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.
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)
- high fructose corn syrup (i avoid this regardless)
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)
- 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)
- 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
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.
- ashley @ the edible perspective
- heather @ heather eats almond butter
- the twins @ pure2raw
- tiffany @ the gracious pantry
- katie @ chocolate covered katie
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.
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.
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.
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.
lunch: 1 cup spaghetti squash + 1 cup broccoli + 1/2 cup cottage cheese + garlic salt.
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.
pretty self explanatory. i sliced the banana and piled the slices in as i ate.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.