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The Month of No Sugar {Week 1}

weekly meal plans no sugar

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.

The Month of No Sugar The Month of No Sugar

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? 




  1. Emily

    Well done on your first week 🙂 It will definitely be interesting to see how you feel at the end of the month. It would definitely be interesting if you could post cost affective lunches, that is one thing I really struggle with as a student with a limited budget. Thanks 🙂 (also, what in Chilli would contain sugar out of interest?)

  2. vivian

    i haven’t read the labels for crackers…so i guess i haven’t done my home work.
    sounds like you all are doing great and so proud of your kiddo’s. i love finger foods so the nuts, cheese and veggies are great for me too.
    have a great weekend!

  3. Peg in Seattle

    In the winter, fresh fruit is really expensive. When our 5 kids were still all home and taking lunches, (we didn’t buy lunches at schools) I dehydrated apples, bananas, peaches and pears in summer when they were cheap and plentiful and put them in their lunches all winter. The kids really liked bananas. Dehydration is fairly simple to do. Clean, peel and put on the trays and leave for several hours.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I don’t dehydrate fruit because I don’t like to shrink our food…the kids find the dehydrated versions much less filling.

  4. Dorothy

    I buy apples from a local farm market at $20 a bushel. When they are in season, a nearby orchard has apples for $14 a bushel. I only buy apples at the store if the farm market is closed. They were closed for 2 weeks over Christmas and new years. Boy, 3 pounds of apples for $5 at the grocery store was a sticker shock for me.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      In the summer we buy them locally. I often get 40 pound boxes of apples that last just over a week. In the winter, I have no source of local fruit so the prices skyrocket.

  5. mallowlark

    For packed lunches, what about fruit scones, with butter rather than jam? I know they often have a little sugar in them, but with the dried fruit for sweetness, you probably could get away with out it, or just use a tiny bit of honey. Or perhaps a banana loaf or apple and walnut loaf sweetened just with the fruit?

  6. shawn

    Great job Renee! In response to the lunch conundrum, perhaps you could put small Thermos-es on your wish list for kids birthdays from relatives. Keston is hard to pack lunches for because of all her allergies, but a Thermos has opened up a lot more options. (You could send beans and rice, soups, baked potatoes with toppings, etc.) I think I got it for about $15, but didn’t price shop or wait for a sale. Initial investment that would save you in the long run. has great Thermos tips (preheating) and ideas.

  7. Anna

    We’ve been eating horribly for the last year or so as well. There is a person out here where we live that knows someone that owns an old bread store. When the bread is too old for the old bread store, we get to help ourselves. We’ve been filling our tummies with bread products that don’t ever really go bad for far too long just because it was free. I think some of the behavior problems I see in my 4yo stem from an endless supply of pb&j.

    Last summer when I quit eating everything except meat/eggs, veggies/fruits, and nuts and a few fats/oils, I was amazed at how much better I felt. After two weeks of feeling like I was going to starve, I actually needed LESS food for a whole day and it was so nutrient dense that I always felt great. I was spending less money on things like canned, boxed, and bottled things and transferred that money to more expensive cuts of meat, mixed nuts, and veggies.

    My husband joined me, but we didn’t see too much a burden on our grocery budget because he wasn’t stopping for convenience food or energy drinks any more. We also saved money because the veggies started being consumed instead of going slimy. As a *good* mom, I always had the leafy greens and Brussels sprouts in the fridge, but who wants to eat them? Only the chickens did. Now we empty every Costco sized veggie bag that comes into the house!

    Then we wanted to get the kids to stop eating junky free bread products and get more veggies and proteins into their tummies. That is when we felt the pinch of the budget. They are like termites eating us out of house and home. I bought 8 apples today for $7.50. Half were gone before I even put the milk in the fridge. There is no way we can keep them on a healthy paleo-type diet that my husband and I were eating and still pay the mortgage! So now we are going back to a diet similar to what you guys are doing… no processed foods and boosting the veggies. I just need a paycheck first!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      We too have gotten a ton of free bread from various sources. I struggle between telling myself God provided it…and knowing it is devoid of almost all nutrition, but filling for my kids…I find I have fewer cravings and eat less when I cut out wheat, but it makes meals more complicated. Yes, we can’t afford a paleo type diet of rate kids either. My kids love fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds…. I have come to the conclusion though, that I need to take care of my body. I am having a few health issues and I can’t be a great mom when I am sick and tired all of the time. This week I am cutting out wheat (for me) and I will see how I feel.

  8. Melpub

    I think this is a wonderful experiment and like your “rant” on comparing cocaine and sugar. I agree! I heard of a child once who was allowed to eat frosted flakes every day and also to add sugar to the frosted flakes. She developed diabetes. I remind myself of this when I put the one (heaping) tablespoon of sugar I allow myself daily into my morning caffeine jolt . . .

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