Ok, the title of this post is dramatic, but so is removing added sugar from your diet, right? Let me back up… Towards the end of last year as M turned 18 months I was feeling blah and blubby and lost as to how I could lose the rest of the weight and the pot “mom” belly I gained when I was pregnant with him. My workout routine was strong, exercising 3 to 4 times/week, so it was clearly my diet that was an issue. In January some mom friends of mine signed up to do the 21 Day Fix with Beachbody so I decided to join them. Honestly, it’s such a scam but the program does work. I (barely) completed my 21 days and it was the jump-start I needed for changing my diet.
We always eat relatively healthy – with meals full of veggies and protein, light in carbs, low in sodium, etc… So at the end of the 21 Day fix it was easy to figure out what my biggest issues were: eating too much, not having healthy choices prepared and easy to find, and mindless (afternoon, always in the afternoon!) snacking. I ended my relationship with Beachbody (which was hard! They were so quick to charge my credit card endlessly!!) and switched to drinking Vega One shakes (I love the mocha flavor) in place of their Shakeology. The shake replaces breakfast 4x/week and I eat toast the other 3 days.
The rest of the edits to my diet included snacking on fruit alllll day and eating mostly veggies and lean protein for lunch and dinner. I’d also have one more substantial snack per day like hummus and pretzels, avocado toast, or almonds. But I think the true reason why I was able to ultimately lose 19 pounds and keep it off (9 months later!!!) is because I (for the most part, more on this later) removed all added sugar from my food. How does one do that? I decided to write a post about it because when I was losing the weight and it was becoming noticeable (pants were literally falling off my bum) so many people asked how I did it and I started talking about it all the time. And now, 9 months later I’ve learned even more, found even more products that are helpful and delicious, and I feel like this is just the new way I eat and I was ready to share. I started removing added sugar cold turkey with the 21 day fix. The 21 days were so hard for me in general (you eat SO little) that when it was over I was so relieved to be eating more that it wasn’t hard to continue with the sugar free diet. I was very strict with myself January through April/May and then over the summer I eased up a little, had a few treats, etc… and realized that I was able to balance better and still maintain the weight loss. And honestly, more than the weight loss my body just feels better. What does that mean? No bloating, no blubby tummy, and I’m very regular (yes, I went there).
When you remove added sugar from your diet you’re not left with almost anything processed so you’re eating a mostly whole foods diet (and why I always eat tons of fruit, veggies, and protein). But for the love of God, you need a crunchy, salty snack once in a while, right? And I love toast SO MUCH! And I sort of loathe making my own salad dressing. And having peanut butter every so often is sort of a must. So with research, recommendations and trial and error I thought I’d share my favorite sugar free processed foods with you, photos of which are sprinkled throughout this (very wordy) post (a few of the items are considered gluten free so that’s an easy way to find processed foods without added sugar)…
Ezekiel Bread (considered gluten free) for toast and the occasional sandwich.
Sugar Free Peanut Butter sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, really anywhere. It’s a little shocking at first that it tastes like creamed peanuts but it’s good.
Annie’s Salad Dressings – my sister and mother were talking about the Goddess dressing and I checked the label and was thrilled to find it has no added sugar! There are tons of sugar free dressing options at Whole Foods, too but they’re pretty pricey.
Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pretzels, my kids and I can’t get enough of these.
RX bars, these are a recent find and have changed my life. We’re always on the go and I used to carry a protein bar with me in case I got hungry and I missed that when I first started this whole thing. Well these RX bars (sold on Amazon, Trader Joe’s, on their website) have no added sugar and are EXCELLENT! I love that coconut chocolate flavor.
Riced Cauliflower, I found this while I was doing the 21 Day fix. It’s a great substitute for rice or pasta and is just another serving of veggies. You can make it yourself by just food processing the cauliflower but you can buy it everywhere pre-made these days (Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods) just watch the ingredients. I get it frozen from Trader Joe’s and organic cauliflower and rosemary are the only ingredients.
Cold Brew Coffee – we’ve been making our own for over a year now and it’s so good! I use part skim, part 2% milk in mine, it’s a smoother brew of coffee and less acidic so sugar isn’t even necessary.
Are you sugar free? Any tips to add? Products you love?
*Before I forget; my “for the most part” sugar removal means since I started this 9 months ago I still eat cake on my kids birthdays, had a couple ice cream cones this summer, a donut, a cookie or 2, and I will always and forever put ketchup on a hamburger. It’s tricky to be sugar free when you’re dining out – but personally, once I was over the hurdle of a very strict sugar free diet in the winter into spring, I let overall smart choices at restaurants win and if they use sugar in a marinade of the salmon I’m eating, so be it. I also bake again but find recipes using honey, not white sugar (and my kids still gobble them up!). Oh, and I still drink wine and beer. By now you’re thinking I’m a nut and not sugar free at all, but daily consistency with occasional splurges just works!
I am not a nutritionist or medical professional in any way, these are just ideas and products that have worked for me to lose weight and keep it off for 9 months. Consult your doctor before changing your diet at all!