Wow, halfway through the month already? I have had one day where I went over my self-imposed limit of 25 grams of sugar per day, but for the most part, this has been smooth sailing.
When my friend Erika first got me into the no-sugar challenge last summer, she recommended a different approach. Rather than trying to deal with the minutiae of tallying up foods to figure out grams of sugar, we were supposed to just give up desserts or anything with added sugar. However, a debate over what counted as “added sugar” arose, and that was how I came to count grams of sugar. This limited the amount of “good” sugars I could eat (like those found in fruits and some veggies), but it also gave me a little bit more flexibility, in that I could budget for a sweet treat. Ironically, though, what’s helped me to be most successful this time around is sticking to rigid rules.
That is to say, I have taken a hard stance on not eating anything that could be termed dessert (ice cream, baked goods, chocolate, etc). As I mentioned last week, it takes a lot less willpower to categorically ban dessert rather than stop to think about whether or not it will be okay. This has made the biggest difference in my snacking: I frequently crave a sweet snack mid-afternoon, but when something sugary isn’t an option and the only non-sweet convenient option is chips (which I’m loath to have because that’s really unhealthy), I end up just not snacking at all. Which is definitely something I could stand to cut back on!
I also mentioned last week that I’ve swapped out my usually sugar-filled breakfast of a protein bar for some plain hardboiled eggs (during the week) or maybe a few slices of deli turkey along with a piece of cheese (on the weekend when I’m too lazy to make hardboiled eggs). None of that is too extreme or crazy at all, but just by making those two changes, I’ve found that I’m able to stay under 25 grams of sugar without really thinking much else about it. Not bad!
And as for the one day I’ve failed at the challenge so far? Well, this weekend I had a friend I was showing around town who loves craft beer, and we did mini brewery tours on Saturday and Sunday. I dutifully tallied up everything I ate/drank, and found myself hitting 31 grams of sugar on Sunday. However, when I actually looked at where that sugar came from, I was surprised to see that 9 grams was from a turkey mushroom cheeseburger (worth it!) and another 9 grams was from a bloody Mary (from the tomato juice – not worth it), with most of the rest of my sugar coming from some veggies I cooked up for dinner that night. Shouldn’t the beer have had more sugar??
Well, this is where I show my true colors. Yes, I love tasting different craft beers and trying all kinds of new flavors. No, I don’t know all the intricacies of the beermaking process (even after going on a million brewery tours). Turns out, most of the sugar in beer gets converted to alcohol and doesn’t remain in the final product. A process that turns sugar into alcohol?! As someone who much prefers to indulge in savory things like french fries or cheese, I now think fermentation is the best process ever ;)
Even though I usually love savory things, though, I definitely get a sweet tooth from time to time, and I was curious to see if this experiment would stop those craving entirely. So far, the answer to that is no. I’ve stopped being desperate for a sweet afternoon snack, so I think it’s tamed my sweet tooth a little bit. But there have also been a few times I’ve been really craving ice cream – especially when it’s hot out. This weekend it was in the 90s in Colorado, and it was so much hotter and muggier than we’re used to up there! I desperately wanted a Sweet Cow ice cream cone, and I think that a big waffle cone is going to be my indulgence come July 1 :)
But one thing I’ve learned is that most of the time when I’m craving sweets, I’m actually dehydrated. A glass of water is definitely nowhere near as delicious as an ice cream cone, but a tall glass of ice water (and some sort of activity to mentally distract me) work surprisingly well to dispel the cravings I do have.