We are now one week into our Month of No Sugar experiment. How has it been? Honestly?
Easy. Disappointingly easy…As I said at the beginning our rules said: no added processed sugar (high fructose corn syrup, etc) but we could use small amounts of honey or pure maple syrup. I have read every label on every packaged food that has come into the house. I have checked both the ingredients and the sugar listed in the nutritional information.
To my knowledge, there have been no mistakes. I discovered sugar in the chicken soup base I use to make homemade soup and had to improvise the other day, but besides that, it has gone smoothly. As far as using honey and maple syrup, they have been used very sparingly. We have used it in oatmeal and for baking bread. The kids have had pancakes once. I am careful to make sure we are not just removing sugar and adding in the same amount of a “natural” sugar. We have limited things like smoothies (which to your body is pure sugar, though we always add large amounts of spinach or kale). When I have wanted something sweet, I have munched on 3 or 4 dried apricots. It did the trick.
I feel no different (better or worse)… My kids have said it was much easier than they expected…I guess I was sort of looking forward to breaking my sugar “addiction” (I have a decent sweet tooth)…but must admit I don’t think I can be addicted if I was able to drop it and feel no different. There is no shortage of articles about how addictive sugar is (I dare you: google “sugar” and “addiction”).
The website Sweet Defeat has a compelling article Five Reasons to Quit Sugar Now, in case you are considering going without sugar.
Warning: Soapbox Rant Ahead:
As a mom raising babies born addicted to drugs, I get extremely upset about the comparison between sugar and cocaine and how it affects your brain. That is a post for another day, but let me state clearly: while eating a ton of sugar is obviously not good for a growing fetus, I can guarantee you it is a whole lot better than cocaine and let us not confuse the two.
-stepping off of my soapbox now-
We even had the challenge of going to some friends’ house for dinner. I prepped the kids ahead of time. I let them know my plan was not to quiz our host and hostess on the ingredients in the meal but to politely turn down anything I knew contained sugar and certainly say no to any sugar containing dessert. We were to bring a side dish, so we brought a large salad with homemade (sugar-free) vinaigrette.
In the end, our friends served up a baked potato bar. I spotted some chili and gave a heads up to my sugar-free kids that it most likely contained sugar. There were plenty of other options for toppings, so it was an easy meal.
I was a little worried about sending the kids to school with their rather unusual lunches. All three wanted to try the sugar-free month, even at school. Last week I listed some of the options we had available for lunches and it has worked out well. All three kids have been happy and satisfied with their choices.
I wondered about the social aspect of lunch. I mean, my kids are already different in a few obvious ways: new kids, from an (extra) large family, homeschooled, etc. I asked Hezekiah if anyone made any comments about his lunch.
“Oh yeah” Hezekiah answered. “A kid said something on the first day.”
“Oh? What did he say?” I asked.
“He leaned over and said….that looks like a healthy lunch. And I said, ‘yes, it is'”.
I don’t now why, but I laughed so hard at that.
The biggest challenge I found was planning ahead and the cost. No more just grabbing something without thinking. Granola bars are out most store-bought bread, crackers, etc.
The other challenges have been the expense. I’ll be honest, it is costing me a whole lot more to pack no sugar lunches for my school kids. They are eating nuts and seeds and hummus, fruits, veggies, and cheese….all good but not cheap. Our food budget has no extra room in it, so it is requiring a lot of thoughtful planning. It makes me realize, eating a healthy, sugar-free, balanced diet is much harder for low-income families. No more quick snacks. I buy apples for $5 or $6 a bag…but the bag only contains 8 or 10 apples. My kids love fresh fruit and veggies, but it takes a lot more to fill them up and to keep them going. They need peanut butter, nuts, seeds, cheese etc…Packaged granola bars or crackers would be a much cheaper option.
I think a big factor is that we don’t eat that many packaged foods to begin with. While I feel like we’ve been eating horribly for the last year or so, my non-sugar free family members haven’t noticed any difference in our eating. I have simply selected family favorites that contained little or no sugar to start with. So, it’s been an interesting experiment.
So there you have it. Our first week is over. My kids have said the sugar-free thing has been easy at home, but a little harder when we were out. They had to turn down cookies and cupcakes after church on Sunday. On our second day of no sugar, Chuck brought down several huge boxes of pastries and doughnuts from my mother-in-law. My sugar-free kids’ eyes got big at the sight of those. I must admit, I promised to buy them each a doughnut in February. It was so early in our month, I wanted them to face a challenge and taste success.
I am hoping to make up meals plans and get them sent out later today, for those of you taking the challenge as well.
For those of you taking the challenge…how is it going? What has been easiest? What has been hardest? Were there any surprises?