#SwansonChallenge Sugar-Free January - Nearly Finished!

Friday, January 24, 2014 by Kaitlin W

I dreamt of a chocolate sundae. I don't even eat ice cream! My teeth are too sensitive! *sigh* Let's see if our fearless bloggers have had their own sugary struggles in the final days of the 21 day sugar detox! Read on, health friends:

Laura:

Hey y’all – Laura from This is Thirty here reporting back on the Sugar-free Challenge.  Before I go any further, I have to thank Swanson Health Products for sponsoring this challenge.  It has really been an amazing experience, and they were so generous to offer us $100 in goodies to get us started.

By the way, $100 goes exceptionally far on the Swanson site.  I was amazed at how much I received and it’s really carried me through this week. 

In terms of the challenge, it actually isn’t quite a challenge any more.  I’m a creature of habit, so once I figured out how to fuel my runs in a sugar-free way (and so that I didn’t get hangry), I stuck with it.  That means that my eats look pretty similar from last weeks: lots of veggies, healthy proteins/fats in the form of nuts, avocados and coconut and a little fruit to fuel my runs.  The biggest change is that my tastes have changed.

You read correctly.  This sugar-addict gal is beginning to enjoy coffee with just a little unsweetened soymilk.  In fact, I even think that tastes sweet!  I’m finding that without sugar, I’m able to taste more of my food – for example, I can identify the different spices in my five-spice stir-fry.  It’s almost like eliminating added sugars and simple carbs from my diet has expanded my palate.  I’m simply enjoying every bit I eat more, and while I’ve always loved my veggies, I crave them now. 

And I don’t crave cupcakes. 

As a gluten-free for life gal by force (I have Celiac’s Disease), I’ve struggled for years with gluten and sugar cravings.  Those cravings always end with me giving in, which results in a miserable me.  It seems that this has cut those cravings by 75%!  That’s a huge win in my book, and makes the headaches (literally and figuratively) from the first week worth it!  I’m full of gratitude for the challenge and Swanson Health!  And if YOU haven’t tried a sugar-free challenge – DO IT! (with your doctors approval, of course)

Hollie:

I think it’s unfair for me to give an accurate depiction of last week because I spent a good portion in bed sleeping.  I got hit with a minor case of the flu which led me to not being able to eat very much of anything.  From roughly Thursday to Sunday I spent the majority of my time napping. I guess that can be can be considered sugar-free but not in the fairness of the detox. 

I was lucky though that I was able to bounce back somewhat quickly.  Being sugar-free is becoming easier and easier.  While I miss having sweetener in my coffee, I’m no longer craving it.  I’m no longer craving sweet breakfasts or sweet treats at night.  I have found myself craving salty or savory foods though. 

Without further ado here are some of things I ate (before being sick and while sick):

We made delicious steak and brussel sprouts.  I have really come to terms with how much I have been enjoying sprouts lately.

Lentils. Lentils, lentils and more lentils.  Seriously, they allowed me to consume some calories and keep them down.   My apologies for not taking photos of lentils but they were mushy and green, just as lentils normally are.  (Still delicious though!)

When I felt better at the end of the week, I went to a seafood restaurant.  I ordered the salmon and marinara vegetables which was really good.  Part of the reason I’ve enjoyed the detox diet is that it honestly doesn’t limit your food intake.  As someone who absolutely loves to go out to eat, I can still do that while detoxing.

Pros of the week:

Everything I ate (and was able to eat) I enjoyed.  I have come to terms with less sugar and I think my body is finally get used to it.  I am actually enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would.

Cons of the week:

With a minor case of the flu, it was hard for me to eat normally.  Though I did consume a lot of soup.  I am glad to report as of Monday the 20th, I am feeling nearly normal again.

Megan:

Wow, is this challenge really almost over already?! I just got home from a wonderful dinner with my family and I successfully shared my skills in the kitchen and made them a delicious 21 day sugar detox friendly meal! I cooked up bison chili with avocado. It was absolutely delicious if I'm allowed to toot my own horn. I love being able to cook new meals and really explore foods in a way that allows my tastebuds to really experience their "true" taste without being masked by too much sweetness. Pretty much everything has a hint of sweetness now, even salsa and avocado, believe it or not. I find myself reaching for things when I have a sweet tooth that I would have never reached for in the past.

These past few weeks of sugar detoxing have really made me believe that I was absolutely overdoing it in the artificial sweetener department because although an avocado or carrots with almond butter satisfies my sweet tooth now, I still find myself craving Quest Bars and sweetener or sweetened flavored cream in my coffee. I'm almost afraid that when the detox is over and I'm able to eat those foods again, they might be too sickly sweet. That may be good news for my wallet, though because I'm pretty sure a bag of carrots and a scoop of almond butter is a heck of a lot cheaper than a box of stevia-sweetened protein bars.

Besides the brush of sugar cravings this week, I actually did start to experience some skin flare ups - nothing big - but for a girl who used to struggle with acne, I was a little anxious and wanted them suckers off of my face immediately. Hello, tea tree oil, maca and coconut oil! I'm pretty sure the small breakout was just my body detoxing - as the book explained - and the little boogers are almost all gone now. I noticed that my digestion is still improving and I really, really love that the most about this detox. Having Celiac disease really tore up my intestines and healing them has not always been a fun process to say the least. I think removing sugar in all forms (besides those naturally occuring in the semi-sweet foods I eat now,) has been a life saver for my intestinal villi and they have really been able to do their thang.

I'm pumped to finish this off strong, but I will admit - I may need cream and sugar in my morning cup of Joe after the detox, but certainly not the amount that I used to have. I also see myself purchasing a LOT more jars of almond butter and bags of baby carrots, avocados, sweet potatos and coconut butter instead of protein bars.

Let's finish this last week with a bang, friends!

 

 

Kaitlin:

Our fearless bloggers and I have lasted nearly the entire 21 days! There were moments when I seriously considered diving into a vat of berries or wine or chocolate or chips or pasta...but I felt extremely obligated to not fail Laura, Megan and Hollie. So that is my #1 suggestion if you're going to brave this sugar-free experience: be accountable to someone else! I don't even know these women beyond the virtual world and I still couldn't stand the thought of letting them down! But I may be the outlier...I don't think any of them had moments of desperation the way I did!

My week: I ate a lot of eggs and avocados...

But I did branch out and attempt to bake a lot of muffins, flatbread, biscuits and pancakes with coconut flour! I had avoided baking on this challenge because I get super angry when my baking doesn't turn out just right. But I was just dying for some "bread" like substance!

And I have learned a hugely important lesson this week: FOOD PREP! You absolutely have to spend one day a week baking/cooking enough to get through the week. I definitely felt my lowest when I didn't have something immediately on hand that I could snack on to curb the cravings. So on Sunday I roasted butternut squash, made carrot muffins, made tuna salad, made garlic drop biscuits, baked chicken breasts, steamed kale and spinach and sliced and diced my veggies for the week! It has been a complete life saver! DO IT! 5 hours in one day will save you countless hours and moments of hanger and frustrations throughout the week.

Saturday night I went out with my friends to a concert and dinner! I had no problem slightly alterning my order to be sugar-free! All I had to do was ask for the wild rice to be replaced with another side of veggies! And they didn't even charge me extra!

My major con with this detox (which we were warned about in the book) was my decreased energy level in my workouts. Even my trainer (provided by Swanson!) has noticed I'm not nearly as lively in our 10 am sessions. I can get through a workout, but not as easily as before. I have been trying to compensate by eating one of our three allowed fruits right before a workout to get a natural sugar kick and that has seemed to help somewhat. Even if only my mood...

My absolute favorite thing thus far with this challenge has been that I'm fuller. I eat three meals a day instead of my usual 6 small meals. I can actually last from 7 am - noon! Before, I was ready to eat the first thing I saw by 10 am! There are days when my stomach still isn't thrilled about this challenge, and other days where I find I am more "testy" than normal. But the end is in sight and I have already begun thinking about what I will eat on day 22! The answer is berries...so many berries.

Think you can kick the sugar habit? What would be hardest to give up?


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