I Ate No Added Sugar For a Week & This is What Happened

I know for a fact that I consume WAY too much sugar voluntarily, something a lot of us are probably guilty of. I work at a coffee shop where lattes are constantly throwing themselves at me, and as a college student, what better incentive to come to a club meeting are free donuts or cookies? I am in no way an unhealthy person, in fact I just finished my journey doing hot yoga for 30 days straight. I know however, that just exercising does not make a person healthy. Good health is just as much in eating a balanced diet as in physical exercise. All of this led me to decide to do an unnatural sugar detox for a week.

With my love of ice cream and chocolate I knew that the week was going to be a challenge, and there was a possibility of having some slip-ups along the way. I also know that as a person who likes to challenge myself I believed that I had enough discipline, and that this was going to be a fun experience. I am a disordered eater and one of the goals of this project was to make me think about how I can be more conscious of what I’m eating, in a constructive and healthy way.

It was not that I was trying have the unrealistic goal of eating absolutely no sugar for an entire week, because hidden sugar is everywhere from pasta sauce to protein bars. My goal was to find foods that use sugar for adding moderate flavor: such as in the pasta sauce, but not the cookies. With my disordered eating past, I just didn't want to get too obsessive, but I did want to be more conscious.

Lesson 1: Meal prep

In order to eat like this, one must well prepare for the week ahead. I went to the grocery store and bought ingredients for a week of clean eating, which included carbohydrate items like oats, whole wheat pasta, tortillas, grape nuts and sweet potatoes. I bought veggies like carrots, peppers, onions, zucchini, squash and tomatoes. I adore fruit so I bought a lot of it, such as strawberries, pineapple, apples, bananas, and grapes. Lean meats included chicken and ground turkey.

Protein bars are my favorite. Seriously, sometimes they’ll be a meal substitute for me. I know that’s not healthy as are the unrecognizable ingredients that comes in them (maltitol? what even IS that?). So I made my own protein balls from scratch that could act as a yummy snack for me in between meals!

I also love muffins and found this great recipe for banana greek yogurt muffins, made with mostly natural sugar from fruit and honey.

Day 1: 5/1/17

Breakfast: Grape nuts with natural peanut butter, oatmeal, and half a banana

Lunch: Flatbread pizza with veggies and chicken

Snack: Home made Greek yogurt muffins and a black coffee

Dinner: Carrots and baked chicken with sweet potato fries

Dessert: Strawberries

Day 2: 5/2/17

Breakfast: Grape nuts with natural peanut butter, oatmeal, and half a banana

Midmorning snack: Black coffee and greek yogurt muffin

Lunch: Pita bread and veggies with grilled chicken

Snack: Other half of apple, granola bar

Dinner: Whole wheat tortilla with red peppers, chicken, spinach, sweet potato

Day 3 5/3/17

Breakfast: Grape nuts with oatmeal, natural peanut butter and half a banana

Snack: Power bites

Late Lunch / Early Dinner: Veggie mac n cheese made with whole wheat pasta, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, almond milk and (of course) cheese

Post-dinner late night snack: Carrots and Greek Yogurt muffin

Day 4: 5/4/17

Breakfast: Grape nuts with natural peanut butter, oatmeal, and half a banana

Snack: Greek Yogurt muffin and power bite

Lunch: Left over veggie mac n cheese

Dinner: Protein Waffles  

Today, I had a consultation with a Peer Health Educator at Cal Poly on the Health Enrichment Action team. She took a scan of my body and its weight, BMI, percentage of body fat, body fat mass, body muscle mass, and more. At the end of the meeting we decided that the goal is that I am looking to maintain, not lose or gain muscle mass or weight. When I’m looking for changes in my body, I should pay attention to my body in terms of change of muscle and fat mass.

My counselor told me to be balanced with my diet in terms of variety in food. She said I can’t limit myself to just eating two types of food (previously coffee and peanut butter). She said to experiment with what I like and what I don’t like, because this is how I will get all of my vitamins and nutrients.

Day 5: 5/5/17

Breakfast: Banana Pancakes  

Snack: Power bites

Lunch/early dinner: Tacos! (Happy Cinco de Mayo!)

Day 6: 5/6/17

Breakfast: Grape nuts with natural peanut butter, oatmeal, and half a banana

Snack: Power bites

Lunch/early dinner: Club sandwich with turkey, avocado, provolone, lettuce, pickles, and mayo

Dessert: Frozen fruit

Today I was reeeeeally craving dessert. I wanted something with sugar. I wanted ice cream. I wanted chocolate. So I went to the store and bought a bag of frozen mangos, and man were they delicious. I adore mangos, and so they made the perfect treat when I was craving sweets.

Day 7: 5/7/17

Breakfast: The usual

Snack: Powerbite 

Lunch/early dinner: Zucchini pasta and meatballs

Time management has been a big lesson for me this week, because preparing the different meals took so long. I had fun and learned a lot about eating healthy and making my own meals, but ultimately I think it’s unrealistic for most people to be able to eat so strictly on a consistent basis. I’m going to make a goal to eat a healthy and balanced diet but I'm not going to cut out any food groups or completely restrict myself from any particular foods. 

We’re so lucky to have the kinds of resources that we have for our nutritional needs, such as being able to visit the grocery store and get what we need to make a healthy dinner essentially in minutes. This week has definitely been a journey. I’m going to use everything I’ve learned for the future of my well being, and I hope that these lessons impact others as well.