I’m back on the sugar train and it’s a bumpy ride. To my surprise, I didn’t down 2 candy bars and 4 cupcakes immediately following the last day of my sugar free diet. I introduced sugar back into my diet s l o w l y. I was afraid I might feel sick if I overdid it. And I was sort of right.
As you may already know, I recently did the 10-Day Fed Up Challenge and it was an eye opening, wallet opening, and (happy dance) waistband opening experience.
On Day 11, I treaded lightly. Like the wanna-be-goody-two-shoes that I am, I ate sugar-free for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even though I didn’t have to. [Applause is appreciated.] With family in town, we went out to dinner and, being allowed to eat sugar again, I thought it was only fair to sugar lovers everywhere to order dessert. Bless my heart – the things I do for people!
We ordered a slice of flour-less chocolate cake. One bite and I had had enough. It seemed ridiculously sweet, which leads me to the first thing I learned:
1. My taste buds were out of whack.
After 10 days without sugar, desserts I was eating prior to the challenge without giving much thought to, taste WAY TOO SWEET now. I mean like [cough! choke!] too sweet. I can’t handle it. And I consider myself to be a professional sugarholic.
Eating so much sugar and processed foods desensitizes us. I blame Sprees and corporate office candy bowls.
I have always loved sour candy. I bought some sour cotton candy a few days after the challenge. It was for a special romantic movie night (read: Star Wars) for the husband. I was a complete wuss and couldn’t take more than 2 bites.
What being on a sugar free diet taught me is that my taste buds were completely off base before the challenge. When it came to deciphering what is sweet and what isn’t, I probably added more sugar to recipes than I needed to. Fruit actually tastes better now and seems like God’s gift of dessert to the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the same ol’ Kitchen Snob who likes things like Cinnamon Explosion Muffins and Forget Your Diet Cookies. I just feel like it’s best for me to eat these things in moderation and not treat dessert like one of the major food groups.
2. Sugar is in almost everything.
Like whoa dude. In evverrything. It’s completely unnecessary. It was quite shocking to read labels and discover sugar in strange places like: sushi, lox, bread, and cottage cheese. (Check out this list of Other Names for Sugar) And what about the chemicals? I don’t even know what most of the chemicals are without doing a Wikepedia search on each one but I’d like to keep following the rule:
I’ve personally found that after being free from chemicals for 10 days, when I eat something processed, I don’t feel so hot. Which leads me to…
3. Our bodies actually respond to what we put into them.
I know. Like duh, right? But come on. For a dessert loving, Pez popping, white carb grubbing foodie like me, this was something I knew and understood in theory but had never experienced. When you eat processed foods or sugar frequently, you don’t know you’re feeling bad.
By Day 5, I felt like a lean machine. My mind felt sharp as a tack. I felt strong. Yes, I had some cravings and loved complaining about them but, all in all, I had a spring in my step and felt happy about my progress.
After the challenge was over, I still continued to eat fairly healthy (except for the movie night). One of my favorite breads is The French Peasant Loaf from Heidelberg Baking Company. If you’re ever in New York state, try it! Yes it’s a white bread (gasp!) but there are no chemicals and no sugar! After going off my sugar free diet, I had a slice of it and I felt fine. But when I had a slice of Pepperidge Farm Sourdough, I felt awful afterwards. I still had it in the fridge from prior to going on the sugar free diet. During the challenge, I discovered it has high fructose corn syrup and other processed ingredients. I could immediately feel the effects of processed food in my body. Yuck. And I find it remarkable that now, after the Fed Up Challenge, I don’t like the taste of processed bread anymore!
Another positive outcome, although I know it’s not super important, is I lost 5 pounds during the Fed Up challenge without lifting a finger for exercise. Not bad!
4. Eating healthy and sugar free is totally doable.
To be honest, I thought anyone who tried these types of extreme diet changes were just darn right crazy. I could never do that, I thought.
Well guess what? I did it. And I’m going to do it again. The Hungry Husband and I both said we felt proud of ourselves which is a nice feeling to have. I felt like I was taking control of my body and cravings. We felt good knowing we were doing something good for ourselves and our health. You can’t put a price on that. Well, maybe you can because the 5th thing I learned was…
5. Taking better care of yourself takes work. Oh, and money.
Damn. Eating healthy is expensive. Vegetables and fruits cost more than many processed foods, which is just so sad. And if you want to go organic, fughgettaboutit. The super duper healthy Ezekiel bread? It’s like $6 a loaf!
But here’s one way to look at it. Your health is worth it. If there was a way for us to scientifically look at our health and how the food we put into our body was affecting us and then determine the cost of our health problems from eating processed foods and chemicals, would our health care cost less if we were all more healthy overall? I have to hope and assume it would. We weren’t put on this earth to eat silicone dioxide and shellac(shiny coated candy anyone?).
For some great recipes and information about cutting out processed foods check out 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake. She’s got some great info about eating healthy on a budget. She also has a new cookbook!
And let’s not ignore the work involved. I did more dishes in those 10 days than ever before. I wanted to know every ingredient I was eating so I cooked everything. No short cuts here!
Eating healthy by going on a sugar free diet took lots of thought, reading, planning, discussing, and cooking. I’m sure if I were to adapt to this lifestyle permanently it would get easier and become second nature to me.
What’s In The Kitchen Snob’s Future?
The Hungry Husband and I have decided to be more conscious of what is in our food. (Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean he might not be upstairs in his office right now eating a bite size Twix…that I bought him as a treat…bad snob!) But hopefully treats like that will only be eaten in moderation from now on [points disapproving finger at self].
Conclusion: we are going to go sugar free and white flour free for one week a month. This is our way of making some changes. Baby steps. And bite size baby Twix. Both can live harmoniously in our house.
I’d love to hear what you thought of the Fed Up Challenge! For those of you that tried it, what did you learn?