Friday, June 20, 2014

Four Star Finds: 10 Day No Sugar Challenge

After seeing the movie Fed Up (see here for my review) and realizing just how detrimental sugar is, I committed to the "10 Day No Sugar Challenge." Because I really enjoy good food, this challenge will take some effort. In addition to eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners, I'm also eliminating simple carbohydrates (basically white flour and white rice) since the body processes them like a sugar.  I've included my thoughts at the end of each day.

Day 1
I woke up, then weighed and measured myself-though I'm trying not to make this challenge about my weight, I do want to see if there's a change in my body's size at the end if the challenge. The day was fine-I didn't miss sugar or white flour.

Day 2
Today was hard-I had a hungry day (one of those days where I feel hungry no matter his much I eat).  However, I realized that when I'm hungry, I want sugar. After I ate a healthy lunch, my craving went away.  To prevent these sugar cravings, I added healthy snacks (dried fruit and nuts) to my purse.  On another somewhat sad note, I realized some foods are just not the same without sugar-the Arugula & Cannellini Bean Salad that we often eat isn't the same without the 1 tablespoon of maple syrup in the dressing.

Day 3
To be honest, I didn't miss sugar or flour today, even when we went out for dinner.  We went to a French bistro, where I ate beet salad, Arctic char with fennel slaw and had a glass of rose wine-it felt good to eat foods that nourished my body.  The restaurant gave us 2 complimentary gougeres (French cheese puffs) and bread, which I normally would have eaten, along with dessert-this challenge has shown me that I can have a great meal without bread and sweets!

Day 4
Today I learned not to go to the grocery store when I'm hungry.  Seeing the chips, candy and ice cream made me miss sugar and flour (or at least foods that contain them).  After I left the store, I didn’t crave junk food after it was out-of-sight. I guess the old adage is correct.

Day 5
When I'm at home, finding something healthy to eat isn't an issue at all.  Getting a no sugar, no white flour snack outside the home can be a bit of a challenge.  Today, I was out running errands and got hungry.  Normally, I would have snacked on a cookie or cupcake.  Because of the challenge, I searched for something healthy. I was so excited to find Cocobeet, an organic, raw, vegan and gluten free juice bar.  I bought a smoothie made with pineapple, strawberries, mango, banana, goji berries and coconut water-it was delicious and good for my body.  Finding healthy foods may take a bit of effort, but it can be done.

Day 6
When I lived in California, my Friday routine was to exercise, then shop a bit and have lunch.  I almost always had tortilla soup, unsweetened iced tea and a big cookie.  Since today is Friday, I exercised, ate lunch at home (I would have eaten out if I wasn't doing the challenge) and then went to the mall. I think of Fridays as my fun day, so having a treat seems normal.  I felt so deprived not having one, especially when I passed the cookie shop.  Until now, I thought of myself as a somewhat healthy eater, but now I realize I consumed way more sugar than I thought.

Day 7
Today I was a feeling little down-just missing California.  Though I didn't give in, I wanted to eat junk food so badly.  I now understand the concept of "emotional eating," and get why people eat when stressed.  Nuts and dehydrated apples just didn’t seem to satisfy me today-it was hard to turn down the instant gratification in pursuit of a larger goal.

Day 8
Today was Father's Day.  Eating was a little tough since Kevin requested I make him biscuits and gravy.  Did I mention biscuits are one of my favorite foods?  Though I love them, I rarely eat them, partially because it's hard have just one and partially because they're not a "healthy" food.  After I got over my disappointment at not having a biscuit, I realized the food yearnings are temporary, and if I can wait them out, I'll feel better in the long run.

Day 9
Tonight we went to a Red Sox game.  Normally, I would have treated the game as an "event" and eaten a sausage sandwich, nachos, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks.  I probably also would have had a beer.  Since ball park food isn't compatible with the no sugar/no white flour challenge, we ate dinner at home before the game.  When we got to Fenway Park, I got a beer and shared a bag of peanuts with Kevin.  Though I did feel a bit deprived when the boy next to me ate a bag of Cracker Jacks, I'm glad I didn't give up on my challenge.  

I also had an epiphany-a lot of my unhealthy eating is "event" eating, where I convince myself it's okay to eat unhealthy foods since it's a special occasion.  I now realize that there are a lot of special occasions or events in my life-birthdays, holidays (real and quasi), events like ball games, going out with or having friends over for dinner, even the day being Friday.  In order to live a more healthful life, I need to stop treating events as an excuse to eat.

Day 10
Today, eating healthful food seemed normal.  I’ve heard it takes 3 weeks to establish a habit, but after 10 days, my eating patterns and desires have changed. 

I’m very glad I undertook this challenge-I have more energy and am sleeping more restfully.  It made me aware of my “could-be-improved-upon” eating habits, emotional eating (which I would have previously denied) and proved I don’t need sugar as part of my daily diet.
Though I will go back to eating sugar and white flour, I won’t eat them in the same quantities I did before the challenge.  For example, putting a little sugar or maple syrup in a salad dressing or marinade will occur whenever the menu dictates, but eating goods made mainly with sugar and/or white flour will occur less often.  Maria Menounos suggests eating 1 item like this a day-this is something I consider reasonable and will probably incorporate into my life.

By the way, though my focus was not on weight loss, I lost 4 pounds and three inches (total) from my bust, waist and hips.

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