Surviving a Month Without Refined Sugar

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Foods with no added sugar – not sure what I would have done without them!

For the month of January, I didn’t eat refined sugar. It wasn’t easy at first, but once I located foods that didn’t contain refined sugar (it was sadly difficult to do so), it wasn’t too bad. The hardest part was satisfying chocolate cravings (done, done and done) and refusing dessert when others were eating it. (Honestly, I did end up cheating: the 2nd to last day of the month I went out to a nice dinner with good friends and everyone ordered dessert. It seemed silly to not taste them – while it was argued that I shouldn’t give up so close to the end, I did it for 30 days and I didn’t want to miss out on goat cheese cheesecake when I felt like I’d reached the goals I wanted.)

Here’s what I learned:

  • Sugar is in everything, from mayo to peanut butter, cereal to potato chips.
  • In fact, I think almost all condiments have sugar – the only ones I was able to use were an unsweetened ketchup (not quite like the real thing, but ok) and Dijon mustard.
  • I found one cereal without sugar or other sweeteners (only one!) – a shredded wheat cereal at Trader Joe’s (ingredients: wheat & vitamin E). Wish I’d discovered slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal earlier.
  • Frozen raspberries and blueberries make a great snack/dessert.
  • Almonds are a filling snack (and spicy almonds are interesting enough that I don’t get bored of them).
  • Greek yogurt is a decadent sugar-free snack (can you tell I needed to replace my snacking choices?).
  • Dates are pretty delicious (already knew that).
  • Chickpeas + chocolate = a surprisingly great dessert!
  • Black coffee tastes good! (I never thought this before. Not even close. Change taste buds? Done!).
  • You can live without refined sugar, but it ain’t easy. Considering that it’s in things like mayo, I probably accidentally ate some when I ate out a couple times over the month. To completely avoid it at all costs would be tricky.

So, did I reach my goals? According to my first post of the new year, I set out to: “1) see if I can do it; 2) improve my diet; 3) hopefully change my taste buds so I don’t sweeten things like tea and coffee so much and can appreciate things like wine more.”

1) Yes! (Minus 2 days, but as my friend said, if I’d chosen February I would have done it!)

2) Yes, I think so. And I’ve tried to mostly keep it up and eat sugar very much in moderation since the end. (Big exception: chocolate covered marshmallows. But they were worth it!)

3) Yes!!! Definitely. Now drinking coffee and tea without any sweeteners whatsoever (huge change) and appreciating wine a bit more. Still not my favorite, but I will get there. Slowly bringing my palate into adulthood, one step at a time…

Apparently you’re supposed to take up a new habit for 60 days to make it stick. That would be quite a challenge for this! I’m happy with my results. I wasn’t trying to radically change my diet, but to do a little experiment to make it a little healthier. I’m really glad that I was able to change my taste buds. No more gross fake sugar in my coffee!

Have you kept up with your New Year’s resolutions?

13 Responses to “Surviving a Month Without Refined Sugar”
  1. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox writes:

    Wow! That’s amazing you could give it up so long without competely missing it. Yep, sugar comes in darn near everything.

  2. Wheels writes:

    I have no idea how you were able to do this but am oh so proud!

  3. Monet writes:

    Isn’t it amazing how our taste buds change? I stopped adding sugar to my coffee a few years ago, and I now I only want it black. Congrats on doing this, my dear. Making a change like this requires some will power!

  4. Tiffany writes:

    Congrats on making your goals! AND thanks for giving us info re: products without sugar! I was in the grocery store for what seemed like an hour the other day trying to find a bread w/o sugar!!!
    Tiffany recently posted Clementine Almond-Chip Cookies

  5. Stephanie writes:

    Thanks everyone!

    Tiffany – I can’t believe I forgot to mention bread. It was so hard to find bread! I ended up eating Alvarado’s Street’s sprouted wheat bread all month (sweetened with dates).

  6. Ivy writes:

    Congratulations for achieving your goals. I don’t think that I could survive without sugar even for one day. I am really adicted to it but I do try to add brown sugar more often and substitute sugar with honey, whenever this is possible. I don’t understand why sugar is added in mayo. I don’t add any in the one I make and it is delicious.
    Ivy recently posted A Cake for your Valentine

  7. Danica writes:

    OMG right? When I was in like late high school I read a book about keeping your family’s teeth healthy (by a dentist) that said that if you only eat sugar four times a day (up to 20 minutes is considered one time) then you generally won’t get cavities. I had had a bunch before then so I was motivated!

    That has been my rule of thumb ever since and it was really hard at first because of all the damn condiments and packaged foods and bread and everything that is FULL OF SUGAR. I would end up ranting nonstop about how they were trying to kill us. My friends were like “Would you shut up? I am trying to shop!” Now I think it’s easier, but I was shopping at like Safeway at the time! Trader Joe’s has at least one sandwich bread that is sweetened with fruit juice, FYI, and it is good. Of course now I can’t eat wheat….

    But it was so worth it even to cut back that much – no cavities since then that I know of (almost half my lifetime later!) and I noticed that I was healthier – which makes sense since later a nutritionist told me that ONE gram of refined sugar decreases your immune system function by 50% for FIVE HOURS.
    Danica recently posted Garlic- Caraway- Nigella- and More Spice Delights – A fun mini-cookbook for you

  8. Brandie@thecountrycook writes:

    I think it was a wonderful challenge for you to take on! I can only imagine how hard it was to find foods without sugar. Great post!!

  9. Vanessa writes:

    I often think about lowering my sugar consumption. You’re right – it’s in EVERYTHING.

  10. Slow Cooker Monday: Poached & Stuffed Spiced Pears | 52 Kitchen Adventures writes:

    [...] knew it was coming: a dessert for the slow cooker. I waited until my month without sugar was over to make it a little easier, but I still chose a dessert based on a sweet fruit (and cut [...]

  11. Candied Meyer Lemon Peel | 52 Kitchen Adventures writes:

    [...] are you doing with the changes? I didn’t make any major resolutions this year but last year I gave up sugar for a month and the year before I started this blog as a way to get myself to cook more and try new [...]

  12. Gracie Williams writes:

    It is more and more apparent: Cook from scratch. Adopt those 1960s Vegetarian, Hippie-life style of home organic gardening, turning OFF TV and Radio–Learn to appreciate SILENCE!!, etc…

  13. brian writes:

    Did you lose any wieght doing this?

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