I have survived 7 days of a 30 day no added sugar challenge!
I decided I needed a few changes and challenges in my current diet and lifestyle. Specifically I felt like I was consuming more sugar on a daily basis than I had in years and I was not exercising nearly as much as I needed to.
Let me do some explaining...
Since moving to Austin I have enjoyed the many luxuries of being in a city that is very cultured and has so many amazing food options for people of all different diet types. When I was living in Phoenix many of my favorite restaurants were 20-30 minutes away from me which meant I couldn't indulge in unhealthy foods very often. Now I live walking distance from many amazing restaurants and grocery stores that carry gluten free vegan desserts and pastries that taste heavenly! Like any adventurous person and foodie I had to try my options! But recently I noticed that trying some desserts here and there has turned into me thinking about sweets far more than I want to. I would think about my next sweet snack and plan it. I realized the beginning stages of sugar addiction was setting in. I refused to let this continue and decide to nip things in the bud! I admittedly am not as physically active as I should be because I a busy body and time is limited. That being said I know that time is not an excuse to get in a quick daily work out!
To completely remove all added sugar foods from my diet for 30 days. My goal in doing this is to allow my mind and taste buds to forget about sugar so I no longer think about it and want it. The second goal is to work out 30 minutes every day for 30 days! For me this means anywhere from walking 30 minutes to dancing or weight lifting. My goal isn't to achieve a certain physique in this time period but instead to make getting outside and moving a habit so I can stop making excuses.
Here is how Week 1 went without any added sugar (in a nutshell):
Day 1: I didn't crave sugar at all because I think I was still feeling the effects of it from the day before. I realized I had to stick to reading labels as much as possible again because sugar is in everything! I planned on making gluten free pasta but my sauce had sugar in it so I had to come up with a different sauce. I made a sauce up of tomato paste, spices, and water. It actually tasted amazing.
Day 2: I noticed myself thinking about sugar. I couldn't eat some of my go to foods because even though they aren't high in sugar they do contain it. I also realized that I was not ready to go down certain grocery store aisle that had sugary snacks I liked. I planned for the next few day to not visit Wheatsville Co-op since I associate this store with chocolate chip cookies. As for the exercise, yesterday and today I walked for 30 minutes which actually feels great!
Day 3: This whole challenge is feeling easier. I am feeling better overall and I enjoy my 30 minute walks at night because the weather is perfect and I am discovering my neighborhood. I realized that I could eat my favorite gluten free tortillas since they do not have any added sugar and this has made making meals easier. I have been doing a smoothie everyday. My smoothies consist of frozen fruit and unsweetened almond milk. I usually add spinach, hemp seeds and flax oil as well. Although fruit has sugar in it naturally, I do not count this because I am eating fruit in its whole form. I am staying away from fruit juices though.
Days 4-7: These days gave me so much energy that I have seen a huge difference in my attitude and overall health already! By day 5 I left like no added sugar was a cake walk. It is difficult to find foods with no added sugar but I love vegetables so much I just saute some up with some spices and eat a huge bowl of this! As the for exercise, I continued to walk but some days I had to go late at night because I had such busy days I couldn't get to it until the very end of my day. I started to jog on day 5 and man oh man was that difficult! I felt amazing afterwards and remembered why I used to love running. I started to feel like my old self again and realized that 30 minutes a day is not a whole lot for what you get out of it.
So, this is a condensed version of my daily diary entries but here are some tips and tricks!
- Eat as many fresh veggies as you want! Choose less carby vegetables if possible such as broccoli, bell peppers, onions, kale, etc. I did indulge in homemade sweet potato fries that are baked with some spice and a small amount of olive oil. This was tasty and I enjoyed the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes without the guilt of the fried restaurants ones.
- If you are going to eat fruit---eat it in its whole form! No fruit juices. Fruit has amazing fiber so eat the whole fruit and enjoy the effects in has on your digestive system ;)
- Stay away from the traps. If you crave sugar than do not go down the aisles you know your favorite snacks are on. In fact, avoid the grocery store the first 3 days. Stock up on good foods before you do a challenge like this.
- Get ready to cook and plan restaurant dates another time. If you are going out to eat you are faced with the fact that you have no idea what goes into your food! Even foods you think do not have added sugar in them, do! So get into the kitchen and start creating your favorite healthy dishes. If friends want to meet up, invite them on a walk with you!
- READ LABELS!
- Like Nike's motto-"Just do it!" Make it your priority and do NOT compromise. If you come through for everyone else then come through for yourself, because this is your health.
- Wake up early or get a night time partner and lights for a safe night time stroll. You might have to rearrange your schedule to get 30 minutes in everyday but it is doable. See if a neighbor wants to join you and make sure you have a cell phone and lights if you are going at night. If you are working out during the day then use sunscreen (see my Facebook post on which sunscreen I prefer).
- Look into free exercise classes! Whole Foods on Lamar all month has had free fitness classes on their plaza that will get you sweating! See if your local yoga/dance/pilates/kick boxing/etc. studio has any deals going on right now.
- If all else fails---put some fun music on and get your whole family to dance around like crazy people for 30 minutes. Jump up and down, throw in some lunges and burpees and just get your heart rate up.
- Make it fun but push yourself! See if you can go a bit further, faster, or longer every day.
If sugar is a very strong addiction for you I suggest this amazing book that explains why our brain becomes addicted. I started reading this again and it has helped me stay focused.
Stay tuned for next weeks blog in which I have more helpful tips and tricks on how to survive 30 days without any added sugar!
Dr. Lauren Sanchez