Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Sugarless Challenge

Now that I've thoroughly enjoyed my gluten-free cinnamon walnut coffee cake, it might be a good time to talk about sugar. As happy as I was eating my cake, it reminded me that the more I eat sugar, the more I crave it. So now that the cake's gone, a little sugar detox is in order.

We all know that Americans eat a lot of sugar. Sugar in your coffee, honey in your tea, jam on your toast, sweetened soy milk... Don't even get me started on soda! But if there's something I've learned since working as a weight loss counselor, it's that with sugar, a little goes a long way. I've had a lot of clients initially refuse to cut the sugar out of their coffee, only to find out they weren't able to lose weight until they did so. This past week, a client who has been stuck at the same weight for months admitted to me she puts four packets of sugar in her coffee every day! No wonder the scale wasn't budging! It can seem like such a small thing. It's just a teaspoon here and there. That can't really make a difference, can it?

Yes, it can. And it does. Simply cutting out those teaspoons of sugar can help you drop a couple of pounds (if that's your goal) without making any other changes. So I challenge you to a sugarless week. Think about what you're eating and drinking, and find something where you can cut out some sugar. Maybe it's cutting down from four sugars in your coffee to two, or even better, zero. Maybe it's having a slice of bread with just peanut butter and leaving the jelly off. Maybe it's buying all-natural peanut butter rather than the kind with sugar/honey/high fructose corn syrup in it. Perhaps you can drink your tea with a squeeze of fresh lemon and leave the honey out. Look at the ingredients on your food labels. There are a lot of names for sugar so you might have to be a detective and find where it's hiding.

And to add to the challenge, I dare you to simply cut the sugar out without adding something "sugar-free" in its place. No splenda, no equal, no stevia, not even agave nectar. Buy some fruit if you want a natural sweetener, or let your taste buds adapt to the natural sweetness in foods. The less added sugar you eat, the sweeter natural foods will start to taste to you.

Where am I taking the sugar out of my day? Flavored yogurts. On average, I would say I eat two 6-oz yogurts per day, and each one contains about 24 grams of sugar. Now apparently we're not supposed to consume more than 40 grams of sugar a day, so I'm going over just with my yogurt. Who knows how much I eat when I add in everything else throughout the day! So my personal challenge is to only eat plain yogurt this week, thereby saving about 12 grams of sugar per 6-oz container. And that adds up. Cutting out 24 grams of sugar each day is pretty good for such a simple change.

So are you up for the sugarless challenge? What ways can you cut out sugar on a daily basis?


withoutadornment said...

This is such a great idea - I've been wanting to do something like this for a really long time.

In my meals I don't usually eat a lot of sugar - it's when I start baking, snacking or drinking alcohol in the evening. Even though, when I've been baking I've been trying to use less sugar and use more wholesome flours. For my sister's birthday I tried to make icing using agave nectar (which is much better than powdered sugar) but it was a fail.

I think this week I am going to try to not drink alcohol or eat processed sugar things as snacks in the evening. I'm sure that it will do me a world of good!

LucindaSarina said...

You should definitely try it! Let me know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

Can you share more of your thoughts on stevia? It has no calories and seems like a great sugar substitute. Is it simply because it is so sweet that it triggers the sweet craving? Have you baked with it much and liked the results? Since it comes from a plant it seems like a great way to go, but I guess the best option as you mentioned is simply fresh fruit. Yes? Kelty

Iris said...

Hi Kelty, It's interesting to look back and see what I wrote a year ago. Kind of like rereading old journals! I've found that certain sweeteners that others can handle, like dates, agave nectar, honey, and maple syrup set me up for cravings just as sugar would. I've been using stevia for a couple of months now, and it's been great. No cravings or desire to keep eating past the point of fullness. I haven't tried it in baking because I've heard from so many people that it doesn't work well. I love to sprinkle a little on my hot cereal or use it to make a glaze for cooking tofu/fish/chicken. And personally, I like the powder better than the drops I've tried, but that might just be the brand I'm using (SweetLeaf).

As for baking, I've been baking a lot of things lately without sweeteners (like the breads I made recently), but I haven't yet found the best alternative sweetener for me for baking.

Anonymous said...

Yay! That is awesome you have been using it lately and are pleased!!! I know it has been so nice for me! Personally I find if I can have a little bit of sugar, sometimes fresh/frozen fruit does the trick, but if I can have that little bit of sweetness than I don't feel deprived. I don't mean in cookies and cakes but like on my hot cereal or in my granola. =)

I also use the stevia powder and like it. I am loving your recipes without sweeteners!!! I SO agree with you, for example if I make my double bran muffins that are sweetened with apple juice or pomegranate juice I feel satisfied but if I make banana oat muffins that call for brown sugar (even 1/3 cup) then I just want to keep eating them - puts me on that sugar train! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts....it helps so much to have someone to talk about these kinds of things with. =) Kelty


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