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.
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.
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.
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.