If you haven’t noticed yet, added sugar is in everything. Ketchup, spaghetti sauce, bread, salad dressing, milk, even many vitamins. Put away any food pyramids you’ve seen in the past, I’m pretty sure sugar has it’s own tier in the American diet. It’s annoying, at best. Potentially toxic, at worst.
After I briefly shared how I’d recently cut refined sugar to aid in skin flare ups, I had quite a few people share they, too, would love to do this but needed a starting point.
My best advice: START SMALL and PREPARE FOR SET BACKS!
We’ve cut a lot of sugar over the years just by a cleaner diet, but I still had a crazy-mad sweet tooth that had to be tamed. I also was battling some lingering, annoying skin issues. As such, I set out to squash that overwhelming daily desire for sugar and clear up my skin.
Because I went dairy-free last year (FAQ here) and because we’ve cut processed food, I’d already “detoxed” on many of my weaknesses. Think Double Stuff Oreos (former Kryptonite), ice cream (I melt), and store-bought cupcakes (that frosting). I had a good jump start on axing the rest because I’d already quit so much. But the cravings were still big and bad – and often raging mean. “Give me sugar (read: chocolate) NOOOOOOW!” That had to die.
Although I haven’t counted calories in years, I do occasionally look at labels for the “sugar” content out of curiosity. More than anything, I like to gasp and shake my head. 🙂
The sugar content (not to mention the ingredient label) usually put to shame any front package marketing of how healthy a product might be. For instance, one of the leading conventional granola bars has 7 grams of sugar for one bar. One of the biggest names in spaghetti sauce also carries 7 grams of sugar per serving. A tablespoon of most ketchup brands provides you 4 grams of sugar. A 12 ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar.
To put this in proportion, 1 little packet of table sugar usually contains 2-4 grams of sugar. So, in eating that granola bar, you are consuming 2-3 packets of table sugar, not to mention all the other “stuff” in the bar. Drinking a can of Coke means you are consuming 13-19 packets of table sugar.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect. When I set out on this voyage to axe sugar, I really only did it to see if it would help with my red temples. I didn’t want to quit sugar, I wanted a clear face! And sure as the morning sun, within a few days sugar-free my temples were clear as could be. How did I celebrate? I went and had something sweet, of course! The next day -BOOM- red, splotchy temples. That’s when I knew my body needed time to heal itself of any lingering inflammation and went roughly 6 weeks sugar-free. My main focus was eliminating any refined sugar. I stuck to fruits, vegetables, whole and sprouted grains, eggs, nuts, and meats. I skipped most condiments, made my own salad dressing, used local honey in my tea and added almond butter in my morning oatmeal. After the first few days, I really didn’t even want sugar. I didn’t crave it, I didn’t think about it, and I didn’t have trouble turning it down. I felt fantastic! Clear face, lots of energy (considering my busy kids!), better sleep and healthy cravings.
But then… Easter came! Between cookies at Evie’s birthday and gobs of Easter candy, I consumed a lot of sugar. I felt it. My face showed it. I was tired. And I immediately knew the reason. That started 3 weeks of sugar party central around here which ended this past weekend. I’m back on the wagon, and although it’s easier this time than the last, the key is consistency.
As I type, I don’t have plans to ever give up sugar 100%, but I also said I’d never quit dairy 🙂 I do intend on having an occasional treat, but occasional is the key word. As I’ve said before: a treat isn’t a treat if you have it every day… or multiple times a day, for that matter! Plus, the more sugar you eat, the more you want. So if you can keep your consumption minimal, your body won’t have such a hard time looking beyond the junk.
Come back tomorrow and I’ll share the best tips I can offer to get you started removing sugar from your life whether short- or long-term.
Are you thinking of quitting sugar? What’s stopping you?