How to Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet {Break the Sugar Habit Challenge}

Break the Sugar Habit Challenge

{A picture of the sweeteners/sweets I’ve packed away for after the challenge.}

This weekend didn’t go quite as I planned. We were out of town Friday through Sunday and while I hoped to have some time to gather my thoughts about meals and strategies for this week, I ended up doing it in bits and pieces instead, which is making me feel pretty scattered as we launch the Break the Sugar Habit Challenge today!

I did get our pantry and fridge cleaned out before we left, packing some things away for after the challenge and giving away the rest, so it was nice to have that done and know that we wouldn’t be tempted to cheat this first week. (Well, we might be tempted, but we don’t have too many options for actually cheating!)

I also started my meal and snack lists below, and I’m going to keep adding to these lists as we go so that they’ll last throughout the four week challenge without everybody feeling deprived in the process.

But before we get to those, let’s look at some other strategies that we’ll be using to help us through what I hope will be the toughest week of the challenge:

Strategies for the Break the Sugar Habit Challenge

We’re trying to approach this challenge from a positive perspective. Rather than just talking about all things we can’t have (although that’s an important part of the conversation), I also want to make sure there’s plenty of emphasis on what we can have and on strategies for when sugar cravings hit.

Here are a few of our strategies for this first week:

Lots of Fruit & Veggies
Although I didn’t have time to fully gather my thoughts over the weekend, my first strategy was simply to fill my cart with tons of yummy fruits and veggies.

As a side note, I know that some people eliminate fruit along with sugar in order to help break the sugar cravings, but I just can’t bring myself to do this, especially since my girls are participating in the challenge with me. Instead, we’ll be eating lots of fruits and veggies — while being conscious of how often we’re adding “sweetness” to various meals — as part of our challenge.

Stay Home
One of the most challenging parts of the next four weeks, for me, is going to be eating out. We’re not very good at packing meals and snacks for the road, and I know the temptation to grab something while we’re out is inevitably going to hit at some point. Because there are very few “safe” packaged foods, my plan is for us to stay home for most of this week and spend the week strategizing easy “on-the-go” meals and snacks for the future since we obviously can’t stay home forever.

Find Healthy Alternatives & Substitutes
Our family is avoiding “natural” sweeteners as sugar substitutes — such as agave, sucanat, stevia, etc. — but there are non-sweeteners that can help replace sweeteners in a variety of recipes and dishes:

These items are part of my strategy for enjoying things like pancakes without syrup or oatmeal without honey as well as dealing with sugar cravings.

(Even I’ll admit that this seems a little bit inconsistent; I’m not sure there’s any rhyme or reason for why I consider dates and carob powder okay and honey a no-no, and my approach may change as the challenge progresses!)

Deal with Sugar Cravings and Blood Sugar Issues
I’m keenly aware that this first week will be especially challenging for our family as we give up sugar. Because sugar is addictive, our bodies will crave it more as we go through withdrawal, and I’m expecting that we may also experience some low blood sugar issues.

As Stephanie said at Simple Homemade last year, in the post that got me thinking about this whole sugar challenge in the first place:

The early days can be a tough time of battling cravings and possibly experiencing some mild detox symptoms, such as:

  • increased tiredness
  • headaches
  • bad breath
  • aches and pains
  • mood swings

In order to deal with crankiness (something our youngest two already deal with when they don’t eat often enough) and feeling weak and faint, we’ll be using these strategies:

  • frequent snacks of fruit, nuts and crackers
  • frequent exercise
  • apple cider vinegar water
  • garlic/coconut/yogurt (to help with any candida issues caused by the sugar)

I’m debating using clay water or capsules as well to help my system detox as well, but I need to research that some more before I make a decision.

Meal & Snack Ideas

And now, here is the beginning of my meal & snack lists for the week. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that snacks are going to be the easiest part of this challenge, since that was the part my husband and girls were most worried about.

Breakfast & Lunch
I had originally created two separate lists — one for breakfast and one for lunch — but most of these are great options for either meal, so I went ahead and combined them:

  • pancakes, waffles, french toast or dutch puff with…
  • fried eggs & bacon or cheese
  • smoothies
  • granola w/ applesauce instead of honey
  • parfaits
  • oatmeal with…
    • yogurt & fruit
    • cinnamon & fruit
    • applesauce & fruit
  • homemade (or natural) peanut butter & sugar-less jelly on biscuits or pancakes
  • egg salad with homemade mayonnaise
  • chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise

Dinner
We’ll be eating lots of roasted veggies and using homemade condiments with our dinners, but I’m less worried about what we can eat — since most of our dinners tend to be fairly sugarless already — than watching out for the things we shouldn’t be eating.

Mostly I’ll need to find alternatives, or homemade recipes, for the following items that often grace our dinner table:

  • tomato products (ketchup, salsa, spaghetti sauce)
  • bread/pizza crusts
  • hot dogs/lunch meats/bacon
  • salad dressing

Snacks

Desserts

Fried Apples Recipe

No Sugar Fried Apples

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2-3 apples
  • cinnamon to taste (but plan to use LOTS!)

Directions:

Melt coconut oil in a skillet on medium while you slice your apples (I usually leave the skin on). The size of your slices doesn’t matter as much as ensuring that they’re all about the same size.

Add the apples to the hot oil and sprinkle very generously with cinnamon.

Stir often, adding more cinnamon and coconut oil as necessary.

When your apples are soft but not yet mushy, remove them from the heat and serve over pancakes or waffles or all by themselves!

break-the-sugar-challenge

More Strategies

Amy from Keeping the Kingdom First is approaching the challenge a little bit differently than I am, so head over and read about her strategies as well.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday, when I’ll be sharing a ton of resources – including other people’s strategies and recipes – to help you tackle this challenge!

If you’re participating in the Break the Sugar Habit Challenge, how are you feeling? Do you feel prepared? Are you excited or nervous?

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