Sugar is quickly, and rightfully, gaining a poor reputation. Sugar is now added to seemingly everything, from bacon to mustard to salad dressing to even crackers. We humans are simply hardwired to love the stuff, and consequently food manufacturers take advantage of our palate’s greatest weakness. Consider that sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine. Not only is sugar addictive and, therefore, added to almost everything we could possibly consume, but sugar also comes in several different forms under multiple names. In the ingredients list for any given food, you might find: corn syrup, dextrose, malt syrup, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice, invert sugar, palm sugar, rice syrup - the list just goes on and on.
I dreamt up my version of the No Sugar Challenge while pondering my own health concerns. As a past victim of leaky gut plus a long sufferer of psoriasis and candida yeast, it’s become quite clear that excessive sugar intake (coupled with other issues, such as chronic stress) have directly caused my health problems.
I’ve considered doing an elimination diet, such as the Whole30, several times in the past but never actually committed. The thing about elimination diets is that they are often too extreme. While elimination diets do a great job removing the most likely culprits from your diet - sugar, chemical ingredients, processed ingredients, industrial chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides - these diets also remove too much of the good stuff simultaneously, such as whole grains, legumes, and dairy. Sure, grains or dairy could be at the root of your health problems, but it’s much more likely that sugar or the vast array of unnatural chemicals that land in our food are to blame for your aches and pains. I say start by eliminating the most suspicious ingredients/additives (namely chemicals and sugar) found primarily in processed foods before driving yourself insane by attempting to follow an absurdly difficult diet.
I’ve taken huge steps to heal my leaky gut and to reduce my psoriasis and candida yeast. You can read more about my health journey here.
After considering the above, I wasn’t surprised at all to see a New York Times op-ed promoting the same idea: one month, sugar free. While this article promotes slightly different “rules” than I intend to follow, the basic concept is the same. My main goal is to completely eliminate any sugars added by food companies, while allowing myself maximum 1 tablespoon per day of all-natural sugars that I have added myself.
30-Day No Sugar Challenge
For one month:
… and that’s it! For one month. I intend to begin my journey on January 15th until February 15th.
In preparation, I have been exercising some self-control by not replenishing my supply of chocolate or KIND bars, even though I buy very dark chocolate and the KIND bars with less than 5 grams of sugar (4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon). I also love to eat plain yogurt with storebought granola, so I’m dabbling with homemade granola recipes now (see above, recipe coming soon to the blog).
Stay tuned to follow along my no sugar month, paired with new delicious no- to low-sugar recipes discovered along the way.
More about the author:
Caylee Clay, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in autoimmune conditions. As a graduate of New York University and Hunter College, Caylee has studied under leaders in the health and nutrition world, including completing an independent study and graduate course with Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics. Caylee has five years experience in community nutrition, working with a wide variety of patients including infants and young children, HIV+ adults, school aged children, expecting and new mothers, and several minority communities. To contact for consulting and counseling, please use the "Contact" link at the top of the page.
eat yer veggies
We’re two Registered Dietitian Nutritionists of kindred spirit, living and working in New York City. We believe that healthy eating and sustainability go hand-in-hand — every bite you take has the power to improve both the world and your health!