good for me in doing this diet is that it is making me practice delayed gratification.  Honestly, there are not  many areas in my life where I have to (or chose to) do this.  A friend of mine was recently was talking to me about teaching her 3 year old son delayed gratification and I thought, “Crap.  If I want to teach this to my kids one day, I need to practice a little bit of it myself!”  So there you go.  For the one month of this diet (or 2 or 3) I will be forced to exercise some self-control in an area that I normally just do what I want.  And as I do this, it is so humbling to think about the fact that I am choosing these eating restrictions when so many others have no choice.  Poverty, accessibility, and health problems restrict many people around the world from eating whatever they want.  I hope that as I continue to ponder this reality, I will pray for those people.

Blogging and facebook exchanges about this whole thing have been very helpful accountability for week 1!  As more people know I’m doing this, my motivation grows in wanting to follow through!  Thanks to everyone who has been so thoughtful, encouraging, and interested in this journey :).

KM

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