I decided to try a No Added Sugar Challenge during the month of August. And while I didn’t stick to it 100% of the time, I still learned quite a few things that will surely impact how much sugar I consume going forward.
WHAT I LEARNED
1. If you’re serious about removing added sugars from your diet, you have to read labels. And you also have to learn to recognize the over 50 names used for sugar on said labels.
2. Before going on a no added sugar challenge, get rid of any and all sugary treats lurking in your kitchen/pantry.
3. The first week is the hardest, especially if you have a big sweet tooth to start with. Trust me, it gets better after that. Towards the end of the month, even fruit tasted sweeter than usual to me.
4. If you find that in the middle of your challenge you want to eat a little dessert because you’re with awesome people who also enjoy sweet things, that’s ok. I mean, yes, it’s technically cheating, but if it’s something you won’t have the opportunity to try again, just have a few bites and then get back to it. No big deal.
5. Setting a very specific goal kept me on track. So while I wanted to eliminate as much added sugar as possible, my ultimate goal was to stop eating handfuls of chocolate chips after every meal. And that is something I was 100% able to achieve! Yes, I slipped up and ate a little dessert. However, I kept my hand out of the chocolate chip bag, and that was a huge personal win! AND I stopped craving after dinner sweets altogether. Still working on lunch.
TIPS, TRICKS, & IDEAS
1. A tiny bit raw, unfiltered honey, when absolutely necessary, goes a long way. Personally, when I used honey, it was more of an enhancer than a sweetener. I know, I know…another cheat. But if you use honey in it’s most natural form, it’s ok. I mean, it’s practically a health food. No? Don’t judge!
2. I noticed that drinking water + fresh lemon/lime juice kept the sugar cravings away. Possibly because I’m not a tart and sweet person, so the idea of eating something sweet after drinking lemon/lime water was a huge turn off.
3. Sparkling water also did the trick! Not sure why but drinking a glass after dinner made my cravings disappear.
4. Fruit is an obvious good for your swap. I love frozen grapes, fresh berries, apples, nectarines, fresh cherries, etc.
5. Speaking of fruit, one of my all time favorite pairings is a Granny Smith apple + peanut butter. Super filling and just so good!
6. Dates also pair nicely with peanut butter. You only need 1/2 teaspoon of PB per date, AND if you use your imagination when biting into the date, it almost tastes like a fudgy brownie. Almost.
7. Mocha banana froyo is an all time favorite of mine. All you need is a frozen banana, cocoa powder (1/2 teaspoon), instant coffee powder (1 teaspoon), almond milk (2-3 tablespoons), and a small blender/food processor. Again, it almost tastes like real froyo!
8. Frozen berries when blended together with a drizzle of honey turn into a delicious sorbet like frozen treat. So good!
Going forward my big goal is to practice mindful moderation when it comes to sweets. Dessert will always be a part of my life. Life is waaaay too short to skip out on dessert. However, eating a handful of chocolate chips after lunch when grapes will do is just not acceptable. Sure, every now and then, it’s fine. But not on a daily basis. Same goes for alcohol. A glass of wine with a delicious meal is a beautiful thing. But anything more than that, and it’s just too much and not necessary (for me). And finally, going forward I’m going to continue reading those nutrition labels because if there’s one thing I learned it’s that sugar is literally everywhere!
Wish me luck!
Have you tried giving up sugar? What food would be the hardest for you to cut out? What are your favorite no added sugar snacks?