no sugar added.

by Janetha on April 26, 2011

in Featured,meals

due to my self-induced sugar coma on sunday night, i have been left feeling less than 100%.  while i loved each and every sweet, sugary bite of homemade carrot cake, my head and belly did not love me afterward. it’s pretty crazy how quickly our bodies get used to clean eating and how they react when we consume foods that fall below the healthy eating radar.  i am not saying there is anything wrong with eating these less-than-healthy foods.  i do it all the time and, as you know, am a big advocate of taking a day off once a week to eat whatever floats my boat. i call it “free day” and that terminology came from my days with body for life.

so, what am i getting at, you ask? well, this week i am conducting a little experiment.  a challenge, if you will.  i am going to only eat foods that contain no added sugar.  there is no real reason behind me doing this.  the carrot cake headache is what gave me the idea, then i basically just wanted to challenge myself and see if i could make it a week.  i love a good challenge.  it makes me try harder and do better.

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by “no sugar added”, i mean foods that have ANY type of sweetener in the ingredients list.  basically, if it is a food that has a label and lists more than one ingredient, i will be looking to see if one of those ingredients is a type of sugar or sweetener.  because it’s a tricky topic, i went ahead and googled a list of various terms for added sweeteners.  here is a compilation of what i found (not comprehensive):

  • sugar of any kind (brown, powdered, white, unrefined, palm, raw, turbinado to name a few)
  • cane juice or evaporated cane juice
  • syrup of any kind (maple, corn, birch, beet, carob to name a few)
  • honey
  • molasses
  • sucanat
  • agave
  • stevia
  • high fructose corn syrup (i avoid this regardless)
  • dextran
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • glucose
  • lactose
  • sorbitol

obviously there are a lot of other terms for sugar and sweeteners, but this is a good start for me to watch for when i read labels.  plus, thanks to good old technology, if i wonder about an ingredient, i can always look it up on my iphone.

lucky for me, i never add sweetener to any of my foods (such as adding sugar to coffee, agave to oatmeal or honey to tea).  i always just eat things as they are without any added sweetener.  the real challenge and kicker is that i can’t eat foods that have the added sugar built into them.  i have done some label reading and was pretty surprised to see how many of my staple foods have added sugar.

here is a list of some things i eat on a weekly (and some daily) basis that i won’t be eating this week—it is by no means comprehensive:

  • all the granola in my house
  • all the cereal in my house
  • my beloved mighty maple peanut butter (!!) and other flavored nut butters in my house
  • all the protein bars i eat (the simply bar, luna bars, perfect foods bars)
  • ketchup
  • the majority of the salad dressings in my house
  • flavored yogurts (i eat these sparingly so it won’t be hard)
  • any of the baked protein items i usually make (like the protein muffins—sweetened with xagave)
  • vitatops
  • the chocolate chips that are in my favorite trail mix
  • my bread and my bagel thins and my tortillas (yes, they have added sweeteners. i need to find some items that don’t!)
  • the sugar free items i still eat but shouldn’t: sugar free syrup, ketchup and jam (even though they are sugar free, they have added sweeteners of other sorts)
  • the craisins i have been eating handfuls of (why do dried cranberries need added sugar? they don’t. this is lame.)
  • my adora dark chocolate calcium discs and fiberchoice fiber chews
  • some of the crackers in my house
  • the sugar free trident gum i chew, like, 8 pieces of a day

as you can see, most of the items on this list aren’t unhealthy items!  except they do all have added sweeteners of some kind and that is what i want to cut out this week.  the reason i say “no added sugars” is because i will, of course, still be eating sugars.  the sugars i will be eating are the naturally occurring kinds.  some examples are the sugars found in fruit, vegetables, milk and yogurt.  if it has sugar naturally and it is not added into the food, then it is fine by me for this challenge.

i think i will be eating a lot of foods that are only one ingredient so i don’t have to be reading labels at all times.  i made it through the day yesterday with no problems.. here are the meals i ate:

  • breakfast: plain egg whites and plain oats with cinnamon (skipped the salsa and SF syrup i usually use)
  • lunch: cottage cheese, salad greens and 2 wasa fiber crackers
  • snack: trail mix with chocolate chips picked out
  • dinner: spinach, hummus and cheese stuffed chicken, spaghetti squash and steamed broccoli
  • dessert: glass of skim milk and a protein cake made with protein powder, unsweetened applesauce, an egg white and baking powder

not bad.

the one exception i am making is with my protein powders.  i don’t use protein powder a lot, but i do use it when i need a protein boost.  i will try to use it sparingly, but i am not too worried about the minimal sugar it adds to my day.  i checked out the labels and for most of my powders, there isn’t more than 2 grams of sugar per serving.  last night, i used 1/2 a serving of protein powder for my protein cake, which came out to one gram of sugar.

i told marshall about my plan (because i think it’s a good idea to voice your goals to help make them a reality!) and told him i was going to try to make it a whole week.  his response was amazing. he said “don’t say you are going to try to do it. just do it. and don’t think of it in the term of a week. take it one day at a time. one meal at a time. and you will do it.”

i love that guy!!!! those were some of the wisest words i’ve heard in a long time!

i wanted to point out a few blogs i will be going to for no-sugar recipes and inspiration. these ladies know how to cut out sugar and still eat deliciously.

check them out if you are looking to reduce the amount of sugar in your own diet!

so, now that i have voiced my new little challenge and goal to you guys.. i will show you today’s meals so you can see how i did.

after waking up and doing the plyometric cardio circuit of insanity (still going strong!), i showered and got to work on breakfast.

breakfast: 1/3 cup plain oats (cooked in water) + 4 plain egg whites.

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205 calories, 24g protein, 24g carbs, 2g fat, 7g sugar (from skim milk)

i would typically put mighty maple peanut butter on the oats and sugar free ketchup on the eggs.  i skipped both sweetened condiments and, guess what? i didn’t miss them.. and i was just as full as i normally am.  i was worried that i would be less full due to the lack of nut butter, but i wasn’t.  in the future, if i did want a little more staying power, i would simply add some slivered almonds or a nut butter that contains only peanuts.

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i did pour a little skim milk into the oats because they needed some cooling off before i could shovel them in.  i couldn’t wait for them to cool because i was running late for work.. truth be told.

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the egg whites were pretty bland and boring, but i don’t have a problem with that. i treated them as protein packed fuel for my morning and happily ate them, sans ketchup or other condiments.

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lunch: 1 cup spaghetti squash + 1 cup broccoli + 1/2 cup cottage cheese + garlic salt.

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235 calories, 26g protein, 22g carbs, 4g fat, 13g sugar (4g from squash, 3g from broccoli and 6g from cottage cheese)

don’t knock it til you try it.

i started to get a headache mid-afternoon. i wonder if this was lack of sugar? it’s crazy.. i get a headache from sugar overload and i get a headache from sugar withdrawal. what the? anyway.. my snack fixed that with some naturally occurring sugar.

snack: plain chobani greek yogurt + banana.

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pretty self explanatory. i sliced the banana and piled the slices in as i ate.

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300 calories, 21g protein, 46g carbs, 10g fat, 23g sugar (7g from yogurt and 16g from banana)

i also added some chia seeds for healthy fats and fiber.

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i went to bikram today at 5:30. i had the spot RIGHT next to the heater. whew, i was steaming up. it was a good class, though, and i am getting the hang of more postures. slowly but surely.

after class i pounded a coconut water, which has 60 calories and 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar.

came home and got to work on FOOD because i was ravenous. i had a handful of trail mix while prepping (about 3g sugar due to the raisins.. give or take)

dinner: my new favorite meal.

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335 calories, 32g protein, 42g carbs, 8g fat, 9g sugar (7g from sweet potato and 2g from yogurt)

remember my tofu scramble from a couple weeks ago? it had been too long since i had eaten it again. just as good the second time around!

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i measured things out (by weight or measure) so i could get an accurate account of the naturally occuring sugars (out of curiosity).. so this was exactly:

  • 100 g sweet potato
  • 160 g extra firm lite tofu
  • 2 tb tofu scramble seasoning (basically just nutritional yeast with seasonings)
  • 1 oz (30 g) avocado
  • 50 g plain fat free greek yogurt
  • 50 g black beans

turns out cholula has no added sugar, so i doused it in that before eating.

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looove cholula!

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whew. all that calculating is a pain in the ass. how do people track their macros every day? i have never been the type that is able to do it daily.

anyway, my point in calculating all those macros is that after these four meals (and my post-workout drink and trail mix) i consumed 70 grams of naturally occurring sugar! and i still have my fifth meal to eat. that seems like a lot to me. i have no idea if it is a lot or not.. but to be eliminating added sugar all day long and still consume 70 grams is crazy to me.  i wonder how many grams i consume on the days that i add mighty maple to my oats, ketchup to my eggs, salsa to my lunch, have a protein bar for my snack and my candy-like supplements.  i might have to tally that sometime.

i am basically thinking and typing at the same time. i am no expert by ANY means and i really am not educated on sugar consumption.  i plan to do a little more research on the topic because i love to learn.. and i plan to continue my week of no added sugar. like marshall said, one meal at a time.. i will make it.

hope you enjoyed reading my no sugar added rambles.. i am going to close up shop, eat meal #5 and hit the hay. hasta luego!

Qs~

1. do you pay attention to your sugar intake? talk about it.

2. what is your favorite no sugar added meal and/or snack?

xo. janetha g.

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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharelle @ essential-ingredient April 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

i don’t remember where i read this, but i read that if a product contains 5g of sugar or less, than our bodies don’t react to it as if there were more. i think that goes for added sugar. i could be totally wrong though and so could my source!
i don’t really see why a lot of things do have added sugar (like the craisins) when they are great tasting on their own!
good luck with this challenge! i’m sure you have nothing to worry about with the 70g because it was all natural. :)

– Sharelle

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Salah April 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

I don’t really calculate my intake but thats mostly because I literally don’t have the time to….I barely find time to even sleep it seems! lol

Once these 2 events are over I think that would be a good challenge to do the calculations! GOod luck with your sugar challenge! You are going to rock it!

btw. How is your insanity program going? And girl, when I first started bikram I could not bend my body for my life lol, it’ll come with time! :-)

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janetha April 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

insanity is going great! thanks for asking. we are on week 4 and have a rest week starting this weekend. i am a little scurred for the second month.

i hope i can touch my toes by the end of the year! that’s my goal and bikram is helping.

xoxoxo

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Gillian April 27, 2011 at 7:36 am

Great plan Janetha!! Because of my issues with candida I often go on no sugar cleanses, and it’s surprising how many places it lurks! If you need any more recipes, let me know! I have some on my site and 90% of the recipes I post on my cousin and I’s food blog are sugar free! (www.healthytastycheap.com)

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Heather April 27, 2011 at 7:39 am

I try not to eat a ton of sweets too. My body totally hates me after too much ice cream or candy. My husband tells me the same thing when I say “try”. We have a post it on our fridge that says, “DO dont’ TRY”.

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The Sometimes Healthy Girl April 27, 2011 at 7:44 am

Wow that is quite the challenge. Among other things, I too enjoy SF syrup and SF ketchup oh and SF vanilla in my coffee…I feel like I should try this challenge too! I eat way too many condiments with my food and feel like sometimes I should stop throwin’ it on there and actually taste the food.

You have definitely given me food for thought :-)

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janae @hungryrunnergirl.com April 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

I will post less sugary goodness on my blog this week just for you!! YOU ARE MY HERO!! Girl, I love your challenges and how you are always finding new goals to conquer! That tofu scramble is making me so hungry, I am coming over for dinner okay!?!

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actorsdiet April 27, 2011 at 8:16 am

being mindful of my sugar intake is so stressful for me :(

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runyogarepeat April 27, 2011 at 8:49 am

This sounds like a hard but great challenge! It was amazing to see how bad my body felt after sugar overload this weekend. All I wanted was veggies on Monday and lots of water.

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Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! April 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

This looks like quite the challenge! I don’t usually eat foods with added sugars, but I do tend to still enjoy “sugar free” foods like sugar free jams, Jell-o, etc. I also use zero calorie sweeteners like Stevia and Splenda on occasion, although I’m trying to break away from this habit. In any case, I’m looking forward to reading about your naturally sugar free eats and learning a lesson or two! I’m also curious about one thing re: your calorie calculations. I always believed that egg whites are approximately 16 calories each, but your breakfast suggests otherwise. How much do you calculate for each egg white? Thanks so much! Good luck with this challenge! :)

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janetha April 27, 2011 at 9:50 am

Gavi,

I have that calories in an egg white are 16 as well! The egg whites had 64 calories, the oatmeal had 101 and the skim milk had 40.

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Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! April 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

Thanks! :)

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cbrady3 April 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

Whenever I’m trying to clean up my act and feel better I try to avoid added sugars and salt. I’m nowhere near as strict as you though — just the obvious stuff I avoid! GOOD LUCK!

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Sara April 27, 2011 at 9:54 am

You can definitely do it!! It’s surprising how much sugar is in everything, I really didn’t realize it so much until I started consciously cutting back.

Honestly I’ve been cutting sugar back so much this year (with my 1 month of no added sugar in Jan-Feb, now my much more drastic diet restrictions) that whenever I do eat sugar, my body is like “WHAT. THE. HECK?!” haha. I have found that I sleep better, however (I used to wake up in the middle of the night), and have much more consistent energy throughout the day. (I also don’t consume caffeine, however, which may be an issue for others.) Related posts here: http://amongthetortillas.com/category/health/

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Jenna-Marie April 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

I think this is a great challenge! I am in the same boat in regards to feeling irregular after Sundays sugar fest. Maybe I should give it a try as well lol. Goodluck!

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Kate April 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

I am doing a no sugar challenge too! But I am trying to see if I can do it for two weeks. I have done it before and felt so fantastic eating clean and sugar-free.

I have a really bad problem with sugar because I can’t eat it in moderation & typically feel like crap afterwards. But when I plan to have no sugar, I stick through it. I also am not eating fruit (I used to eat an apple and banana a day) which helps a lot actually. I notice that my sugar cravings have diminished immensely.

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Michelle April 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

That’s so sweet of Marshall! I know you can do it too. You sound so determined! It would be pretty tough for me to do the same so I give you tons of credit.

I’m going to my first ever hot yoga class tonight. I’m nervous but excited too. I hope I enjoy it as much as you seem to be enjoying Bikram.

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Andrea@WellnessNotes April 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

Sugar has been on mind a lot lately. I try to not eat too many things with added sugar, but, as you know, it’s everywhere. I think I’ll have to do what you are doing soon and really not eat anything with added sugar for a while.

I love Marshall’s comment. It really is all about one meal at a time…

Okay, you have officially inspired me to do my own no sugar day/week/whatever very soon.

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Courtney April 27, 2011 at 11:04 am

I try to keep it less than 25g. YEAH RIGHT! Haha, no really, it’s scary how sugar sneaks into EVERYTHING.

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Annette @EnjoyYourHealthyLife April 27, 2011 at 11:49 am

Love the challenge! I am doing something similar for the month of May….we shall see. If I want sugar, I eat chocolate. If not, then I don’t. Pretty simple. I ddin’t overdose over the weekend, but I have in the past and I HATE the way I feel when I do so :( Yuck. Nicely done, girl!!!

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Allison @ Runs A Latte April 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Kudos to you! I’m not sure I could do it! I definitely pay attention to my sugar intake, although I don’t actually write it down or track. But I make sure only to purchase items for my house that I’m comfortable consuming.

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Jen@jensdaily April 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Wow. You are amazing!!!!
My husband and I had a big heart to heart yesterday and I told him I’m sick of trying to lose weight and don’t know what to do anymore. His advice: “Stop trying and just do it.” Simple, direct, and just what I needed to hear!
I love your thinking of food being fuel; and not needing all of the condiments. I need to start thinking about it like that!!!

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Tiffany @ TheGraciousPantry.com April 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Thank for including my link! I know you can do it. You’re amazing! Go girl!

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Christina April 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I try to consider my sugar intake BUT more of the added sugar stuff (i.e. coffee with sugar and soy milk). I don’t eat “sugar free” labeled stuff but I’m a condiment whore! I love me some ketchup! I know it’s not the best thing for you but it’s so damn good!

I know it’s super easy to make (the recipes I’ve seen all add sugar) but there’s a little vegan place by my job that makes their own sans sugar. They believe sugar to be a brain rotting addition (don’t ask). I think I’ll get some of theirs :)

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katecooks April 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

wow, i’m impressed! i don’t pay that much attention to natural sugars or added sugars to be honest. i can’t believe all those food items contain sugar – it’s nuts! for me, i think it would be a challenge to stop eating so many sweets in general. i have hopped on the daily dessert train which i honestly don’t mind except for the nights when i am really and truly full and not craving dessert but feel the need to have something sweet anyway. definitely tough habits to break! you are so determined though…i have 100% faith you can do this :)

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Paige (Running Around Normal) April 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I was wondering what you’d say about protein powders when I didn’t see it on the list! I’ve heard a sugar detox can be tough, but really decrease your sugar cravings!

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Sheila April 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Great challenge!! It is amazing to see all the sugar that is added to so much of our food products. Sugar is the devil:)

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Susan April 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Good luck with you sugar experiment! I’ve found that sugar has an adverse effect on my health too, even with too much natural sugar (which can make me a bit lethargic). Too much processed sugar, without fiber, protein, and fat for balance, makes my joints ache horribly. Thankfully I don’t have a big sweet tooth so it’s okay!

I just had refried beans with tortillas for a mini meal and that was 100% sugar-free!

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Pure2raw twins April 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

We are honored we are on your list :) Yes watching sugar is what we do over here, haha, okay that was lame. But love this challenge!! And what amazing words of wisdom and truth from Marshall. So wonderful to have reminders like that. You will do great with this challenge, since you already do so great with sugar and all. For us, it has been hard because we love our sweets. We have fallen a little this week (birthday week) but plan to get back on track!!

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Naomi(onefitfoodie) April 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

what a challenge you have taken on! I think the headache could def be from the lack of sugar, but then again you’re only 1 day in…I know when some people get rid of sugar or caffeine they get majahhh headaches!

your meals look delicious regardless of the whole no added sugar thing and that dinner looks amazing! i miss tofu and avocado so much! cant wait to have them again!

I do pay attention to my sugar intake for sure! now more than I normally would, but I do in general!

My favorite no sugar added snack would have to be greek yogurt w/ quinoa and this new coconut flax oil I discovered!

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Monica April 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I had THEE worst stomach ache on Monday morning. Why, you ask? Because I totally binged all weekend on Easter crap. THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU, for this post. I am totally with you on this quest. No added sugar.

ps- Love your blog! I check it every morning.

Ask the Duplex

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Juliette April 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Holy cow, that’s true dedication. What a great challenge!

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Emily April 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm

1. I don’t eat a lot of added sugars. But I do eat a lot of fruit! With desserts, I prefer raw treats, which I usually sweeten with dates. I bake occasionally, and then I may use sweeteners like palm sugar or yacon or lucuma, maybe. The thing I have to watch out for is dried fruit. I can down several hefty servings of dried fruit in one go if I am not careful! I don’t buy it all that often, though.

2. Pretty much all of my regular meals are without added sugar. When you eat mostly raw and are not in the habit of buying even stuff like bread or granola, it’s actually not that tough to avoid the stuff :)

I ate a few vegan jelly beans on Easter and I kind of thought I was going to have a heart attack. When your body isn’t used to something, it lets you know!

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Morgan @ My Name is Morgan and I'm a Pumpaholic April 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm

This is SUCH a great challenge! Definitely going to take a crack at it when I go home for summer. If I tried now, eating from my college cafeteria, I don’t know what would be left to eat! Kinda scary to think about how much sugar could be in the “non-sweets” I’m eating!

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Freckled Foodie April 28, 2011 at 5:32 am

oh, dear! i couldn’t do it. i admire you, but i couldn’t. my sugar free syrups are my indulgence. SO bad for me with all the artificial crap, but they are staples. done deal.

good luck! i know you have more will power than i do :)

xo.

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kissmybroccoli April 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I did a week-long sugar-free challenge back in February and I really learned a lot! I never realized just how many dips/spreads/sauces I consumed on a regular basis that contained added sugar. And I’m totally with you on the craisins thing…seriously, why add sugar? Dried fruit is already sweet!

I think it’s about time I reevaluated my sugar intake. I few months ago, when I was eating my absolute cleanest, I went to a potluck and after, no joke, THREE nibbles of dessert, I felt like I was going to pass out! Now, I’m sure I could eat half a package of Newman O’s and get nothing but a tummy ache!

I LOVE Marshall’s advice to you! You are one lucky lady to someone who supports and encourages you on a daily basis!

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Kasey May 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I have a question about this – do you count sugar alcohols as sugar? I don’t really know the difference between the two

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janetha May 2, 2011 at 8:01 am

Hey Kasey,

Sugar alcohols in the nutrition stats usually mean there is artificial sweetener in the ingredient list. I am not eating added natural or artificial sweeteners, so I am avoiding sugar alcohols in the label. I try to avoid sugar alcohols when I can even when not doing this challenge because I believe artificial sugars are harsh on the body. Hope this helps!

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G April 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I just came across this post I have been trying so hard to cut sugar. What about the sugar from fruit is that eliminated too?

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