Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sugar Detox

Discussing sugar for the past has made me start thinking again on just how much sugar we consume on a daily basis.  This past summer I cut out refined sugar entirely from my diet for two weeks.  Let me just preface this by saying that I have the biggest sweet tooth ever.  Baked goods are my weakness.  So by no means did I have any intention of making this a lasting thing.  If anything I was just curious as to what would happen if I was more conscious about what I was eating. 
            I did the sugar detox with my aunt who is by far the healthiest eater I know.  She framed the detox more as an introduction to conscious eating rather than a diet so I figured “how hard can this be, I can totally give up my cookies, brownies, and cake for a little while.”  What I did not realize though was just how many foods contained added sugar.  It is everywhere!  Things I ate on a daily basis, which I never thought had sugar in them were some of the sneakiest offenders.  What also surprised me were foods that I had considered healthy in fact had a ton of added sugar.  My “healthy” stables like almond milk, oatmeal, and almond butter were all things I had to cut out for those two weeks. (These things can also contain no sugar, you just have to pick the right brands!)
            At first I found it very difficult to figure out what I could or could not eat.  The first few days required reading nutrition labels on everything.  I soon came to learn that the sure fire way to avoid sugar was by cooking with raw foods and avoiding all processed food.  After some practice it became a lot easier.  I eventually got familiar with what foods I could eat and which ones to avoid.  The days when I had enough time to cook, cutting out sugar was not too challenging.  It was instead the foods I reach to when in a rush that presented a problem.  My go to easy food like protein bars were typically loaded with sugar.  Finding a substitute for those foods was one of the biggest challenges.
            In retrospect, cutting out sugar for two weeks was an eye opening experience.  However, physically I did not feel very different without sugar, which I was disappointed by.  Generally my diet does not consist of a lot of processed or sugary foods.  Therefore I do not think that it was a drastic enough dietary adjustment to begin to see changes in only two weeks.  I am sure that if I continued to eat that way for longer I would have begun to notice a difference.  One change that I did notice though was that I experienced less sugar cravings.  I am almost always craving cookies or brownies but during those two weeks I did not want them as much as I ordinarily do.  The biggest take away for me, and the reason I would say it was worthwhile, was that I learned to read labels and understand what I am eating.  I use to just pull something off the shelf and assume that because it is packaged to look healthy that it was.  Now I am far more conscious about what I eat and about the hidden sugar content in a lot of foods.  I am glad that I experimented cutting out sugar.  While I still appreciate a really good piece of cake, my diet now consists of far less sugar than it use to. 

What a day of food looks like on sugar detox

Breakfast:  Oatmeal (plain, no added sugar), with bananas and cinnamon
Lunch:  Salad with veggies, a hardboiled egg, and dressed with olive oil
Snack:  Carrots and hummus
Dinner:  Roasted chicken breast with sautéed broccoli

Never will I stop eating sweets like baked goods but here are some changes I made that haven’t been hard to stick with
  • Buying the version without added sugar (ex. Plain oatmeal, unsweetened almond milk etc.)
  • Avoid store bought salad dressing and tomato sauce (homemade tastes so much better and store bought ones have a ton of sugar)
  • Limit packaged granola bars or granola (when you make your own you can control exactly what goes into it and it’s super easy)
  • Pay attention to the sugar in drinks (stick with water, black coffee/tea and herbal teas) 

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