I recently got the idea to cut added sugar from my diet after reading this Buzzfeed article. The article recaps the author’s journey through 30 days sans sugar. After seeing her results (increased energy, clearer skin, reduced bloating, etc.), I decided this may be something I’d like to try.
I was slightly hesitant to attempt this challenge being someone who’s struggled with an eating disorder off and on throughout my life (I should really do a post on this, but it’s something I haven’t dealt with in 5 years now!). Anytime I go to an extreme with food, I tend to become obsessive and it messes with my mind. So I told myself that, if at any point this challenge seems to be too much or I “screwed up,” I wouldn’t be hard on myself at all. But, with that said, I was definitely going to give it a go.
Breakfast: If I’m being honest, I didn’t 100% commit to this challenge until Sunday night and my husband did the grocery shopping that weekend (thanks again, boo!), so I didn’t have my meals planned out or a fully-stocked pantry. My bad. Luckily, we shop pretty dang healthy, so I had plenty to choose from for breakfast. I went with overnight oats I’d prepared Sunday evening. This included oats, unsweetened almond milk and raspberries. I also wanted some iced coffee (I usually have some every morning), so I had black coffee with a splash of the unsweetened almond milk.
Lunch: I was feeling really good by lunch time. The overnight oats had done a great job holding me over, but I was slightly nervous about what to have for lunch. I will sometimes go home for lunch and typically have a salad, but I hadn’t bought any dressing without added sugar yet, so I knew that wasn’t an option. Luckily, I was able to have a bean and cheese burrito with chips and salsa. Not necessarily as nutritious as I’d liked, but hey, no added sugar. I love to have iced tea with my lunch and always do 90% unsweet tea with about 10% sweet tea to top it off. I missed it so much during this first lunch!
Snack: This is where I usually consume sugar. Each afternoon, I have a horrible habit of snacking on trail mix or having a handful of chocolate chips. To satisfy this craving, I settled on an apple. Apples, you’re not chocolate.
Dinner: I knew I needed to stock up on some staples, so I made a stop at Whole Foods on my way home. I don’t typically shop here because it’s pretty expensive, but I knew they’d have exactly what I needed. For dinner on night one, I had “pasta” with sweet potato noodles, marinara sauce with no added sugar, ground turkey, diced tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Since my lunch was seriously lacking nutrition, I added on a salad for dinner. The salad was simple with spinach, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, onions, parmesan cheese and a no-sugar-added balsamic vinaigrette I’d found at WF. I was still feeling decent around this time, although I really wanted just a bite of something sweet to cap off the evening. Instead, I hopped on the treadmill for an easy 3-mile run to distract myself.
Breakfast: I felt surprisingly good on the morning of day two. I was half expecting to wake up with a huge headache, but I was full of energy and wasn’t craving sugar at all. I’d picked up a grain-free instant hot cereal (the brand is called Wildway) that had no added sugar at WF the day before, so I heated that up and threw in some blackberries for a touch of sweetness. I also had a black coffee with a splash of unsweetened almond milk.
Lunch: The breakfast kept me surprisingly full throughout the morning. I was still feeling good–much better than I’d expected to feel. For lunch on day two, I heated up some leftovers from my “pasta” dinner the evening before. Nothing fancy, but it did the trick. Still missing my tea though.
Snack: I actually wasn’t hungry for a snack, but I knew if I didn’t eat something, I’d get super hungry before dinner and end up messing up my “diet.” So I enjoyed a banana with Justin’s almond butter on it. Delicious and satisfied my sugar craving!
Dinner: I got super busy and didn’t end up getting to eat dinner until like 9pm on day two. I was so hungry by the time I was able to eat, but I knew I didn’t want to ruin my challenge on day two. And so I threw together an English muffin (with no added sugar), avocado and salmon. I also had a small glass of red wine. While this isn’t 100% sugar-free, the plan I followed (the blog I Quit Sugar) allows for a few glasses of red wine a week. The glass of wine helped me feel like I’d treated myself and I had no desire for anything sweet.
Breakfast: One of my favorite smoothies to make is a combination of a banana, 2% milk, peanut butter and spinach. To make this compliant with my diet, I simply swapped the 2% milk with unsweetened vanilla almond milk for a smoothie with no added sugar. It tasted so sweet too!
Lunch: Since I knew I’d be eating lunch at work due to a day full of meetings, I made sure to bring my own salad dressing (the sugar-free one I’d found at WF). I am lucky to have an awesome cafeteria at my office, so I took advantage of the salad bar and made a salad with spinach, kale, egg, tomatoes, onion, carrots, edamame and parmesan cheese. Then I added my own dressing back at my desk.
Snack: There was a retirement party for someone at my office and they had these amazing-looking brownies laying out. It’s fine though, I opted for the apricot and blocks of cheddar cheese. Seriously guys, it’s fine…
Dinner: Because I was busy throwing together last-minute details for a baby shower I was throwing at work the next day, I heated up a bean and cheese burrito because I knew it was “safe” to eat and was super quick. I had this with some chips and salsa.
DAY FOUR (aka The Beginning Of The End)
Breakfast: Let me start by saying I thought I may have to stray from my diet on this day. It was one of those days at work. We started with a birthday celebration for one of my co-workers. Unfortunately, there weren’t any no-sugar-added options and I didn’t want to seem too high maintenance, so I picked the nuggets out of Chick Fil A chicken minis. I did bring my black coffee + unsweetened almond milk also.
Lunch: Because I was throwing a shower right after lunch, I had no time to plan out of my meal and ended up scarfing down a tuna sandwich. While not sweet at all, I’m sure there was some sugar in the mayo, bread, etc.
Snack: While there were cupcakes, candy and other sweet treats at the baby shower I threw, I managed to only have a small cup of lemonade. Although it was more sugar than I’d been having, so it definitely left me feeling funky.
Dinner: One of my friends was having his going away happy hour on day four, so I had a couple beers. Again, not full of sugar, but definitely had some added. By the time, I got home for dinner, I was starving and made myself an almond butter + apricot jam sandwich on the no-sugar-added English muffins I’d bought earlier in the week. I also had a handful of tortilla chips.
By the time Friday hit, I decided it was time to throw in the towel. My plan was simply to last as long as I could (I was hoping for a week) and I was mentally done at this point. So what did I get out of this short-lived challenge?
1. Go in with a game plan. Because I decided sort of last minute to try this diet, I did not have a well-stocked pantry or meal plan. I would definitely advise stocking up on foods with no added sugar and even prepping easy snacks and alternatives for when your sweet tooth strikes.
2. I eat less mindlessly. Since I was so aware of the sugar I was eating for four days, I definitely think twice about when I actually want something sweet versus when I’m just eating out of habit. For instance, if I have something sweet for a snack, I no longer have some chocolate after dinner too. I’ve learned to treat sugar as that–a treat.
3. I read more labels. I have always been a label freak. I like to know everything that’s in the food I eat. But one thing I ever really checked was the amount of added sugar. Now, I’ve started looking at added sugar and checking to see if there’s a healthier alternative. For instance, I’ve started swapping my 2% milk with unsweetened almond milk regularly now! And I plan to continue buying my no-sugar-added balsamic vinaigrette dressing moving forward too.
If you are looking to try or have already tried a no-added-sugar diet, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂