No Sugar Challenge: Week 1 Recap + What I've Learned

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Before I left for my roadtrip, I had downloaded a few documentaries and TV shows in case I got bored. I didn’t get to touch any of it until the last day, when we drove all the way home from Blue River, B.C. One documentary, “Fat, Sick, and nearly Dead”, caught my eye. The narrator, Joe Cross, went on a 60-day juice diet in hopes of losing weight and getting off his many medication. Personally, I think 60 days on a juice-only diet is excessive, but what stuck with me was the overall intention of the film, which is to encourage viewers to take their diets in their own hands and eat better, whole, real food. Now that’s something I can get behind.

I wouldn’t say my diet is horrible, but there definitely is room for improvement. Anyone who’s spent 5 seconds with me knows that I LIVE for food, healthy and unhealthy. I’m also a food monster; it seems like I’m always hungry, and I have a second stomach for dessert and a third stomach for snacks. While it hurt my body internally (acid reflux and IBS ugh), it never used to outwardly impact my physical body until recently, in the last year and a half or so, when I entered the work force full time. Turns out, sitting all day every day and inhaling poutine is a bad combination on one’s waistline. Oops.

I decided to go on a No Sugar 30 day Challenge, as well as generally just eat healthier. To clarify, by no sugar, I’m referring to added sugar. So basically, chocolate bars are out, and apples are in… or so I thought!

As I'm generally a chatty person, this is going to be a text heavy blog post, so I'm segmenting my blah blah with some pretty photos of me at a cafe eating cake and drinking latte. Two things I wasn't able to do all. Month. Long. 

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At first, I didn't think this No Sugar challenge was going to be difficult. I mean, all I have to do is cook my own meals to ensure there's no added sugar right? Bolu and I used to cook all the time. I figured I could get back into it no problem. I usually forget about snacks and chocolate bars if I don't have them in the home, so as long as I keep it out of the house, it should be a cinch.

 

Welp, was I ever wrong.

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Day 1 started off easy as I had the day off. I made myself a smoothie, patted myself on the back, and started meal planning. Three hours later, I emerged from the internet world shell shocked. Every bloody thing that I love to eat has added sugar! Pasta! Hoisin Sauce! Even freaking Sriracha. Let’s not even bring up ketchup (are tomatoes even in it?!!).

What I learned: This is how you read the nutrition label on food packaging. Go straight to the ingredient list and look for sugar, fructose syrup…etc.

Oh, and I had to cheat immediately. I got all the items for my red curry fish recipe, only to find that the only red curry paste stocked at my grocery store has sugar. I’m exhausted. I’m taking that 1 gram of sugar.

On Day 2, I went back to work, and within minutes, I walked past a giant billboard for Dominos Pizza. Tantalizing cheese and grease beckoned at me, screaming "only 11.99 for a large 4 topping pizza!" On any given day, I would walk past the billboard without a second glance. The information would be passively stored away in my mind until I get hungry, and then reach the phone to order a pizza. However, now that I'm actively eliminating sugar from my diet and eating healthy, I was salivating. No pizza for me though, I brought some healthy curry I made last night for lunch. I can do this.

What I learned: Every day, we make roughly 200 decisions concerning food. If you think eating healthy is hard, that’s because it is, and these food advertisements are making it worse.

On Day 3, I got cocky. I know, I know, it’s only day 3… But I was feeling good! I made healthy chicken enchiladas (I added shredded chicken to this Oh She Glows Enchilada recipe) the night before for dinner with my best friend Helen, and I’ve got it packed for lunch. It’s colourful and delicious, and so freaking easy.

What I learned: Cooking can be so much fun, especially with a friend around!

Day 4 was uneventful. Work was being annoying, and I was a little crabby. My coworkers attributed to sugar withdraw. What do they know, right? They don’t even think I can last the full 30 days!

What I learned: Proving others wrong, while pointless, is a great motivator.

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On Day 5, I realized they were right. The sugar withdraw is hitting hard. I can’t concentrate at work because every other thought is consumed by food. I’d be editing IT documents one second, and fantasizing about the satisfying crunch of deep fried chicken, the gooey shine of melted cheese, and potato chips. Oh baby, the potato chips. It doesn’t help that my coworkers were waving around the latest chip flavour in my face. I got some sushi to appease my sad (and healthy) stomach.

What I learned: Being cocky 3 days into a challenge is just plain stupid. Don’t do it. 

I cheated on Day 6. For lunch, we ended up in Richmond and spent so long in Daiso that we rolled into my favourite Chef Huang Noodles for some noodles and salt and pepper chicken. Yes, the noodle soup had added sugar. Yes, the chicken was fried. And yes, it was delicious.

What I learned: I never thought I was that attached to sugar. Compared to some guys from work that guzzle diet coke daily, I thought I was doing okay, but nope. Nope. Nope.

Day 7 was much better. I made some avocado toast and more smoothies. I even started meditating on Headspace!

What I learned: This week's rollercoaster of emotions and food cravings proves that it is never "just about food and making 'good' choices". How we eat is tied to how we feel, and it's so much harder to say no to pizza and cakes when we're stressed or tired. Note to self: try to be kinder to myself, my body, and everyone around me. 

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Gimme some sugar

Top: Aritzia, Jeans: Levi, Slides: Dolce Vita

That's it for week 1 of the sugar-free challenge! Check back next week for week 2's recap. :) 

Have you ever gone on a sugar-free challenge? How do you feel about all these documentaries about health and sugar on Netflix? I'd love to hear your opinions because I'm totally addicted to watching them and researching about healthy eating in general. 

Let me know below!

Till next time,

~Nancy