TAMMY’S NOTE: This No-Sugar challenge documents Ashley’s 30-day attempt to remove PROCESSED SUGAR from their diet. This challenge allows her to use natural sugars such as honey or true maple syrup, therefore it’s not meant for a diabetic alternative, simply a personal-health challenge.
by Ashley Ashley
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I can’t believe it! There is a light at the end of the tunnel after all! I have made it through three weeks of absolutely no sugar. (If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to check out Week 1 and Week 2) Although I must be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like a challenge anymore, just one or two days into the third week of the challenge the cravings just stopped. It’s almost like there was a switch and I simply didn’t want sugar anymore. I was no longer consumed (no pun intended) by the thought of sweets and junk food. I was also finally seeing all of the benefits that I’d heard about when you cut sugar out of your diet, like more energy, an elevated mood, a healthy glow to my skin, and my productivity seemed to sky rocket at home and at work. I was so weary of the challenge those first couple of weeks because I knew I would have cravings for the unhealthy foods I was so use to and now I look at them and have zero desire to consume them. This has officially become the new relationship with food that I wanted.
In fact, my husband and I have been enjoying the challenge so much that we bought a book called * Foods that Harm and Foods that Heal. It’s a great guide by Reader’s Digest that tells you what vitamins and nutrients you get out of the foods that you consume. It now takes less food to keep me full during the day since my body is processing more of what I’m feeding it and wanted to get the most out of what I’m eating. For example, I found that lactose (from milk products) turns into sugar when you consume it and decided to cut that out completely for the rest of the challenge. I started drinking coconut milk and picked up a pack of vegan shredded cheese to sprinkle on salads. I chose coconut milk because there were far fewer ingredients listed on the back of the jug. Score! Since calcium is the main reason I drink milk, I was pleased to find that certain brands of coconut milk had more calcium than milk by 15%!
Maybe I’m taking the challenge further than I had intended, but I feel better and more energized throughout the day that I really want to push myself and see what I can do. I don’t think it is completely necessary to push what I’m cutting out of my diet, but my body is communicating with me better than ever and I’m at full attention. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the past week:
1. Cut up fruit to keep in the freezer for when you get the wish to eat something sweet. Bananas, berries, and melons all go great in the freezer and at this point they taste like candy!
2. Change up what you’re eating every day for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to keep your palate constantly entertained. I haven’t settled for a comfortable sugar-free meal to have over and over. I’ve changed it up every morning, afternoon and night to keep things interesting and to feel less restricted about things that I am able to eat. Different desserts help too. See recipes below. 😉
3. Make savory and healthy snacks to keep around like lightly salted popcorn or oven roasted garbanzo beans when you want something easy to grab and snack on.
4. Know that being hungry is not the end of the world. If you find yourself unprepared without a snack and suddenly feeling a rumbley in your tumbley, don’t panic and grab the first thing you get to! Collect yourself for a moment and get to a grocery store as soon as you can for a healthy, sugar-free option.
5. If something has passed under the radar and you discover a food you ate had sugar in it, don’t take it as a failure. Just know it’s on the list of things not to eat for the rest of the challenge and keep going!
I’m sure there was a time or two I may have had something that sneaked in some kind of added sugar in it. That sneaky, sweet substance hides under many names. Here are just a few I have uncovered: anhydrous dextrose, lactose, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, molasses, corn syrup, and malt syrup. I simply avoided buying anything processed and packaged to minimize any unknown slip-ups. But there is only one week left to go and I’m excited to see what new things I will learn in that last bit of time. In the meantime, here are not one, but TWO delicious dessert recipes I have uncovered. I don’t want to take credit for being creative enough to have created these from scratch. I have researched ways others have made sugar-free desserts and modified different ingredients to my own tastes. I just cannot pinpoint the exact starting points for these recipes.
- 3 c rolled oats
- 2 eggs
- 3 bananas – mashed
- 1/2 c berries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 c milk (I used coconut, but any kind is ok)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- opt. 1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
- opt. cinnamon or nutmeg sprinkled on top before baking
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until even distributed. Spoon into muffin cups (makes approx. 24) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Can be enjoyed fresh or stored in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Feel free to enjoy these as breakfast, snack, or dessert.
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No-bake Peanut Butter Fudge
- 1 c peanut butter (or any nut butter, but make sure there is no added sugar)
- 1 c coconut oil
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- sea salt to sprinkle on top
- opt. 2 tsp walnut or hazelnut extract
Mix all ingredients, except salt, in a large bowl until all chunks are gone. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pour mixture into the pan. Cover and leave in refrigerator until completely firm. When it is firm, cut into squares and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy.
NOTE: This fudge softens as it warms, so it’s best stored in the fridge and enjoyed while still cool.
NOTE: You’re encouraged to read all four weeks of her Sugar-Free Challenge Journey where she shares tips & sugar-free recipes: