Sugar is the Devil, as I like to say

Can you stop eating sugar? Here’s my experience and my rules for making it easier.

Have you ever tried to stop eating sugar… for only 10 days? It is nearly impossible unless you plan, purchase, and prepare your food in advance for the full 10 days.  Perhaps someone with more time could be significantly more successful at it.  I, however, was not.       😦

Despite that sad fact, I looked at what I was eating a little closer (somehow that is possible for me).  I’ve been a label reader for many many years, and I know what most of the junk actually is that’s written on them.  Sugar is something I pay attention to and avoid most of the time.  Or I know it’s going to be there and I just look for the food with the least amount.  So why is removing it completely impossible?

Because it is in EVERYTHING!

I’m not exaggerating, food manufacturers add sugar to just about everything.  Things you wouldn’t even expect to have sugar in them will have it creeping on the label adding an extra teaspoon.  That’s 4 more grams that I’m trying to remove!

Added sugar can be found in:

yogurt, milk, milk alternatives (almond, soy, rice), cereal, ready to eat oatmeal, deli meat, bacon, frozen packaged meats, cheese, canned veggies, canned beans, canned fruit, applesauce, juice, soda, pre-made drinks (coffee, tea), mustard, ketchup, relish, peanut butter, jelly, jam, salad dressing, granola bars, protein bars, protein powder, supplements.

I didn’t even cover the sweets!  Baked goods, such as breads and rolls, will almost always have some sugar in them.  The yeast needs the sugar, but these will have the least amount, only about a teaspoon.  Just the other day a friend was looking at the Starbucks pre-packaged frappachinos.  One 16 oz bottle had 43g of sugar, that’s almost 11 teaspoons!  Would you put that many teaspoons of sugar in your coffee at home?  I hope not.

Sugar is a buzzword right now for many reasons.  The connection between eating large amounts of sugar and many common health problems are becoming clearer each year.  Not just the sugar anymore, but all of the artificial substitutes are causing great harm as well.  Research has shown that the extremely sweet taste of artificial sweeteners is wreaking havoc on our hormones that regulate hunger and satiation.  Also, the fake stuff kills the good bacteria in our gut!  Not only are we making ourselves sick, but we are making ourselves sick trying to fix it.

Most of us consume 75 times more sugar than we did 200 years ago.  That’s crazy!  I am a firm believer that it is not necessary, and it’s killing us.  However, let me point out that I love sweets.  Not candy; but yummy homemade cakes, cookies, pies, and desserts of all kinds.  It can become a bit of a problem if I let myself get crazy or forget my very strict rules on purchasing and eating sweets.

Hearken back to a time when I followed my strict rules:

  • Homemade sweets (not from a package) are okay.
  • Anything purchased from Whole Foods Market is okay.
  • Conventional sweets from common grocery stores are not okay.
  • Seasonal candy (Halloween, Christmas, Easter) is not okay
  • Just because someone brought it does not mean I need to eat it.

In addition to these rules, I generally only craved sweets about 1 week out of every month or so (can you guess why?) except during the holidays.  By following my own rules I imposed upon myself nothing was over the top or too much.  If I had time to make something at home I was pleased to enjoy it with my family over the next few days until it was gone.  If I was willing to drive to the Whole Foods Market to purchase a $5 slice of cake, I would eat a few bites each evening after dinner for a few days.  I would never eat cheap crappy candy, and if I did I would almost certainly be disappointed.

My high standards maintained my sophisticated palate.

Then one day, I broke a rule and it all went downhill…and fast.  I found myself eating half a pan (the big throw away kind) of rice crispie treats my boss brought into work.  I was by myself and every time I stopped working for a second I would break off a piece.  Over the course of the next month I was snacking on Christmas candy when I felt a little hungry during the day, eating 5-10 reese’s peanut butter cups during work, buying 4 packs of doughnuts and eating all of them in a single day, and sneaking my kid’s candy from the candy jar when she wasn’t home or in bed.

When I would buy snacks I wasn’t even sharing with my family.  I would hide the treats and eat them after bedtime or take them to work.  What was going on?  What happened to my strict rules?!  Not only was I consuming huge amounts of junk and not following my strict rules, but I wasn’t really enjoying most of it.  I’ll admit the doughnuts from Orland Park Bakery were delicious, but the candy was sugary crap.  It didn’t even taste that good.  The chocolate didn’t taste chocolaty, the caramel wasn’t rich and buttery, everything just had a bland sweet sugar taste.

Fast forward to now, only a mere 3 months later.  I’m going back to my rules, although I have amended them somewhat.  I’m not sure about Whole Foods Market ingredient standards since they were purchased by Amazon.  I still buy things from there, including birthday cakes and other party desserts.  However, I will no longer drive there for a $5 slice of cake.  I try to make my own desserts every time I crave them.  If I don’t have time to make it then I don’t get to have it.  I’m also working on making treats without adding sugar.  I use fruit, dark chocolate, whipped cream, or coconut added to whatever I’m making.  These additions, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla give my treats the illusion of being sweet without all the added sugar.

Someday soon I hope to be able to cut out sugar for 10 days.  Although I don’t think I can cut out the honey I put in my morning coffee unless I’m ready to give up coffee too!  The planning process is going to take a little longer for me.  I can plan meals and snacks for 10 days but I’ll need some back up meals that don’t contain sugar or it will be another bust.

Everything is a work in progress.




Spring Is Finally Here!

There is so much to love about springtime.

It took quite awhile for spring to show up this year.  Spring is my favorite season, however that is beginning to change since we don’t seem to get much of a springtime anymore.  It seems to go from the cold winter right into the hot summer.  Whether it’s my favorite or not, I still enjoy spring and everything it has to offer.  This includes some of the delicious early summer harvests that can be found at specialty grocery stores, farmers markets, and local farm stands.  Oh and I can’t forget flowers, especially tulips.   This link opens an article showing millions of tulips in the Netherlands, beautiful!

Some of my favorites include:

 Click on the links for more information or locations for “u-pick” berries.

Another great reason to love springtime is knowing it’s the beginning of another growing season.  I like to grow some of my own food and enjoy starting plants indoors in spring.  Although usually a little late to start, eventually there are food producing plants outside by summer.  This year I am focusing on food producing plants that will stay indoors during winter, and maintaining nutrient levels and proper soil drainage for the potted plants.

Don’t let all this talk about food, plants, and flowers mislead you.  I love the warmer weather that comes with spring.  It’s wonderful walking outside wearing only a long sleeved shirt.  I am quite sure I can finally pack away all of my family’s outdoor winter gear.  What a great feeling!

A few other reasons why I love spring:

-Spring cleaning

-Out with the old, in with the new

-Warm air

-After dinner walks


-Open patio door


-Forest preserve walking


-Park sitting


Feel free to share what you love about springtime.