Sugar Challenge

The thought of sugar evokes celebratory images, good feelings, and pleasant sensory memories for most of us. It’s undeniable. Sugar is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, whether we are celebrating, rewarding, or comforting ourselves.

Our fascination with sugar is displayed in the headlines and titles generated by health news sites, blogs, and print media. Here are some current headlines:

10 Reasons Why Sugar is Bad for You

Is Sugar Bad for You?

The Harmful Effects of Sugar

11 Weird Things Sugar Does to Your Health

How Sugar Affects Your Brain

Is It Time to Stop Worrying About Sugar?

Sugar is Definitely Toxic

Sugar is Not Only a Drug but a Poison

When It Comes to Sweets, Never Say Never

Who has the time or energy to sift through, verify, and separate fact from fiction in the daily flow of media messages? Yet, many of us occasionally experience a gnawing sense of shame that accompanies those moments with our favorite sweets. Are we overindulging? A few sensational headlines and warnings do cause us to pause and worry. Will my food choices affect me negatively? Strong craving’s can challenge our decision-making process.  There is an overwhelming need for that candy bar or soft drink.  Many of us are painfully aware of the after effects of binging on sweets, yet we are unaware of the contributing factors, both physical and mental, preceding and influencing those binges.

The Challenge

My husband and I decided to take the 90 Day No Sugar Challenge and document our journey. We both desire to sharpen our mental capabilities and strengthen our bodies as we age. We are curious.

  • Could hormone and blood sugar levels be positively affected by simply eliminating sugar from our daily diet?
  • Will the absence of sugar eliminate cravings?
  • Will the intermittent brain fog lift and will we have more energy if we eliminate sugar?

We hope this first-hand experience will equip us with some answers and motivate us to make choices that will benefit both our bodies and minds.  This is a journal of our experiment.

Journal Week 1 – 3

The Test

We both love our coffee and it was immediately apparent we needed to replace the sweeteners in our favorite morning beverage.

I also needed to find a replacement for my favorite summertime treat – frozen coffee.

We found a strong attraction to baked goods and Oreo cookies.   “Out of sight, out of mind” was our only defense for this! Actually, “Out of the house, out of mind.”

The Win

My husband replaced the sugar in his morning coffee with a natural sweetener and I experimented until I found a frozen coffee replacement I could make at home. See this Coffee Freeze recipe.

The Surprise

We had cravings but they were not as strong as we expected. We were able to talk ourselves through the strongest cravings and it was easiest when we replaced what we could not have with something comparable.

Our fluctuating blood sugars stabilized.

 

TIPS:

We prepared for the official start date by slowly decreasing the sugar in our daily diet a few weeks in advance. We hoped this would decrease the shock to our bodies.

We avoided eating out for the first week.  It can be overwhelming just trying to make sure you don’t get sugar in anything. Weeks 2-3 we found our dining experiences to be less stressful when we examined the menu online before leaving for the restaurant.  This gave us time to look over the main ingredients, make an informed choice, and note if we needed any clarifications from the wait staff.

I learned to wait for my cravings to pass.  Interestingly, the average craving lasted 20-30 minutes and then disappeared.

We became intentional in planning meals with the appropriate proteins and we tried to choose carbohydrates which are low on the glycemic index. The carbohydrates were slow burning so we felt full longer and our blood sugars did not immediately spike afterwards.  Both of these choices significantly reduced cravings.

Overall, a good start.  We are mindful that this is the beginning and our determination is usually strongest when we begin a new habit. Can we stay the course? Cravings were a reminder that our bodies need time to adjust. Watch for our next journal entry from Weeks 4-6.

 

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