Lately I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how bad sugar is for all of us. I have some issues with this, even if I can’t deny it.


I like key lime pie!

First, science can’t wait until I’m in my late 50’s to tell me something I’ve enjoyed my entire life is worse for me than I already knew. It’s not fair; it’s not right!

Second, I knew this because I’m diabetic; what I didn’t know is that it can affect memory and lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Once again, not fair, not right!

Third, supposedly there’s still time to reverse the process if you can stay off sugar for at least six weeks. The caveat is that it’s harder to do than you think it is if you love your sweets… which I do.

I decided to see what it might entail for me to do such a challenge, and only committed to five days because I figured I could easily do five days. And, since I’m a blogger and tell almost everything, I figured I’d chronicle what happened day by day.

First, some other information.

There was one thing that had sugar in it (honey) that I refused to give up. My Hall’s lemon-honey cough drops have honey in them but they help me breathe. It’s a flavor that doesn’t come sugar free and I hate the sugar free stuff anyway. I figured this negligible bit of sugar didn’t really count since they’re only one calorie per serving.

Next, I had to start out on Sunday going to the store to buy food I was going to eat for the week. I already knew I couldn’t eat bread or condiments, which was going to drastically change a lot of the foods I eat. I’ve always read labels looking at caloric content and, sometimes, sugar and sodium content. But looking for sugar, HFCS, glucose syrup and the rest… this was a new thing.

I also learned that almost all salad dressings have a bit of sugar in them, some more than you’d think. In the end I bought this small $5 bottle of organic Caesar salad dressing with avocado oil so I could eat a couple of salads. I also bought a bag of Cheetos crunchy because they also don’t have any sugar in them; that’s a big win for me! lol

Last but not least, I want to mention that I’ve done quite a few 5 day “no dessert” challenges. So this isn’t a total stretch except I’m taking it to an extreme I haven’t had to deal with before. A lot more reading, a lot of things being eliminated that I never thought about before, and a lot of other things being eliminated by causal relationships: no hamburger because I can’t use either ketchup or barbecue sauce; no fried fish because I can’t use tartar sauce. No Ritz Crackers or bread… sigh…

Anyway, this is how it went:

Monday


Shepherd’s pie

It was a wonderful morning, so once the lady showed up to clean and stay with Mom for a couple of hours I decided that instead of doing my norm and going out for breakfast that I’d go to the lake for a long walk. The problem with breakfast this week is that I couldn’t have my grilled cinnamon toast with apple jelly; without that it’s just… food…

It took about 90 minutes to walk the lake (not the entire lake for people who don’t live here, but the trail leading from the main parking lot to another lot that, round trip, it just over 5 miles). That was a nice start to the day; I knew the shower would feel great when I got home.

The first test of my resolve against sugar was stopping at Wegmans before I went home. I had a few things to pick up, and as I was standing in line to pay for them I took a quick look at the candy, which is right there in the checkout line. Reese’s peanut butter cups were calling my name, but I shrugged it off proudly.

You’d think I would start with food but instead I started with a large mug of unsweetened iced tea (lots of Equal though; don’t judge me); it was hot after all. I decided to wait a couple of hours before eating because I was going out later to meet some friends who’d moved out of the area but were in town for the day. I didn’t want to have to eat a second time before leaving; that might not have been smart.

I made what we call a “hot salad”. In essence, you cook or heat up some kind of meat, cut it up into chunks or fine pieces, then mix it in with your salad, add dressing and go to town. Lettuce has no calories so it’s always a large salad when I have one at home. Instead of hamburger I decided to use a couple of Gianelli sweet sausage links, which I verified didn’t have any sugar in them (whew). The dressing turned out to be pretty good and I put just enough so I’d have enough for a second salad tomorrow. The meal came to 380 calories; not bad at all.

Hours later I went out to meet my friends and others, and I realized I was going to have to eat, since the salad didn’t have tons of calories. I ordered a Shepherd’s pie since it was the only thing I could confirm that didn’t have any sugar in it; it was wonderful! Myfitnesspal said a cup and a half of this concoction was only 500 calories; I could live with that. However, my stomach started messing with me later on. It was the only time I had an upset stomach for the week; that’s a good thing.

The second test of my resolve was stopping at Wegmans again on the way home. I had to pick up some quinine water for Mom, and instead of going to my regular Wegmans, I went to the one in Dewitt… the huge one! Way too many desserts attacking my sensibilities in a store I’m not used to traversing, which means I walked by everything bad for me. I fended off the assault, got what was needed, made it through the checkout line without looking at the candy and got out of Dodge with alacrity!

I got home around 10PM and realized that I hadn’t eaten enough food for Myfitnesspal to accept it when I was ready to close out for the night, especially since I’d hit 21,000 steps per Fitbit (around 10 miles for the day). I had to eat an ounce and a half of potato chips (no sugar… vegan food lol), which was on top of the ounce of Cheetos I’d had earlier in the day. Those 400 extra calories got me to around 1,350 calories on the day; not a bad start for the week. I also had 12 cups of water (unsweetened tea counts as water).

Tuesday


hot salad

Glucose was under 100 when I woke, which for me isn’t all that good. Still, instead of going out for breakfast, I went to one of the malls to walk since it was pouring rain outside. I did the mall walk thing for about 45 minutes, then had a couple of stops to make before I went back home. I was hungry after the walk so I broke down and got a hash browns from McDonald’s, which obviously has no sugar in it. The hash browns helped me deal with Wegmans because it took the edge off; whew!

You’d have thought I would have made something to eat immediately after I got home but I had things to do. After about an hour I made my second hot salad with the last two sausage links and the rest of the salad dressing.

I didn’t eat another meal until around 8:45 in the evening, but I had both a serving of potato chips and Cheetos. I almost bought some cashews, once again sugar free, but way too many calories for so few cashews; that wouldn’t get it done.

Dinner was a large bowl of Kellogg’s All Wheat Bran Flakes, of which 2 cups comes to 250 calories. The lactose free milk I put on them came to 195 calories, and I closed the day at 1,200 calories, barely hitting the low limit Myfitnesspass would have accepted from me.

Just before bed I was hungry, which is sometimes a sign that I’m going to awaken with a very low glucose reading. I had a quick thought about eating one of Mom’s Hershey bars, but I went to bed early instead since I had to be up by 6:30.

Wednesday


fried rice

Wednesdays and Fridays I take my mother to the Silver Fox Senior Social Club, or what I normally call the senior center. This gives me time where I can either plan meetings or sit around doing a lot of nothing; relaxation means so much more these days.

They’re also days where I wake up earlier than normal so I can get here there before 8AM and have a lot of day to myself. Changing times would confuse the lady who comes to clean Mom up so I set the time for her to show up to be 7AM. Since I don’t sleep much, this isn’t optimal for me, but one does what one has to do.

This day it allowed me to make breakfast… which didn’t turn out as I expected it would. The night before I was talking to a friend of mine who’s a eating psychology coach (I call her a nutritionist) and she expressed concern that I might be eating too many carbs because of the cereal the night before. I decided to try a new tact, so I cooked two eggs with chunks of ham. It was delicious and, at only 242 calories, kind of healthy. The problem is that in less than an hour I was starving! I tried stemming the hunger with an ounce of Cheetos… that didn’t work so well but I didn’t immediately have time to do anything about it.

These guys showed up an hour early to do some work in the basement that my wife had asked for. I didn’t want to prepare food while they were there… truthfully, I didn’t want to prepare food at all!

I wanted something sweet… anything! This was craving day. Chocolate, cookies, ice cream… I really wanted to stop my experiment, head to the mall and indulge myself. I waited until they left and I went to the mall… and instead talked myself into heading to PF Changs for fried rice. No sugar in fried rice or soy sauce, and I got their combo which gave me chicken, beef and shrimp. They bring you a cup and a half as a serving, and I ate a cup of it, which came to 363 calories. I brought the rest home, feeling pretty good because I’d beaten the dessert craving, and knew I had something I could heat up for dinner.

Which I did, and it was delicious. It was also less than 200 calories. I got to 9:45 in the evening and only had 947 calories; more cereal for me! Only, it turned out I only had 1 1/2 cups of my cereal left, and even with the milk, it barely got me to 1,266 calories. Myfitnesspal accepted it, but wasn’t happy about it (it gives you a warning message when it thinks one’s caloric intake it too low). Also, I was still hungry; Cheetos to the rescue! lol

Thursday

Thursday was the first day where I not only didn’t have any sugar cravings, but I finally figured out breakfast and dinner. At least I think I did…


eggs, ham & grits

When the lady came to sit with Mom I went to the lake for a long walk, like I did on Monday. One of the smarter things I did was reduce the amount of insulin I normally take the night before, which gave me a good number but not a low one. That’s always dangerous, but since I’m off sugar for the week it could have been drastically problematic.

I was hungry when I got home so it was time to cook something. This time around I decided to add grits to the menu. My thinking was that having a mixture of carbs and protein instead of just protein might help the hunger thing. I also love grits because I can put as much butter and salt in it as I want; I get to do that with only a couple of foods. It worked wonders and still ended up being few calories, 395 to be specific. That meal held me until close to 5PM.

I mentioned I didn’t have any sugar cravings; that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about dessert stuff. I get to blame that on Mom, who first tried to talk me into going out for ice cream, and then immediately switched it to chocolate cake. I have favorite places for each of these things so it popped into my mind and lingered for a little bit. But I didn’t have the same cravings I’d been having, maybe because it’s the first day I didn’t go to the store for anything.

For dinner I broiled a big chunk of boneless country style ribs. I had some mashed potatoes with it. The ribs were the highest calorie thing I’ve had all week, coming in at 675 calories for 7 1/2 ounces. I normally add barbecue sauce to it but since I’m off sugar for the week I seasoned it well with multiple kinds of salt.

However, I ate that meal early, which meant I had to eat again before I could take more insulin later in the evening. Luckily I’d bought another box of bran flakes and, like the night before, had 1 1/2 cups of it. Along with the milk, that brought my calories up to 1,679 for the day, the most calories of the week.

Friday

The final day… and I still have no cravings. Doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to Saturday but I haven’t had the urge to cheat.


temptation!

I was up early to take Mom to the senior center. Came back home and once again had 2 scrambled eggs with ham and grits, but less than half a cup of grits this time around. The reason was more that I was almost out of grits than worrying about whether I could eat them all or not. Breakfast was only 395 calories; can’t wait to get that grilled cinnamon raisin toast next week!

After eating breakfast I left the house for a couple of hours, visiting the big bowling tournament being held at the Oncenter in the city. I came home and chilled for a while, and only had one ounce of Cheetos… my only snack for the day.

I waited until 2:30 and decided to go out for lunch. I went to Chili’s, where I only ate the chicken and steak meat for fajitas… and nothing else. That only came to 200 total calories.

I went to pick up Mom and took her to my friend Scott’s house so Mom could see his baby grandson Jameson. He offered me a halfmoon cookie from my favorite bakery, which I asked him to put into a plastic bag for Saturday. I still wasn’t craving it but I was relishing it. 🙂

I waited until around 8 at night to eat some dinner. I had the rest of my country style ribs, 4.75 ounces and mashed potatoes. That came to 554 ounces. I didn’t eat anything else on the day which means I only ate 1,309 calories.

Aftermath

It was an interesting challenge. I was slightly amazed that the cravings ended after Wednesday because I usually keep the cravings when I go off dessert for a week. I think the difference was killing all sugar across the board, cough drops notwithstanding.

I lost 4 pounds in 5 days, reduced my glucose levels (I hate that other term lol), and had no stomach issues after Monday… which I was having almost daily the week before. Figuring out that having carbs and protein at the same time to reduce hunger was a good lesson. Also remembering to reduce the amount of insulin I normally use saved me a lot of distress.

Of course, after I ate breakfast this morning I immediately ate that cookie from the day before. It was wonderful… and not. I probably should have started with ice cream! 🙂
 

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