Monday, March 11, 2013

My battle with sugar: week 1


Cutting my sugar intake is so much harder than I originally anticipated. For the first few days the American Heart Association’s 33g recommendation felt impossible. I cut out the packaged cookies and the snacking on sweets throughout the day, and still I was going over. I switched to only the smallest amount of honey in my tea and refused candy when it was offered to me, and most days I still couldn't make it.

Image courtesy of Olsonnd

Because every little bit adds up quickly, I took stock of what I eat on a daily basis that has added sugar and tried to find alternatives. However, I am not substituting cane sugar for a heavily processed, chemical alternative. Instead I am looking for less processed, less sugar options.

But so far I haven’t been too successful at finding good substitutes. I drink soymilk before workouts and some mornings with breakfast, so I bought unsweetened soymilk. It made complete sense at the time, but trying to drink it was pure torture (my roommates got a good laugh at my face every time I tried to choke it down). I thought I would get used to it, but after a half gallon of the stuff, I have to say it was a hopeless cause and I switched back to the sweetened soymilk.

I have also been searching for a soy yogurt alternative with less sugar. So it looks like it will have to be cow’s milk Greek yogurt or sticking to my heavily sweetened soy. I don’t particularly like the idea of eating more dairy products, and neither does my stomach. For now, the replacement is on hold. I am considering cutting out the soy yogurt entirely, but that would make my breakfasts really depressing and cut out my nutrient dense yogurt and granola.

But I am not completely failing. One of my best tricks so far is prunes. Every time I want something sweet after a meal or throughout the day I eat a few prunes. Even though it helps curb my sugar cravings and keep me on track, it’s still perpetuating the habit of eating something sweet after every meal and it will have to be cut back on soon too. I also indulge in some dark chocolate after dinner for a healthier sweet treat and I make sure I actually eat less than the serving size listed on the package not only make it last longer (and save me some money) but also to keep me from going over my sugar limit. But by far my best dessert was raspberries with a little jam, delicious.

I’m still not quite at 33 grams, but I have significantly reduced my added sugar intake. I was averaging 50 to 60 grams before I started and now I’m down to about 40 grams or less. I used to pass 33 after lunch, but now I make it until after dinner before I tip the scale a little too far. And once all of the items with added are out of my pantry, my daily intake will drop even more. 

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