Results may vary

Results may vary

 

Do you ever see those short little click-baity blogs that are like “What I experienced after quitting sugar will surprise you…”

I do… and I click. I always want to know if I’m experiencing what I should be, if my results are typical. If I summed up a year of no sugar into a five minute article, I’m sure it would end up being quite similar to those that I’ve read.

However, what you tend not to read about are the struggles. I mean, when I’m trying to tell someone what it is like to not eat sugar, I definitely don’t go into a tirade about how horrible it is, I’m sure I’d start losing friends fast.

And it’s not always horrible, I mean it’s not always rose-coloured fairies and unicorn rainbow farts either, but it’s good to push our limits and ourselves.

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about why I haven’t been blogging as much as I wanted to this year. Honestly, it’s because some days are really hard. I don’t want to be a nutritionist, blogging about why everyone should give up sugar so they can be healthy just like me – when actually I’ve been feeling like crap. She told me, that when I’m not feeling great is when I should definitely be blogging, so people can relate. This is a real journey and if I’m honest about what I’m going through, more people will, hopefully, feel empowered to push through and make positive changes in their lives. Even though it’s hard it is definitely worth it to live a healthier life.

It’s not easy changing the way you eat, you’re normal for feeling crazy sometimes, you’re normal for falling back on other bad habits, you’re normal for wanting to sneak into a dark alley with a peanut butter cup, orrr is that one just me?

You just have to remember that even if you give in to temptation, you’re normal and you don’t have to give up. Each new meal is an opportunity to do better. I know that sounds super lame and cliché, but whatfoodiesfeed-com_choosing-from-menu1ever, it’s totally true.

Just because you tossed your sad-sack lunch and went out with your co-workers for dirty burgers, doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It also doesn’t mean the day, week, month, year, or lifetime is ruined. You can go home and make yourself a sexy fresh salad at home, or take an extra scoop of veggies at supper. Life goes on and it’s too friggen short to worry about being perfect.

 

I still feel little crazy, okay a lot crazy some days. But other days I feel like I got this. That might not be the sugar, that might just be life. Results may or may not be typical, but they are definitely outside my comfort zone and that is where we grow.

My 100% favourite and the best thing about giving up sugar, is being an inspiration to those around me to give up their bad habits too. I love when my mom tells me she’s been reading labels at the grocery store. I am my sister’s number one cheerleader when she told me she is giving up sugar too. I beam with pride when my hubby tells me he was going to sneak some donuts on his way home from work, but he decided he’d feel better if he didn’t. Probably one of the best ways to help someone you love change their eating habits, is to be an example for them to follow.

Friday Night

Friday Night

Last night I went into the grocery store. A Friday night alone and I didn’t want to cook. It wasn’t too long ago that I would have spent a night like this with Subway, some ice cream and catching up on some indie movies (or watching Mean Girls for 3 millionth time). I wandered through the grocery store without anything in particular in mind – aside from not making any dishes when I got home. Check out the “health section” of the grocery store. Cane sugar, molasses, agave, dextrose, more cane sugar.

After a good amount of aimless wandering. I walked out of the grocery store with a bag of plain potato chips and made myself a “supper” of chips, dates and nuts when I got home. It’s okay, I put it on a wooden charcuterie board so it was fancy AF.

Every once and a while I get my hopes up and think that I can get myself an easy dinner in a box, even though deep down I know I can’t. Sugar is often used as a preservative. Often enough that is it super annoying. It shouldn’t be a surprise that food in a box isn’t really good, but old habits die hard I guess.

Myself, and I think a lot of society, have become accustomed to convenience and heating up a box of “food.” From time to time it’s disappointing I can’t do that anymore. Real food doesn’t come in a box, it’s not always convenient, but it’s always worth the extra effort. #fridaynightvibes

#Mealprepmondays: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

#Mealprepmondays: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Make life a little easier for yourself with some #mealprep

img_20170130_174117_503To stay on top of my no sugar game, I need to be more diligent in my planning and meal preppin’. Every Monday my Mom and I get together and make meals for the week. I’ve been noticing that my meal prep photos get the most social media love, so I figured I would explain my process a bit in hopes to inspire you to do a little (or a lot) of prep at home.

I always see those people that make themselves a week worth of chicken and broccoli, salmon and broccoli, broccoli and broccoli – kudos to them! However, I would go crazy eating the same thing nearly every day for a week. If you hadn’t noticed already, I love food. I love trying new things and experimenting with recipes. So my meal prep might be a little more involved than others, but I think the little extra planning involved is worth it, so I’m not dreading my meals or choking down dry chicken breast and broccoli every night (sorry broccoli, I have nothing against you).

Meal Preppin’

Throughout the week I pick up inspiration from my favourite foodies on Instagram and take mental notes and screenshots of recipes I want to try. By the weekend I make a quick list of what I want to eat that week, typically with one new recipe to try out or a favourite20170130_162634 meal we haven’t had in a while. This week I went for an old favourite: unstuffed cabbage rolls. I don’t really have the patience to make cabbage rolls, so this one is more of a – throw it all in the pot and enjoy the magic that comes out at the end – kind of recipe.

This week we also made a mixed veggie stir fry, with cauliflower rice for me and quinoa for my parents. I’ve been adding more spices as the stir fry meat cooks or adding coconut oil to the rice. It gives enough flavour that I don’t have to add any sauces, most of which are full of sugar anyways! We also did a paleo sloppy joe mix with turkey and sweet potatoes; kale, roasted beets and broccoli sprout salad; and I made my mom and brother some protein granola bars. We always portion out the meals so we can quickly grab suppers and lunches throughout the week!

Super Simple Recipe

I’ve had a few people ask me for the unstuffed cabbage roll recipe. If you google it you can find tons of different recipes with slight variations, some a little more stew-like and some a little thicker. This dish is great because you can go super simple or add in spices and herbs to suit your taste buds.20170201_192048

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of tomato sauce 8oz (be sure to double check the ingredients for sugar)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 16 oz
  • ½ – 1 whole cabbage depending on size
    Optional Ingredients
  • Bay leaf
  • Wakame (it’s seaweed, you don’t taste it, but it adds a healthy burst of awesomeness to any soup)
  • Mushrooms
  • Any other spices you like – I’m not the boss

Cook the beef in a large pot over medium heat along with the onion and garlic. Chop up your cabbage and throw it in along with the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and any spices/extras you want to add. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally. Simple stuff.

I like to serve it on a bed of rice or cauliflower rice. This week I cooked up some cauliflower rice (which is actually just shredded cauliflower) in a frying pan with a lot of coconut oil, turmeric, and black ground pepper. The oil and pepper help our bodies use the turmeric to its full anti-inflammatory potential, and it tastes super yummy.

This is such a warm and filling meal, perfect for these cold winter days!

Taking these few hours a week to prepare some meals helps me to hold it together during the week. I’m not even cooking a whole weeks worth of meals. Just a few to get me through those busy nights. If you can’t spare a few hours in one day, you can always pick out a few things to prepare the night before: c20170130_163427hop up extra veggies to keep in the fridge; roast up a big batch of potatoes and veggies;
make the sauce for your pasta the night before. Every little bit helps. Even if your meal prep is just making lunch for work the next day, you are ahead of the game! Be sure to pat yourself on the back as you enjoy your healthy lunch instead of scrambling to beat the line-ups at the closest fast food joint!

Stay awesome friends!

Sugar-free Halloween!

Sugar-free Halloween!

Spooky pumpkins

Happy Halloween to those of you that take part in Halloween and Happy Monday to those of you that don’t!

There is nothing spookier than spending Halloween without my good ol’ pal sugar. I seriously feel like I am being haunted by sugar! Every store I go into has a bucket of free candy by the till – including the city building when I paid my taxes, grocery stores are full of candy displays, even on the radio – hosts have been discussing the best candy for the past two weeks, this morning on my way home from the gym, the radio hosts were eating candy while doing the morning show. Maybe it’s a good thing listening to people eat grosses me out, although I did still feel that little pinch of sadness that comes when I remember I’m not eating sugar.

Today I want to share with you today a little recipe for sugar free “turtles” that are helping me through this day! As of today I have been  sugar free for two months and although there have been some really difficult moments, overall it’s going quite well! I’ve managed to get through camping, thanksgiving, and my birthday without sugar – but come on – Halloween? It’s practically a day made for sugar!

A few tactics that have been helping me forget about the white beast:

Not having it in the house.

We are actually not handing out candy this year, partially because I don’t want a box of the most tempting chocolates ever laying around the house, but also because I think kids will be getting enough sweet treats tonight. Instead we are giving out play dough! We were able to find a pack of mini play dough at costco which was similar in price to all the candy treats. Last year we handed out chocolates and play dough and the kids were just as happy, so hopefully this year the play dough alone goes over well!

Just say no.20161030_190617

My husband and I opted to have a quiet night in instead of partaking in the costume parties this weekend. I had a busy week leading up to the weekend, so it was a very welcome, relaxing weekend of scary movies, carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds! I’m not saying to give up sugar you have to forgo fun social events, but at this particular time – for me – it felt like the right thing to do. I get the most cravings when I am stressed and I often have a hard time saying no to anyone or anything, so I’ve been practicing my no’s and letting myself enjoy a bit of downtime. This is helping to lower my stress as well as avoiding sugary drinks and party treats!

Making my own treats!

I want to share this little recipe with you, it’s super yummy and will help me to feel not so left out when my hubby indulges a little tonight on his Halloween goodies. You may have seen my Instagram post recently of my snack of dates and pecans. This is taking it one step up and drizzling it with chocolate!20161031_103815

You’ll need:
6 Cupcake liners
6 Medjool dates
12-18 Pecan halves
3-4 Tablespoons of coconut oil
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
Raw cocao powder
Sprinkle of salt

To make:
Cut the dates in half and remove the pits. Place them sticky side up in the cupcake liners, one date per liner. Put two or three pecan halves on top of the dates.

To prepare the chocolate, scoop the coconut into a saucepan on medium-low heat and add in the vanilla. Stir until the oil has melted completely and is just liquid. The amount of cocao you use is up to you, start with a tablespoon of and stir in until smooth. You can taste test here and add until it suits your taste buds. Cocao has a very strong taste, since I love it, I put in a little more than you might if you are new to it. Note: if you add too much cocao, just add in a little more oil to dilute.

Once you have found a happy balance for your chocolate sauce and it is smooth, pour the sauce over the dates and pecans. Sprinkle with a touch of salt on each one as you go. Pop them in the freezer until they have firmed up and they are good to go!

I recommend keeping them in the freezer as the chocolate will tend to want to go back to a more liquid state if left out too long at room temperature (depending of course on how cold you keep your house).

These bad boys are a perfect combination of crunchy, chewy, chocolatey and salty. They are doing a great job of keeping me distracted from the ghost of Halloween sugar!

Yours in health,
Susan

FAQ

FAQ

FAQ. No, that is not a creative spelling of an expletive that describes exactly how I feel when I remember I can’t have pizza… It’s Frequently Asked Questions time! Since I started I’ve been getting tons of questions from friends, family and people interested in cutting back on their own sugar intake. I haven’t spelled out much on the details of my challenge yet, because I jumped right in without overthinking things #justdoit. So here we go!

Are you insane?

Okay, so maybe this is my most FAQ to myself and yes I am a bit of a crazy cat lady, so there is a chance that I’m not right in the head. But – the older I get the more I am noticing the effects of what I eat on my health. Being diagnosed with PCOS was a big kick in the lady balls and I have also been waking up with stiff joints and constantly dealing with injuries at the gym. Despite warnings from other 30-somethings, I didn’t think it would happen to me. I’m a nutritionist, I know better!

Why give up sugar?

Sugar used to be a treat that only the very rich could afford in small quantities, now it has become a staple in nearly everyone’s diet. What effects has this massive influx of sugar had on our society?

In the short term sugar can cause: acne, mood swings, unrestful sleeps, fatigue and susceptibility to colds and flus. In the long term in can cause: cavities and dental disfigurement, depression, cystic acne, PCOS and infertility, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance and diabetes, and studies are even showing that it could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar causes inflammation (oh, hello stiff joints). Long term inflammation in our bodies can lead to: arthritis, asthma, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Sugar is not the only contributor to inflammation, but watching what we eat and drink can go a LONG way in reducing our inflammation and improving our health.

How can some innocent little white powder lead to so much evil in our bodies? Consider an egg which gives your body a variety of nutrients; choline, selenium, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, molybdenum, iodine, vitamin B5, protein, phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin A. Now consider white sugar, it has been refined and stripped of the vitamins and minerals that we need to process it properly. In order for our bodies to metabolize the stuff, it must take nutrients out of our body, meaning sugar can rob us from chromium, magnesium, and calcium (please keep this in mind with ALL refined foods – always choose whole foods first).

So which sounds like the healthier breakfast choice? Scrambled eggs or a bowl of Sugar Loops…I mean Fruit Loops?

I promise to give you more details about sugar metabolism throughout the year. For those of you that can’t wait please check out some of these resources:

http://www.mercola.com/article/sugar/dangers_of_sugar.htm
http://thatsugarfilm.com/blog/2016/03/27/diet-and-inflammation/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Are you eating natural sugars?

As far as fruits – yes! Mother Nature made fruit in a perfect package, wrapped in fibre, so our bodies can eliminate the fructose safely without congesting our livers.

As far as maple syrup and honey, no, I am avoiding those for the year too, unfortunately. As delicious as they are, they contain fructose without fibre. Don’t get me wrong, there are many health benefits in maple syrup and honey, but for this year I can live without their sweet deliciousness.

Are you eating sugar alternatives?

For the most part I am cutting out anything sweet, including alternatives. Occasionally I will have some stevia or xylitol in my smoothies as my favourite protein powers are sweetened using those.

Are you drinking alcohol?

I wasn’t too sure when I started the no sugar year about drinking. Alcohol is very hard for our bodies to process, so for the most part I’m going to avoid alcohol. When I do indulge on special occasions (I’m only human), I will be sticking to drinks with minimal fructose levels, such as red wine and clear spirits mixed with water. Feel free to check out this link for a breakdown of the sugar levels in your favourite adult beverages: https://iquitsugar.com/faqs/can-i-drink-wine/

What does a typical week of meals look like for you?

Homemade, homemade, homemade! Food producers often hide sugar in processed food to make it more palatable, so although it’s a little more effort cooking from scratch, it is totally worth it!

Let’s take a look at my meal plan for next week:

My breakfasts depfoodiesfeed.com_eggs-in-shadowend on the day. Mornings that I go to the gym for a swim before work I typically have a bulletproof coffee at home and then a smoothie when I get to work. At home breakfasts vary from nuts-and-seeds homemade granola with almond milk or different kinds of eggs with veggies.I may or may not have an obsession with eggs as you may have noticed from my Instagram.

 

Lunches are always leftovers from the night before or sometimes leftovers turned into a salad.

Suppers:

Sunday

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Saturday

Roast beef, potatoes and veggies Veggie lasagna (with zucchini noodles) Homemade chicken soup and tuna wrap on a flax wrap (avocado instead of mayo) Chicken legs  and a green salad Baked fish with green salad and sweet potato fries Burgers (no buns) with roasted zucchini/ peppers and onion. Out for supper to Plant Matters Kitchen

 

What is your goal weight at the end of the year?

I don’t have one. To me this year is about getting as healthy as possible. I have always struggled with my weight, so I do not want to put a number on it. I know weight loss will happen throughout the year so I’m considering that as a happy bonus!

I’ve had blood work done to show my “before.” I’ve measured my glucose and insulin, cardiovascular markers (cholesterol and triglycerides), as well as my inflammation markers. I also had some of my lady hormones measured so I can see how no sugar impacts my PCOS over the course of the year. I have definitely learned that I cannot rely on the scale to tell me how well I’m doing day in and day out!

How can I cut out sugar?

You know you best. Personally, I felt like I had to just cut sugar out entirely instead of just cutting back here and there – I definitely sound like an addict eh?? Programs like 21 Day Sugar Detox or I Quit Sugar are great places to start for those of you that are thinking ‘enough is enough’ and want to jump in with both feet.

For some people an all or nothing approach would be too stressful and counterproductive in the long run. For those people I would definitely recommend  cutting back on things that are manageable. If the thought of giving up your box of timbits a day causes you anxiety, start somewhere else and work your way up to that.

The first thing I would suggest is to look at what you are drinking. Are you drinking sugar on a regular basis, in your coffee, lattes, pop, fruit juices, sports drinks, tea, etc? Start switching out these sugary drinks for water. You can add in lemons or other fruits to help you make the transition if you are water-adverse. Increasing your aqua intake will help you to start feeling awesome – after all we are mostly water!

Through activities of daily living, the average person loses about 3- 4 liters (about 10-15 cups) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movement. What is lost must be replaced by the water/ fluid we drink and the food we eat.

 We lose approximately 1-2 liters of water just from breathing. The evaporation of sweat from the skin accounts for 90% of our cooling ability.”  – Dr. Batmanghelidj

The next place to start cutting sugar, if you are anything like me, is your snacks. What are you snacking on throughout the day or at night in front of the TV? Some great alternatives are nuts and fruits, chopped veggies with hummus, popcorn (from whole kernels not microwave popcorn). I’ve been having a cup of night time tea after dinner and this not only stops me from making trips to the kitchen, it helps me to relax before bedtime so I can get a sound sleep.

Please feel free to contact me for more tips and to sit down and discuss how sugar might be getting in the way of you achieving your inner awesome!

Yours in health,
Susan