TEXAS HOMESTEADER’S NOTE: This No-Sugar challenge documents Ashley’s 30-day attempt to remove PROCESSED SUGAR from their diet. This challenge allows her to use natural sugars such as honey or true maple syrup, therefore it’s not meant for a diabetic alternative, simply a personal-health challenge.
by Guest-Writer Ashley
Hi, I’m Ashley and I will be sharing with you our four-week journey of eliminating processed sugar from our diet. Today’s post outlines how we did on week one.
As much junk food and easy to grab dishes and meals that there seem to be, especially in my area, it’s easy to see why people get so addicted to things like fat and sugar.
I am certainly guilty of consuming too many foods that are really high in that sugary-sweetness, and so is my husband. We are also guilty of not wanting to cook ourselves a meal late at night when it had been a particularly long day so we would simply drop by a favorite fast food place and pick up something to eat.
Now I don’t really think there is anything wrong with treating yourself to a pizza, or a nice big burger, or even a decadent piece of cake. It’s simply the AMOUNT you “treat” yourself to these things. And for a while that seemed to be just about every night for us.
Dealing With A Sweet Tooth
I happen to have a terrible sweet tooth and will crave something sweet late at night. Like, a lot. Or every night. Whatever.
I didn’t really think about how incredibly addicted to sugar I was until my husband came up with the idea one day to cut all refined sugars from our diet.
What?! That’s crazy! How was I supposed to go a complete 30 days without sweets?
But he was determined to take on the challenge and was hoping to lose a couple of pounds along the way. Since I am the one that cooks all of our meals and buys all of our groceries, he needed a strong support system at home to keep him on the right track.
So that is how I ended up here, one week without any type of refined sugar in my breakfasts, lunches, or dinners.
Day 1 Of The Challenge
The first day of going to the grocery store to pick up wholesome foods to eat was torture. The bakery smelled of freshly baked breads and cakes and the aisles seemed to be flooded with packaged snacks and candies and sugar overloaded goodies that were now on the restricted list. Each one taunted me as I walked past.
It was certainly a test of willpower, and the stores intentionally do this to entice shoppers to buy, buy, BUY!
But we managed to push through it and even learned some tips and tricks along the way. Why yes, I will share them with you!
1. Only shop on the perimeter of the store. The aisles have almost nothing that can be consumed during the challenge. It’s also the best way to know you’re getting the most wholesome foods during this time.
2. Check the labels on EVERYTHING. You will be surprised at the things that have added sugar in it. (bread being the first thing that comes to mind)
3. Just throw out everything you already have in your pantry and refrigerator that has sugar in it. The temptation at this point is overwhelming and you’re just setting yourself up for failure if it’s sitting in front of you. It’s torture, trust me.
4. Take a lunch with you! This especially applies during work, but also if you plan on being out all day for shopping or errands. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re starving all of a sudden and have few options for sugar free eats.
5. Drink only water or unsweetened tea you make at home. Pretty much every other beverage out there has added sugar. Sugar goes under many misleading names like fructose and glucose.
Refined Sugar-Free Sweetener
I decided to stay away from all sugar-free sweeteners to be safe. The point of this whole thing was to challenge myself and I didn’t really want the option to continue eating all of the familiar foods with just one ingredient changed.
The only thing I allowed as a sweetener was honey, and only that was allowed in my homemade granola that I made to eat for breakfast.
Natural sugars in fruits were also ok as fruit’s benefits outweigh that of their sugar content. I would eat some diced fruit that I kept cut up and inside the refrigerator for breakfast and maybe a pear or an apple as a snack in the middle of the day so as to not over-do it.
I had to think ahead a bit and make sure I had something on me for a quick bite if I found myself getting hungry.
Dinners and lunches were so easy. We stuck with lean, white meats like chicken or turkey and a variety of vegetables.
No desserts, even though every fiber of my being called out for them. But breakfast was tough to figure out.
We were used to cereals, pop tarts, pancakes and french toast. So we stuck with fruit, a boiled egg, and a very simple granola. [See recipe below]
So far it’s been hard. And I mean a lot harder than I ever thought it was going to be.
Struggles Beginning This Challenge
Every. Single. Day. I want to buckle and eat something that I told myself that I would avoid for a full month.
But I have stayed strong and pushed through. I know it will eventually get easier when my taste buds and body reset themselves and adjust to not getting such a highly addictive substance.
I’ve even read that there are great benefits like healthier skin and hair, more energy, and easy weight loss. Boy, oh boy I cannot wait until that part happens. I guess we will see what happens next week.
In the meantime, here is the recipe to my super simple granola.
Simple Sugar Free Granola
- 3 c rolled oats
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/2 t ginger
- 1/4 t allspice
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/3 c honey
- 1/4 c coconut oil
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 c raisins
- 1/4 c sunflower seeds
- 1/2 c chopped nuts (I used peanuts)
- 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 c chia seeds (opt.)
- 2 tbs ground flax seed (opt.)
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Mix oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, honey, oil, and vanilla until combined.
Bake for 15 minutes, stir and bake for 15 more minutes until golden brown.
Cool and add the rest of the ingredients and store in an airtight container.
This makes about 5 or 6 cups total of granola. Probably about the equivalent of a box of cereal, but it fills you up quicker and you don’t eat as much.
4-Week Sugar-Free Challenge
You’re encouraged to read all four weeks of Ashley’s Sugar-Free Challenge Journey where she shares tips & delicious sugar-free recipes:
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page . It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea. There are lots of good folks sharing! And you can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram
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I’m so impressed! I don’t keep much sugar in the house, but I have a definite weakness when I’m out and sugar is offered to me (or just available). I know I’m addicted to it, and really should do a fast from it too. Too many celebrations coming up right now though. Many in the spring!
I cut out most sugars and refined white flours a few months ago, but allowed myself a sweet treat once or twice on the weekend. This actually worked out well for me as I started to see results quickly and for a woman in menopause that was quite significant. I found that as time went on, I didn’t really crave sweets anymore and when I did have something sweet it was too sweet. On the weekend I would allow myself my indulgence, coffee ice cream. I figured that was the most natural and contained protein as well.
I found that by cutting out most sugars, I wasn’t gassy or bloated in the evenings anymore, I wasn’t hungry all the time and most significant, my acid reflux pretty much resolved.
Over Christmas, I indulged and boy did I pay. Sugar truly is an addiction because I was out of control and with that my reflux came back, bloating and stomach discomfort and of course I gained weight.
On New Year’s Day I cut out sugars once again, and I can already notice an improvement just four days in.
I wish you well on your journey to cut out sugar.
I’ve been thinking about trying something like this, but have not taken the plunge yet – thanks for the tips, and thank you for sharing at #HomeMattersParty this week.
Wow the ingredient list looks amazing! Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Sharing on G+! Have a great week!
The thing about a challenge like this is that if you can make it a week, you can make it two weeks, and then you can go a month. I gave up Cokes (4-6 a day) 28 years ago. My Dr. asked me to just give them up for a week, to see if I would quit having kidney infections. That was the first step, I gradually gave up more and more refined sugar. I will have a piece of Dark Chocolate (usually 80%) from time to time. It’s VERY hard to hunt out all the sugar in food and avoid it. It’s hidden in everything. I applaud you!
I have a terrible sweet tooth, also. Good for you for taking this challenge. I admire you. Congrats, you’re featured this week at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party on Organized 31.
this looks even better than the pumpkin granola you posted. thanks again for sharing it with Tuesday Afternoon at a Spirit of Simplicity
Good Luck on your challenge!! Not sure I could do it!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday – Link Party!! Hope to see you again this week!! Love having you!! Pinned!!!
Great job Ashley! I’m late to see this, but I bet you are feeling better already. I’m guessing you don’t drink milk as it’s not on your #5? We love having cows, and we probably go through a gallon of milk as a family every day.
Keep going girl, you’ve GOT this!
I only just stopped milk products and switched to coconut milk. Someone suggested that this wasn’t the best switch and suggested raw milk. I certainly have many more things to learn and look in to!
I did the same thing, but for two months! It gets easier! My two months are up, but for the most part I’m still avoiding added sugars. So many things just taste so cloyingly sweet now. Thanks for sharing and hello from the Not Just Homemaking Party!
Inspirational. I don’t know if I can do it but this is quite inspirational! Thanks for inspiring us at the Merry Monday party.
You could always try to start out small. Cut out a particular temptation of yours for a month or no starbucks for a month. Once you get rolling it gets easier. Thanks for your kind encouragement!
This would be so hard. I have to have sugar in my coffee! Thanks for posting. Hello from Farmgirl Friday.
Good job! Keep it up. We have done no sugars, grains or chemicals for a month at a time. (Honestly, avoiding the chemicals was the most difficult.) You’ve made it over the most difficult part. Once the month is up, you might go to have a cookie or whatever & it will be sickeningly sweet.
Wishing you great success:)
I gave up gluten and sugar at the same time. Previously, I lived on Cokes and doughnuts.
8 weeks in, I’ve had desserts only 5 times. I’m doing amazing!
You can do it! I know it’s hard, but you will feel so much better! And your body will thank you!
Today marks 30 days that I gave up Starbucks! I figured out that it was not the caffeine I was addicted to but the sugar! 45g of sugar in one of those bottled frappacinos. I am so glad I was able to reach this point and will be challenging myself to something else this next 30 days – but not quite ready for the sugar elimination altogether!
You may be surprised if you give it a go! I wasn’t ready either as it was my husband’s idea to go on the challenge. It’s been more fun than I care to admit to him. Starbucks was a particularly difficult thing to part with but so far so good.
Way to go! Might I offer a suggestion? For breakfast, you don’t have to eat breakfast foods. We often have left overs from last night, soup and sometimes I even have a salad. Make sure you get plenty of good fats in, like grass fed butter and coconut oil.
I am totally grain and sugar free [I have hashimoto’s]. It was hard at first but once you get used to the lifestyle change it gets to become second nature and you feel so much better because of it.
That is a wonderful suggestion Megan! I should try that. Some mornings I simply want something “breakfasty” but other mornings it would be just as nice to have leftovers from dinner. I applaud you for being grain and sugar free!
you are brave to do this for your health I try to watch the sweets but have not been able to take the challenge I applaud you have a great weekend zen hugs all around
Thank you for the encouragement! Maybe you could try a smaller amount of time? Like a two week no sugar challenge? I thought I would buckle on the first two days but was amazed at my own willpower when I simply gave myself no other option. 🙂
OMG wow. I don’t know if I could do it. I usually like 1 teaspoon of sugar in my coffee every morning (and I usually drink 3 to 4 cups, so that’s 3 to 4 tsps every morning, wow I never thought of that before) then there’s the homemade bread, I put a tablespoon of sugar in that, I make the majority of my meals from scratch, and other than the bread, I don’t put sugar in. But then there is the ice cream… yep, there is defiantly sugar in that…. and let’s not discuss what happens when there is cake, cookies, muffins, ect…. I can be worse than I child when it comes to yummy things like that.
Hmmm, a month without sugar. I could drink tea instead of coffee (I don’t put sugar in my tea), no ice cream, and find a recipe for bread that uses honey instead of sugar… maybe I could do it….
We shall see. Good luck and let me know how it goes. I might have to look into this more.
Thanks for sharing.
I love all things sugar, which is why I took on the challenge. There are ways to sweeten your coffee without refined sugar like honey or stevia. There’s no way of getting around bread…the yeast needs to feed on the sugar and I haven’t found a sugar free one…yet. But you would be amazed on how many things you are able to be fine without once you start. It’s not easy, but it feels that much better when you find ways around it.
I have made two breads without sugar or honey! One is Rose Nader’s recipe with whole wheat flour, milk and yeast. That’s it! The sugar in the milk feeds the yeast. The other recipe is from Pampered Chef. We call it baby bottom bread, because it is so smooth and soft when it’s formed. It uses white flour, water, salt and yeast. White flour is refined enough to feed the yeast.
So it is possible! If you use milk instead of water, you can skip the sugar and the bread tastes fine.
Going sugar free is a huge challenge…. we have done it at times and we feel so much better after a few days of detoxing from the sugar. Good for you for doing this…. very hard with our sugar laden American diet.
I honestly didn’t realize just how much sugary foods are placed in front of me until I started this challenge! Only 3 weeks to go. 😉
Oh, you brave , brave girl.
You have a lot more will power than I would have. I gotta have that jelly or jam on my morning toast and sauce on my ice cream. I would have sugar with draw for sure.
Best of luck to you on your sugar free journey
There has been a sugar withdrawal for sure! I chose to stay away from any sweetener to be safe, but there are always sugar free options for a lot of things. Even jellies and jams! We will see how the next three weeks play out.
Substitute for jam – fresh berries!
Substitute for ice cream – frozen berries with half and half poured over them!