21 Days Without Refined Sugar- Week 1

Shortly before the beginning of the year, I read an article on how to detox your body. It talked about which signs to watch out for in case you were in need of a cleanse, as well as food groups to cut out. In addition to basically following a vegan diet, which I already do, the article recommended eliminating refined sugar from your diet. Since I am always interested in boosting my health and wellbeing, I decided it was worth giving it a try, especially since I tend to crave sweets very often and it is possible to be addicted to sugar. Refined sugar is one of the most processed foods we consume, and is said to be linked to diabetes, obesity, a weakened immune system, as well as high cholesterol levels. Quite frankly, I am not worried about any of the above-mentioned “side-effects” because I consume way less sugar than the average person, but my aim is to eat almost exclusively whole foods, which refined sugar certainly is not. Moreover, refined sugar is not always vegan because many manufacturers use bone char from cattle as a decolorizing filter to achieve the white color. Doesn’t that sound disgusting?    

When I started my cleanse a week ago, I didn’t quite know what to expect because when I am hungry after a long workout session or a long day of work, I tend to just grab a packet of wafers or a piece of chocolate and I didn’t know how I would respond to not being able to just snack on anything. All I knew was that I needed to be prepared, so I purchased fruits, fruit purees and ingredients to bake cookies. Being prepared is a bit harder than I expected because to me, an apple is not as satisfying as a cookie, and I am often too lazy or exhausted to bake something when I suddenly crave sweets. However, when I have refined-sugar-free-sweets on hand, I am happy to report that I don’t have any withdrawal symptoms. I haven’t noticed a real difference yet, but it is always good to try new things. I certainly eat more fruits than I did before the cleanse, especially during the winter months when there are few locally grown fruits available at the grocery store and fruits are not as ripe and tasty as they are in the summer.    

One thing I have noticed now that I need to check ingredients more thoroughly is that many products contain “hidden” sugar, which I already sort of knew, at least in theory. Thankfully, the organic products I like to eat contain raw cane sugar instead of refined sugar, which, to my knowledge, is a bit healthier since it is not as processed and thus not stripped of all nutrients. I know I should try to reduce my overall consumption of sugar and sweeteners (like agave syrup, maple syrup and the like), but I am quite proud of myself for coping quite well with having to be a bit more conscious about what kinds of sweets to eat. I have, for example, made brown rice pudding sweetened with a little bit of agave syrup, whole spelt cookies with raw cane sugar, chia pudding with apple puree and macha-maca latte with a little bit of agave syrup. Today, Herbert made me delicious apple turnovers. Unfortunately, I am out of maple syrup, which I love, but I should also have date sugar, coconut sugar and birch sugar stashed away somewhere in my kitchen. Perhaps I’ll try to use them next week. I think me go-to refined sugar replacement will continue to be mascobado raw cane suguar though because I love its caramel and vanilla flavors. Because it is not refined, I’ve read, it still contains nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. I am certainly excited to start the second week of my cleanse and see if I can continue cutting out refined sugar as much as possible even after the month is over. Keep your fingers crossed ;).  

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