Happy February, Everyone!
It’s been an exciting and eventful beginning of the New Year! Many of us are trying to get back into shape, trying new a new diet, or striving to live happier, more mindful lives. It’s always inspiring to hear about all of your resolutions and challenges. I’ve been on a diet challenge myself…I decided to go no-sugar for ten days!
Sugar does more than rot teeth. I recently learned many frightening and upsetting things about how the dramatic rise in chronic disease is closely tied to the overconsumption of sugar. It has a major effect on your brain health; studies have suggested that too much sugar may cause or contribute to dementia and depression. Excessive consumption of sugar can also significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Here are links to some findings that have really challenged me to be more conscious of the amount of sugar I consume:
- High Blood Sugar Levels Could Lead to Heart Attack Complications
- Five Studies on the Links Between Sugar and Heart Disease
Sugar is in a mindboggling array of foods. It’s even added to wasabi peas! I learned there are at least 56 names for sugar—tracking down sugar is almost as elusive as the Kalihi Valley wallaby (they do exist!). Almost.
In January, I decided that I’d go without sugar for ten days. There are many no-sugar challenges that can be found online. Ten days? No problem. Since I’m a novice, I wanted to start out with only avoiding refined sugars, like cane and palm sugar. They are the easiest to pinpoint in foods. I still ate fruits because they provide dietary fiber and other nutrients. Of course if you want to ease into a no-sugar lifestyle, adding a little drizzle of local honey or maple syrup will add some sweetness and still contain more nutrients and minerals than refined sugars. The goal, though, is to reduce or remove all forms of sugar.
Here are a few of my suggestions to help you get started:
- Avoid refined flours, such as white bread, cakes, and bagels
- Avoid sauces, marinades, and dressings with added sugars
- Kick out sweetened beverages, like juices and sweetened teas
- Eat whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and millet
- Eat the spectrum of vegetables, nuts, and seeds
- If you want to include fruits, eat only low-glycemic fruits like strawberries, pineapples, coconuts, and raspberries
My challenge is over now and I’m glad to say that I did it. I enjoyed a lot of delicious wholesome and home-cooked meals, lived life with mental clarity, and tapped into a storehouse of energy. Will I ever go completely sugar free? Maybe. For now, I’ll try to incorporate ten days of no-sugar living once a month. Baby steps to a healthier future!
I want to extend this ten-day challenge to all of you. Give it a try and see how you feel! If you try it, I’d love to hear more about your experience going sugar-free!