Before I embarked on the Whole30 nutrition journey, I hardly ever read labels. I thought label-readers were obsessive calorie-counting control freaks too concerned with numbers to enjoy food (no offense, calorie-counters that I know!).
Before I started reading labels, I had no clue how prevalent sugar is in food items that we would consider staples. It comes in so many forms! Dextrose, sucrose, glucose, the list goes on.
Sweetness isn’t inherently bad for us, but we love it so much that we compulsively over-indulge, and that’s when things start going pear-shaped. Literally.
There are many forms of naturally-occurring sugars. Primarily, they are found in fruit, but there is also honey *and maple syrup.
Should you choose to accept this no-sugar-for-a-week challenge, those naturally-occurring sugars are acceptable, but none others. That includes “naturally-occurring” brown sugar and white sugar: cut them out for a week. Especially avoid any artificial sweeteners: become a label-scanner for a week!
But you have a sweet tooth and you can’t help yourself? You can do it. All you need is some determination, some “healthy” sugars, and some creative ideas.
Idea #1: Make or buy a cocoa, vanilla**, nut (walnuts or almonds), and date blend that looks and tastes pretty close to brownies. The recipe I use is called Fudge Babies. No, they’re not as sweet as the brownies you’re used to, but they’re good! You’ll see.
Idea #2: Cut bananas into bite-sized chunks. Line a freezer-prooftray with waxed paper, and lay the banana pieces on it to flash-freeze until hard. Then store in an air-tight container in the freezer. You can use these just to munch on, or blend them into smoothies, or even a sort of “ice cream” with coconut milk, a bit of vanilla, cocoa if you want, perhaps some pineapple or orange… Yum, right?
I have also mixed some coconut milk and vanilla and drizzled it over banana chunks and then frozen them for some added deliciousness.
Other ideas: Try honey or maple syrup in your coffee or tea, spread honey on your (whole grain) toast, put maple syrup on your oatmeal, and try using fruit juice as a sweetener in a dressing or a sauce.
There really are so many ideas for recipes that avoid sugars–look for some!
This idea comes from the 100 Days of Real Food website. It is listed as Mini-Pledge Week #9. The challenge is also issued by the Miami Herald in this article, where you can read more about the evils of sugar.
So. Can you do it? Will you be brave enough to try?
*Honey: If you can get raw honey, use it. Again: less processed=better.
**Vanilla: Use pure vanilla if you can, or make your own from a vanilla bean.
Also, to clarify: I am not eating honey or maple syrup on the Whole30, but I am not expecting my readers to be that hard core for this challenge. Unless you really do have what it takes…..! 🙂
5 thoughts on “Challenge: Can you do without sugar for one week?”
Not sure if I’d be up for the challenge but it would help to create awareness for things we take for granted. Might be kind of like smoking – could some of us be addicted to sugar?
Yes, Wayne, sugar is absolutely an addiction! I can get you the research that backs that up, but meanwhile, I know we come to rely on things like sugars for energy, and then we start craving it.
Then, our body expects a lot of our food to be abnormally sweet (you might be amazed at how much sugar has been added to everyday, normal foods that we believe to be healthy, like salad dressings and dried fruit), and it all starts accumulating in our body because we can’t really process it.
That’s why the first week of the Whole30 is a bit rough – your body actually goes into carb withdrawal… but then by the second week, you start having energy you didn’t know you had!
I’ve been using stevia for my coffee and tea fix which is natural and has zero calories for a couple years now. We have have honey and real maple syrup in the house as well and use it for pancakes, french toast, and oatmeal. I bake with only coconut sugar (which is only found at the health food store) and agave syrup only (organic section at Zerh’s) which is a great alternitive to refined sugar! There’s lots of great alternitves out there! I don’t want to say diet because that’s just temporary, enjoy your life style change that you’ve embraced friend!
I think I’ll be trying out agave syrup and this coconut sugar you mention when I finish this second month of no sweeteners… as well as almond and coconut flour. Stevia for some reason I feel like I don’t like… but perhaps since my tastes have changed, that’s no longer true. 🙂
You’re an inspiration, Michelle! Thank you for it! 🙂
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