I'm sitting here enjoying my pudding...no worries, since I was reminded of my goals in life, I have definitely been really off the added sugar, though the last 2 remaining cones look so lonely in the freezer! Anyways, earlier in this post, I talked about my love for sugar and adopting a sugar-free lifestyle. So let's talk about how it worked out for me.
1. I started by assessing how much added sugar I eat.
In the U.S. sugar is added to the oddest foods. I had to stop using a particular seasoned salt because the second ingredient was sugar. It turned out many other foods I ate were chock full of sugar; many of the low fat options which have been touted as more diet-friendly and healthier have been loaded with sugar to make them more....well palatable.
I started reading about the different names of sugar, which include: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, syrup, white sugar, carbitol, concentrated fruit juice, corn sweetener, diglycerides, disaccharides, evaporated cane juice, erythritol, Florida crystals, fructooligosaccharides, galactose, glucitol, glucoamine, hexitol, inversol, isomalt, maltodextrin, malted barley, malts, mannitol, nectars, pentose, raisin syrup, ribose rice syrup, rice malt, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, sucanat, xylitol and zylose.
So how much sugar is in it
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar = 4 grams. So if my food contains 8 grams of sugar, I'm consuming about 2 teaspoons. In some foods such as fruit, naturally high in sugar, this number can look alarming: a serving of my daily banana contains 17g of sugar; about 4 teaspoons of sugar. As these sugars are naturally occurring, I did not eliminate them from my diet; my focus was on added sugar. An easy example of added sugar is a can of soda which contains 39 g of sugar; almost 10 tsp of sugar.
And how much added sugar should you eat?
Well, the new WHO guidelines recommend less than 5% of your daily caloric intake should come from added sugar. For most folks this will be around 25 g or 6 teaspoons of sugar.
I was eating more added than any of the recommended guidelines, even the previous ones of less than 10% of my daily caloric intake.
2. I found alternatives to some of my favorite foods that contain a lot of sugar.
I switched the seasoned salt, spaghetti sauce, and other foods that really didn't need sugar, like my honey covered peanuts. I love pancakes but between the sugar in the batter and the syrup was consuming almost 50g of sugar if I used 1/4 cup of syrup. So now I don't eat pancakes as often, and when I do blend bananas into the batter and top it with fruit (berries etc).
3. I eliminated slowly.
The most obvious source of sugar for me is chocolate. I simply gave it up, there was no way to gradually taper that off. For other sugar sources, I started by using less. For example, I enjoy a nice cup of chai tea w a good serving of sugar and milk. I started by reducing the amount of sugar until I was down to a half-teaspoon.
4. I discovered new ways to eat my food.
My breakfast consisted of high fiber cereal, most of which contains added sugar. I switched to oats which I did not sweeten and opted instead to top it with raisins and walnuts. I learned to love green tea, once I learned how to brew it and completely eliminated adding sugar to it. And though I don't drink it as often, drink my chai tea plain. I also diversified my palate and started adding more protein to my breakfast.
4. I avoided processed foods.
Cooking helps determine exactly what goes into the food and generally eliminates a lot of sugar. We trust the food industry a little too much with our health. Back to basics. My cooking has gotten more creative. The pudding I'm eating is sweetened with a few dates. The other ingredients are pure cocoa powder (the bitter antioxidant containing stuff), milk (cow or nonsweetened soy) and tofu (I know I lost you on that one!).
5. I gained an understanding of why excess sugar is bad for me.
My family has a history of diabetes and a slew of other chronic diseases. My dentist, well, she's probably amassed a small fortune from my dental bills. This year's checkup revealed my health indicator numbers are looking good and have definitely improved over the last year. With this in mind, I have become more determined that this is the lifestyle that fits my goals.
6. I set a specific time to adapt my new lifestyle.
The fast was for 3 weeks. I determined that during that time I would be super disciplined. I also realized 3 weeks was enough for it to become a habit. After the 3 weeks, I extended it and have continued since with mini pauses when life moments have happened or when fear has set it.
Of course it has not been all flowers and roses and cake...ooh cake with icing and ice cream and...! There have been many challenges and many opportunities to try again. Overall it's been a great success and I'm excited for my new lifestyle habits. I'll discuss the challenges in my next blog entry. In the meantime...
Stay sweet (without added sugar of course)