How was your February? Two weeks ago me and my friend, and fellow RD, Becky went one week without added sugar. Did you join us? If you missed the challenge, you can find the details here.
Today I am sharing some of the lessons learned during our brief seven days without added sugar. Don’t worry, I am back on the donuts, but it was a great, eye opening challenge.
lessons learned: added sugar
Too much sugar can make you feel crappy and can aggravate IBS.
Added sugar is in SO many foods. Truthfully, I tend to think my added sugar intake is fairly low day-to-day (unless I bake cookies or am PMSing) but, getting reacquainted with the food label on staple foods in my diet made me realize that I likely come very close to the ‘recommended’ added sugar limit of 25 g/d. Between sausage or bacon, a granola bar, bread, sauces, and so much more, sugar is literally everywhere, and often in places it really doesn’t need to be.
Eating sweets can quickly become a habit. We found that nighttime snacks and post dinner treats weren’t really something that was needed or even really wanted.
Sweets are often used to comfort when stressed, or occupy when bored. Yikes!!! I am all about mindful eating, I really try to think before I eat and this challenge helped me identify the moments when I normally would reach for some m&ms or chocolate in the cabinet. This challenge forced me to check-in. EVERY SINGLE TIME I had that urge it was due to looking for a distraction from something I didn’t want to do, or feeling stressed / overwhelmed and wanting a moment of comfort. I prefer intentional treat selection for enjoyment, but I am not immune to the comfort of my favorite chocolate to escape my stress. I definitely do this way more often than I realized and I am glad for my better awareness. Now I am more apt to stop and ask ‘what am I really feeling right now?’ It is challenging, but powerful.
Fruit makes a great dessert! We both really enjoyed adding more fruit to our day, either at breakfast, as a snack, or as dessert after a meal. Clementines and grapes are extra tasty this time of year and are certainly sweet!
Carbohydrate intake didn’t decrease. This eye opening experience showed us that we do love carbs and can eat carbs and will eat carbs for fuel and satisfaction but perhaps the countless sources of added hidden sugars in our diet don’t all need to be there too. I rely on bread a lot more than I ever have (due to my schedule) and I recognized there were higher quality breads I could invest in for more nutrition and less / no added sugar.
Not drinking alcohol is tough. We had an alcohol goal, I did not succeed. Some weeks I drink 3-4 days, some weeks 1 day, some weeks 2 days. I wasn’t going to give up on a social outing and seeing friends because of this challenge. If I am out and socializing I prefer to drink. If I didn’t want to drink I would stay home and read. Worth highlighting two big points here: 1) Your alcohol intake isn’t benign, I know about my relationship with it, what’s yours? and 2) Your diet choices should not limit your social life and enjoyment of life.
And of course, as I always say, it is important to be able to enjoy a treat when you want it and when it is special. Sweets are for enjoyment, not just because you realized your taxes are almost due and your anxiety is thru the roof. My biggest take away, was to remind myself of this exact thing that I know and teach but can sometimes lose sight of. Choose the treats that matter, that are chosen for the sake of truly tasting and enjoying, not the treats that are used to numb.
Well guys, there you have it. We survived, we learned a lot, we have new ideas for snacks, and a greater appreciation for why we make certain choices. Are we both back to eating sugar? You bet, however I always appreciate a learning moment and ideas about how to be more mindful and I look forward to using these lessons moving forward.