Good afternoon folks!
It is your resident guinea pig here, with another challenge to get this body tight and right! It’s been two months since the big 3-0 and I’m getting adjusted to this lovely body of mine. It feels like, with wisdom comes a mini roll or random hair strand somewhere on this body. Needless to say, it is time to preserve this lovely vessel of mine. And that includes taking out things in my daily diet, like sugar.
Now, we all love sugar. I have a very specific sweet tooth: butter pecan ice cream, donuts and the occasion Sour Patch Kids. (I’ll take all of those for writing this article, mmm-kay? thanks). But taking in a ton of sugar can do some serious damage to your health.
There is nothing wrong with a sweet snack to indulge in every once in a while. Like binging on ‘OITNB’ while eating said butter pecan ice cream. However, eating large amounts of sugar has been linked to some gnarly stuff: impaired brain function, mental depression, cancer and heart disease. Yikes.
One of the biggest things I learned from doing this challenge, which I’ve now added to my lifestyle, is a lot of what we eat has sugar! About 75 percent of packaged foods to be exact. Moreover, we accidentally eat added sugar and don’t even realize it! The World Health Organization cut the recommended sugar intake for adults from 10 percent to 5 percent, 25 grams or 6 teaspoons, per day. And how much do you think we eat? Women consume about 5 times that amount per day or 30 teaspoons (men is 9x the daily intake). How Sway?!
There were several days where I was on a roll and killing it. But other days, I found myself eating sugar, accidentally or just out of pure craziness. But we strive for progress, not perfection, right? Continue reading to see how it all went!
Days 1 & 2 I started this challenge on Monday, because Sunday was rough for me. No judgments. Knowing that I would be avoiding any added sugar, I decided to go to the supermarket, with a laser focus on what to buy. This meant, purchasing more fruits: grapes, bananas, oranges and staying away from the center aisles. In addition, I purchased black beans and salad, to create healthy breakfasts and lunches for the week. And no yogurt. Because while satisfying, it has approx 16 – 20 grams of sugar per serving. I increased my intake of water, which is very important ladies! Considering I didn’t have to work until later in the day, Days 1 & 2 actually went pretty well. Whenever I had a craving, I opted for grapes or bananas and just drank copious amounts of water. So far so good.
Days 3 & 4 Considering the first two days, I felt even more confident for the balance of the challenge; until I ran out of grapes and bananas. I didn’t have time to make it to the supermarket because of my schedule and all hell broke lose. At work, I was drinking water, which certainly helped keep the cravings at bay, but then I just couldn’t take it anymore. I ran to the vending machine and tried to find something that wouldn’t be so detrimental to this diet. I saw a small trial mix package. I devoured it before I could even read the label. Afterwards, I turned it around and cringed. This small little delight had 20 grams of sugar in it. 20! I’d consumed most of my daily intake in a matter of seconds. It proved the theory that we accidentally eat more grams of sugar than we should and also that it doesn’t have to be a huge donut (I have this thing with donuts) to have tons of sugar. Moreover, it almost felt like I was in withdrawal. With sugar considered being as addictive as drugs, like cocaine and heroin, it’s no surprise that my body went into some freak out for not having the substance in some form. It’s not like we need it to survive, but my I essentially craved it.
And let’s not talk about the Pinkberry yogurt I had on Day 4… On average Pinkberry has about 18 grams of sugar, without toppings. Needless to say, I felt like I was on withdrawal days 3 and 4, couldn’t quite kick the habit and succumbed. But there is always tomorrow!
Days 5 – 7 Knowing this about myself, I went back to the supermarket and bought almonds and Pepperidge Farm gold fish… yes gold fish. Because they have 0 grams of sugar. Now the sodium, that’s another story, for another time. Even though I did eat some sort of sugar, I certainly felt I was in a lighter and happier mood. My anxiety was definitely controlled and I didn’t feel bloated or lethargic. With snacks and water in hand, I was able to complete this sugar challenge and lost about 2 lbs. Baby steps people.
Having a sugar-free or no-added sugar diet, certainly has it’s benefits: help in weight loss (with moderate exercise), increased mental and physical stamina, improved sleep and reduced risk of illness. And you don’t have to go cold turkey immediately. Take baby steps. If that means, not buying candy or soda, but keeping your weekly yogurt treat so be it! The goal is to actively make better health decisions, knowing that no one is perfect.
For more quick tips see below:
Meal Prep on Sundays – Going in with a plan helps prevent you from over-indulging during the week. Make large portions for meals and organize your snacks to make transitioning to a healthy lifestyle easier.
Read labels – As I mentioned earlier, sugar is in about 75 percent of packaged food sold in the US. So definitely become aware of what your purchasing and read the labels.
Drink a lot of water – The recommended daily intake for women is 2.2 liters or 9 cups a day. I’d say take it up a notch and replace sugary drinks with water at your meals. Not a water drinker? Add fruit slices like orange, lemon or cucumber for flavor.