Life Without Sugar - 3 Month Update | Tanvii.com - Indian Fashion, Lifestyle and Travel Blog

Life Without Sugar - 3 Month Update

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As I grow older and practice living with intention it becomes imperative that I questions all my actions, beliefs and habits. I am someone who functions with logic. I need to know the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ about everything. Last October, I read this book “The Case Against Sugar” which changed my mind set. The book touches upon the use of sugar in our culture and how it has quadrupled over the last five decades. Especially in western lifestyles. The book was filled with stats, and history and facts which I couldn’t get past. And once I learn something I can’t unlearn. I can’t ignore the knowledge and information. And as it works out refined sugar and refined flour has zero nutritional value. Nada. Zilch. They are also related to the rise in most of the diseases which were practically non-existent in earlier this century.

So powered with this knowledge I decided to change my habits. I love chocolate. I love sweets. I love desserts. As most people I too used to advocate moderation. I tried that and it didn’t work for me. Also, would you have cocaine in moderation? (I am hoping the answer is No!) That’s the same logic I use for sugar.

Some of you might know, that this is not my first rodeo. I had left refined sugar for six months back in 2011 and it was hard as hell to do so. Once I hit my six month mark in Dec. 2011, I thought I had the sugar intake under control. Surely but slowly sugar started creeping back into my diet and I kept thinking, "I can have it in moderation". But guess what? I couldn't. Especially because it is in everything : sauces, bread, chips, even the salty things have sugar so the real “sugary” treats ended up being an excess. And before I knew it, I was back to being a sugar addict. 

In November 2017, I decided to start reducing my sugar intake in all forms. I reduced the frequency at which I would have desserts. I stopped having chocolates. While traveling I decided to have fruits and toasts instead of pancakes and muffins. I did have a dessert once or twice between Nov. 2017 - Jan. 2018 but the total amount of sugar had reduced significantly from my diet. This helped me take the next step.

Come Februray 2018, I decided to stop having any and all forms of refined sugar - white and brown both. I don’t eat desserts, I don’t drink any beverages which have added sugar. I read the labels meticulously and if it states any of the below mentioned names I don’t buy it: 

brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, rice syrup, dextrose, maltose, barley malt, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, trehalose, and turbinado sugar. To identify an added sugar, be suspect of words that end with an “-ose,” as well as phrases that contain “syrup” or “malt.”

Ingredients on a packaged food are listed in descending order in terms of weight, so when you see these names at the top of the ingredients list, the product contains a lot of sugar. 

Some of the other changes I have made in my lifestyle are:
  • I have started cooking all my meals at home. 
  • I always pre-check the menu before going to a restaurant. 
  • I rely on sugar-free gum to curb sugar cravings. 
  • Drinking water whenever I get cravings helps. 
  • I have found a few snacks which have no sugar and are not high in calorie either. [ 30 Snack Ideas with Calorie Count ]
  • I try and eat 3 different fruits each day but in moderation (no more than 1/2 cup each).


Below are the most commonly asked questions: 

1. How do I get started about going sugar free?

You would have to find your own motivation. For me it is my health (as I mentioned above). You have to find something that will make you commit to it. Then prepare in advance. You cannot quit sugar cold turkey. Try and reduce the amount over a period of few months else you will relapse and binge eat everything in plain sight.

2. What should I start removing from my diet?

I can only share what I removed from my diet. I am a vegetarian so meat was not an issue for me. I stopped buying processed food which includes flavored yogurt, potato chips, salad dressings, cookies, and granola. I still eat everything from pasta, pizza, daal chawal, parantha, and I realize that when I eat out in spite of doing my due research everything is not in my control (aka some sauce or spice might include added sugar which is not mentioned or listed) but since 6 days of the week I am eating at home and pick all ingredients myself I do not worry about that one meal as much. 

3. How do you cope during menstruation / periods? 

I will not lie, it is really hard. For some reason February and March were not as difficult and I was able to manage with having fruits, and dates. But April was brutal. I had intense craving to have something sweet and I went rummaging through the cabinets to find something sweet, anything to satisfy my uncontrollable cravings. Luckily I don't have anything left at home which has an ounce of above mentioned "sugars". I only have fruits, vegetables and the healthy snack options. I fought it through ... but this got me interested in baking my own desserts with alternatives that have natural sugars like ripe banana, and dates, etc. So stay tuned, I might be turning into a 'sugar less' baker.

4. Can I still substitute sugar by using Jaggery/maple syrup/coconut sugar etc?

I don't see why not ... This is probably where I will apply the 'moderation' argument. Natural sugars aka foods that are found naturally sweet in nature are fine. It’s just about managing the quantity you have in one day. While I am trying to get rid of my sugar addiction, I am also trying to get as fit as possible for my 40th Birthday. So this is my motivation to keep the 'natural sugars' in check. [ 3 Ways To Reduce Calories

5. Are there any side effects to quit sugar?

It has been little over three months, and personally I have not had any negative side effects. The positive effects include - healthy looking skin, minimal-to-no mood swings, better mental health, steady energy through out the day and a sense of accomplishment.

Other Resources

You can find what protein supplement and bars I eat at my Amazon store (here). 

If you are on Instagram I share 'what I eat' frequently with portion size and calorie count. You can catch the previous meals in the "Food Choices: Highlights" on the profile page. You might have to view it on the mobile app as the Highlights are not available on the desktop version of Instagram

I also have a Pinterest board where I share all things 'Healthy Living' and plan to add more to the board over the next weeks.

You can also check out my previous posts on snacks (here) and health (here).



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I hope you found this post helpful. 
Feel free to ask me any other questions you might have. 
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26 comments

  1. Honestly at this stage I have no idea how I can control my sugar intake let alone quit. But what you said as motivation is deeply meaningful and I can resonate with it. Being your fittest best for 40th is a great plan. I am going to have to at least try this.
    Having said that I am going to find it doubly or just much much harder given some easy snacks I store in my pantry for the kids. I have read things about taking the whole family along on the journey - it just seems brutal to me. So if I succeed even to cut my sugar intake I will report back to you.
    Thanks as always for inspiring to find the good in ourselves!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean ... It is hard to get rid of sugar. And not even 100% possible unless you start making everything from scratch. Trying, is all we can do.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment :)

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  2. That would be so tough for me! I love sugar but do try to only eat it in moderation.

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  3. It is crazy how sugar is so ingrained into the things we eat and then how supersized things are just to start out with. I try to monitor my sugar intake as well.

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  4. This a great q and a. I need to try this.

    XOXO
    Cathy

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  5. You are incredibly disciplined and motivating. I haven't even attempted doing this, even though I know it would be the best thing for me, and for my family. Kudos to you for sticking to it and knowing your body so well. I'm thinking I'm going to really start cutting down.

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  6. This is why we grow and raise almost all of our own food. We cook from scratch and put up most of our food. Which even include growing wheat, and grinding it ourselves. To much sugar in foods are being added.

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  7. These are excellent tips and some really good info. I am doing no added sugar for all of May. So far so good haha

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  8. I am so impressed that you have been able to remain off sugar for such an extended period of time. It is something that I have thought of trying but have been overwhelmed to take on. These are excellent tips to keep in mind!

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  9. It really is so crazy how much sugar is hidden in everything we eat & buy from the stores! I'm pretty good about finding foods that aren't jam packed with sugar, and I don't have a sweet tooth, but my husband on the other hand, he's a sugar maniac and I hate that! This post is a reminder to stay on him and help him consume less sugar!

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  10. Those are all great lifestyle changes to make. It's crazy how much has added sugar. I think we all get enough sugars naturally that the added sugar is just way too much!!

    xo, Laura

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  11. I love this post! I have been on a sugar detox as well and have cut it out of my diet!

    Kileen
    cute & little

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  12. I can't imagin elife without sugar, but sometimes I always wanted to try at leat lessening it.

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  13. I try to minimize sugar in my daily food intake but seems very tough to totally cut it. I like how you have changed your lifestyle and I should give it a start with those changes too. Eg drink more water and fruit in moderation, less durian which is my favorite fruit as the sugar level is so high.

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  14. Thank you for taking time to answer all our queries, Tanvi.
    It doesn't look easy at all to give up on sugar . I had completely forgotten about sauces and dips!
    So impressed and motivated with this post of yours! Thank you again.

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  15. I think you are awesome for being able to go so long without sugar. I don't think i can go a day without it to be honest. I do see why it is important to cut out or lessen my intake of sugar so I will take heed and try my hardest to lessen my intake of sugar.

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  16. I think most people commit the mistake of doing (or in this case, quitting) everything at once and there's just too much shock to absorb on the following days. What you're doing brings the most practical inspiration to us all.

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  17. Good on you Tanvii! I have a low sugar diet and when I lost two stone last year it was one of the things I really cut back on (pretty much ditched at the time) I felt so much better for it. My body doesn't seem to like copious amounts of sugar but luckily I don't have a sweet tooth!

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  18. I admire you! You show really strong will, and that's great!
    I do love sweet treats and I can have them in moderation, especially because I am very sensitive to refined sugar and start feeling poorly when I take more than I should. Coming from a different "lifestyle", I grew up in a time and a country where food needed to be prepared before eating. The only "ready-made" food you could find in my childhood would come from trees and plants! LOL, I know I have cursed so much, because even drinking a coke was something so exceptional that it required a party! Later, in the 90's my country opened to the world, McDonalds opened their first restaurant in 1995. I used to think we weren't very fortunate. But now I think I was blessed. I have it as a lifestyle and tradition to cook from scratch, "because if it comes in a plastic bag it is not food" what my mom says. Without realizing, my sugar intake in regular food (not talking about pastries, of course) was very low or zero. So the reflection I make now is when I was a child "sugar intake" would be a first world problem, but nowadays it is not, it is a poverty problem. Cheap food, contains tons of sugar, and people with low incomes eats very badly! Eating healthy food has become a privilege.

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  19. You are doing so great Tanvi, it's really admirable that you have stuck to doing this are sharing it with your readers. Keep up the great work. :)

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  20. Sugar is indeed on of the most difficult things to cut because it's in almost everything in our daily lives, but I am unsure if you know that the body actually breaks down everything we eat or even inhale or exposed into simple sugars to be transported around the body for nutrients -- which is kind of why we will crave for sugar when the body is in deprivation of nutrients -- thus your period cravings.

    One more thing you also need to know is that this process which our body naturally does -- combing sugar and proteins to create advance glycation end-product or AGEs for short, is what causes us to age. Thus you see those who consume less sugar would in-fact look younger and healthier.

    While there isn't much we can do to stop the production of AGEs (it's a natural body function), the best we can do is to reduce the intake of sugar (which you are doing, yay!) and also take in fruits and foods that will have a natural anti-AGE properties.

    Keep up the good work!!!

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    1. I REALLY appreciate this knowledge. Thank you SO much for an extra dose of motivation to stay the course :)

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  21. I do try to be mindful of my sugar intake... but like you said, it's in everything, even things you wouldn't think it would be in. I think having the motivation to go sugar free is a biggie-- props to you for having the motivation to do so. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and tips, this was a good, eye-opening and interesting read. Definitely will have to check out the healthy recipes you pin for some yummy ideas :)

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  22. I was just talking about this sugar-less diet with my boyfriend and his family and personally, I find this too difficult, especially when we are outdoors most of the time.

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  23. Honestly, reading this post has only reignited my decision to reduce my sugar intake drastically, I am not so sure if I can stop completely because its so much a part of my favorite diets but I will start with baby steps. Thanks for the reminder and motivation.

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  24. No sugar? I really need to try this. I feel as though I consume too much sugar at times!

    Nailil
    http://thirtyminusone.com

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