The other day as we were driving home from school we somehow got on the subject of why our daughter Greta hasn’t written in her “No Sugar Project” journal lately. After a spate of great interest and productivity in the beginning, her writing book has been all but abandoned of late on her nightstand. I asked her: how come?
“Well, there’s nothing to write about,” she explained. “It’s like, it’s just normal now.”
There you have it folks. An eleven-year-old says not eating added sugar AT ALL with the exception of a once-per-month treat, can be normal. Let the record show that it took in the neighborhood of four months.
I know what you’re thinking- sure, anything can be normal if you do it long enough. You could wear balloon animal hats every night to dinner and after four months you wouldn’t even be hungry until a latex poodle was firmly situated across your brow.
That is true. However, I can identify with what Greta describes; after lots of flailing, I feel we’ve finally entered a groove of sorts now. We now know which products to buy at the supermarket and we head straight for them, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars worth of sugar. We now know which special things we have to go further afield for and when we do, we stock up: Nature’s Market in Manchester is our connection for GoRaw ginger cookies and granola bars, and Applewood Farms organic sandwich meats. BJ’s Wholesale Club- which is a hike and a whole-morning venture- has freeze-dried fruit chips that are one of the few fruit snacks I have found not sweetened with fruit juice. These have been such a big hit with the kids that we dole them out like special treats. They also sell four pound boxes of a center-cut bacon that is the only commercial brand I’ve found without sweeteners. For something we use a lot of, such as tomato sauce or yellow mustard, after zeroing in brands that contain no sugar, we buy it in bulk and store excess on shelves in the pantry.
We’ve also been fortunate to be in a buying club of sorts- or rather to be buying buddies with- a nearby family who orders bulk organic produce every other week or so. Thus our refrigerator is regularly on the verge of exploding from the amount of broccoli heads and navel oranges I attempt to stuff into it. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this makes in my mind-set: knowing we have so much produce on-hand means I don’t think twice before popping a Fuji apple into everyone’s lunchbox or before carving up a few grapefruit for breakfast. I know it’ll be good, (reliably better than anything we can buy at the regular store) I know it’s organic, AND on top of everything else we’re paying bulk rates and saving money. If you see me and ask me about it- you won’t be able to shut me up about how awesome this is. You’ve been warned.
(Of course, I’ve had to learn our family’s own pace when it comes to produce consumption. Exhibit A: the fifty-pound box of potatoes that seemed like such a good idea until they started aggressively trying to plant themselves in the linoleum of my kitchen floor.)
I’ve also learned to become a bread-hoarder of epic proportions. Bread is an especially tough one: even organic, health food store brands like Vermont Bread Company usually have cane sugar or honey in them. We’re lucky to have a wonderful baker in our community- hello Jed!- who produces fresh baguettes and Pain au Levain under the name “Rupert Rising Bread,” all with fewer ingredients than you can count on your hand- and no sugar. Problem solved, right?
The thing is, everyone knows Jed’s bread is that good, and consequently it sells out from the general store practically before he shows up with it a few times per week. Now, I know I should figure out which days those are, put it in my calendar, and show up mere moments after delivery time in order to secure my continued supply of fresh, local, staff-of-life. Unfortunately, I have about 247 other things to do first, including mailing my mother’s hand-knit Mother’s Day socks a week late (hi Mom!) and writing my blog in which I can complain about how I have no time to go buy bread. So instead, I buy it when I see it, which isn’t nearly often enough.
So, I buy bread and freeze it, I make bread when I can get to it, and sometimes we just have to get along with Triscuits and that’s all there is to it.
Then again, rather than toast for breakfast we could have some nice steamed broccoli heads garnished with navel oranges instead- after all, we certainly have enough of them, and it would give Greta something new to write about. As long as everyone has their poodle-hats handy, I think it should be just fine.
5 thoughts on “A Year Of No Sugar: Post 47”
I demand a poodle hat! 😀
hi Eve, I’m a little bit confused. Ever since I’ve stumbled on to your blog I have been doing a little research on my own but coming up w/ more questions than answers so I was wondering if you could help me out.
I found on the internet that women shouldn’t consume more than 25g of sugar daily and men 35g. But then I look on my organic yogurt and see that there’s 18 gm in one little container. So how is that even possible? When you do your no sugar, I know you are doing mainly no fructose unless it’s the whole fruit. And no added sugar. But what about just things that have natually high in sugar like dried dates?? I’m not sure if I can pull off what you’ve done but you have inspired me to greatly reduce my sugar uptake so any input would be great.
I wish I was more of an expert but I can at least tell you what we’re doing- rather than counting grams, we’ve simply cut out any fructose that isn’t connected to an actual fruit. This includes fruit juice and fruit juice sweeteners of course… So dates are very high in sugar, as are raisins and other dried fruits but we do eat them.
Lately I’ve been wondering whether our fruit consumption is in the “still too much fructose” department, despite the fact that we’re eating all that fiber and micronutrients with it- so I may start keeping closer track just to see…
However, both Dr. Robert Lustig and author David Gillespie make the point that it’s REALLY HARD to eat way too much fructose- and certainly almost impossible to eat as much as you’d get in an equivalent glass of juice or soda- if you’re eating the whole fruit: you’d just get too full and stop.
Thanks for your comment/question!
Hi Eve. I came to your blog via the comment you left on Gary Taubes’ article and I’m finding it very interesting. I have been avoiding sugar for years: not so much from health concerns (since I only learnt about them recently) but because I dislike the taste and effects on my body. The ‘icky’ feeling you mentioned in a recent post is how I feel after 2 pieces of chocolate or a few bites of any dessert. So I can’t really relate to the feelings of deprivation you mention, but I can relate to the struggle to find processed goods that don’t have added sugar. I live in Australia where the food culture is less sugar-saturated than yours, but this is changing. I’m disgusted these days to see sugar as the first or second ingredient on an increasing number of tins or packets. 10 years ago it wouldn’t have been on the list at all. And chocolate has completely taken over Valentine’s Day and Easter, which used to be characterised by flowers and painted eggs respectively. *sigh*
I wish you luck with your project. I particularly like your recipes and inventiveness with fruit as a sugar substitute. There’s no reason other than habit not to have broccoli for breakfast; Asians generally eat savory breakfasts, for example.
Thanks for your comment- author David Gillespie is Australian and cites in his book Sweet Poison how Australians aren’t on the level of American obesity and sugar consumption yet, but that they are catching up fast.
I think it’s fascinating the degree to which we can be sensitive or inured to sugar, and how icky it can be making us feel without us necessarily realizing it. Yesterday we were in a coffee shop with row upon row of delicious pastries in a glass cabinet, and, although they looked lovely, I can honestly say that I really didn’t like the idea of actually eating one. I think I may be coming to value how good I physically feel “off” sugar more than the instant gratification of having the treat. Wow!