take it away…sugar (and a dairy recap)

February 7th, 2013
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So I did it! A whole month without dairy (well, there was one slip – at the airport coming back from Alt, my “custom” burger order came with cheese – yes, I ate it anyway……).

And, like most experiments, it had a completely different outcome than the one I was expecting.

Let’s start with my skin – which is, for the most part, good. But about 10 days into the month, I noticed a dramatic difference. There was a clarity, a smoothness, that was definitely not there before. Old sun damage was markedly faded (or gone completely).

Now Mara said this would happen but I was still shocked:  a) I wasn’t looking to improve my skin, and b) I didn’t think I ate enough dairy to make that kind of a difference.

I also noticed that the persistent little “pooch” around my stomach – which I chalked up to age and three kids – was gone. Completely. Again, I was not looking to lose weight with this experiment – I exercise regularly, and though my Instagram feed would beg to differ I really do watch what I eat. There was not only a visible difference, I actually felt somehow “lighter” – I suppose, from the lack of bloat. Pretty cool.

Finally, there was a definite change in my eating and hunger patterns. I found that I was more persistently hungry pretty much all day, but was eating much less at each meal. Where before I could often be a “bottomless pit” where certain snacks were concerned, I was filling fuller on smaller portions.

What I DIDN’T notice was a change to my well-being (which is why I started this to begin with). I didn’t feel worse but I definitely did not see a change to my energy level or overall health.

So what to do now? My “plan” was to resume my dairy-consuming habits in February, as I eliminated sugar from my diet. But I’m one week into the month and, frankly, I’m a little scared to go back. So, for now, I’m going to mostly maintain, with exceptions when the occasion arises.

I’ll continue putting almond milk in my iced coffee, and using honey and jam on my English muffin. And I’ll be avoiding cheese way more than I used to. It’s weird, but not once did I crave dairy in any form during the month – which, I suppose, proves that there are indeed “trigger” foods.

Speaking of which:

sugar

image courtesy of mindbodygreen.com

Oy. This one’s rough (I have a MAJOR sweet tooth). For example –  how did I want to define a “sugar-free” month? Were “natural” sweeteners okay (and what did that mean, anyway)? And how about artificial sweeteners? Could I still put Equal in my tea? Drink Diet Coke?

I did some reading up and learned a few things – the most compelling of which is that, as far as your body is concerned, sugar is sugar is sugar. So whether it’s white sugar, maple syrup or evaporated cane juice, you’re processing it all pretty much the same way.

So are there any benefits to using “natural” sweeteners? I came across this article, which helped clarify the differences and led me to decide that I would limit myself to natural sweeteners, used sparingly. For me, that will include maple syrup, evaporated cane juice and honey.

I could REALLY use your tips here, lovely readers. Are any of you sugar-free? How do you define that? And what are your favorite recipes? Share them with us here!

 

16 Responses to “take it away…sugar (and a dairy recap)”

  • You had me with the dairy-free at “pooch”. I’m thinking about doing it….

    Not sure if I could do the sugar-free. But I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it!!

  • I wish I was not having dairy cravings, ha. I had a wee little bit of it and then Bo erupted in diaper rash. I mean a tiny amount, so we’re waiting another month before we try again. *sigh*

  • All I know from my experience is the less I eat sugar the less I crave it. Best of luck. You are having some great food adventures! Also soy milk mixes better into coffee (especially hot coffee) than the other alternative milks.

  • Well, I’ve been doing a ‘paleo’ thing now for a while, and I didn’t have those results from removing dairy, so that’s interesting. I removed dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, and processed foods. That leaves a surprising amount of food I like, believe it or not, and I can actually manage to put on weight eating this way if I’m not careful. I find it does help eliminate my otherwise frequent headaches, though, so it’s worth the trouble.

    Other than fruit I pretty much just cut out all sweets. No honey, etc. I miss chocolate, but it’s not as hard as you’d think. The problem comes with being in a house with kids who like to bake cookies, etc., and not trying any of them. But the interesting thing about going off sugar is that you start to notice the sweetness in things you never noticed before. Like nuts are sweet in a way I didn’t used to appreciate. And after a bit, certain sweets are almost too much. A grape or a strawberry can be almost painfully sweet to me now.

    • sherisilver says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this. I hear this quite a bit – and as someone who “must” have something sweet (however small) after a meal it will be interesting to see if those cravings go away. I’ve been curious about the Paleo thing – I hear very mixed opinions about it…..

  • I dropped sugar last summer for a few months and am going to do it again. What I like about it is that it also limits processed foods/fats by happenstance.

    I felt great after a couple of days – but like Korinthia, it’s a little trickier when you have kids at home for whom you pack lunches and snacks.

  • I have a major sweet tooth and have eliminated refined sugar by substituting more natural sweeteners like agave and honey. I found this blog with amazing receipes that does just this, you may find helpful. I’ll be trying the vanilla rooibos fig newtons very soon!

    http://mynewroots.org/site/2012/10/vanilla-rooibos-fig-newtons/

    xo, Robin

  • Agave is great, a way to get some of the sweet without as much of the ‘sugar hangover’ symptoms. It’s a lower glycemic sweetener, and natural. It has been a great easy change for me. (Also much much better than simple syrup in cocktails! ;). )

  • I am going through the exact same experiment and am a week into it. My cravings have definitely subsided but I’m still feeling poochy. I’ll keep you posted and am hoping for the best. Did you also give up alcohol? Hmmm….

    • sherisilver says:

      It took almost 3 weeks to REALLY see a difference for me – hopefully same for you! And no, I did not give up alcohol 😉

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