I’m halfway through my No Added Sugar 30 day challenge and its going great! I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the whole experience. I’ve learned a ton about myself and about eating habits, but most importantly, I’m finding tons of naturally sweet alternatives to added sugars.
I had no idea, but my No Added Sugar challenge has already showed me that compared to the average American, I do not eat a ton of added sugar. My pre-challenge diet was already low on the added sugar scale. Although I felt like I was eating a ton of sugar, especially in November and December. The Holidays have that effect and I definitely like to enjoy all the wonderful foods and desserts. But damn! Now that I’ve eliminated added sugar from my diet, I’ll know how to regulate it way better once my challenge is complete.
By removing foods with added sugar, I’ve learned about how we as Americans eat. It’s definitely challenging and limiting to eat at a restaurant, unless you go to an all-organic, vegetarian, vegan restaurant. Eating the bread is off limits, which can be a super bummer when you’re at a table full of people chowing down on bread and butter. Most restaurants do not give a complete list of EVERY single ingredient, so unless it’s a meal where you know exactly what’s in it, then it’s off limits! But with some careful reading of the menu, you can still find some pretty awesome options at most restaurants. It’s harder, but by no means impossible, to dine out.
Throughout my 30 day challenge, my biggest dilemma has been with bread. Why does bread have added sugar in it? Most all bread does, so I did a little research and most people say sugar is added to bread to help activate the yeast. But French bread is made without sugar and it is delicious! Adding sugar to bread is commonplace, but feels completely unnecessary. There are only two types of sliced bread at Trader Joe’s that have no sugar in them. Trader Joe’s Sourdough whole wheat bread and Food for Life Ezekiel bread both are super yummy and tasty, with no added sugar. They’ll satisfy your bread craving nicely and have satisfied mine so far.
Not only have I been reading EVERY food label over my first fifteen days, I’ve been making foods at home that otherwise have added sugar when store bought. Some ingredients on food labels might be sugar according to my research, or might not, so I’ve avoided them all. Some I can’t even pronounce, like xanthum gum. What is that? Check out the explanation here. It’s added to salsa, some hot sauces, some hummus. I have no clue how much sugar it actually contains, but since it’s made from sugar it’s on my No list. I’ve experimented with making my own salsa, cookies, and snacks. The salsa was super easy and fun. Put half an onion in the food processor, add garlic, lime juice, two to three tomatoes, and it’s good to go. If you want to fancy it up you can add olives, jalapenos. Or spice it up with hot sauce and chili powder. It takes less than five minutes and it’s delicious!
Throughout the rest of my thirty days I plan on playing around with even more recipes. I’ve been making banana chips; love them. Slice up two to four bananas and bake them at 250 degrees for an hour and a half, flipping at least once within that time. Let them dry out a bit after and enjoy. They’re super easy and need no sugar, salt, or oil added to them! The biggest recipe undertaking that I plan to take is with granola bars. I miss grabbing a bar on the go, or sharing a bar before I run with my man. But most granola/cereal/protein bars have way too much sugar added. I did find one with no added sugar, the That’s It bar. I have yet to try one, but it’s just fruit added and they’re all 100 calories. I’ll be making my own this week and can’t wait to share my recipe!
This 30 day challenge has been super fun so far, and even halfway through I’m definitely seeing the benefits and feeling rewarded by doing it. I’ve explored lots of different food options and most of the foods I’ve given up, I don’t even miss!
Removing added sugar from my diet for the month of January is setting me up to be extremely aware of what I’m eating in 2015, and I can’t go back. I plan to keep my added sugar intake to a minimum. We don’t need the sugar! I challenge all of you to challenge yourselves, for a week or a full 30 days. It will definitely change the way you look at food. Woo!