One year sugar-free

Happy New Year! As we’re halfway into the first month of 2016 and gearing up for an exciting year filled with flavourful food and amazing adventures, it’s a great time to reflect upon the previous year.

We had an exciting one filled with many positive changes. First and foremost, we got married, and followed it up by going on a breathtaking honeymoon! Last month, we moved into a new place. The biggest change on the health and fitness side this year, though, was my diet and exercise routine.

Sunny and beautiful Tulum
Sunny and beautiful Tulum

I introduced my refined sugar-free diet in this blog post, where you can read more about why and when it started (along with some drool-worthy recipes). Since January 1, 2015, I have successfully kept refined sugar out of the foods I’ve consumed – and still going strong! There have been a few exceptions, including having a few bites of our wedding cake and the odd hidden sugar in meals when dining out. But I’ve become incredibly fast at scanning ingredients lists in the grocery store (I’m “that” person), and have honed a keen eye for picking out the words “sugar,” “glucose-fructose,” “corn syrup,” “cane sugar,” etc.

There was never an intention to influence others’ habits in the process, but along the way, I’ve been encouraged by how many have inquired and been interested, so I’m happy to share more information with those who are curious.

I have always eaten healthy, loved vegetables, and cooked at home a lot, so once I committed myself to eating this way, I never had much trouble following it. You do realize, once you’re paying attention, how much added sugar is in everyday foods. Big culprits? Packaged and/or processed food, cereals and grain products, flavoured yogurt, sauces, dressings and condiments, juice and drinks, and – goes without saying – many desserts.

To get around this, those staying away from added sugar often end up preparing many meals at home and baking their own snacks and treats. There are a lot of quick fixes you can do to start: swap sugary peanut butter for all-natural, switch to oil-and-vinegar dressings, and drop the spoonfuls added to coffee or tea. At the store, buy plain yogurt (I like Greek), use regular mustard for sandwiches, and look for rice crackers, Ryvita or corn tortillas when craving something crispy.

Smoothie bowl breakfast
Smoothie bowl breakfast sweetened with ‘nature’s sugar’ (fruit!)

6 things that will happen when giving up refined sugar:

  1. Clearer skin
  2. Less bloat
  3. Weight loss
  4. More sustained energy
  5. Fewer headaches
  6. Heightened sense of taste

While some may be interested in simply reducing their added sugar intake, for me, it was all-or-nothing. As author Gretchen Rubin posits, we fall into either moderators or abstainers when giving something up. We often hear the phrase “everything in moderation,” but for some, even moderation doesn’t work. For example, Rubin writes Often, I know I’ll be happier if I don’t indulge in something. For example, I won’t be happy if I eat five cookies — and I’m the kind of person who can’t eat just one cookie.” I hear ya!

These breakfast cookies are filling and sweet (recipe: My New Roots)
These breakfast cookies are filling and sweet (recipe: My New Roots)

There’s a growing amount of research and articles these days about the benefits of cutting out the white stuff, including this comedic take by John Jannuzzi in GQ – 5 Practical Tips for Breaking Up with Sugar (for Good). There is also no lack of resources for recipes and ideas.

 

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