Warning: this post is a bit different from my usual cheery self, it’s more like a rant and even more personal.
October 1st I decided that I would go sugar-free for the whole 31 days of the month. Sugar-free meaning no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no fruit (which is quite high in fructose, a form of sugar) not even alcoholic beverages, also very high in sugar.
And I launched an Instagram challenge: #sugarfreeoctober…
“But why?”, you’ll ask.
Three main reasons:
- I don’t like to be controlled by addictions.
- I want a stable energy level.
- I want to understand how sugar impacts my weight.
1. I don’t like to be controlled by addiction
Character flaw alert: I’m a control freak, I like my brain to make the decisions about my actions. So, if I get that “I absolutely need this or that” urge, I feel I’m not the one in the driver’s seat.
I don’t believe that sugared foods or drinks are rewards, something “you deserve”. After all, they are useless from a nutrition point of view.
So, this sugar-free month is not a punishment for me; it’s a voluntary exercise of will.
2. I want a stable energy level
One of the first effects of sugar in the body is a sudden variation of your energy levels: first a high, then a trough. We’ll be able to conquer the World and then be on the ropes in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, we react to this by looking for quick remedies, meaning more sugar.
We fall into a vicious circle of energy peaks and valleys that will do nothing but spoil our mood, impair the quality of our work and limit the impact of our workouts.
I’d rather be at 100% all the time than felling 120% some of the time and dragging myself the rest of the day.
3. I want to understand how sugar influences my weight
When I gave birth to my youngest daughter I was surprised by how much harder it was to get rid of the extra weight – I gained 30 pounds, of which only ten were quick to go.
What I did next was simple: I cut all sugar from my diet. Otherwise, I ate freely. I lost those twenty pounds in three months. Today I’m older, and my metabolism has changed accordingly. Let’s see what happens 🙂
So, what am I eating this month?
Everything! Except for sugar, in all its guises, as mentioned above: added sugar, artificial sweeteners (which I never like anyway), fruit and alcohol.
I’ll make sure I eat protein, complex carbs, vegetables and healthy fats at every meal, just like in the Mediterranean Diet. I think it’s a very balanced regimen and adequate for someone who usually lives in Portugal, by the sea, just like me 😉
The Mediterranean Diet
If you want to know more about the Mediterranean Diet take a look at these links:
- Food pyramid
- 10 principles in Portugal
- Excellent Ebook
Now, if you talk about not eating sugar, you’ll hear a bunch of stuff…
The “you need sugar” myth
“You need sugar” … This is the first thing you’ll hear if you happen to say out loud you’re not eating sugar. It’s a myth – what you need is carbohydrates (carbs), a macronutrient whose digestion provides the human body with energy to live.
I realize this is a very simplified view of the nutrition benefits of carbs. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional, my knowledge is the product of many conversations with actual professionals and also many readings (*).
The “fruit is healthy; you can eat as much as you want” myth
It’s true that fruit contains many micronutrients that are fundamental to human health, namely vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, it also includes a particular type of sugar – fructose.
According to professionals and the latest nutrition research, the human body cannot digest and turn fructose into energy. It turns into fat directly.
Maybe that’s why I keep showing about 20% body fat, no matter my healthy eating and exercise routine.
The “healthy snacks” myth”
Following the previous argument, healthy snacks are indeed healthier than processed snacks. I’ve shared a few recipes here, too.
We make them, so the quality and quantity of ingredients are entirely controlled. But don’t forget: a cake will always be a cake. A healthy bar is still candy in the sense that it’s high in sugar. Usually made with dates, dried apricots or other dried fruit, these snacks are high in fructose.
That’s why they should still be considered the exception in your daily meals, a treat when you want to limit the amount of sugar you’re eating.
The “There’s no fun in life like this”
For me, life IS fun when I’m healthy!
If sugar and alcoholic beverages are detrimental to my health, I do not see the fun in unlimited eating and drinking!
Feedback after one week
- About the cravings – work in progress: I’ve only thought about candy once while working from home; I’ve managed to cook and photograph dessert (for the blog!) without eating any.
- The energy – still not 100% stable; I have ups and downs during a day.
- The weight – I’ve lost 2 pounds this week.
I’ll keep you posted!
How about you, have you thought about going sugar-free?
What’s stopping you? I’d love to read your comments.
(*) These are my opinions and my personal choices. Any mistakes you read here are also my responsibility.