No Sugar Challenge

April 3, 2018   35 Comments

This No Sugar Challenge is brought to you by my high cholesterol numbers in January.

No Sugar Challenge

Yours truly was given a challenge for three weeks from a registered dietitian nutritionist who was out to change my ways. This is what I had to do when it came to sugar:

1. No added sugar
2. No white rice or white bread
3. Only whole grains
4. No beer only 4 ounces of red wine per day

No added sugar rules out a lot of stuff like cookies, brownies, ketchup, honey, jam, and juice.

She told me that after I did the challenge, foods that I thought would taste good would stop tasting as good to me. I was very curious to find out if what she was saying was true. Would I stop liking brownies, white rice, or chocolate?

The first thing I had to do was take a look at my bread. It was Dave’s Killer Bread and it had 5 grams of ADDED SUGAR. Dave’s bread is organic and whole grain but it would not make the grade for my challenge.

I wrote about my favorite bread with no added sugar after I recognized that I could not eat Dave’s and stay on my challenge. My new bread and I made friends and I started the day with avocado or peanut butter toast.

I made brown rice in my rice cooker and stayed away from all desserts.

Was this hard? YES!

What did I do if I had a sugar craving? She did not rule out fruit or dates. Medjool dates are a favorite of mine and have a lot of natural sugar. If I wanted a cookie, I ate a date. I could have done the same thing with raisins.

You could say that I was cheating but I asked her if dates were okay before I started the challenge. I ate apples, oranges, and bananas so I was still getting sugar but not processed sugar.

Initially, I thought that to stop eating sugar you had to just cut out sweet things but the white rice and white flour got my attention. I dropped crackers except for Triscuits (which are whole grain).

After three weeks of this, I was ready to be done. I missed my treats and I was wondering if what she said about tasting food differently would be true.

A couple of weeks after I finished the challenge, I had a food emergency and hit a Starbucks for a brownie. I love their fudgy brownies with a hot cup of coffee. My first bite blew my mind. How could I eat this? It tasted absolutely terrible.

I am not kidding you. I was sickened by the cloying sweetness of the brownie and I threw it out. Never again.

Another night, I took my son to our favorite ice cream place for a treat. This is a small business with very delicious flavors. I bought my usual “kiddie” size of vanilla (boring, I know) and took a bite. I gagged at how sweet it was. Again, it didn’t taste how I remember it tasting.

I would not say that the effect of the no sugar challenge was sudden. It kinda crept up on me that these foods that I used to enjoy tasted very bad to me now.

The other day, I ate a fresh strawberry and it tasted SO SWEET. Like never before had I tasted one that sweet and I am wondering if it was the strawberry or if it is me.

I think it is kind of amazing that my tastebuds and cravings changed in only three weeks. The no sugar challenge has made it much easier for me to avoid eating empty calories as I am more aware of eating sugar.

The sugar in fruit, on the other hand, is far more satisfying than it was before. All hail to the mighty orange!

Have you tried a no sugar challenge? Did it change you? Would you give it a shot if you knew it would help you be healthier?

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Did you also cut artificial sweeteners for your challenge? Just thinking about whether I could survive without my equal in coffee...

Very interesting outcome. I am just curious - and not that weight loss is always the ultimate goal, it is more about health - but did the scale change much with making these changes over the three week period? I don't think I eat a lot of sugar, but I also like my little treats, so I imagine if I tried a similar experiment (no sugar, etc., for three weeks) that another possible benefit would be some weight loss.

I stopped eating so much refined sugars and I’ve also noticed gradually that I’ve been eating less and less chocolate, cookies, brownies, cereals etc... i rarely reach for those now and have turned into one of those people that reaches for a banana, some piece of fruit, yogurt etc... I’m THAT person! It crept up on me so slowly I didn’t even realise. It has made a difference on my waist line too but it’s not something I had my eye on, it’s a nice side effect of it :)

How much sugar in the bread was acceptable? Did she give you a total amount of grams of sugar you’re allowed to consume daily? I do agree that not eating sugary foods makes them taste awful when you do have that first bite.

How much sugar was allowed in your bread?

@Sarah - I did cut out artificial sweeteners. I don't like them so it was easy but I think if you are trying to reset your taste buds - it would be important to stop using them.

@CD - I thought I would lose pounds but I did not. I noticed that my waist line shrunk - less muffin top - but I didn't measure it. But it may be different for different body types. I don't think I was eating an excessive amount of sugar before the challenge.

@Lou - She said NO added sugar but they use sugar in bread to start the fermentation process with the yeast so it gets consumed before we eat it. I would say 1-2 grams per serving is okay.

Great questions!! Thank you!

I’ll keep Dave’s Killer bread just for the occasional sandwich and I’m not a sweet eater unless it’s chocolate with nuts. The thing I can’t seem to let go of is sweetner for my black coffee. I switched from Sweet and Low to Stevia and that took a good week for my taste buds to accept the change next is the total elimination.

Hi, I have not had sugar or any kind of sweetener or any kind of flour since May 1st. No dried fruits are allowed on my eating plan either. Over the Easter weekend I ate one Reese's Cluster and found it was not great like I anticipated. I expected the chewiness of a Snickers. It was not. On Easter the host had PB Snicker bites in a bowl. I kept saying no to myself, but as we were packing up our things to go home I HAD to have one. Well, it was not great either. So, my taste buds have changed for sure. The good thing is that because neither candy tasted wonderful I had no desire to have more than the one. I won't be needing either of those again for sure.

I have wanted to take a cut out sugar challenge but I haven’t. We used to drink soda & we gave it up. A friend of ours gave us a coupon for lunch that required purchase of soft drink so we did thinking it would be such a treat.OMG we gagged. It was like drinking sugar syrup. Needless to say, we haven’t touched any since & it’s been years.

I love me a good sugar challenge with myself and clients. I never do NO sugar though. I think that’s crazy talk which is why I call myself a misfit dietitian. I typically allow 6 tsp per day or 24g, nothing artificial. During last years July challenge my dad lost 17lb but also gave up alcohol. Low sugar products I love are Nature’s Own 100% whole wheat bread with less than 1g of added sugar and Thomas English muffin LITE multi grain which has only 1g for the whole thing plus lots of fiber and protein... score!!! As for coffee, I do a measured 1/2 tsp and add cinnamon which naturally seems to sweeten it up. I also have a fancy milk frother which is awesome!! Hope that helps and nice job Lisa changing up those taste buds. I promise the next time you do this type of challenge it gets easier!!

Congratulations to you. On Valentine’s Day I had a TIA (mini stroke). I’ve done the no sugar challenge and it works. My bread is 3g thin sliced David’s 21 seed. I’ve also stopped all added salt (saltaholic) wow what a difference. That was harder than the sugar. The big test was Easter Sunday. SUCCESS.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I think I could do this EXCEPT for the "no beer" thing. Whole grains, cutting sugar, brown rice -- not such a big deal. But NO Beer?? I might live longer, or at least it will feel that way. I've found cutting way back on sodium a harder problem.

I've recently found a whole new way to eat too. I'm following the iThrive group on FB and youtube. It's basically a WFPB diet with no SOS (sugar/oil/salt). HOWEVER, I'm not an all or nothing person. I do allow myself one egg and one fish meal/week if I want it and although I've basically eliminated all dairy I do use 1-2oz in my coffee and a rare ice cream I'm sure as summer approaches...still a thousand times better than I was eating on WW with SO MUCH animal protein. The science from these nutrition experts with iThrive shows how animal fat/protein turns on cancer genes and diabetes neither of which I care to experience...besides the WFPB recipes are AMAZINGLY delicious. I had a sweet pot w black beans and asparagus for dinner last night YUM. And yes SALT is a whole new challenge that I've not yet decided to take on, LOL.

I’m not a big bread eater, thank goodness. I do eat tortillas and I will have to check into that. I’ve been on WW since oct and list 30 lbs but I haven’t curbed my sugar but I do believe it is bad for you. Kudos on this test for you. Sounds tough. I do enjoy something at night since I’m very strict on WW during the day. I’ll have to check my intake. I would probably be surprised. I did bring my stevia exract to brunch on easter bc I do not like sugar in my coffee. However, I still do like the nurturing feeling of it in tea if I’m feelin not well.

My husband and I did the "100 days of real food" blog challenge a few years ago and, for the most part, kept up with it since, especially regarding sugar. Although it allows honey and maple syrup, they add extra flavors you don't always want. We mostly cut out sweetener entirely and ended up well under the 6 tsp (24 gr) WHO recommendations of added sugars per day.

We experienced what you did for taste. When hubby had his first sub with "honey oat bread," he took one bite and said, "Holy cow.. this is sweet!" He's also abandoned his old favorite chili (Wendy's) because it, "tastes like desert chili," now. Fruits I used to think of as just sour now have a wonderful sweetness along with the tang.

BTW, we only lost a little weight cutting out sugar. BUT, it made following a new weight loss plan later on MUCH easier. FAR less munchies or binge problems on days with little or no sugar than days with more. We haven't struggled at all since starting 18 months ago and have lost a combined 225 lbs!

Lisa: Many years ago I was told by a dietitian that a diabetic diet is a good diet to follow even it you are not a diabetic. I wished I followed her advice, since this runs in my family and now at 74 I have it. My doctor advised me to stay away from artificial sugar, which I do for the most past. I do get ice cream with Splenda. ( I have side affects from any other type) I don't eat any dried fruit because the sugar is more concentrated. I never add salt to my food either in cooking or at the table I use dried herbs with no salt (i.e. Mrs. Dash) If I also keep a diary of my food showing all the nutrition value. You would be surprise what you are eating. I do eat dark chocolate, the darker the better and less sugar. It take some getting use to. My beer would be Mich. Ultra, low in carbs but this is only about once a month. Always enjoy your news letter

@carrie what else did you do besides the sugar? That is a great deal if weight! So many congrats!!!

@Magnolia we joined Weight Watchers. I joined about 18 months ago and have lost 115. Hubby joined 13 months ago and has lost 110... actually 109.8, but that's close enough, right? :) We had done a pretty good job moving to healthier foods with "real foods," but did back-slide in the years after. We also never learned good portion control. And there have been some big surprises.

Anyhow, it looks like you can click on my name in these comments to go to my YouTube channel where I have posted nearly every day since shortly after starting WW.

@Snack Girl I'm really enjoying your blog. I had not seen it before.

This post came at the right time for me. I know I need to cut sugar out of my diet, but getting the motivation to do it is not easy. There is so much sugar in everything and finding no sugar added products can be difficult. However, I think I can handle a 3 week challenge. I'm gonna give it a go and see if I can do it.

Which low sugar breads do you use? I use Dave's killer.

I’ve been on Weight Watchers and made similar changes—I did not set out to forgo sugar on purpose, it’s just sort of happened that way during my journey. Squirrelly bread is one of my favorite breads, by the way. It is healthy and satisfying. Going back to my favorite old junk foods, they did not taste the same when I revisited them. Tastykake, a treat I grew up with, now tastes like chemicals, for lack of a better word. Funny thing, in the past, when I indulged all through the day, my junk foods were delicious. Now? Strange chemical taste. I love my strawberries. Sometimes I do sprinkle a little sugar in the raw on them:) I enjoy raw almonds, triscuits, and cotton candy grapes:) Big Y produce section is always full of fun, new things to try. I love this journey. And kudos to you for being on yours:)

What did you do for coffee? No sugar!?

so what brand of bread do you eat now with no sugar?

@Rachel- I actually don't like sugar in my coffee. I like milk and had to go to low-fat - which is okay. Thanks for the question.

My bread journey was documented here:

I ended up with Silver Springs Bakery - Squirrelly - yummy stuff!

For the last 3-4 weeks, I too have been cutting waay back on added sugar. I’ve also been trying to stick to around 1400 calories a day, eating lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and protein. Bread was my HUGE weakness so switched to Ezekiel and allowed myself 1-2 slices per day since no added sugar. Never used to like apples much but WOW they taste incredibly sweet to me now!!! I don’t crave candy anymore! I noticed the “brain fog” I always seemed to have is now gone, more energy, and I’ve lost 6 lbs!! I haven’t felt this good in quite awhile!

Lisa, thank you for your newsletter everyday I do enjoy it so much and I would like to try your no-sugar approach to life. I do eat Birch Hills bread and it's called Little Big bread which is also sprouted grain. You get two for one with little big bread and both slices for one gram of sugar.

I do get a nearly overwhelming craving for chocolate with nuts or chocolate with fruits inside... I'm going to try having none of it! Thank you and congratulations for cutting your sugar out.

I'm a big fan of your Roasted Broccoli recipe that has a teaspoon of sugar in it.

Should I stop using the added sugar here?

Have you stopped using this recipe?

We have been working on cutting back on sugar, too, at your suggestion. We didn't actually eat that much compared to many people but, now that we know it's not harmless, we decided that maybe we should eat less. Years ago when I would make traditional cookie or brownie recipes, I always cut the recommended sugar amount in HALF and no one ever knew. It saved a lot of money, too. Now we make healthier recipes where the main sweetener is apple sauce or bananas but even they often include an additional amount of sugar from honey or maple syrup. So, I discovered that I can cut down or out the additional sweetener with no problem. I think that is because our taste buds have changed over time and we don't need foods to be so sweet in order to feel satisfied. Good work, Snack Girl!

How about Ste-via? Was this allowed in your challenge?

Given that this challenge was prompted by your high cholesterol levels, did cutting back on your sugar intake help tp reduce your cholesterol??

What about grits? I like savory grains and have a 100 cal serving of grits with an egg or two each morning. I don’t add salt, butter or sugar as some people do. I find this combination and a lunchbox sized apple keep me full until lunch.

Just started the 21 Day Sugar Detox yesterday. You post couldn’t have been more timely! Thanks for telling how your about your no added sugar experiences.

I've not done the sugar challange,but want to tell you you look very nice in your dress.I also want to say I love your blog,you are honest and real and I like that,no phoney bologne from you. Thanks for being you!!!

I started limiting my added sugar to 25 g a day because my gut was a mess after 3 courses of antibiotic and I kept reading how sugar exacerbates inflammation. Cutting down sugar meant I was cutting a lot of calories and I also started losing weight. Since menopause, I’ve had trouble losing more than about 12 pounds before I plateau. And then I gain it back. Cutting added sugar, I’ve lost 20 pounds (gradually) and am still losing. And I’m not really dieting. A tip I got from a weight loss program I enrolled in was to slow down when you DO eat sugar. (“If you love it, why wouldn’t you want it to last forever?”). Oh, and my gut definitely likes less sugar, and I find I even sleep better when I limit the sugar. However, LIMITING sugar works for me while cutting out all sugar would be miserable for me to maintain long term.

Mary, I agree with you!! I too have tried to cut back on my sugar and it amazes me that foods that used to taste good to me that were sugary, now taste almost sickenly sweet to me! I don’t cut the sugar out entirely either but try to watch the added sugars..

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