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)