No Added Sugar – The Beginning; Challenge of The Month
I wanted to challenge myself to lower my sugar intake for this month and be conscious about the products that I purchase from the store. Of course some ingredients contains natural sugar (fructose, glucose, lactose and other) in them, e.g. fruits, berries, dairy products and also vegetables and root vegetables, which are better in moderation. In these products the key is fiber which fill us up, for example fruits contains fiber and when consumed, the body needs to break the cells to release the sugar to our system which slowly and in a controlled manner rises our blood sugar levels. In contrary, store bought processed juices doesn’t contain the fruits natural fibers or vitamins due to the processes that are used to produce the juice. Also the sugars in the juice might have been altered as well. (Natural and Added Sugars: Two Sides of the Same Coin by Mary E.Gearing)
Then there’s the artificial sweeteners that are synthetically made from e.g. natural substances. There are different kinds of sugar substitutes: novel sweeteners e.g. Stevia, sugar alcohols that are carbohydrates in e.g. fruits and vegetables and then there’s also natural sweeteners e.g. honey, molasses and maple syrup. There are some possible health benefits to using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar and these sugar substitutes can be found in different products as an added sugar, but shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. (Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes by Mayo Clinic) As a conclusion to this topic, sugar is sugar and the most important thing to remember is to have sugar in moderation and prefer whole foods over processed products.
I decided to try the no added sugar month for this November. I think it’s great to reduce added sugar, read the ingredients lists from products and think what you consume. We are so used to the added sugars in processed foods that we don’t really think about it. You add a little bit of sugar to your coffee, there’s sugar in your condiments, bread and other processed foods and you might not even realize it. All that adds up to a bigger amount of sugar that we intake every day.
The idea behind this challenge is straightforwardly to stay away from the refined sugars which spikes up insulin very fast and also to avoid artificial sweeteners. I also take into account the amount of natural sugars and eat them in moderation. It will be interesting to see the affects of reducing sugar intake, when others have claimed that you will have a better looking skin, weight loss, mental clarity and happiness and more energy and less aches. I’m a little skeptic of these so called claims. I need to see and experience it myself to make any opinions on these propositions. For me this challenge is to challenge myself to eat more whole foods and read the ingredients list and also to learn more about sugars and sugar substitutes.
The first week was kind of a hard start to this challenge. I did reduce sugar and products that contained sugar for the most of the week. But on last Saturday we had an early birthday celebration / date night of movies and drinks. I already decided that I will celebrate my birthday with my fiancé and this weekend we’ll have a cheese and wine night with friends.
I was surprised how many products have added sugars or artificial sweeteners because you don’t really realize it when you don’t read the ingredients. Also during the week I did a little bit of a Google search on the challenge and I was surprised that honey is considered as a banned ingredient during this challenge. I don’t use honey that often, sometimes with my green tea. So after realizing this I decided to loose that too, let’s do it all the way. I think during this week and especially in the beginning of the week, I haven’t had as much energy as usually (and I had a nap that I NEVER do) because my body reacts to the changes. End of this week I have had a bit more energy and haven’t graved any sweets. Although changes in the energy levels can be influenced by many factors.
Have you done this no added sugar challenge for a certain period of time? What your experiences were or if you are also doing this challenge, how has it gone so far?