Sugar Free January!

Jan 2, 2018 | Resource, Thoughts

Hi and happy new year! I hope the holidays treated you well and you didn’t go too overboard on the food and drinks. If you did, no worries, we’re here with a fresh new start. Feels good, doesn’t it? I’m excited to see what 2018 will be like!

On that note, let’s talk about giving up sugar for a month. Yes. You heard me right.

I’ll start with a disclaimer that might be more for myself than anything: I really hate doing things that everyone else is doing. For instance, I refused to read the Harry Potter books for YEARS (and then burned through them and promptly became a huge fan, ha). So yes, I’m giving up sugar in January, and yes, I kind of hate myself for doing the whole “I’m being healthy in the new year” thing.

So let me explain my reasons and exactly what’s going on. I’ve got a HUGE sweet tooth. I could pass up all the salty snack foods in the world, but set a tray of cookies or anything chocolate I’m front of me and I will eventually cave. And so I’ve been wanting to try to give up processed sugar for awhile, but it just seemed so… HARD.

Thankfully, Lindsay and Bjork at Pinch of Yum exist. They’re doing sugar free January too, and their awesome approach has finally inspired me to do this for real. Go and read their posts, because they do a way better job of explaining themselves than I could (also, I’d just be repeating). What I love the most is the idea that you decide what sugar free means to you. You write the rules, and you write them in a way that will set yourself up for success!

Ok, so let’s talk about my sugar free January plan.

What it is

For the month of January (I started on the second as I was traveling on the first), I am giving up processed and added sugar.

Why I’m doing this

I want to know what effect sugar has on my body, and to do a bit of a reset so that I don’t crave sugar so much, and instead appreciate it when I do have it. I do NOT want this to be a thing where, at the end of the month, I go eat a whole pan of brownies or something. I want this to be the start of a long term change.

FODMAPs and sugar are both carbohydrates (lactose, for example, is both a form of sugar and also a FODMAP), and we know that sugar and gut health are related. I suspect that the amount of sugar I consume affects me more than I care to admit 🙈, but I’d like to know how exactly.

I also really struggle with acne, and I’ve been trying to take a more methodical approach to figuring out what triggers it (because right now I have no idea, except that that it’s “hormonal,” and wtf does that even mean anyway). I’m hoping that I’ll see an improvement by cutting out sugar, so we’ll see.

Like I said above, I’m committed to a month, but I want the changes to be much longer term than that. Just like the FODMAP elimination diet, I’ll be cutting sugar out completely for a period of time, and then based on what I discover I’ll decide how to move on from there.

I’ll be updating the blog with my progress, what I’m eating, and how I’m feeling!

What I won’t be eating

  • Any form of brown or white sugar, or man-made sweetener / syrup (such as corn syrups, tapioca syrup, etc.).
  • Artificial sweeteners of any type.
  • Stevia or anything of that sort — a personal choice here, as I just don’t like it.
  • White / processed breads and grains. (I.e. not whole grains.) This one comes with an asterisk, as we usually eat whole foods sourdough bread, which is made with white flour. I’m not sure how reliably we can find whole wheat sourdough, so if it’s impossible I will make an exception for that.

Basically, if something has been added to a food to sweeten it, it’s out. I am making a few exceptions to that though…

What I am keeping in

  • Maple syrup in homemade goods (namely, my granola and protein bars), because I don’t use that much, and re-factoring those recipes really doesn’t seem worth it for me (see note about long term change above).
  • Honey. Technically honey is high in FODMAPs, but I eat a spoonful of local honey during allergy season to help with my allergies. And it’s cedar season in Austin right now (yeah, there’s only like two months of the year that aren’t allergy season…) so I’m gonna need that.
  • A small amount of dark chocolate. I’m not trying to suffer unnecessarily, people! We always have a bar of Trader Joe’s pound plus dark chocolate on hand. Yes, it totally has added sugar. But I know that if I deprive myself of any chocolate for a month, I won’t last. Plus, allowing myself a small amount (I’m aiming for half a square a day, fyi), I will hopefully escape the temptation to eat an entire pound of chocolate at the end of January! 😂
  • Alcohol. Again, cutting it out seems like setting myself up for failure. I won’t be drinking any mixers with added sugar / syrup (so basically all of them) though. Right now my plan when we go out is to drink straight whiskey, gin and club soda, or wine. As of right now I don’t plan on setting any limitations on amount, as this experiment is about added sugar, not alcohol. (Yes, I understand alcohol is technically a sugar, but I’m trying to focus my energy here.)
  • Starchy vegetables, namely potatoes in french fries. I mean, fries don’t actually have sugar (or do they? I’m sure the ones at McDonald’s do haha), but starchy potatoes do affect the body in a similar way. I’m making an exception for REALLY GOOD fries, because life without Salty Sow’s duck fat fries would just be sad. Obviously I’m not going to seek them out, and I’m not going to eat a ton, but I’m not planning on depriving myself either.
  • Sunday morning pancakes. Every Sunday morning, Marc makes pancakes for us. It’s a tradition that brings joy to my heart, which means that I’m not going to change it. I will be a bit more mindful of the amount of maple syrup I use though 😉
  • Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and meat. Normal foods that I eat normally that don’t have any added sugars! Hooray!

Like I said, I’ll be updating with my progress regularly – probably weekly if I’m being honest.

Alright! Dare I say, I’m kind of excited. We’ll see how I’m feeling in a week, ha 😜

PS: If you’re looking for even more reading, here’s the original inspiration for this, Q&A, a sugar free product guide, and meal planning guide. Plus, a great post on Whole30, which is a bit more strict than what I’m doing but I love her reasoning.

Cheers to a sugar free month!

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