I was part of a 3-day sugar-free challenge a couple weeks ago where we not only went sugar free, but sweetener free. This meant no honey, maple syrup, agave, artificial sweeteners, etc. Going sugar free wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Although, I sure missed sugar in my coffee and honey in my morning berries and yogurt.
A friend recommended a while ago sprinkling cinnamon in my coffee instead of sugar, so I tried it. Not bad. I love cinnamon. I added unsweetened shredded coconut to my plain Greek yogurt and berries that I ate for breakfast. Not bad either, but the yogurt was store-bought which is too tart for me (I prefer to make my own yogurt which is less tart), so my mouth puckered a little while trying to eat it! Unsweetened coconut doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor. At least, not to me. Even the sweet berries didn’t do much to sweeten the yogurt enough for me. Do my taste buds really need so much sweetener?
During the challenge, I read ingredient lists on labels. It’s shocking how many packed foods have added sugar: at least 74%! Sugar is added to foods like salad dressing, pasta sauce, cereal, flavored yogurt, and bread. Sugar is even added to foods that are advertised as “healthy” and “organic.” During the challenge, I pulled a box of organic crackers out of my cabinet that I’d recently bought. They had added sugar. And of course the dried pineapple and cranberries I like so much have added sugar as well.
Manufacturers are sneaky. Sugar has at least 61 different names, like sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, and rice syrup. You won’t always just see the word “sugar” on the label.
By July 2018, manufacturers will have to separate out the amount of added sugar from the amount of naturally occurring sugar on packaged food labels. In the meantime, read the list of ingredients to see if sugar is listed.
After the 3-day sugar-free challenge was over, I went back to adding sugar (and cinnamon) to my coffee and honey to my plain Greek yogurt, but not as much. It’s amazing that after those three days, adding the full amount of sweetener was too sweet!
I don’t think I’ll ever eliminate all processed/packaged foods from my diet, like pasta and crackers (Yum!), but I’ve cut way down. Now I’m addicted to fruit, because guess what? It’s sweet!