taking my time back

If I had only ONE resolution for the New Year, it would be just that.  I need to do some serious taking-back of my time.  MY TIME.  (I think my husband has been trying to get me to do this for a long time, and I’ve either not understood or chosen not to listen. )  Continue reading “taking my time back”

‘No-Added-Sugar’ Challenge: Day 1


sugar-clipart-photo-24785645-clip-art-no-sugarHappy Day 1!  I started my morning with a cup of coffee with less than a teaspoon of sugar (the one exception is no more than 1 tsp in coffee), some food prep, and breakfast: 1/2 C plain greek yogurt, 1/4 C grain-free granola and 1/2 banana. It was delicious and kept me satisfied for a few hours before I snacked on some almonds.

*If you’re just joining us, Andrew and I (and a handful of motivated friends) are avoiding added sugar for the 30 days in April.  It’s not too late to join us!  For the ‘rules’, click here.

After Andrew woke up, we both emptied out the fridge and pantry together. (Hadrian, Andrew and Odie made cameos, below.)


What came out included our maple syrups, jams, some condiments and salad dressings, Andrew’s Gatorade mix, my stash of Justin’s goodies, Andrew’s flavored nuts, honey, and–obviously–any sweets. I think it was good for Andrew to read labels, although he wasn’t too surprised since he’s gone through this with me before.

Here’s the fridge after:


I was pleasantly surprised that, despite hauling a TV tray full of food down to our basement storage area and fridge (out of sight, out of mind), we were still left with quite a full fridge.

A few quick notes:

-Alcohol: I’ve gotten a few questions about alcohol, and I failed to address it in my column.  Yes, alcohol is OK in moderation, and only beer and wine.  Mixed drinks are full of sugar and sweeteners, so they’re out.

-Juice: Ordinarily, I’d say juice (at least sweet juice) is out.  Almost all of them, even those that are 100% juice, are super sweet.  I’d always rather someone eat a piece of fruit over a glass of juice.  Andrew loves V8 (low sodium) and I like about a 1/2 C of Naked Juice’s Kale Blazer at breakfast, neither of which has added sugar nor are they sweet. You’ll see we currently have some OJ in the fridge (which NEVER happens, I just had a craving about a week ago).  In the interest of not wasting food, we’ll finish it but I’m not going to replace it.

-Bread: This one is a little tough.  While we don’t tend to have a lot of bread in the house, I do believe whole grains can be part of a healthy diet.  Unfortunately, a lot of breads contain a little sugar yet aren’t what you’d call sweet.  My plan is to scour the grocery shelves and see if I can find sandwich bread without sugar, limit breads in general and rely a little more on Ezekiel bread (no added sugar) anyway. Honestly, I don’t foresee this being a problem at home as much as it might be eating away from home. For the sake of Andrew’s sanity and participation in the challenge, I might have to overlook some of his bread intake.

In a nutshell, Andrew and I are embarking on this journey because we feel like we need to ‘clean up’ our diets a bit.  Yes, we eat a lot of healthy foods (especially me), but we also splurge a lot on ordering pizza, sweets and junk.  In fact, this whole thing was Andrew’s idea!  (Hard to believe, I know.)  Andrew suggested we limit our sweets and bread, then I started talking about avoiding added sugars (I’d been working on my no-added-sugar banana bread at this same time.) and one thing led to another and I laid down some rules and published it in the March nutrition column in the East Aurora Advertiser.  He’s not thrilled with the strictness of the rules, but hopefully he’ll persevere.

He’s more interested in making sustainable changes (i.e. he doesn’t want to really give up ALL sugar) and I like participating in challenges because they motivate me and keep me accountable.  I felt like doing this 30-day challenge would be a way to ‘reset’ our taste-buds to appreciate things less-sweet and introduce some self-control.

For lunch, we grabbed food from the co-op. I paired a salad with s cup of lentil soup and Andrew chose Chipotle Pork with cous-cous (and bread) on the side. He did, however, opt for a bottle of tea without added sugar, despite his initial protests.

For those joining us, good luck!  I’ll be posting no-added-sugar recipes on the blog throughout. For those on the fence, give it a try!  It’s never too late to make changes to your diet for the better!


Whole30: Final Thoughts (Round 2)

Yet again, 3o days have flown by and today is Day 1 of what I–and a whole bunch of other Whole30ers–are calling their ‘Food Freedom Forever.’

That’s the title of Melissa Hartwig, the brains behind the Whole30, newest book.  These last 30 days, scheduled to correspond with the debut of the book (which arrived on my doorstep yesterday, Day 30), were a much-needed dietary ‘reset’ for me, since my vacation/summer eating hadn’t really ended…and it was pushing September.

Let’s back up.

I decided I needed another Whole30 when it became apparent that my trip to France had derailed the new eating habits I’d learned from my first Whole30 in April.  In hindsight, I should have done a Whole15 as soon as I got back (see the new book for more on that) to get back on track.  Well, I didn’t, and spent the rest of the summer feeling out of control with my eating and splurging any time I felt like it.

As September approached, it seemed like as good a month as any (it even has 30 days!) to begin, and recruited a friend to come on this journey with me.  We joined the #SeptemberWhole30, a large group of Whole30ers who participated at the same time in anticipation of the new book.

I struggle to decide if this Whole30 was easier or harder than my first (back in April). On the one hand, I felt like an old pro; I knew the ins and outs of ingredient labels, what’s allowed and not allowed, and what’s easiest to prepare food-wise for a busy week (of which I have many).  On the other hand, this wasn’t a shiny, new Whole30 for me; it was an admission that I hadn’t held onto the healthier habits I’d been so convinced would be life-long at the end of my previous Whole30.  It was harder when eating out this time, and there were a couple slips along the way.

But, here we are on Day 1 of my reintroduction, and all I’ve had off-plan is a little half-and-half in my coffee.  (SO not as good as I thought it would be.  Wondering about my coffee choice, debating whether I want to try 1/2 a tsp of sugar tomorrow morning or not.) I’m also debating about having a small chocolate truffle that’s sitting in my purse this very minute.

I feel fabulous, my clothes fit better and I’d say I have more energy…except that I’m fighting a cold and have been plagued by some recent (and unexplained) insomnia–I blame too much caffeine and stress.  I didn’t weigh myself this morning, but probably will tomorrow.  I’m guessing I lost about 10 pounds, which is how much I lost last time.

I love all the food I ate, and–just like in my initial Whole30: Round 2 post–I plan to continue along this way, doing the ‘Slow Roll’ reintroduction.  It means that instead of doing the structured re-intro, I just eat things as I want them.  Like that chocolate truffle.

What did I miss?  Surprisingly, not a lot.  (Actually, I wasn’t surprised; at the end of my April Whole30, I was shocked at how little I wanted things–like ice cream–that I’d had to give up.)  I did miss cream in my coffee, and started that this morning (see above).  I also missed gum (I eat most of my meals away from home–at work, in the car–and really like having fresh breath) but didn’t resort to actually using the toothbrush I keep in my purse like I did in April.  I get the point about chewing gum and beginning a cascade of hormonal responses preparing the body for digestion, but I think I’ll still chew gum.  I missed popcorn, but I’m not jonesing for a bowl right now or anything. I’m sure I’ll have some soon.  As for dessert and other sweets?  I’ll address those as they come.  Fall goodies?  Oh yes, I’m sure I’ll indulge a bit in pumpkin EVERYTHING, but only when it’s really worth it.  I’ve already stashed a package of pumpkin waffles (I know, how can pre-made waffles qualify as ‘worth it?’  Trust me, these babies are.) in my freezer and plan to have them as part of a balanced meal, with plenty of protein and fat alongside my carby, sugary waffle.  And if those were EGGO waffles, or pop-tarts, or some other less-fabulous-more-mundane food item, it would still be OK.

Why?  Because if it’s worth it to you, that’s all that matters.  I’ve started reading Food Freedom Forever, and it’s phenomenal.  Seriously.  You CAN have ‘food freedom’ and still enjoy your candy/ice cream/brownie/whatever-you-love sometimes, without the guilt it used to bring before.  It’s all about embracing your healthy eating style, allowing yourself that splurge, and–when you’re starting to backslide into old habits–doing a diet ‘rest’ (like the Whole30, or a Whole15 or Whole7) to get back on track.  It’s that simple.

More on Food Freedom Forever once I finish it.  For now, I’m happy to keep eating all the delicious and super healthy food I’ve been eating, and maybe popping a chocolate truffle once in awhile.