If this post has reached your inbox, you have embarked on a challenge to remove sugar and alcohol from your diet for 30 days. I'd like to preface this challenge first by stating up front that I do not expect this change to be sustainable in the long term. The intention of these next 30 days is to give enough time for you to take note of the role that sugar & alcohol my play in your life. Also, to give you a chance to experience what your body feels like without these substances.
In nature, table sugar is hard to come by, which is why our brains get so excited when we taste it! As you may know, in our current western diet, sugars are added into so many of our foods, even things we consider healthy.
We all know that added sugars aren't exactly good for us. Sugar is not a required nutrient in our diet. We get plenty of carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and dairy products. Diets higher in sugar are correlated with all kinds of disease, from tooth decay to diabetes. Something that you may not have realized is that too much sugar creates an imbalance in our gut microbiome with certain bacteria and yeasts beginning to overwhelm the system. This creates imbalances in the gut, which can affect the way we think, our inflammation levels and immune systems, and the way we digest food. Added sugars and alcohol are also really hard on our livers and can create fatty deposits and sluggishness in the liver, which is the organ responsible for detoxing your body. If you are unable to detox you get buildup of toxins which can also be inflammatory and be damaging to all of your organs as they continue to circulate through the blood.
At this point you may be thinking you don't really have a problem with sugar. You tend to avoid soda and cakes and maybe you're even better than me and rarely drink alcoholic beverages. But as you take this challenge I'm willing to bet you will be surprised at the sneaky places sugar hides.
Here are some of the common, less obvious places where there are a ton of added sugars:
"Fat free" foods
This first week of the challenge let's all start by diligently reading the labels on the food we are consuming. It may also be unwise to eat out at restaurants, since sugar can be in things that don't seem sweet like many soups, breads, sauces etc. And pretty please, don't just start substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar- they have their own slew of issues that I'll go into in more detail in another post.
Things to look out for on food labels:
fruit juice concentrates
high-fructose corn syrup
syrup sugar molecules ending in "ose" (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
Here are some simple substitutions to get you started on the right foot.
If you usually have Yogurt and Granola with fruit..... then instead try Good Culture Cottage Cheese with Nuts and fruit.
If you usually have a salad with a store bought dressing... make instead a delicious dressing with oil, red wine vinegar, salt and herbs.
If you usually like a sandwich... Add some chicken to the above salad.
If you usually eat out for dinner... cook instead one of these sugar free recipes!
If you like a glass of wine after dinner... drink a cup of tea.
I am so grateful to you for embarking on this journey with me. It will be much easier knowing that I have some folks to hold me accountable, especially when that Easter candy is being passed around. But when I think about this as an opportunity to get to understand my body a bit better and to reflect on habits I may not have realized I was creating, I feel excited to accept this challenge and I hope you do too!