Our family’s 30 day, no sugar Challenge! (With post 30 day update at the bottom!!)
While we are generally a healthy family, we do have our weaknesses. We love baking cookies (and do so most Sunday’s). We love celebrating any event or achievement with dessert. And we are involved in activities in the community where treats are present, almost always! So, we decided, for the month of March (ONLY 30 DAYS!), we would go with no added sugar in our diet (the kids and all!)! To get the kids on board, because it’s tough to say no to a Reese’s cup from your English teacher, we offered $50. Lucky for us, it was enough of an incentive to have them excited about it. And although our religion doesn’t observe Lent, I did find it appropriate that we chose our starting day (March 1st) as the same day as the first day of Lent! We were able to talk to our kids about the tradition and appreciate other cultures. Win-win.
Why we are doing it:
I just finished reading the book, The End of Overeating. GREAT BOOK! This book makes the case of how it’s impossible to eat a moderate diet, without over eating, because today’s food is so hyperpallatable. You want more and more of it because of the high amounts of salt, fat, and sugar present in these foods. I find this so true for me! If I have anything hyperpalatable in my cupboard (crackers, cookies, candy bars, etc) I can’t just have a tiny taste. I must eat it all! This doesn’t happen in the presence of whole foods that contain natural sugars, like fruit. So, in an effort to return our taste buds to normal, and not feel the constant urge for a snack, I wanted to try this experiment.
Our only rules are: no blatant sugar. We aren’t going to be crazy about reading labels. We are just saying no to cookies, cake, candy, donuts, etc. Anything that is OBVIOUSLY an added sugar indulgence. We ARE eating fruit and other naturally occurring sugars. It’s amazing that just 50 years ago, these things were honestly a “sometimes food”. It usually took effort to make dessert. Our store shelves weren’t over flowing with foods processed with so much sugar, that they are barely recognizable. It’s increasingly difficult to say no to these foods, because they are EVERYWHERE! And one taste is never enough.
I did replace some of the foods in our home with a sugar free alternative, like peanut butter. I took the liberty of finishing off the commercial brand peanut butter with added sugar, and replaced it with some Adam’s Natural peanut butter. I also finished off fruit snacks, granola bars, and trail mix with M&ms.
So far, so good!! My kids are honestly shocked at how many times they’ve said no to treats! It’s something you don’t realize happens as often as it does. They have had an opportunity for a full-sugar treat almost every single day in the month of March! We won’t be doing this forever, but I do think it’s good for them to realize how quickly a “sometimes treat” can become an every day occurrence.
Here are some of the foods I chose to stock our cupboards & fridge with:
Shopping list of food ideas
- bagels (plus cream cheese)
- string cheese
- Cheerios (plain/original)
- trail mix (the kind without M&Ms)
- toasted sunflower seeds
- hard boiled eggs
- natural peanut butter
- all-fruit jam
- deli meat
- carrot sticks
- celery Sticks
- plain yogurt (which we eat anyway mixed with fruit or the all-fruit jam)
- Bagged – pre made salad
- Single serving hummus
- Single Serving guacamole
- Corn chips
- Mini bell peppers
- dried fruit!( we just dried some mangoes! SO YUMMY)
- Other high protein snacks
And here is a sketch of some of the meal ideas we are using
- Eggs & toast
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Eggs and hashbrowns
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- pasta salads
- Meat & cheese sandwiches
Whatever is on our Super Healthy Kids meal plan, or this list of my go-to dinners!
- Minestrone soup
- Shepherds pie
- Beans and Rice
- Stir Fry
- Homemade Pizza
- Fried Rice
- Potato soup
- Taco soup
- Homemade mac and cheese
- French Toast
- White bean chili
- Cheesy rice
- Hawaiian Haystacks
After the 30 days!
So, it’s over!! My 14 year old son was 100% and a total trooper. We even got messages from his friends parents about how he refused treats in their presence! My husband and I did well, but my teenage daughter didn’t last long at all! haha.. What we learned:
- We weren’t eating that much sugar to begin with, so maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that we felt NO DIFFERENT!! In fact, I actually gained 5lbs and got 3 new zits! I was TRULY convinced that foods with sugar was leading me to eat mindlessly, but it turns out, I can mindlessly eat ANYTHING! My food of choice the last 30 days was nuts.. and boy did I chow down on them! I actually felt stuffed and bloated most days, even though I was eating NO SUGAR AT ALL.
- We didn’t “have more energy”, or “mental clarity”. Again, possibly because we didn’t eat much sugar to begin with, but it wasn’t magical in any way.
- We were made aware of how many opportunities a day we were OFFERED sugar! It’s pretty insane actually. Just being a casual member of the community, and there are treats at EVERY event! It made it easier to say no during the month, and hopefully we can say no more often going forward.
- It was more expensive! I was trying to buy snacks with ZERO sugar (like mixed nuts, cheese, rotisserie chicken, more fruit, etc.) and it cost an ARM AND A LEG! Granola bars are much cheaper!
I’m glad, at least for myself, that I went through this! I know for the next 20 years i would blame sugar on all my food issues. But now I can say with a certainty- the food itself isn’t to blame for any thing. If I really want to lose 5-10 lbs, I just literally have to eat less food, and the absence of sugar does NOT make that automatic.