I’m Not as Sweet as I Used to Be

My Coca-Cola sugar shaker aka Public Enemies #1 and #2

I gave up sugar over the weekend.

I had been thinking about doing it for awhile now. Several of my friends, including Sus, have done it for one reason or another. For me, my sugar cravings were out of control and I found myself needing more and more sweet to feel satisfied. I had also started to wonder if maybe some little nagging health concerns I’ve had lately were related to my excessive sugar consumption. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. At restaurants, I read the dessert menu first and plan my order accordingly. I’ll eat less of the main course to save room for the good stuff at the end. I love to bake. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. I like to eat what I bake. If you don’t believe me, you’ve obviously never seen my “Looks Good Enough to Eat” Pinterest board.

I also love Coke and Dr. Pepper. In fact, my Coke habit (that sounds a lot worse than it actually is) was probably the big red stop light that set me on this course to detox from sugar. The other day I was out shopping with the kids and I was stressing out loud over a deadline I needed to make and other things that I needed to accomplish. My oldest said nothing, went over to the coolers beside the check register, bought me a Coke, handed it to me, and said, “Here, Mom. Maybe this will help.” When your kid buys your “drug of choice” with his own money to settle you down, you might have a problem.

You’d think someone so dependent on sugar would give it up with a well defined plan and the pantry staples necessary to make such a drastic change. You would be wrong. Basically I just woke up Friday morning and declared myself sugar-free. Which may explain the many Tweets, texts, and frantic phone calls to Susan  and other friends that followed. Like these:

Me: When you say “give up sugar,” what exactly are we talking here?

Gretchen: She means everything white. The end. :) (By the way, if I, Whimzie, may interject here, that smiley face did nothing to lessen the blow.)

Me:  What about whole wheat bread? And honey? Do you not eat anything that has sugar on the label?

Sus: Yep. No dairy, taters, bread, sugar. Or fun.

Me:  People lose weight when they give up sugar? NO DUH! THEY’RE STARVING BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING THEY CAN EAT!!!! Perhaps that came across a little harsh. IT’S BECAUSE I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING TO EAT AND IT ISN’T EVEN 8 AM!!

Becca: Try a banana with peanut butter. Or eggs and bacon. Breakfast is always the hardest for me.
Me:  I don’t guess we’re talking Peter Pan honey blend here, are we? #startingtoseespots #istheroomgettingdarker
I was being silly, of course, although I do think snacks and breakfast have been the hardest challenge so far. However, with help via texts from Susan, I was even able to eat a sugar-free lunch at a restaurant with friends on Friday.
The weekend was trickier. We took a little family trip to a town about an hour from here and ate fast food a couple of times. Did you know that the chili at Wendy’s contains sugar AND corn syrup? Fast food choices are limited unless you want to order a salad every single time, which I don’t. I never realized until I decided to try this sugar-free experiment how much sugar is in our normal everyday diet that we don’t even consider. I started imagining what life is like for people who because of medical conditions can not have sugar. Or what about people who can not have dairy or gluten? Even though we have many more sugar-, dairy-, and gluten-free choices than we did twenty years ago, maintaining those diets still takes a lot of careful thought, planning, and diligence.
This weekend I researched several sugar-free diets on the Internet. Wow, that was confusing! So many plans with so many differing opinions! So many more questions! Agave nectar, honey, stevia: are they okay? What about Splenda? Is oatmeal okay for people who are trying to avoid gluten? What about fruit? All fruit or just low-glycemic ones like berries? Is dairy okay or is cow milk only for baby cows? I emailed my friend Meredith and asked her some questions about the diet she’s been on the last few months and she graciously gave me some good insights into what has worked for her.
For me, I knew I needed to do something pretty drastic to stop the sugar cravings and to try to get my nutritional health back on track from a summer of eating more junk than my body is accustomed to ingesting. But one interesting side effect has been that since I started this plan, I have not had a headache. For the past few months, I have had at least a dull headache at some point of every  day. At least one or two a month become full-fledged migraines. I was actually prepared to have withdrawal headaches, but the reverse has been true. I’m not even sure whether this is just a coincidental byproduct or if something I was eating was causing my headaches. I guess time will tell.
I’m not giving up all desserts and bread and dairy forever. Life’s too short. I just need to find a way to have them in moderation, which seems to be the key to healthy living all around, don’t you think?
I’m curious. Have any of you given up sugar? What food are on your “absolutely not” list? What benefits have you noticed from you changes? What in the world do you eat for breakfast and snacks? (Besides eggs and bacon. I don’t like really heavy stuff first thing in the morning!)  Any tips or helpful hints you want to share?
P.S. I’m not sure why the formatting on this post is so wonky. Maybe my blog is operating without sugar today, too!
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29 Comments

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29 responses to “I’m Not as Sweet as I Used to Be

  1. Jen

    Food for thought Whimzie… Food for thought…

  2. Paula

    I have a hard time with breakfast ideas too. I have found a few protein shakes that are worthwhile that don’t have sugar; I make them with organic almond milk. The almond milk is non dairy, but it is white so I don’t know if that’s ok with your new healthy eating initiative. If you are okay with bananas (sort of white and definitely has fructose) add one to your protein shake mixture, it makes the shake thicker and fills you up longer.

    • whimzie

      Since I’m basically making up my own rules, I’m going to deem that bananas within limits are okay. I had been buying coconut milk but I bought some plain almond milk yesterday, too.

  3. Dear ‘Ouisa,
    I’m sorry about the winking, smiley emoticon. Especially when it pertains to something as close to my heart as sugah.

    I don’t know if you’re a hard-boiled egg eater, but sometimes those go down easier for me at breakfast. Also, I tend to have cereal in the morning b/c I like the crunching, and often make a scramble at lunchtime. I abhor the making of the lunch. But alas…must eat.

    I’m so glad to hear about your lack of a headache! Honestly, the only thing that holds me back (other than missing pleasure in my existence) is knowing the withdrawl effects for me.

    Kudos on the new plan.
    ;)

    • whimzie

      What cereal are you liking?

      Hard boiled eggs would be easier than eggs another way. And I could make them in advance.

      I was pleasantly surprised that I have not experienced all the withdrawal effects I heard about from others. If whatever I’ve done has taken away my headaches, it’s worth the journey because those were getting out of hand. I’ve had some pretty significant afternoon cravings but I’ve been able to keep them in check thus far.

  4. My favorite breakfast is a brown rice cake smeared with almond butter. The only ingredient in my almond butter is almonds. I also have eggs from time to time. I think breakfast is the hardest meal…

    Snacks: GUACOMLE!, red bell peppers, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, artichokes, frozen blueberries, almond, cheese (I really love those little fresh mozzerella pearls), etc. Basically fruit (small servings if you’re limiting sugar) and veggies and cheese and nuts. It’s hard, but worth it.

    Some fruits are much higher in sugar than others. When health issues forced me to eliminate sugar, the nutrition lady I talked to said that if I absolutely HAD to have fruit then I should go for berries or a granny smith apple or lemons/limes because they have the least amount of sugar per serving. I’m sure you really want to eat a lemon though, right? :)

  5. PS: I really do know how to spell guacamole!

    • whimzie

      I forgot to buy some rice cakes after I read this comment!

      I did buy some guacamole. Do you just dip your peppers and celery in the guacamole? Because you know what goes really good with guacamole? Chips. But I didn’t get any. I bought some hummus, too. I like that. I bought these everything-free things called Sticks & Twigs or Twigs & Sticks (I forget). They aren’t the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, but they actually taste a lot like sticks and twigs.

      I’m going to pass on eating the lemon. I bought some strawberries instead. I read that they’re low to medium in sugar.

  6. i work at a juice bar and make this smoothie for people all the time, it’s our most popular item! just blend the milk of your choice, a frozen banana, a few dates, about a tablespoon of any nut butter and some ice together until creamy. it’s satisfying and filling! also, dates are a great natural sweetener. food processing some dates with some oats and macadamia nuts makes a great base for a snack bar. you can add fresh fruit on top or blend in dried fruit or nuts. good luck!

  7. Ok, I randomly picked up a book and bought it this summer, “The 17 Day Diet” which is basically 17 day cycles of eating healthier. But sugar detox is a main deal in it. I am amazed that we eat 16 more times the sugar than our grandparents did. Anyway, I, like you, have not had the headaches. It’s amazing. It’s also amazing to me that I, Sara Fish, can actually eat a taco salad with a lettuce base instead of chips. Wonders never cease. I’ve lost 11 lbs. :)

    • whimzie

      16x more?!

      11 pounds!! That’s great, Sara!! You know, maybe a taco salad with a lettuce base wouldn’t be too bad. I would need to find something to substitute for the crunch though.

      P.S. Just read your post. Glad you all are okay!!

  8. Sheepishly raises hand…I too am trying to limit the white devil, aka sugar. Also like you, I’ve found that when I eat something sweet, it makes me want more instead of being satisfied.
    Sigh. I do love the sugar. Bread…cinnamon rolls, frosted mini wheats. They are my friends.
    But, I know that everything needs to be in moderation, and right now, there is no moderation.
    For breakfast, I like steel cut oats (still a “carb”, but I like them) with a spoonful of peanut butter. I’m thinking about subbing some sunflower butter next time I hit the Trader Joe’s.
    Protein smoothies are probably the easiest: I love coconut or almond milk, with a scoop of whey powder, 1/2 a frozen banana, and some peanut butter. Sometimes I make it with chocolate almond milk.
    Another good one is poached egg+english muffin+veggie sausage patty+cheese.
    hang in there.

    • whimzie

      I almost bought the sunflower butter yesterday at our grocery store. Have you tried it? Or is Trader Joe’s the best. (I love their valencia peanut butter with flax seeds).

  9. I have given up sugar a couple of times, and my body is telling me I need to do it again – but it’s HARD, when I want comfort food. I totally gravitate there…

    Also, you may just want to check my blog this morning… ;-)

  10. Paula

    I found this recipe and tried it this morning for breakfast. Super easy and delicious. I used organic almond milk for the liquid and I added a few drops of liquid stevia.
    http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/09/09/cinnamon-roll-baked-oatmeal/

    • whimzie

      GASP! That looks like the real thing! And it really was good? I just pinned it. I’ve got to get some of the ingredients. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks, my sweet airplane friend!!

      • Paula

        I didn’t make the icing and it was still quite enjoyable. I threw in a handful of raisins, if the nuts were already chopped I would have thrown in some pecans. I should have made something else with protein in it (like turkey bacon) to help balance the carbs but I just wasn’t feeling it today.

  11. I’ve done this… lost my all baby weight as the result (I put on way too many (50) pounds). I am going for another 60 day round of it starting on October 1.

    When I’m being very strict, I avoid all white things. Bread. Potatoes. Sugar. Pasta. Flour. Everything that tastes good in any way.
    If I’m feeling especially like I need some carbs, I will eat whole wheat bread. I eat a lot of salads, and have discovered the beauty of roasted veggies. I do allow myself fruit. In fact, that is often a snack for me (oranges, grapes, apples, berries are my favorites).

    Like you, I find breakfast and snacks to be the most difficult. I have found a few things that are helpful to me:
    Protein bars – they don’t taste very great, but I like to actually eat something in the morning, and with a 1 year old, there’s not always time for eggs or anything else cooked. I find if I can drink a cup of coffee with it, I can stomach it.
    Banana and pb (as mentioned above)

    For snacks – fruit (I go with the plan that natural sugars in fruit are ok), veggie chips (fresh market in the bulk section. there are all kinds), fruit crisps (also fresh market, in a silver bag. just dried fruit. no other ingredients), carrots and hummus.

    For me the first week was the most difficult. I think that it’s like withdrawl… All I can see in my pantry is bread and chips and pasta, and I want to eat them. But if you can get past that and figure out what works for you for bfast and snacks, it gets MUCH easier!

    You can do it!

  12. whimzie

    What kind of protein bars do you eat?

    • I eat the atkins peanut butter/chocolate ones. The zone perfect ones are tastier, but also have lots of sugar. Atkins has the least sugar I’ve been able to find.

      I also like the Syntrax brand Nectar protein powder to make into shakes. It tastes pretty good, and no carbs/sugar. But I have a hard time drinking my breakfast…

  13. It’s kinda funny that you posted this today. I went sugar free back in May but haven’t said much about it. Coincidentally, it’s also when my blog when got quiet… But I’ve been toying with writing about how everything came about for me and now maybe I will. :) There is strength in numbers, right?

    My MIL is sugar free with me and we started (just recently) a sugar free blog: http://www.sugarfreenaturally.wordpress.com

    Not much there yet, but we’re adding as we have time.

  14. Ugh, apparently I can’t put together a proper sentence… It must be the lack of sugar. :)

  15. Linda

    I went on the HCG diet a few months ago. It is basically a strict, extremely boring, 21 day diet. The motivation is the weight loss that you have most every day. Plus, the fact that it is a very short time period, I knew I could do anything for 21 days. It pretty much eliminated carbs. When I finished the diet I had lost 16 pounds and was encouraged to go on the South Beach diet to maintain. I have now lost 18 pounds. One of the hidden benefits is the complete reprogramming of your thought process concerning food. I have found that I don’t have to have exactly what I am craving for every meal or snack. I am now eating to live instead of living to eat.

    • whimzie

      I would not have categorized myself as an “emotional eater” until I started changing my eating habits. It has been very interesting to realize that most of the times my cravings have nothing at all to do with hunger.

      Congratulations on your success, Skinny Minnie!

  16. I’ve been wanting to ask Suz what she IS eating, but haven’t had a chance to talk to her. I really need to get off sugar, but I don’t eat much red meat at all, so I’m not sure what all I can “fill up” on… I’ll have to see what I can figure out, but you are so smart to do this.

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