Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The sugar experiment

Looking for something to watch on Netflix a couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary called Fed Up, about all the sugar and processed food we consume and how it relates to obesity. While I don't have a weight problem, I do consume a lot of sugar. I am constantly tired. I get through my work day and most evenings find myself having to take a nap after dinner. Most weekends I take a nap in the afternoon. I am tired of feeling so tired all the time.

Whether the movie exaggerates the issue of sugar and processed food (I'm sure to some extent they did) it is obvious I consume way too much sugar in my daily diet. The food I eat is, for the most part, all processed food, of which most all of it contains added sugars. In addition to all the sugar I don't need, most of the food isn't even "real" food with all the additives, etc. I watched several other similar documentaries and basically came away with the idea that I want to try and cut as much sugar out of my diet as possible (to see if it helps with my energy level) and I want to try to reduce the amount of processed foods I was eating (which is pretty much a given, when you cut out added sugar). I was also not going to use artificial sweeteners, which apparently have the effect of making your body think sugar is coming it's way and it's impact on the body.

I started my sugar reduction 10 days ago. For the most part, I have not eaten very much of anything with added sugar. Fruits and dairy, with sugar naturally, I am not counting. I also realize this will not be something I can just do over night, or even in a week. A lifetime of habits are hard to change. While I do have a bit of a headstart in getting off sugar - I do not drink soda. One can of soda has more added sugar than a person should consume in a whole day. My DH normally drinks 2-3 of them.  UGH!

Here is my typical daily diet for as long as I can remember:
First thing in the morning I have a cup of coffee, with 2 teaspoons of sugar and approximately 2 TBSP of creamer, with added sugar. (sometimes I buy the sugar-free version, with artificial sweeteners)
About an hour later I have some chocolate Carnation instant breakfast in milk. More added sugar.
If there are sweets at work (often times there are) I WILL eat them...donut, muffin, cookies, etc.
Lunch - Campbell's soup at hand chicken noodle or New England clam chowder. A granola bar (with more added sugar). When I am working from home I tend to snack throughout the day (yogurt, pudding cup, etc) and don't really eat lunch, per se.
Snack when I get home from work/while making dinner - whatever is handy: cookies, ice cream bar, brownies.
Dinner - oftentimes something processed that I just have to heat up. A couple of times a week I make a casserole or something from scratch (pizza) and about once a week we have steak and a vegetable (canned). We rarely eat salads. A common side is applesauce, but I have always purchased the no sugar added kind. Another common side with dinner is a jello cup.
Evening snack - again, whatever junk food is around. Chips, cookies, etc.
Weekends are worse for snacking on junk. I usually buy donuts and have 2 of those.

I honestly don't know who many grams of sugar I consume on an average day. I do know I about died on day 2 or 3 when my boss went to get herself some lunch and brought me back a chocolate chip cookie from Subway! I told her about my diet change and I put the cookie in the office kitchen for someone else to snag up and eat.

The past 10 days I have reduced my coffee to a smaller cup, add 1 tsp of sugar and 1 T of creamer. I haven't been able to cut this out yet, but each day the coffee tastes a bit more "normal" to me and I'm not wishing it had more sweetness.
Breakfast is a bowl of Organic "Cheerios" and Organic milk.  OMG, I love these! DD is hooked on them too and we are already on our second box of the cereal. No sugar added and they just taste so light and good. Other days I have a scrambled egg with 9 grain toast.
mid morning snack (if I have one) is usually a banana.
Lunch is an apple, carrot sticks, and some crackers that have no sugar added.
After work snack is some no sugar added peanut butter on the crackers - or even just off the spoon. Or a handful of walnuts or a hard boiled egg.
For now, I'm mostly working changing my breakfast. lunch and snacking and not worrying too much about dinner yet, though several times I have just had a big salad with organic greens, added with walnuts, cranberries, hard boiled egg. etc. Yesterday dd and I found some ogranic salad dressing with no sugar.

Cutting out the sugar hasn't been too bad, though I find myself craving it especially in the evenings. The only time I caved I had half a cookie. Have I felt more energy? A little, is all really. I'm still tired by late afternoon and evening, but other than one evening, I haven't taken a nap. One evening, after work I even washed my car, which I really doubt I would have done before. I still ended up taking afternoon naps during my days off last Friday - Sunday. As, I work on getting my dinner meals with less processed foods and added sugars, I am hoping I will see more of a change. I am also working on finding healthy snacks that I can have on hand, so I'm not tempted by the bucket of licorice or the chips and cookies in the cupboard. One thing I read was that your skin improves with cutting out sugar, so much that several articles/blogs I read they said other people actually noticed the change in their skin. Before starting this I felt my skin on my face. It pretty much felt like I was brushing my fingers across a piece of cardboard! Now it feels softer and smoother. I don't think I'm imagining it.

I am also trying to buy organic now and that is a whole new world. Walmart doesn't carry a whole lot (but those "cheerios" are excellent!) and I may have to start doing some of my shopping at another nearby grocery store that has much more selection of organic (where we found the salad dressing) produce and dairy.  Honestly, the thought of eating foods that are filled with additives, growth hormones, and gmo's just makes me sick, along with the conditions those animals are kept in. Somehow a chicken or cow that gets to graze outside and actually eat grass and grains, rather than modified food so they will grow faster, seems like the way to go.  It's definitely more expensive food, but seems worth it. DD and I both liked the taste of the organic milk (at twice the cost) so much better. I also like the thought of eating produce that isn't sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.

I know so many have strong opinions on what people should eat and there are so many debates on whether to eat meat and dairy. I honestly don't care what anyone else eats (I'm not even going to try to convert DH) and my diet and (new) opinions on foods won't be preached to others. I really don't like reading or hearing people on their high horse about what is the right foods to eat, like their opinion is the only way.  I'm just doing this for me, and hopefully start to feel a bit more healthy. I'm not counting calories, or trying to lose weight. I just want to eat better and hopefully feel healthier.

On to day 11!


  1. Good for you on paying attention to your diet and making small changes. The organic cheerios have not shown up in our grocery store yet, but I'll check again next shopping trip. I know you're pretty good about getting regular physicals, but perhaps its time to get in there and have you iron count checked - I had similar symptoms when I was battling anemia.

    1. I have had that checked off an on over the years, (because I've never had much energy) and it's always normal. Not sure if it's been done recently, though. When I go for my annual in October, I'll ask to have it checked.

  2. It's so funny, I just wrote about an article I read about organic foods. Watching sugar intake seems to be very important these days. Hopefully food manufacturers will get the hint and start selling better products. Keep up the great work! :)

    1. Yes, I'm sure there are many foods that do not really need all that sugar added!

  3. I had written you a whole spiel last night and then it got zapped off into cyber-space but like Sharon said it is funny that you should be writing about this. I have been feeling so tired for what seems like forever and even though I am 56 don't feel I can put it all down to the menopause. Admittedly I have a long working week (3-hour commute and full-time job) but I always used to feel so full of beans. And now - goodness - it feels like I am just plodding through each day with little enjoyment. I have just started reading a book called The Waterfall Diet which was recommended by someone on the internet (sorry I can't remember who) and it is quite an eye-opener. In the last 5 or so years I have put on 10-15 kilos (over 30 pounds) without changing my eating habits. I don't eat junk because I don't like it, I cook from scratch because I love cooking and can taste the chemicals in sodas if I was ever foolish enough to try one, so what can it be. Well I am on HRT and the book makes the link between that and excess sodium, which causes fluid retention and hence weight gain. So, all that to say, I will be very interested to see how you progress with your sugar-free experiment. On a side-note, many years ago I went vegetarian on more than one occasion for 6-months or so and I have never, ever felt so full of energy so I believe there is probably something to it. Then of course, I went home to England to see my folks and was back on the bacon and eggs!!! Oh well, we keep on trying don't we. Good luck to you. Anna

    1. I was having problems getting onto blogger yesterday and couldn't reply. That is great you eat non processed foods. I wish I loved cooking - it would make all this so much easier!

    2. I guess then a love of cooking is a "gift". But you know we all try to make the best of what we are given. And reading your posts about the crap you have to deal with in our neighbourhood is horrific. And you are most definitely making the most of what you are dealing with. In that, you are stronger than I am. Good luck with it all. Your sugar experiment and your junkie neighbours. Anna

    3. Thanks Anna! Maybe cutting out sugar will give me more energy to deal with the awful neighbors :)