Did you see Joy Bauer, the Registered Dietitian associated with The Today Show, encouraging all the anchors as well as viewers to take a 10-day break from added sugar (including artificial sweeteners)? While I am generally very against restricting things in my diet (or my clients’ diets), I was intrigued. This challenge was not cutting out all sugar, but rather just added sugar. I have a sweet tooth already and have seen personally how having sweets regularly just encourages me to eat them more. “Resetting” my taste buds is something that I’ve thought about for quite some time. It’s not that I’ll never have added sugar, but I wanted to go back to it being a real treat rather than just the ending to a meal.
I’m proud to say that we succeeded in the challenge and learned quite a bit along the way.
1. There is sugar in everything. You realize this by reading ingredient lists. It’s important to note that added sugar will be listed in the ingredients (look for these terms, it can be sneaky). You may still see sugar in the nutrition facts label, but that will be your naturally occurring sugar (think the lactose in milk, fructose in fruit, etc) and is okay.
2. “Teamwork makes the dream work”. Enlisting my sister and mother-in-law was the best thing I could do. We sent each other emails, texts and talked about it. We shared tidbits, recipes, pictures and encouragement. One night when I was frustrated, I was able to discuss that frustration with my sister and avoid the chocolate that I thought I really wanted. Having that sense of accountability made a true difference.
3. Not having dessert after meals encouraged me to savor what I was eating. I was more likely to practice mindful eating and even eat less at times while listening to my body’s cues and feeling just as satisfied.
4. Don’t just assume. After counseling clients one day, I needed to grab lunch before meeting a friend. I figured the easiest place for me to find whole foods was … Whole Foods. I was shocked to see that many items had sugar added to them. Sushi, many of the salads and sandwiches were all out due to ‘sugar’ on the label. Other surprises through the 10 days included salsa, a brand of salt and vinegar chips and some dry roasted peanuts.
5. You don’t need to have sweets for others, whether it’s for kids, guests or family members. During the challenge we each had dinner parties and everyone was just fine with having fruit salad for dessert.
Try cutting back on added sugar yourself. You’re already sweet enough!