tips for surviving a sugar challenge

Welcome to Day 2!

I started my morning with a banana and 1 T almond butter and coffee (with about 1/2 tsp sugar, my norm) before an epic 8.5 mile run.  I don’t think I’ve run that far all year!  I followed that up with two eggs scrambled with a little goat cheese atop a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and 1/2 C Kale Blazer on our way to church. Afterward, the family decided to go to Red’s, a local ‘burger and hot-dog’ 50’s joint with WAY too many options on the menu–we were all overwhelmed!  But, I always appreciate variety and opted for a chicken souvlaki salad, water with lemon and passed on the baskets of fries on the table.  So proud of Andrew–he ordered his burger without ketchup and drank water, too.

Before we get too far into this challenge, I thought I’d add some helpful hints gleaned from both my experience with Whole30s and as a dietitian.  I hope they’re helpful!

  1.  Keep it all in perspective.  You decided to give up added sugar for 30 days, not your lifetime.  Nor did you just get diagnosed with a fatal disease, lose a loved one or become a prisoner of war.  It’s 30 days of eating healthier foods, skipping sweets, making a few tweaks to established routines and–hopefully–feeling a lot better in the end.  You will get through this.
  2. Keep your motivation high and the whining low.  Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on all the delicious things you can.  Surround yourself with others who want to eat well, and try new recipes.
  3. Easter is but a day, and NOT about sugar.  Because Easter falls in April this year, you’ll have to pass on all the candy going around.  But–did you really want to binge on mediocre chocolate eggs and pseudo-stale marshmallow bunnies?  First of all, there are so many things you can put in an Easter basket besides candy (blog post with ideas coming tomorrow!), and Easter isn’t about the bunny or eggs or candy, anyway.  If you still need more convincing about giving up your jelly beans, see number 1, above.
  4. Out of sight, out of mind.  Put those treats away!  Throw them out, give them away or otherwise stash them somewhere other than your pantry.  Hopefully you’ve already relocated all the sugar-containing items (candies, chocolate, baked goods, dressings, etc.) to somewhere you won’t ‘accidentally’ consume them.
  5. Plan ahead.  I can’t say this enough.  Whether you’re watching what you’re eating or simply eating, planning meals ahead of time streamlines your whole week. Check out my Meal-Planning 101 for my method and helpful hints.
  6. Read your labels.  Scour ingredient labels for sugar in all its forms, including honey, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, agave, etc. Sugar is hiding in sweet and non-sweet things, like condiments and spaghetti sauce. Once you find some go-to brands without sugar (or other additives you should avoid, like soy), it will get a lot easier.
  7. Be prepared. Don’t leave home without an RxBar; I don’t!  RxBars, and other no-added-sugar snacks, like Larabars, compliant beef jerky, nuts and dried fruit come in handy if you’re out running errands later than you thought. Also, don’t be afraid to bring your own meal to gatherings; it may be awkward to bring a salad to your in-laws’ when everyone else is having pizza, but at the end of the day, you’re in charge of your own health.
  8. DON’T substitute sugar for sugar.  If you usually snack on a candy bar or rice krispie treat at your desk in the afternoon, don’t simply replace that with a Larabar. Sure, fruit-and-nut bars like Larabars have more nutritional value than a candy bar, but you aren’t helping yourself overcome that sugar craving.  Instead, eat a larger meal at lunch or bring a non-sweet snack, like veggies and hummus.
  9. DO substitute non-sugar for sugar.  If you’re like me and always want something sweet before bedtime, opt for a fun herbal tea (unsweetened) instead. Or replace your lunchtime soda/sweet tea/diet drink/juice with a seltzer water–they don’t have added sugar or artificial sugar and add a little bubbly and flair to any meal.
  10. Embrace something new. Use these 30 days to not just subtract added sugar, but to also add something healthy to your life. For some of you, that’s eating more fruits and vegetables.  For others (myself included!), it might be something that relieves stress, like meditation or exercise or reading. Make these 30 days the BEST 30 days!

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