November 29, 2011

8 sugar-free weeks (and still going!)


Hi friends!

As promised, here is a little recap of my sugar-free challenge (so far) - how it all started, how it went and how I am feeling now. These past eight weeks have really been just the beginning. I have no urge to go back to having sugar in my life, and as you're about to see I am doing quite well without it!

So, eight weeks a go I came across this book (Click here for the book). I bought it, and started reading it. As I was reading along, I realised how similar my situation was to that described by Sarah in her book. I didn't think I ate that much sugar, I hadn't been using refined sugars for a while, never ate any shop-bought cookies, cakes, sweets or other sugary treats. But I was eating a lot of fruit, a piece or two of dark (85%-99%) chocolate a few nights a week and I was baking with raw sugar, raw honey or maple syrup. Although this was probably still less than the average amount of sugar most people consume daily, I felt I could do better. I was eager to see how I would feel after eliminating all sugar out of my diet, including fruit.

A little background might help you to understand how easy it was for me to embark on this challenge. I am all or nothing kind of a girl and once I make a decision I tend to stick to it. I have also been told I can be (very) headstrong and I must admit this is probably true. On this occasion, however, I think it was actually helpful to have that determinative nature. After I read the book, I decided to quit sugar. There and then, and I didn't look back.

I felt the change already within the first two weeks of the challenge: I had more energy, I was full after a meal and I didn't crave sweet things to end a meal, I was less sluggish and less bloated and all in all felt much better. After the first two weeks I had got so used to my new eating habits that I didn't even think I was missing out on anything. I was eating a lot of fresh vegetables, drinking freshly made vegetable juices and herbal teas and supporting my daily energy intake with nuts and nut milk.

I had also started cutting down grains, but kept having quinoa a couple of times a week and also had a couple of lentil dishes here and there. Quinoa is a perfect protein for vegetarians and as it is more like a seed than a grain, it was an ideal inclusion in my diet. Cutting down grains whilst on sugar-free diet will certainly help, and will give you even a better result.

Towards the end of the challenge, I decided to cut off dairy as well. Now this may seem a little extreme to some people, but I can promise you it really made a huge difference. One week into dairy-freeness and my energy levels have gone through the roof. Perfect timing, as I will certainly need all the extra energy ahead of this week's move.  

Now what can I eat? Well, I have a glass of home-made almond milk in the morning (see below for the recipe) before my exercise. After my exercise I have a big brekkie that includes more protein, usually tofu or tempeh. I have a snack before lunch - Brazil nuts are my latest addiction, and I sip on fresh vegetable juice (celery, cucumber and ginger has been my recent favourite). There are endless vegetarian choices available for lunch, this cauliflower curry, black bean salad and these tartlets are just a few of my recent favourites. I tend to have a big breakfast and lunch and go lighter towards the evening. I often just have a salad for dinner and have another small snack of nuts or a glass of nut milk later in the evening. As for fats, I prefer to use virgin coconut oil for cooking, flaxseed oil in salads and in addition I eat 1/2 avocado and nuts daily.

Home-made almond milk is superbly easy to make:

1. Soak 1 cup (170g) of raw almonds (or you could use Brazil nuts) in plenty of water overnight. 

2. Drain the nuts, rinse and peel them, and add in a blender with 3 1/2 cups (750ml) of fresh water.

3. Blend until smooth, then strain the milk through a sieve lined with muslin to get rid of all the pulp. Store in an air-tight glass jar/bottle in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (it will probably last longer, but I am always careful).

As for tips how to get started on the sugar-free path, I have to say it much depends on each person's situation. For me, going cold turkey worked just fine and I had no withdrawals or cravings. I suggest you first analyse your daily sugar intake and then decide what method is best for you. I've listed a few sugar-free recipes below to get you started.

Needless to say I have nothing negative to say about this experiment, and although I am not saying I'll never eat fruit or use raw honey again, I have no urge to go back just yet. I am also interested to see how dairy-freeness will support this diet even further, and restricting these elements from my diet is certainly making me come up with more creative recipes.

I hope I've been able to inspire some of you at least to consider going sugar-free. You may think you can't do it, but trust me, it's not that difficult! Once you stop feeding your sweet cravings, your taste buds will adjust and you won't miss a thing!

Here are a few sweet recipes you could try for a soft landing to sugar-free life. 

Grain-free, sugar-free breakfast muffins

Sugar-free coconut granola

Sugar-free rhubarb macaroon slice

Activated, spiced nuts

Grain-free, sugar-free zucchini mini cakes

Grain-free, sugar-free sweet parsnip bread


I would love to hear your feedback! Have you gone sugar-free? How are you feeling?

24 comments:

  1. Congrats for holding on! It is good to be heastrong and stick to your decisions.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Applause and standing ovations! Rock on Maria! This is such an inspirational piece and it's soo great that you spread these awesome words and tricks! You certanly encourage me to go towards less "healthy" sweets.. Even so.. I will probably never stop using all the amazing fruits and berries in my kitchen/garden Raw adventures:) so happy that you feel like The goddess that you are!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Deilig å være sukkerfri <3 Gratulere til deg :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well done! Ever since I cleaned up my diet I'm full of energy and haven't looked back either, it'd be pretty silly to go back to eating stuff that makes you feel like crap and puts your body on its path to so many "modern" diseases.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well done on sticking with it. Quite inspiring actually.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm so proud of you.. you have done so well and I think it's your creativity with food that makes it work.. a lot of people would give up with the reduced choices but you have a flare for creating amazing new recipes :) well done, you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, congrats! You are strong :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great having done such a challenge! Congrats! So brave and inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations! Your post is very inspiring and the recipes suggested look delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  10. How did you go without fruit? I just don't think I could give it up, I love it too much! Especially coming into summer here in Australia... Well done on completing you goal though!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Removing sugar from my diet is one of the best choices I've ever made! I notice such an improvement in my energy and skin too :)

    Well done on making it 8 weeks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have tried this diet (or one very similar to it) before and had amazing results. I would love to change my eating habits again but haven't managed more than a week or two at a time. I am so proud of your headstrong nature. It is indeed working for you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations! I may follow you one of these days; maybe after the holidays!lol

    ReplyDelete
  14. Congrats :) Im not sure I could do it haha

    ReplyDelete
  15. Congratulations on the 8 weeks, such a great achievement! I would love to make almond milk and it sounds fantastic, except I don't have a blender :( All your recipes look amazing, so happy to have discovered your blog :) x

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow those eight weeks have zoomed by so quickly. Well done on your achievement. With summer approaching and the tropical fruits in abundance at the markets I don't think I would have it in me to miss out on all the great things that fruit has to offer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow... you inspire a lot of people that it is possible. I try my best to feed the kids healthy food but I haven't given up on anything yet. I am confident that I'm giving them good healthy food with not so much sugar (since I don't bake anyway). It's always hard at the beginning when you try to make a difference but after that things get a lot easier and faster I guess. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  18. hey i have been reading your blog for a while now after getting addicted to all things scandinavian due to green kitchen stories blog (cute family). anyway i too have been sugar and grain free for 6 weeks and love it. i have no desire for sweets stuff and i was a sugar lover. like really. cold turkey was the only way for me too. can't wait to enjoy a sugar free xmas. i too make my own nut milk but I'm a little in love with feta so still on the dairy. i have really lost a lot of weight and feel fabulous. sugar was really not my friend. its great to see you doing it and posting recipes. thanks

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is so inspiring! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. hello there ... we have been doing high protein, low carb for a while now. We were already gluten free and three out of four of us are very low sugar already - we make rare exceptions for birthdays but that is about it. My boys have been GF and sugar free from birth - again rare exceptions. I see so many childhood issues that could be addressed or partly address thru diet ... it's a shame we are so accepting of norms that we don't challenge them even when we could. best to you in your ongoing efforts :) le xox

    ReplyDelete
  21. I loved this post! I was sugar-free for over a year, and recently fell off the wagon... you're inspiring me to go back to it. Already GF and my body's been telling me to go dairy free for a while now. It's amazing what can happen with a diet tailored to your body. Makes all the difference.
    Can't wait to read more about your Australia experiences, we lived in NZ for 2 1/2 years. Never made it to Oz, and still regret it. Living back in Austin, Texas now.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I couldn't go sugar free for 8 weeks myself but the sweet things sure look good!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello!

    I found your blog a couple of weeks back and have been really enjoying it. It's been uncanny some of the things I've resonated with in your posts...today is the first day that my husband and i are trying a sugar fast...it's somewhat different in nature than the method that worked for you but I could REALLY resonate with the sense that despite making many changes over the years in terms of a conscious diet already centered around whole foods and unrefined sugars, salts, oils, etc, that this area was one that was waiting to be explored. I don't consider myself a huge sweet consumer, but I have noticed that I don't like the way I feel about craving something sweet at the end of meals...I'd rather the sensation of enjoying any food be a conscious decision...anyway, FAR too long an email about this, but just a note of thanks for a wonderful, engaging blog with beautiful colors, photos, recipes etc. it's neat to interact with people across the globe this way. :-) Best wishes!! jamie

    ReplyDelete