Tag Archives: sugar cravings

One Month Down

June 30th marked one month that we’ve been doing this challenge and I didn’t even realize it until it had already passed!  I’m going to take that as a good sign because it means I’m not counting down the days until I can eat sugar again (as I thought I would be).

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning, you know that when we first started this challenge I was curious to see how not eating sugar would affect my sugar cravings and energy levels.  I am happy to report after one month that I think both have definitely improved.

It seems like I have only noticed these changes in the past couple of weeks.  Maybe it was going to China and breaking away from my normal routine, or maybe it is just that it takes that long for results to start showing, but I’m finally starting to feel a difference in my body.  Honestly, in the beginning I felt terrible.  For the first couple of weeks I was actually feeling worse than I had been feeling before I cut processed sugar out of my diet and was wondering if it was really worth it to continue.  Perhaps I was eating more of something that I hadn’t been eating much of before (such as soy or more grains), but whatever it was, it has gone away now and I’m feeling much better.

I’m actually feeling really good about myself right now.  There were only a handful of times that I craved sugar in the past month and those times are becoming fewer and further between.  I have also noticed that certain foods that did not taste that sweet to me before, now taste much sweeter.  I first noticed it in China when I bought what I thought was unsweetened tea and it turned out to be sweetened.  I thought it was disgustingly sweet, but my husband said it tasted normal.  I noticed it again when I got home and ate a handful of Kashi Go Lean cereal.  I used to think Go Lean tasted pretty much like cardboard when I ate it dry, but the other day I could actually taste some sweetness in it.  Each of these little improvements give me motivation to keep going….we’ll see how I feel in another month :).

I know I have already said it many times before, but it’s worth repeating for any of you who are thinking about giving up processed sugars—it is liberating to pass up sweets and desserts altogether rather than battle with myself not to eat too much.

As far as my energy goes, I mentioned in my last post that while I was in China I noticed a significant improvement in my energy levels.  Even though I was walking around for hours and hours each day, I still felt like I had a lot of energy.  Despite the fact that I am a pretty active person and get plenty of sleep, I normally get really tired during the day and often feel like I could fall asleep at any point.  I only felt like that once or twice in China and I think those feelings were justified from all of the sightseeing.  Hopefully this trend continues :).

I think it’s important to put a little disclaimer here.  By sharing with you my journey, I am not trying to say that cutting out processed sugars are the answer to everyone’s dietary woes.  Every body handles foods differently—some people can eat diets very high in fat while others can eat a lot of sugar without seeing any noticeable difference in their weight, energy levels, or overall health (more on this later).  Just because I have noticed a difference in how I feel does not mean I think cutting out processed sugars will ‘fix’ everyone’s problems.  However, I would encourage you to play around with what you eat to find out what works best for your body.

On that note, I’ll leave you with some more pictures from our trip :).  These were all taken in Beijing.  I’ll share some from the other cities in the next couple of days.

This adorable lady invited us into her home. I wish I could have taken her home with us!

Spinning the prayer wheels at one of the local temples.

A little shrine at one of the gardens I visited.

I loved the architecture and the vibrant colors everywhere.

Such a relaxing place amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Hmmm not sure I trust the food in this clean "environment"

What a happy guy!

One of the watchtowers at the Forbidden City

Houses along the moat at the edge of the Forbidden City

Some Chinese delicacies I did not try.....

Archway to the Great Wall

This was at the bottom of the Great Wall! Globalization at its finest.

Nighttime view of Houhai Lake

Question: Have you ever cut anything out of your diet?  What was it and for how long did you do it?  Did you notice any improvements?

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Filed under Milestones, Travels

Mindful Eating in China

We’re back from China!  Before I get into what I ate while we were in China, I have to tell you that we had a fabulous time.  After living in Japan for the past three years, I thought I had an idea of what to expect from the Chinese people, but boy was I wrong.  The Chinese people are very different from the Japanese.  Don’t get me wrong, we loved it there, but it was definitely crazy and reminded me of being back in Peru in a lot of ways.  Once I got my elbows out and remembered how to fight the crowds, touring around was much more enjoyable :).

Our first week was spent in Beijing where my husband had a class.  Since he was busy all day, I spent the time getting to know the city on my own.  I went on a group tour one day, but the other days I was on my own.  I’m happy to admit that I only got lost once!  I thought touring on my own would be boring, but I actually had a lot of fun.  I really wish Giff could have come with me because I saw a lot of really cool things that I know he would have loved, but c’est la vie, right?

At a Chinese garden.

One of the many streets I walked in Beijing.

Some peanut noodles that were out of this world!

With the Forbidden City in the background.

At the "Bird's Nest" (one of the stadiums from the Olympics)!

After his class was over, we got to visit The Great Wall together with many of his classmates.  The Great Wall exceeded my expectations.  It was awesome—totally worth a trip to China!

At The Great Wall!

So many steep stairs....

The next day we left for a mountain town called Yangshuo.  We took a two-hour boat ride down the Li River to get to Yangshuo.  It was really beautiful and another place we would highly recommend to anyone planning a trip to China.  Yangshuo was touristy, but we still really enjoyed it.  It was very different from both Beijing and Shanghai so we’re glad we got to see it.

Our bamboo boat

Cruising down the Li River

Hanging out in Yangshuo

Shanghai was the last stop on our trip.  It is a really cool city—very modern with a Western feel.  Shanghai has an awesome skyline!

Shanghai Skyline

At the Vue Bar

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from China, but I have to admit that the trip was even better than I imagined it would be.  With that said though, it’s always nice to come back home.

Anyway, on to my food adventures in China.  Before Amanda and I started our naturally sweet summer, I told her that I wasn’t going to worry about what I ate while we were on vacation in China for two weeks.  Since I don’t speak Chinese or really know much about what goes into Chinese cooking (i.e. sugar), I decided it wasn’t worth worrying about it while on vacation.  Vacation is usually a time when we allow ourselves to splurge a little anyway, right :)?!?

Even though I said I wasn’t going to worry, I still didn’t want to go over the top because I really want to reach my goal of not eating sugar until August 20th.  For the most part, I steered clear of sugar (as best I could) with a few exceptions:

  • I ate bread.  Bread is almost always made with sugar (though not very much).  I didn’t eat bread that often, but sometimes it was my only option (like on our flights when I thought the main entree wasn’t very good).  I know I could have passed it up altogether, but I get pretty crabby when I’m hungry and for Giff’s sake, I thought it was better to eat the bread than be crabby :).  Other times we ate bread because we wanted it….
  • Shanghai Steamed Pork Buns...Delicious!

  • We found authentic Neapolitan pizza.....I was in heaven!

  • I had Chinese Bubble Tea…twice.  I LOVE Chinese bubble tea and I can’t get it that often.  The first time I tried it was in college and I loved it.   Almost every time I see it, I treat myself to it so I thought I had to try it in China.  I tried it twice just to be on the safe side J.  I’m sure it has sugar in it, but it was worth every sip!
  • Proof of my Bubble Tea

  • I tried one bite of Giff’s dessert.  This was the only bite of dessert I had in the two weeks we were there.  This is definitely a vacation record for me.  I always treat myself to dessert on vacation, but I passed it up every time except this once.  It was actually at a German pub and looked too good to pass up (fried apple rings….yum!).
  • The one and only dessert I tried.....and some delicious German beer.

  • I drank beer and had some cocktails that may or may not have had sugar.  I have been drinking wine since we started this challenge.  I’m not sure if wine has added sugar or if it’s just sweet from the grapes, but I decided it was something I would allow myself to have since I only treat myself to it on the weekends.  I had not been drinking beer though because I thought it had added sugar, or any cocktails.  I’m not sure if beer does have sugar or not, but I had some on vacation and I had some fancy cocktails at some of the fancy bars we went to in Shanghai.
  • Chinese food.  I’m guessing that some of the foods I ate had sauces that were made with sugar.  They were all savory dishes, but some of them tasted slightly sweet.
  • I ate “plain” yogurt that I’m pretty sure had sugar in it.

Other than that, I think I did a pretty good job of not eating sugar.  Believe it or not, I actually lost 3 pounds on vacation!  That is definitely a first for me.  I worked out three times and walked A LOT.  Despite all the walking, I actually felt like I had more energy than I’ve had in a long time.  Perhaps not eating sugar is a good thing for me.

Lessons Learned

  • Despite the fact that I ate sugar, I was conscious of it every time—more so than I ever have been before.  This challenge has taught me how often I eat sugar during the day without even realizing it.  Although the sugar I consume throughout the day might be consumed in small quantities, it adds up over the course of a day/week/month.
  • It is possible to watch someone eat dessert without having to try it.  (You can ask any of my friends…I am notorious for asking for bites of people’s food so it’s quite a feat for me to not ask for a bite.)
  • Is it really worth it?  There were many times when I wanted to try a bite or sip of something Giff was eating or drinking, but I would ask myself, is it really worth it?  The only time I decided it was worth it was for the German dessert.  I ate my one bite, without any remorse, and didn’t feel like I needed any more.
  • My motto is not “all or nothing”.  I have said before that I do not plan on giving up processed sugar for the rest of my life, but I’m doing this challenge to see how giving it up makes me feel.  Just because I ate sugar a few times on vacation, I don’t feel like a quitter or that I should give up the challenge altogether.  It was good for me to see that I can have it here and there without overdoing it.
  • Cravings will go away.  There were some nights when I was really craving something sweet—especially chocolate.  If I were home, I would go to the kitchen to try to make something or eat something to satisfy my craving.  Since we were on vacation though, I didn’t have that option.  The cravings went away every time.  This is something I need to remind myself now that I’m home again.

I’ll wrap it up here since I have already written a novel.  If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me J.

Questions: Do you usually ‘splurge’ on vacation?  What are your tips for staying healthy while traveling?

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Satisfying My Cravings

Fist off, let me apologize for not posting for so long.  I was finishing up my classes last week for grad school (yay!), which means I just have my thesis to write this summer and then I will graduate with an M.S. in Global and International Education.  I have loved the program, but it has been a long two years and I’m very excited to know the end is in sight!  Then my cat ran away.

This sounds like a silly excuse that kids give their teachers for not doing their homework, but in my case it’s true.  He is an indoor cat, except for going out on our balcony.  On Sunday night he ran away and we didn’t find him until Tuesday evening.  It was a long two days and I was starting to feel pretty depressed about it.  I love my little Harold and I’m so happy to finally have him home!

Our little Harold 🙂

Anyway, enough with the excuses!  I am happy to report that we are now two weeks into our challenge and so far things are still going really well.  I have found that I am craving sugar a lot less, which for me is a HUGE accomplishment!  I also think I have more energy.  I have been subbing a lot in the past two weeks and spending a lot of time out in the hot sun, so it’s a little hard to tell, but I haven’t taken any naps and in the past, I was taking a 30-minute nap almost every day!

Although I am not craving sugar as much, I still want something sweet once in a while.  I made some of HEAB’s oaties the other day.  My friend Katie made some for me before and they were delightful, but without adding any chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, they were too “healthy” tasting and didn’t really taste like I was having a treat!  I highly recommend them though with chocolate or butterscotch chips.  HEAB has many variations and the ones I have tried are all delicious.

I sought out to find something else that doesn’t involve chocolate, but would satisfy my craving.  I found a recipe for peanut butter honey cookies.  These were excellent and definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.  Dare I say they were even too sweet for me?  I know that is hard to believe, but I’m finding that honey gives baked goods a very rich flavor so I need to start reducing the amount of honey called for in the recipes I try.  Anyway, these were excellent and I thought I would share the recipe with you.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I think they would be delightful as cookie sandwiches with cream cheese “frosting” (cream cheese sweetened with a little honey) in the middle.

Peanut Butter Honey Cookies

Recipe from http://www.honey.com

Makes 2 dozen

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

3/4 cup peanut butter**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In medium bowl, cream honey and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, peanut butter and vanilla.  Add flour, salt and baking soda; mix until combined.  Drop dough, one tablespoon at a time, onto well-greased baking sheet.  Dip fork into flour and press flat on each cookie to form an “x.”  Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes.  Remove cookies from sheet and cool on wire rack.

**I used natural peanut butter (the kind with oil on top that you have to mix in).

**I also halved the recipe, so only used the yolk of the egg.  I like my cookies under done so I only baked them for 8 minutes rather than 10-12 as the recipe calls for.  Oh and the “x” in the cookies was not happening.  I don’t know if it’s because it is super humid here or what, but the fork kept sticking to the cookies even after I sprayed it.  “X” or no “x” they were excellent :).

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Filed under Baking Tips, Cookies, Desserts

Confession

I ate sugar…..not once, not twice, but three times! Oopsie.  Each time it was an accident so hopefully I’m forgiven :).  Rather than stress about it, I’m just using these times as a reminder to myself that I really need to think about what I’m eating and what it might have in it.  It’s amazing how many products are made with sugar!  It makes me grateful that I don’t have a food allergy because I realize how easy it is to forget—or not think about it—and eat something I’m not ‘supposed’ to eat.  I guess if I had an allergy I would me more cautious, but you get the point.

On to my slip-ups.  The first time happened on day two when I made some delicious homemade veggie burgers for lunch.  I have been wanting to try the Temes Family Carrot Burgers for a long time after my friend Lindsay as been ranting and raving about them for so long.  The burgers called for breadcrumbs and without thinking, I dumped a handful of breadcrumbs from my pantry into the bowl.  As soon as I mixed them in I realized they probably had sugar and sure enough, I was right.  Despite my goal of not eating sugar, I am not willing to waste perfectly good food, so I cooked them and ate them anyway.  In addition to the breadcrumbs in the burgers, the recipe also says to coat the burgers in breadcrumbs before they are cooked so that time around I remembered to use panko breadcrumbs that don’t have any sugar.

Anyway, these burgers were a nice break from any other veggie burger I’ve had before.  Other than the fact that the burgers are shaped into patties, they aren’t trying to be a burger in any other way.  Some veggie burgers I’ve had in the past try too hard (in my opinion) to resemble a regular burger, and usually don’t taste that great.  These burgers were totally different—savory with a hint of sweetness.  I ate them topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and topped with applesauce.  I also dipped each bite into some balsamic vinegar—ala Amanda—yum!

My other slip-ups happened on days three and four.  While substitute teaching the other day, a teacher offered me a Ritz cracker at snack time.  I was pretty hungry so I ate it, but afterward I realized that it probably had sugar in it.  I came home and checked the box of Ritz that has been sitting in my pantry for months on end (I think I bought them for a project with my English students) and saw that they certainly do have sugar in them.  Busted again.  At least I stopped after the one, right?!

Last, but not least, my husband and I went out to eat at a Turkish restaurant last night.  We love their hummus and without thinking I dove right in to the warm, homemade pita bread and slathered some hummus on it.  For dinner I had a chicken kebab wrap.  Honestly, it wasn’t until this morning that I realized the pita and wrap probably both have sugar in them.  I have already decided that I’m not going to worry too much about not eating sugar when I go out to eat, but I still plan to be conscious about what I order and try to avoid ordering things that I know are made with sugar.  Last night’s slip-ups could have easily been avoided had I thought about it.  I’m going to blame the fact that I have two big finals due this week for grad school and was focused much more on them than whether or not my pita was made with sugar!

And now for the delicious carrot burger recipe thanks to the Temes family:

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup shredded carrots

1 slightly beaten egg

1 cup bread crumbs (plus ¼ – ½ cup additional crumbs to roll patties in)

2 tbsp finely chopped onions (or a handful of dried onion flakes)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp worcester sauce

½ cup sunflower seeds (optional)—I used walnuts because that’s what I had on hand.

Combine all ingredients (including the 1 cup bread crumbs, but reserve extra). Form mixture into four balls and shape into patties. Coat patties with additional bread crumbs. Fry/cook in butter in a saute pan, until browned (they often burn a little, or get kind of black, but thats ok).

Serve on buns and/or topped with cinnamon and applesauce.

*Also delicious dipped in balsamic vinegar.

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Filed under Main Courses, Vegetarian