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I Quit Sugar: Week 4

Week four is over. This is basically how I feel:

Preach it, Harry.

Preach it, Harry. P.S. Let’s be no-sugar buddies.

Life without sugar is making me vocally grumpy, and even though I know what I’m doing is for the best, I just want some ice cream, man! And that doughnut on the office table. And the whole bag of brown sugar I hid in the back of my pantry. Sarah Wilson, author of “I Quit Sugar,” said this would happen. It may be the hardest part of all this.

Explaining why I’m doing this is getting easier. Those closest to me are beginning to understand this is not just breaking the physical addiction to sugar (grab and eat whatever is in sight) but also the mental dependence (see above thoughts on ice cream, doughnut, brown sugar).

The best new snack I made this week is homemade peanut butter. Here’s how it works:

  • Dump a bunch o’ unsalted roasted peanuts in your food processor.
  • Grind ’em up until smooth. Or chunky. I don’t like chunky PB.

That’s it. You don’t even have to add oil because the peanut oil seeps out of the nuts when ground. Amazing. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Next time I make it I’m going to add some cinnamon to make it more dessert-like!

What's a pea nut? These gents at the1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held in Seattle, Wash., were trying to sell them.

What’s a pea nut? These gents at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held in Seattle, Wash., were trying to sell them.

I’m back on yoga track. I forgot how calming it is. I practice my breathing technique while lying in bed at night. It helps me fall asleep.

I certainly had food trials in week four:

  • Each day is still a test. When I’m not thinking of other things, I’m thinking of sugar. I forget how it tastes, but my brain thinks I need it. No, brain, you’re wrong.
  • Eating out. Lucky for me I can’t afford to eat out but maybe once a month, and I much prefer learning a new recipe and having lots of leftovers. But the roommate and I had a tea party at The Crumpet in Rogers, thanks to the awesome J who passed along her soon-to-expire Living Social daily deal. We had a lovely pot of Londonderry tea, and I resisted the amazing orange rolls. I opted for a turkey and Swiss sandwich on rye (there were a few slices of tomato … and I ate them), which came with a good, dark green salad. I didn’t know the sugar content of the dressing, but it was a feta vinaigrette. It was good, but I’m going to take a gander and say it was sugar-filled. Ah well, I can’t do anything about it now.

No new side-effects have appeared this week. I actually feel pretty good, considering I’m detoxing. I have been taking baths each weekend in my small apartment tub.

The New York Tribune page from Dec. 17, 1905 advertises the benefits of a public bath. It does not look like fun to me. I'll take my tiny tub any day.

This New York Tribune page from Dec. 17, 1905 advertises the benefits of a public bath. It does not look like fun to me. I’ll take my tiny tub any day.

I haven’t noticed any new positive changes, but I am still impressed that I eat less and feel more full. My wallet thanks me.

Week five! Hooray, I made it past the halfway point! I’m thinking a giveaway should be in the near future. Vote below and let me know what you think!

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I Quit Sugar: Week 3

Week three brought about the banning of all things sugar: Fruit, fruit juice, veggies high in sugar, tomato anything, honey, candy, soda … all of it. I’m not even allowing sugar substitutes such as stevia. I have to break myself of the entire taste of sweet, at least this week and next, but I do have some Truvia waiting patiently in my pantry for later in my journey.

If I were a canner, I could can all the fruit I want, like this woman in 1946. I just can't eat it in the next few weeks.

If I were a canner, I could can all the fruit I want, like this woman in 1946 who’s showing off her extensive fruit and veggie collection. I just can’t eat the goods while I’m breaking the sugar habit! I did, however, freeze eggplant from a super nice co-worker for future cooking.

Time for a reality check, folks. Our bodies are made to safely take in 6 grams of fructose a day. Four grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar = 1 sugar cube. Oh my gosh, that’s not very much!

So what the heck do I actually eat? Spinach is a main staple at dinnertime, and I have discovered Mediterranean food is extremely low in sugar! For the first time ever I made falafel’s from scratch. They were so easy! I cooked mine in coconut oil. I also paired them with a great tahini dressing and goat cheese.

Goats do a lot more than just make us delicious cheese. They also provide ecofriendly transportation for small children circa 1915.

Goats do a lot more than just make us delicious cheese. They also provide ecofriendly transportation for small Australian children circa 1915.

I kept snacking on my usual (spicy pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut flakes, almonds). The almonds were getting kind of old, so I learned how to make them more delicious: activate the nuts!

Here’s how you activate nuts , according to Sarah Wilson, author of “I Quit Sugar,” and modified by me, a successful nut activator:

  • Soak overnight a lot o’ almonds in water and 1 teaspoon of celtic sea salt.
  • The next day, cover a cookie tray with the almonds. It’s OK if there is overlapping happening.
  • Stick them in the oven on the lowest setting for about 12 hours. Yes, it’s a long time, but the good news is you can freeze a large batch and not do this too often.
  • After 12 hours the nuts are perfectly crunchy and delicious and easier to digest, thanks to the soaking at the start, which is the step that actually activates the enzymes!

I have failed in my yogaventures this week, which is bad because I can feel my body getting out of whack. I have to get back on track today, no excuses.

I may have missed a few days of yoga, but I think I do this pose better than Billy Sunday, a baseball player in the 1880s who later became a famous American evangelist. I never do yoga in a suit, either. That's just silly.

I may have missed a few days of yoga, but I think I do this pose better than Billy Sunday, a baseball player in the 1880s who later became a famous American evangelist. I never do yoga in a suit, either. That’s just silly.

I had lots of food trials in week three:

  • Every single day. Seriously, my sugar cravings are bad, bad, bad. How do I cope? A cup of coffee or chai with almond milk. Activated almonds. Chia seed pudding. Hummus. A bit of cheese or lunch meat. Below are “The 9 Cs of goodness,” which Wilson offers as good substitutes for cravings.
  1. Cacao — Tastes like chocolate because it is the raw ingredient, cocoa.
  2. Chia — Seeds full of healthful benefits, just make sure you add them to a liquid (water, milk, egg, smoothie) so you can easily digest them.
  3. Chai — Delicious tea bags or from your own stock of ingredients, and not the sugary concentrate from Starbucks. I love Yogi’s Chai Rooibos. It’s caffeine free, which means I can drink it later in my newspaper shift and not be up all night long!
  4. Cheese — So satisfying. I enjoy perusing the specialty section at the grocery store.
  5. Cinnamon — I add this to a lot of things since it helps with anti-inflammation!
  6. Coconut water — I tried this for the first time this week. It was weird, but it was also out a can. I think I’ll spring for the kind in a paper box since my real problem was the taste of metal.
  7. Chicken — I live next door to the land of Tyson, so this is easy. I’m too cheap to buy the organic meat at this time.
  8. Coffee — I’m addicted.
  9. Coconut oil — Good for cooking or adding to dishes. I add a spoonful to oatmeal.
You don't have to dress like a chicken to eat one. Did nobody tell these folks? They are wearing these ridonkulous costumes for Mardi Gras in The Netherlands, 1911.

You don’t have to dress like a chicken to eat one. Did nobody tell these folks? They are wearing these ridonkulous costumes for Mardi Gras in The Netherlands, 1911. Naturally.

No new side-effects have occurred this week. I haven’t had any headaches, but am still lightheaded when I haven’t had a munchy in a few hours.

Changes I’ve noticed:

  • Weight loss. While I do not own a scale, I can tell my jeans are looser in my thighs, where I hold most of my extra poundage.
  • Focused. More so than usual, that is!

OK, week four, you’re the halfway point. Let’s get there!

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I Quit Sugar: Week 2

Week two was all about adding good fat and protein to my diet and continuing to cut back on fructose in preparation for week three’s big ban.

Fat and grease were collected during World War II, then made into gunpowder. I spent the week searching for (good) fat to eat, while in 1942 these kids in Roanoke, Va., spent their time waiting in line to donate cooking fat.

Fat and grease were collected during World War II,
then made into gunpowder. I spent the week searching for (good) fat
to eat, while in 1942 these kids in Roanoke, Va., spent their time
waiting in line to donate cooking fat.

Why the fat-protein combo? Sarah Wilson explains in “I Quit Sugar” that fat and protein fill us up, unlike sugar. There is no off button in our brains for sugar, a habit developed back when the cavemen were around. They would chow down on a berry plant when they were lucky enough to find one. Their bodies stored the precious fruit’s sugar as fat. That’s just how our bodies work, and unfortunately nothing has changed since the days of painting stories on cave walls.

Wilson’s point is this: Fat doesn’t make us fat; sugar does. We overeat sugar, the fructose turns to fatty acids, and then it becomes body fat. We don’t gorge on fat, so we can’t overeat so long as we listen to our bodies.

I continued to snack on spicy pumpkin seeds and cacao nibs, along with almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes. Avocados are full of healthy fat and I just love them, so I made sure I ate a few this week. I switched from whole wheat bread to rye, which has no sugar. It was a bit hard to get used to the flavor, but now my taste buds really like it! I also gobble down about two eggs a day. My roomie even had some troubles hard boiling eggs for deviled eggs so I took the rejects!

It may look like these girls are participating in a sort of field day in 1952, but they are really rushing to deliver my daily intake of delicious eggs.

It may look like these girls are participating in a
sort of field day in 1952, but they are really rushing
to deliver my daily intake of delicious eggs.

Instead of my usual soy milk I tried coconut milk (I even had a coupon!). I’m almost done drinking it because it’s so delicious! When the coconut variety is gulped gone, I have a carton of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, which seems to have the lowest sugar content of the three milks. Wilson says in her book we want to find milk (that is the dairy kind) with less than 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres (or 100 grams). The first 4.7 grams are lactose, which is OK. Any sugar beyond that is added to the product. Wilson doesn’t talk about what amount of sugar is acceptable in lactose-free milks, but she mentions coconut and almond milk as good items to consume. I haven’t been a dairy milk drinker for years, so now I’m transitioning from soy.

These two Hawaiian tourists from 1933 enjoy drinking coconut milk as much as I do. I'm not sure why the lady on the right decided to try the walrus technique but I commend her for it.

These two Hawaiian tourists from 1933 enjoy drinking coconut milk
as much as I do. I’m not sure why the lady on the right decided to
try the walrus technique but I commend her for it.

I missed one day of yoga again this week because I was out of my usual routine working an earlier shift Tuesday. It honestly just slipped my mind! That happens when I am home on a weeknight and my roommate and I start watching YouTube videos.

I had a major food trial for week two:

  • The Fourth of July. There was so much food! See the roommate’s post about the party we attended. Photos are included of all the delicious dishes (including her deviled eggs). I allowed myself four strawberries covered in white almond bark and blue sugar sprinkles. I had been looking forward to them for months! Other than those, I stuck to what I knew was low in sugar, thanks to my research up to this point. I just said “No” to alcohol and drank water flavored with lemon, limes and cucumbers, which I brought and everyone seemed to love — we refilled the container about five times!
These kindergartners dressed up for the holiday in 1932.  I wish I had had one of those dresses for the party I attended!  Those two girls and guys who were forced to hold hands  aren't pleased about the situation.

These kindergartners dressed up for the holiday in 1932.
I wish I had had one of those dresses for the party I attended!
Those two girls and guys who were forced to hold hands
aren’t pleased about the situation.

Side-effects I’ve noticed:

  • A couple of days of headaches. I’ve had about two days where my head hurts from the detoxing. Nothing a bunch of water and a Tylenol won’t cure.
  • Lightheadedness. If I haven’t eaten in a while, I feel drained. I remedy this with some almonds, a cup of tea, or sliced chicken and cheese. Wilson actually encourages us to snack on good foods more often in week two to help curb the inevitable sugar cravings.

Changes I’ve noticed:

  • Only bloated after sugar consumption. Those four strawberries did it. And all the water I drank on the Fourth.
  • Sleeping so well!
  • Clearer skin. I have had far less breakouts than ever, and when I do get one, it clears up faster.
  • I eat less. Seriously! My portions are smaller at meal time and I can tell when I am full, which keeps me from overeating.

Bring on week three!

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I Quit Sugar: Week 1

Folks drinking tea in a tree house

These folks enjoy a nice cup of tea in a tree house.
I get to drink lots of tea, just hold the sugar!

I survived! OK, there never was a doubt I wouldn’t. But I already can tell the effects of the changes I’ve made.

In week one, Sarah Wilson, author of “I Quit Sugar,” suggests you start to cut back. Don’t completely ban sugar in the first week. It’s too much pressure and you only want to eat more!

This week I took the time to really read labels, looking for those hidden sugars in the ingredients. Sugar is everywhere! I also tried new foods: kale, green peppers as a snack, spicy pumpkin seeds and cacao nibs from Ozark Natural Foods.

Two men standing in a large kale field or patch near Hillsboro, Oregon, in 1910.

Two men stand in a large kale field or patch near Hillsboro in Oregon. I bet my farmers market kale tastes just as good as these leafy greens from 1910.

I stopped eating desserts (save for one piece of key lime pie at the end of the week), haven’t had a piece of candy or chocolate in a week, cleaned out my house of tempting snacks, and gave the goods to my co-workers.

Another thing I committed to this week was to do yoga for at least 10 minutes every day. I missed one day so I’m going to give myself a B+ on exercise.

I had two food trials for week one:

  • A baby shower. I was gorging on carrots when a pal pointed out carrots have tons of sugar. I had no idea! I switched to the hummus and Triscuits, and steered clear of the pretty, pudding-filled cupcakes.
  • A minor league baseball game.The game was surprisingly more tempting than the shower where all the food was right in front of me and free. At the game it was all about the smells. And the snow cone the roommate bought. And the lady in front of me eating cotton candy. Pure sugar! The fact I would have had to buy those sticky sweet treats probably kept me from splurging. My pumpkin seeds in my bag were helpful, too.
Kid with cotton candy

This kid can’t wait for Mom to finish taking the picture so he can gobble down his cotton candy.

Changes I’ve noticed:

  • No longer bloated. I put on a pair of jeans straight out of the dryer and I didn’t have to suck anything in!
  • Sleeping better. It might be the yoga about an hour before bed or the cutting back on sugar, but I fall asleep faster. I also don’t wake up multiple times during the night.

On to week two!

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