Last week, I wrote about how Jason and I had decided to give up sugar for Lent. I got tons of encouragement, and a few great tips. Thanks, Everyone! I also realized something interesting this past week.
We don’t eat much sugar anymore.
Giving up sugar hasn’t been very difficult. It hasn’t changed most of our eating patterns. It hasn’t felt like a sacrifice. There are times when it has been frustrating or annoying, but it hasn’t been hard or sacrificial. When I say it’s been frustrating or annoying, I am thinking about trying to cook black bean enchiladas. Did you know that most salsas have sugar in them? Did you know that tomato sauce has sugar in it? Some store bought breadcrumbs have HCFS in them. (I’ve been making my own since I read this blog post just after it was first written.) So, most of the time this week the choice for us to eliminate sugar from our diets has been about “catching” it in foods here and there.
Honestly, I was pretty surprised how little added sugar we eat. When I hear about all the sugar that is in our diets these days, I thought eliminating sugar would be a no brainer. I’m still glad that we gave up something for Lent. I still think that sugar is something that we can do without in our diets. I did think though that I would be doing more giving up vs. substituting. Right now, I’m just looking for a salsa without sugar or using tomato paste and water instead of tomato sauce. It’s not what I expected.
Last week, someone had asked for tips or suggestions. I’m not sure I have many since the low amount of sugar in my diet has come as a surprise to me instead of a conscious choice, but here’s what I have so far.
1. Use fruit to sweeten things you would otherwise sweeten with sugar. If you are having oatmeal, throw a banana in with the oats while they are cooking. It will break down and sweeten every bite. If you are eating plain yogurt, try peaches, pineapple, or banana slices.
2. Use natural sweeteners in moderation. Honey is great for sweetening up a smoothie. Mixing in 1/2 tsp. of maple syrup with some plain yogurt will take the sour bite out of it.
3. Not everything needs to be sweet. Try eating savory oatmeal. Add cucumbers to cottage cheese.
4. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and enough liquids. A book I read a few years ago talked about people who are chronically tired mistaking the feeling of tiredness (or thirst) for hunger. I know that sounds a little insulting. I know what hunger feels like, right? Yes and no. I do know what it feels like to be hungry, but when I’m tired or thirsty, I will sometimes choose to eat to try to satiate that feeling instead of doing what my body is really asking me to do either by drinking some water or going to bed.
5. Stock your fridge with fruit and vegetables. Make fruits and vegetables your snacks, side dishes, and impulse eats. If those are your choices, you’ll be doing far less mindless eating with a bag of broccoli than you will with a box of cookies.
Have a great week, Everyone!