no added sugar: one week later.

by Janetha on May 1, 2011

in meals

it’s MAY! holy crap. welcome to the fifth month of the year, not sure how that happened.

i want to take a minute and reflect on my no sugar added challenge.  i started on this self-imposed challenge last monday and made it through the entire week, aside from one planned free meal (i will get to that.)

before i begin my rambles, i want to point out that i did this challenge for ME.  what i say here is 100% my own reflections on my own body and i am not trying to preach to anyone in any way. i am not knocking the habits of anybody and if you eat a whole bunch of added sugar, i am not out to judge you a single solitary bit.  we are all individuals who make our own choices and this is just a choice i have been toying with for me, myself and i. i am saying this because i don’t want to come off as someone who thinks she is better-than-thou just because i have made a choice to cut my added sugar consumption. it doesn’t make me any better than the next gal and i don’t want to come off that way. just making that clear :)

okay, so.. the reasoning behind this little challenge of mine was not to lose weight, cut calories or look better.  that is what regular healthy eating and exercise is for.  i did this no sugar/no sweeteners (whether natural or artificial) challenge to see how my body and brain felt without it.

i felt awesome. scratch that–i feel awesome.

it was definitely a pain to read labels and it was surprising to see the things i wasn’t able to eat. (hello, mrs. dash seasoning, why do you have sugar in you?! and same goes to you, mister worcestershire sauce.)  but the truth is.. it wasn’t that hard to do.

some of the foods i eat on a regular basis do have added sugar (cereals, nut butters, breads, condiments), but i was easily able to find substitutions, replacements or to simply go without these things.

by skipping condiments such as loads of ketchup on my egg whites, i was able to actually appreciate the flavor of the egg whites. they taste pretty amazing on their own.  sure, they are a little boring, but delicious none the less. who said our food has to be a circus act? sometimes a plain bowl of oats is perfectly suitable for breakfast.. no fancy toppings needed.

another thing i noticed is i started eating more single-ingredient foods. foods with no labels. whole foods. simply because i wanted to take the guess work out of what i was eating. by eating items that are one ingredient only, you don’t have to read a label to see if it has added sugar.

i will say the one thing that was really hard for me was giving up the chewing gum.  i usually chew 8 pieces of gum each day and breaking the habit of reaching for a piece was real difficult! not to mention i was constantly checking my breath and hoping it wasn’t offensive.

i had planned to take a free meal sometime over the weekend.  saturday night, marshall and i decided to go to dinner with our friends.  i designated this my free meal and had no restrictions on what i would order.

after striking out at not one but two restaurants (we had an under-21-year-old with us), we finally ended up at benihana, a teppanyaki-style japanese grill.


i love benihana because you know your food is fresh. it’s cooked right before your eyes!


plus, you get to play with chopsticks.


the meal started out with some piping hot soup.. perfect because i had been cold all day from the SNOW.


next up was a salad with the most amazing ginger dressing.


while we ate our soup and salad, we watched our chef whip up our meal selections. IMG_2288IMG_2290IMG_2299 i went with the shrimp, lemon chicken, vegetables and brown rice.


the meal also came with some green tea at the end.


we all left benihana super full of delicious food.  i enjoyed every bite.

you may be asking: where was the added sugar in this meal?  well, turns out i totally spaced taking a photo of the two dipping sauces they provide you with.  one is a sweet but salty soy sauce based dip and the other is a creamy ginger based dip.  both are delicious and i took full advantage of both dips.  aside from these sauces and probably the salad dressing, there was no other added sugar in the whole meal. i was actually pretty surprised.  i went into the meal with the attitude that i would eat whatever i wanted, i did just that, and still managed to avoid sugar for the most part.

also, it should be noted that i had a headache after dinner. i am not pinning the blame on the sugary sauces because i don’t know what it was for sure. but yes, i did have a headache.

today was another sugar free day– i had originally planned to eat dessert because it was my SIL’s birthday celebration, but there was a change of plans.  i still had dessert.. just a little different from the dessert everyone else had.

before i get to that, let’s rewind so i can show you the delicious birthday dinner she requested.

the menu:

african spice rubbed swordfish~


these beautiful swordfish steaks were fresh from the fish market. i slathered them in olive oil and rubbed them with african peri rub, then handed them over to my dad and he grilled them to perfection.

lemon dill greek yogurt sauce~


to make this simple sauce for the fish, i combined plain greek yogurt, old bay seasoning, dried dill and the juice of a lemon.  it could not have been easier and it is SO much better for you than tartar sauce.

roasted grape tomatoes~


directions: put tomatoes on sheet pan. roast on 425 degrees for 20 minutes. the result? sweet roasted bites of amazing.

roasted red and yellow potatoes~


before roasting these baby potatoes, i quartered them and tossed them in olive oil and trader joe’s 21 seasoning salute.  they roasted for nearly 30 minutes at 425 degrees.

steamed asparagus~


self explanatory.

green salad~


another no-brainer.

my plate:


it’s hard to see, but the tomatoes went atop the swordfish. everyone “mmmmmm”ed their way through this meal. it was fabulous. toot, toot. there goes my own horn.

dessert was my moms famous homemade strawberry shortcake.  it’s one of the best desserts ever. scratch-made everything. plus, strawberries are in season.  i am not sure how i resisted.. but i did. i think a lot of my restraint came from thinking about my sugar headache and hangover from the easter carrot cake.  instead of strawberry shortcake,  i opted for fresh strawberries in almond milk sprinkled with uncooked oats.


and guess what? my sweet tooth was completely satisfied. this dessert was perfect for me.  i am not lying when i say i didn’t miss the angel food cake and fresh whipped cream.  sure, it would have been delicious, but it would have also been followed by a crappy feeling in my head and my belly.

sooo.. what now? will i continue my no sugar added lifestyle? for the most part, yes. i was discussing with marshall how surprisingly easy it was to avoid added sugar.  i will keep avoiding it where and when i can, but if something has a gram or two of added sugar, i won’t fret.

i did decide that i will be opting out of eating anything that has more than 5 grams of added sugar.. i read in jackie warner’s book, this is why you’re fat, that the body has an easier time processing foods with 5 grams or less of added sugar (or maybe it was 7 grams, i don’t recall for sure).  jackie’s pretty knowledgeable, so i will go with that. actually, now that i think about it, i kind of want to read that book again. it has a whole lot of info on eating sugar. noted.

another thing i will make sure of is that the sugars i do consume are unrefined.  this means no white sugar or overly processed sugars. if i do eat sugar, it will be in the form of agave, evaporated cane juice, etc.  oh, and i will still be taking that free day/meal once a week. i swear by it.

my sugar consumption will likely be on a case-by-case scenario.  now that i know i can easily live without added sugar, i will be more inclined to eat it if i truly want it.  for instance.. if i have a delicious gallon of vanilla bean ice cream staring me in the face, i will be more than happy to eat it. i will just not eat it every night…knowhatimean?

finally, i just want to say that if you put your mind to something and really WANT to do it, you will.  i made up my mind to not eat anything with added sugar for a week and i did it.  there were LOTS of times that i had foods in front of my face that would go against the challenge, but i reminded myself of my goal and resisted the temptation of “giving in”, which in turn would be giving up.

each and every one of us is capable of doing something we put our minds to.  if your goal is to fit into some old jeans or lift heavier weights.. you CAN do it.  just say you are going to do it and don’t let anything stop you. make the decision, say it out loud or put it in writing, and just go for it.  what’s stopping you? chances are, the only thing in your way is yourself.

well, there you go, my reflections on my week of no added sugar. i will periodically check in with you all on this new eating habit just because some of you mentioned you’d like to hear how it goes.

talk later! have a good one!

xo. janetha g.

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cbrady3 May 2, 2011 at 9:53 am

You’re inspiring me to go back to my low-sugar meals too! I do them when I need to shape up, and I’m kind of feeling that way. I know how much better I feel!

Emily May 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

What a great update. I’m glad you’re feeling so good! I totally agree with you on these two points especially: when you eat mostly whole, unembelished food, it is pretty easy to avoid sugar. And also, when you simplify your diet, your palate really does become more sensitive, and it’s easier to appreciate the undisguised flavors of “plain” foods! It makes perpetuating the no-sugar habit much easier.

Paige is Running Around Normal May 2, 2011 at 10:49 am

I totally commend you, girl. Your will power is greater than mine!!

megan @ muncher cruncher May 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

Janetha that meal looks SO DANG GOOD. Your blog always makes me hungry!! I am loving the update on your Sugar-less week too. Way to go, seriously…amazing. It is crazy to see how many foods we eat really do have little added this or that and we don’t even realize it.

K…never heard of Sanuks and just looked them up. They are so cute and look way comfy! I’m a flip-flop whore in the summer, so I’m going to need to get the flip flop version asap. Oh, and way to go on the phone-free dinner. Clearly my friends and I need to try that…oh technology…

have an awesome week girl! xoxoxo

Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather May 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

First off, congrats on the whole week without sugar! I always feel better when I eat real foods without extra unnecessary sugars.

Second, you rocked that dinner! I so want a piece of that swordfish. What’s in the spice rub?

Lastly, i’m planning to do an insanit workout when I get home from work. What’s your favorite one? I can’t make up my mind yet.

Happy monday girl!

janetha May 2, 2011 at 11:10 am

It is a sample I got from the fish market, it is made by a brand called “Rub with Love”–not sure what it had but it was SPICY!

I haven’t started month 2 yet.. but of the month 1 workouts, my fave is pure cardio. This is because you just do a solid minute of 15 moves and don’t go back to them.

Errign May 2, 2011 at 11:53 am

super jealous of that swordfish. yum, it is one of my favorite fishies! I had tuna steaks for the first time last week – reminded me a lot of swordfish :)

Morgan @ My Name is Morgan and I'm a Pumpaholic May 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Congratualtions Janetha! I’m proud of you! I figure if you can do it so can I, I’m going to give it a 100% shot at the end of the month when I’m home from college. Right now I’m cutting back on the obvious sugars, mostly in my snacks and breakfasts (what I buy) but I really have no idea how much sugar could be lurking in the food at the cafeteria, my lunches and dinners. Did you have any luck with salad dressings?

janetha May 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm

i just use cottage cheese and balsamic vinegar OR watered down hummus!

Morgan @ My Name is Morgan and I'm a Pumpaholic May 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

i never would’ve thought of watered down hummus.. duh! i haven’t had cottage cheese in forever! the texture used to freak me out, but the nutritional stats are making me think i should tyr it again. thanks janetha!

Lisa (I'm an Okie) May 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I was so excited to see this post. I’ve been waiting for it ALL week.

I think you’ve made a nice compromise between being super strict, but still doing great things for your health.

Taylor May 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Nice post! Super informational and inspiring. I am doing something similar this week but with cheese. Not for weight loss, but just to cut down my consumption a bit and see how I do. I have been on a feta kick lately, so I am toning it down this week. It was motivated by your sugar challenge, so thanks!

janetha May 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm

that is awesome you are taking on a challenge of your own! you will rock it. good luck!

Marisa @ Loser for Life May 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I’m glad you tried this challenge for yourself, J! I have never felt better since I took the plunge! And when I do indulge in a little sugary treat, I find I feel like DIRT a few hours afterward. Almost like I’m coming down with the flu. Weird. I’m with you on keeping the sugar to under 5 grams. I try to do the same and which makes it a little easier if/when you have to buy something more processed. Good luck in continuing with the no sugar journey! You are awesome!

Heather May 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I love this post! I like how you started it off by stating that going sugar free it is your preference and that you don’t judge. I really appreciate that about your blog!

While I also steer clear of high sugar/refined foods, it is inspiring to read about your balanced perspective!

Naomi May 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

i love hearing your thoughts about your sugar challenge, Janetha! sounds like you are doing SO well with it and I am so impressed to your dedication!! i totally understand the gum thing…I was used to 4 sticks a day and week before show—NONE. Now I am easing back into 1 piece a day but my stomach is not used to much fake sugar so I don’t want to bloat too bad LOL

that japanese steak house is awesome! i love hibachi style when they cook in front of you and I am so glad you enjoyed it!!!

thank y ou for your comments and support this weekend, it means SO much to me! love you!

Katie May 2, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Whohoo! Good for you for making it the whole week – glad you feel like a million dollars! It makes me want to try this challenge out for myself.

Also, I love Benihana – that ginger dipping sauce is my favorite thing eeeever.

lifttorun May 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Good for you! Why didn’t you chew gum though? Isn’t most gum sugar free anyway?

janetha May 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I omitted artificial and natural sweeteners.

Sent from my iPhone

BroccoliHut May 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Speaking of simple pleasures–I absolutely love plain, steamed brown rice. Your serving at dinner looks so good!

Pure2raw twins May 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm

good for you girl!!! so glad the no sugar week went well!

I agree with you, it is nice to know sugar does not have to control us. We can have it every once and awhile and still be okay. I feel I will always be aware of my sugar intake, just not going to let it drive me crazy, you know? still have to enjoy life, especially a special moments!

Lisa May 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I went off ALL candy for a full week last week. I wasn’t necessarily going sugar free because I had sugar and cream in my coffee and ate fruit, etc. But I wanted to break my mindless snacking on candy habit! I felt wonderful. I was so glad I did it!

kaitlinwithhoney May 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. About a year ago, when I was (mis)diagnosed with a sugar intolerance, I cut out ALL sugar. While it was sometimes a pain, yes, it was also definitely do-able. I found a lot of benefits from it — fewer stomachaches & headaches, better sleep, better skin, and (important for me but not you, of course), weight loss. I read a really interesting article lately called “Is Sugar Toxic?” in the NYT. I’d put the link here, but I’m pretty sure it would make my comment go to spam. Let me know if you want it!

Anyway, as of yesterday, I began the same process. I decided I feel a lot healthier without sugar in my diet and, honestly, I just don’t see any benefits of consuming added sugar. And you’re totally right – we add so many things to food that we often lose the purity of each single ingredient.

I’m excited to see how you eat throughout this process because I’m sure I will be copying some of your meals!

Carissa September 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

What an inspiring post! I used to completely ignore sugar counts, but in the last few months I’ve been more observant. I have a sweet tooth, so finding healthier sweet options has been a fun challenge. One of my faves lately is banana soft serve!

Louisa January 26, 2012 at 6:16 am

Just wanted to add I’ve discovered some wonderful new salad dressing flavors out there that are free of added sugar or high fructose corn syrup: Ken’s Chef’s Reserve Creamy Caesar, Ken’s Chef’s Reserve Italian w/Garlic & Asiago Cheese, and Wishbone Light Peppercorn Ranch. Good luck with your quest.

Megan April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

Hello.. Just wanted to first say you are VERY pretty :) My name is Megan Neilsen, I live in Centralia, WA and I am 19 years old.. I grew up with Hypoglycemia.. and this year after Easter I had honey cured ham… SUGAR, my mom still thinks I’m a kid, so gave me an Easter basket… SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR!! I got really sleepy and when I fell asleep that night it was fine.. But OH BOY!! My sweets hangover was almost as bad as it was when I was drinking… I am a recovering alcoholic, so I have 43 days sober today.. So I know what a hangover feels like! Lol… But I had the WORST migraine headache EVER, and I couldn’t hold ANYTHING down ALL morning!! So, I called my mom (It helps to have a CNA in a family) as is her fiance (my fiance’s father) and she said, have you ever been tested for diabetes? I said no. But, my grandfather has it, my grandmother had it… and I think that may be the case.. Do you think you could give me some tips on what to eat, or not to eat?! I am starting this one week thing TODAY. I had general mills cinniman toast crunch, (12g of sugar) and fat free milk (also 12g of sugar) Thank you this article actually helped a lot :) ♥ Megan

janetha April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am

So glad to hear of your sobriety streak! Thanks so much for your kind words and for commenting. I would say you should steer clear of sugar-laden cereals like cinnamon toast crunch.. look at labels and eat things that have 5g of sugar or less per serving!

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