The (no) sugar diaries: Part 1

My mother reviews films, and she recently watched That Sugar Film. Afterwards, she rushed home to study all the products in the pantry to assess how bad the sugar situation in her home really was. During her childhood, low-fat was always good and too much fat was a bad thing. So you can understand the little bit of confusion or surprise that low-fat can actually be less healthy because of the added sugar to make it taste better after the tasty fat has been removed. So that low-fat, vanilla, sweetened yoghurt may not actually be the best option. This matches with my choice to go for low-fat PLAIN yoghurt and add honey instead. Yoghurt, however, is just one product.

After deciding to take a final stand against my extra weight and eat well and exercise more, and after all the sugar discoveries and discussions…I decided to do the no sugar, no bread 21 day challenge, an initiative created to challenge South Africans to eat less foods that spike blood sugar and insulin levels. I seldom eat bread anyway so that’s not a challenge, the sugar part is.

So, I have adapted it to what I think is possible (and still difficult) for me. It would be entirely impractical for me to avoid ALL foods that have added sugar. Firstly, I live in a house with 3 other girls and we share the cooking of dinners. I cannot ask them to use only sugar-free foods for supper. What about pasta sauce that goes into Abi’s yummy chicken curry pasta? What about Ju-ann’s lovely roast butternut with a hint sugar on top? (Rose, I can’t actually think of a meal you’ve made that may have sugar in it…) Secondly, if I cut sugar out completely, I might just have no money for next month (as some sugar free alternatives are rather pricey) and thirdly, sugar is an addiction, let me deal with it gently OK?

Therefore, the rules of my no sugar challenge are:

  1. The challenge began on Sunday 6 September and ends on Saturday 26 September (well technically I am allowed sugar again on the 27th)
  2. No ADDED sugar in foods: i.e. syrup with my microwaved banana will not do.
  3. No extra sugars in general: this is the difficult one…no chocolate, jelly tots (why the jelly tots? WHY?), or sweet treats overall (including Wakaberry which just opened in Grahamstown where I live)
  4. Remember number 2 above…you, Roxanne, are saving money in this way, by not buying BarOne or some ice-cream from Delizzia.
  5. Just because the challenge ends on 26 September, does not mean there is a ticket available to suddenly eat loads of sugar again, no. The point is to complete the 21 days and go forth into the world with the strength to make good life choices involving (or not involving) sugar.

It’s day 5 today and I have discovered that apples (the sweet ones) and honey are two of my best friends as of starting the challenge. Praise God for these beautiful creations.

Picture source:
Picture source:

Putting some honey on my yellow Black Cat peanut butter (no sugar and salt in this, so it’s just peanuts and stabilisers) which is spread on a rice cake feels like a treat. I think I had about three apples on Tuesday, because on Tuesday, I really wanted chocolate or some Squillo’s (chocolate milk that I discovered in the holidays while staying with my aunt and uncle) ALL day. Apples have natural sugars in them, so I (sort of) got my sugar fix, but avoided the refined and fatty sugary stuff.

I am surprised that I have gotten this far, to be very honest. Please be thinking of me tomorrow though…I agreed to make brownies for this weekend’s ladies’ retreat I’m going on. The challenge: no tasting, no scraping the bowl to enjoy the spoils and no eating of the brownies tomorrow or at the retreat. I’ll report on this next week, wish me luck!

(Mmm, perhaps I should ask one of my house-mates to install a secret cam to prove that I have not eaten any part of the baked or unbaked brownies…or maybe I’ll just ask for some watchful company).

Some SWEET encouragement. Picture source:
Some SWEET encouragement. Picture source:

5 thoughts on “The (no) sugar diaries: Part 1

  1. Hey Roxy, when you did this, did you use a guide or plan or something? Or was it just a case of not buying sugary stuff? How strict were you in terms of what is added sugar etc. cause obviously fruit and stuff has natural sugars, so that’s alright to eat? How did you find the stock of stuff in grahamstown? Cause I find sometimes in Kimberley being a small place, even when I want to buy healthy stuff, there isn’t fresh stuff in the shops, its very frustrating…
    I go through phases of motivation to stop eating so much sugar, but somehow even when I don’t buy it it always ends up in the house :0 But I enjoyed reading your blog, and I think with summer approaching, this dry heat seriously saps my energy enough, so it might be a good time to cut out my sugar as well cause winter put me back in bad habits 🙂
    Hope you are well!!
    Love Kim

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Thanks Kim! And thanks for the questions.
      1) I didn’t follow a plan because I had tried before to cut down by having less treats a week and there were just no lines, so the cutting out completely (see below what that included) was what worked for me. But there are several plans to follow that are available on the net.

      2) When It’s my cooking turn, I do try to cook with less sugary ingredients – so things like complex carbs (butternut) instead of simple (bread etc) and I am very conscious now of checking sugar content of stuff…even ‘healthy’ stuff like cereal bars (those can have loads of sugar in). 3) In my first diary I mentioned the things that I would cut out…and it was basically any ‘added sugar’ – so chocolate, brownies, muffins, jelly tots etc. I decided that I wouldn’t say no to a pasta sauce that has sugar in it for example. For two reasons: I live with other people and this would be an inconvenience to them to try find absolutely everything sugar free and secondly, because I didn’t want to be overly religious about it. I also decided not to cut out fruit – because it’s natural sugar and helped a lot when I wanted something sweet.

      4) YES, this has been frustrating too because there isn’t always honey available in the shops and at the health shop it’s suuuuper expensive. But as I’ve gone along, I’ve started figuring out where to get things – rice cakes at checkers, the yellow peanut butter at pnp and then whatever is available really. Do you think there’d be farmer’s markets you could get your fresh stuff from in Kimberley?

      Yes, I completely understand the phases of motivation thing…that’s why I found it actually got easier as the challenge went along, my friends knew and helped here and there. There were times that someone gave me chocolate as a gift and I took on the challenge of leaving it on my desk and not opening it at all so that I could learn to resist! It’s these constant decisions every day that I have to make. I pray about it in the morning and Kyle suggested even praying about it in the moment when someone brings baked sugary things to bible study or I’m at an event and there’s lots on offer, because you can be so careful about what you buy, but it’s when you’re out with lots of people that it also becomes super challenging.

      Shew, you make a good point about the summer heat making us tired enough anyway…especially in Kimberley!!

      So glad you enjoyed reading it and that we can chat about this!
      And you 🙂


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