Sugar. We hate to love it. It makes all the things that we love taste so good, but the affect that it can have on our health isn’t so sweet. Sugar that naturally occurs in whole foods isn’t the problem, it’s the added sugar that is in most processed foods that can wreak havoc on our health. According to Harvard Health, eating added sugars can contribute to weight gain, increase chronic inflammation and raise blood pressure, all putting an individual at risk of heart disease. With all of these scary truths ringing in our heads, we decided as an office to kick added sugar to the curb for a week and try the no added sugar challenge! We knew it would be hard, but we were up for the challenge!
THE HARD PARTS
We realized early on that sugar is hiding in everything! Ketchup, Pringles, coffee creamer and even most breakfast sausages all have sneaky sugars hiding in the ingredients list. Half the battle is finding things to buy, besides whole foods, that don’t have added sugar in them. Thankfully, some of us were able to find healthier products that did not have added sugars, but they were almost always more expensive.
Also, we realized that sugar cravings are no joke! We started to have withdrawals by the second day, and you could hear screams of “I want chocolate” from every corner of the office. You don’t realize the affect that sugar has on your mood and energy level until you have to go without it. It was helpful for each of us to find foods that curbed our sugar cravings. We recommend apples, nuts, dried mango and even pickles to curb cravings!
WAS IT WORTH IT?
Yes! Overall, this experience was an eye-opener. Cutting out sugar makes you think about what you are putting into your body, and from now on, I think we will all be checking the labels of food just to see if there is added sugar. However, if you want this diet change to be sustainable, you have to have extreme discipline, great meal planning skills and an appetite for whole foods.
Will the office continue this no-sugar diet? Kinda… We all want to continue to eat healthier and stay away from added sugar, but we know that moderation is key!
HIDDEN NAMES FOR “SUGAR”
- Xanthan gum
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Corn sweeteners
- Anything ending in “ose” (dextrose, maltose, glucose, lactose, fructose, sucrose)
OUR STAFF’S EXPERIENCE
“I tried my best with what I had, but honestly what this week taught me was that everything has sugar in it. It forced me to really look at what was in my food and changed my perspective on basic foods.”
“The first day was VERY difficult. I felt sluggish even after my first cup of coffee because I usually have sugar in my creamer. By the end of the week, I learned how to replace the cravings with something crunchy, like an apple or pickles (it really works!)”
“I feel like it didn’t get easier going forward, especially during social events with people who are not on the no-sugar boat. Everything has sugar in it! I had to be super careful when checking meat specifically for added sugar.”
*Always consult a medical professional before making a change to your diet.