A few very important revelations occurred over the past ten days as part of the 10-Day Fed Up Challenge: 1. I’m slightly addicted to sugar 2. I need glasses.
The 10-Day Challenge to omit sugar from the diet for ten days with somewhat limited time to dedicate to the task of figuring out what is sugar-free, was a challenge indeed. I went into it with sheer will and determination, founded on frustration with how pervasive sugar is in our everyday lives. Starbuck’s April 19-23 #UnicornFrappucino craze was the tipping point for me (see my April 21 post here: Pink Unicorns and Purple Rain).
Sunday, April 23 – Prep Day:
I’ve never been a fan of weighing in on a scale while trying to get healthy. I’ve always occasionally weighed in at the gym, but my studio for the past nine months doesn’t have one. After an all-inclusive vacation, I didn’t need a scale to tell me I was out of line. But I did want to assess the impact of sugar reduction on weight so I bought a scale for the first time in my life. I saw my Pastor at Bed, Bath and Beyond so I figured getting off sugar was a sign from God.
I also added Pinterest back to my already overloaded phone with little storage. I created a sugar-free folder with recipes. I didn’t go to crazy — just four options. I headed to the store in search of low to no sugar options for me and low or lower sugar options for the kids’ breakfast over the ten days. This required some label reading, which is when I noticed my failing eye sight and got a bit frustrated with conversions I had to make (later in the week I would find out that #BigSugar continues to keep sugar as a percentage of calories for an item off the label — it’s not even there!)
Monday, April 24 – Day One:
Fruit and nuts. Until I could get my bearings on better choices, that’s what I stuck to for the first eight hours — banana, apple, almonds. Couldn’t really do my typical Noosa yoghurt… I did by plain Greek yogurt, but wasn’t in the mood for it. Mid-afternoon diced apples and tossed them in the crockpot to make steel-cut oats. It happened to be the day of my daughter’s confirm, so ate something light then for the 9:00p.m. dinner I opted for almond-encrusted walleye. Too bad the pizza at BurchSteak was so irresistible – might of had a slice… but I did refrain from dessert, which was no easy task.
Tuesday, April 25 – Day Two:
Missing my morning square of Ghiradelli with my coffee. Steel-cut oats instead — the mix from the day before had this odd gelatin consistency to it. The apples only slightly saved it. My 11YO, Calvin, chocked it down after adding several teaspoons of sugar. Baby steps. Walked by several coffee shops and just didn’t enter — the usual grande caramel macchiato did not fit the sugar-free lifestyle. In the late afternoon, I reached for my GC Control Select, which is designed to curb sugar cravings. I mixed a scoopful of the chocolate mix (pea-protein based) with my coffee. It kept me sane.
Wednesday, April 26 – Day Three::
Ventured into a coffee shop. I had to for a meeting. I just avoided ordering. What’s the point? Need to make more time to research options. I decide that it’s time to make the Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba dish, so I bake the squash and get the veggie prep rolling, then step back into my home office to work. I leave it all out for my husband and son to finish while Ava and I head out the door for her religion class. I set Calvin to task making pseudo pasta noodles out of the squash with a fork. (The next day, I would find all of the unprepped veggie semblance tossed into one big plastic bag in the downstairs freezer — seriously!!!)
For the evening, I headed out to meet up with high school friends at one of our homes. Ummm… cheese is good, right? Also had chicken kabobs and a little arugula/ quinoa salad – delicious! And when my friend pulled out chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, I literally melted. She offered to send a few home with me and I accepted. They are still in the freezer…
Thursday, April 27 – Day Four:
The kids are making me work the better breakfast angle so I scramble up some fluffy eggs for Ava before school. She is satisfied and might ask for those again. Before I head to meetings I quickly whip up the squash recipe (see day three), so it is ready later.
I notice that I’ve been reading a lot of labels as I pull things out of the cupboards at home and still not finding reassuring sugar content levels on labels. With 8 teaspoons (or a bit lower) and the sugar as no more than 5% of our daily intake World Health Guideline (updated from 25% to 10% to 5% in 2014, after Fed Up documentary and more forced the issue), I’m really pondering natural (as the sugar found in fruits) and “added sugar” like fructose and the like that we in the last year have learned to avoid like the plague. I decided to stick to almonds and cantaloupe today. In the afternoon I mix up a GC Control coffee drink in the afternoon to power through high school registration with my daughter and host a wellness event. When I get home, I notice I’m not famished. I do immensely enjoy that soba dish and make the kids sit down and keep me company during my 8:15 dinner.
Friday, April 28 – Day Five:
I was enjoying my morning black coffee when Ava snapped me back to the breakfast I suggest as reward for the week – pancakes. The kids welcomed the change and early luxury weekend breakfast. I gave them the option of a small amount of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon, but they opted for syrup. Baby steps, but at least they finished off the last of the syrup, so my plan was not to replenish it (which I quickly did out of habit while doing the weekly shopping two days later….) Old habits! Reminder here: just keep the bad stuff out of the house.
After a very busy week, Ava heads to a friend for a sleepover and the husband is out, so my son reluctantly agrees to watch Fed Up with me. I am super jazzed because I’ve had to push if off all week and watching that the day prior to starting this challenge was sort of a key point. I think he agrees because he’s impressed with what I’ve been doing and might be starting to question his own sugar addiction (see the first failed attempt at a sugar intervention here). Fed Up, The Movie, is a historical look at health, food and fitness trends correlated with disease and the obesity epidemic. We take it all in — the stories and documentary-style tracking of several early teens on their journey to kick sugar. It’s all so frustrating and sad.
Saturday, April 29- Day Six:
Couldn’t check out (nor really see well enough to read labels) at Starbucks when my place in line quickly came up. I grabbed an almond biscotti, That’s It fruit bar in apple and mango and ordered a tall Toasted Coconut Cold Hot Brew (I am confused how this is possible). I am sure it is not sugar free (later I find it online and realize it’s 8g), but it’s Saturday and I’ve been so good all week and it is 10:05a with only trace amounts of caffeine in my system. After reading the biscotti and That’s It labels, I couldn’t, in good faith, eat those. I tried to give them to my 12YO daughter, Ava, and she responded, Thanks, Mom, but I’m allergic to both apples and nuts. Good God, how can this be true? I am in denial.
We arrive home after her dance practice around noon and I pull out the Roasted Cauliflower Buffalo Bites and a side of chicken breasts sauteed in buffalo sauce I made the day prior. It’s a quick prep and satisfying meal — plus caters to a veggie my daughter can eat — cauliflower. The dip is white wine vinegar and worcestershire with sour cream and a wedge of blue cheese crumbled into the mix. Feeling quite good, really, on day six.
I noticed the Auntie Annie’s Pretzel app prompting me to use my free National Pretzel Day coupon before it expired on Sunday. I looked for nutrition info on the app, but it’s not there. I did find it on the website — 10g of sugar in one original pretzel. Ignorance would have been bliss. The kids and I headed to the MOA to redeem — I am a sucker for any national day.
Sunday, April 30 – Day Seven:
I decided to hop on the scale for the first time since I’ve started the challenge. I’m down four pounds. Believe me I let the family know it. We headed off to church, said a few prayers about kicking the sugar addiction and figuring out a way to help those who fall victim to sugar the most — lower income families, kids with pizza and junk food still available in their schools and teens (specifically teen boys, who are the highest offenders).
We shopped for groceries for the week and tried to make better choices. Frankly, it was frustrating. I didn’t even buy marinara sauce. I added Greek yogurt and ingredients for another round of Mediterranean quinoa salad with arugula (which the family ate and seemed to like). We bought more fruit, veggies and threw in almonds and almond milk as well.
Monday, May 1 – Day Eight:
It snowed today. It would have been so comforting to curl up with a fancy coffee and a pastry today, but I held firm. The cravings didn’t seem as intense. I kept busy with work, a chiropractor visit and yoga. My friend, Carie, who intro’d me to the Sugar Summit, and I exchanged articles, texts and Facebook messages all week. She too was doing some label reading, started with better breakfasts and shopping fully organic, which she noted was about $45 more for the week’s worth of groceries.
Tuesday, May 2 – Day Nine:
Nearing the end. And while I didn’t go totally sugar-free and went overboard in a few instances, the diet I followed was dramatic enough to notice a difference for me. For today’s coffeeshop work session at Caribou I opted for a small cappuccino with almond milk (6g of sugar). I really enjoyed it and did not feel deprived — progress!
Wednesday, May 3 – Day Ten:
Today I noticed a calmness. I wasn’t panicked about what foods or beverages I would find or plan for that I could actually eat. I would make it through this day without a #SugarRush. One significant set back was waking up in the middle of the night a bit antsy, which is unusual for me. I worked for 1.5 hours, then went back to bed. I knew that I’d only get an hour of slumber, which can be counterproductive not to sleep a full 1.5hour cycle. My half-cup of coffee brought me nicely into my day, despite sleepiness. When this happens, a workout is the only thing that can reset me.
I whisked my daughter out the door to drop her off at school – it was my fault she was running 10 minutes behind and missed the bus. I had a chiropractic appointment then rolled into 9:30 yoga. It was intense, serene and blissful. Reset! I met up with a friend/ business partner for lunch at the new Barnes and Noble Galleria and indulged in the Avocado Toast (sounds simple, but truly heavenly). And since it was a beautiful spring day, Ava and I took Copper to the dog park when she got home from school. Being outside in the fresh air was a definite must to fight off afternoon lull. I opted for a 5:30 dinner (Mediterranean salad again!) and went with a 7:00 GCControl, which helped me power through the tasks involved with prepping for travel the next day.
TEN Days At-a-Glance:
I am SO happy I did the challenge. I didn’t get it perfect – that’s for sure. I did lose 6.5 pounds in 10 days, which is remarkable for me. I’ve always worked out 3-4 times a week and like to believe that offsets my sugar-indulgent diet. It does not. I’ve been able to lose 2-3 pounds in a month, but nothing as drastic as this. EVER. Clearly sugar is a factor and now I’ve learned some great info, can more readily discern labels on products and make better choices, especially when it comes to fancy coffee drinks, which for me was at the heart of the challenge and had the most impact.
I plan to enjoy a square of chocolate today. Overall, I’m going to stay committed to some of the changes I implemented over the challenge. I am very concerned about the state of sugar intake in America and the increasing obesity rates, diseases and allergies. There is so much to be done! I’m hoping I can influence my family to make better choices as well. Wish us luck on the continuing journey of life-long health and wellness!
— I would love to hear if you’ve taken the challenge and how it went and if not, I’d encourage you to look into it!