Last month, I wrote about my No Sugar Challenge and I got a bunch of questions and responses.
Going without added sugar for a period of time is clearly on many people’s minds. I went off sugar for three weeks under the guidance of a registered dietitian and I had a very positive experience.
First big question: Did you stop artificial sweeteners for the challenge?
I did not use artificial sweeteners for three weeks. This was easy for me because I don’t like them very much. Artificial sweeteners and natural forms such as stevia, make foods really sweet. My hope was that the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables would taste more sweet to me without any added sugar or sweeteners.
The good news is that tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, ripe bananas, and blueberries are all tasting sweeter to me now that I cut back.
Did you lose any weight?
I did not move the scale and I am not sure why that is. I did find that my pants fit a bit better in my waist so that was good. Perhaps I still ate as many calories as when I was eating sugar and so I didn’t lose any pounds. My goal was not to restrict the amount I was eating – simply to change what I was eating.
I can’t live without beer!
Yes, I hear you. I think all of us are attached to certain foods for many reasons and giving them up seems crazy. I fought beer and she gave me 4 ounces of red wine per day. I did the challenge for three weeks and found that I could live without beer. Did I love living without it? No, but I can do it.
This is not the rest of your life! I drink a Corona Light now and then to keep my added sugar down and occasionally have more calorific beer.
How much sugar did you have in your bread and what low sugar breads did you eat?
The low sugar bread thing was hard! Sugar is added to bread to jumpstart the fermentation process so I believe all breads have added sugar. I found some with only 1 gram of added sugar and I stuck to them. My favorite is Silver Hills Bakery Squirrelly and is fluffier than most of the sprouted breads that I have tried – see the above photo.
Check out my post: bread with no added sugar.
Did my cholesterol level go down?
This challenge was prompted by a high cholesterol level found in my blood at my routine yearly physical. Side note: if you haven't had a physical in a while there is no time like NOW! I hate cliches but - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - or something like that.
My doctor asked me to see a registered dietitian nutritionist and I took her up on the offer. Unfortunately, it takes more than 3 weeks to see the effect of a change in diet on cholesterol levels so I did not see a lower number in my subsequent blood test. They said it would take about 6 months of eating healthier to see a lower number.
Did you know that three out of four diabetics die from heart attack or stroke – not diabetes? Excess sugar damages the artery wall lining and leads to an increase risk of heart attack over time.
If I really want to decrease my risk for heart disease, I need to cut back on sugar.
Do I need to cut back? I don’t eat a lot of sugar.
You know, I didn’t think I ate a lot of sugar, either. I write this website and I spend much of my time contemplating a healthy diet and lifestyle. I was not at risk for diabetes but my RD told me that most of us still eat too much sugar.
She explained how hard it is to be healthy with our current affluent lifestyle and she compared me with a goat herder. My lifestyle is sedentary, filled with rich food, and packed with far more treats than a goat herder in Sicily. I know it seems like a silly comparison but I believe we are descendants of goat herders and our bodies demand action, vegetables, and not a lot of rich foods.
It is a serious challenge to buck the culture and eat only whole grains, no added sugar, and lean meats.
After the challenge, what are you supposed to do?
My RD wants me to eat in a healthy way 80% of the time. The other 20%, I can have my sugar, beer, and cheese. I am finding it very difficult to keep to 80% because of things like my daughter’s birthday party, going out to eat, and the general fun of enjoying delicious food. I am a work in progress and am contemplating another 3 weeks as a reset. This shift is harder than I thought. There are so many temptations!!
If you want to read about all the rules of my initial no sugar challenge check out: No Sugar Challenge
Have you tried a no sugar challenge? How did it go?
Other posts you might like:
This No Sugar Challenge is brought to you by my high cholesterol numbers in January......
Do you know how hard it is to find bread with no added sugar? Recently, I went off of sugar for three weeks and I had to search!....