30 Day No Sugar Experiment & Other News

Adzuki Bean Stew & Grain Free Cheddar Biscuits.jpg
We're alive and well and still loving life in the paradise that is Clear Lake.  We've completed quite a few projects on the house but many of them are the boring maintenance not-at-all-fun kind.  Still, it's nice to have those checked off of the list.  That means the fun stuff gets ever closer to the top of the list.

My garden is mostly in the ground, well, earth boxes.  Planting season starts so very early down here and as long as I can keep the dogs out of the boxes (they lurve the manure) we should have a bountiful crop in a couple of months.  

Ever since we uprooted that blasted magnolia tree from our front yard, we have had a noticeable blank spot.  I pined for a cherry tree since our house has an Asian look about it.  Every time I asked someone "in the know" they told me no cherry trees are suitable for our climate.  Because of that, the blank spot taunted me.  I didn't want to commit to just any tree.  At this month's Garden Club meeting, our guest speaker handed out a sheet letting us know what should be planted now and lo and behold, a Taiwan Cherry Tree was listed!  Joy of joys!  Last weekend we planted the ornamental cherry tree that is perfectly suitable for the Gulf Coast.  And I only have to wait a year before it blooms again...c'est la vie.    
Latest addition to the hat collection
Engineer hasn't had to travel at all so far this year which is such a blessing.  Diva has been rockin' and rollin' at school and working diligently on her SAT prep course.  I cannot believe college is only 2 years away!

A couple of days ago I mentioned on Facebook that we wouldn't be having chocolate on Valentine's Day due to a "30 No Sugar Experiment."

I have been asked about our findings of the experiment. You will notice that Engineer's findings are absent form this account.  That's because he only partially complied.  He had work lunches and dinners to attend.  I was told that he needed to keep the lines of his homebrew keg clean so he had to drink from it and that somebody needed to eat the breakfast burritos and corny dogs in the freezer.   Mmmhmmm.....
Sugar Free Apple Pie Bites
Here goes in true Moppins nerdy fashion: 

Question:  What happens to your skin if you don't eat sugar for 30 days?

Hypothesis:  Diva's acne and my Rosacea would be less noticeable.

Experiment:  Keeping all other routines in place, we cut out all sugar sources including sugar, white rice/flour, honey, maple syrup, alcohol, corn (including starch) potatoes (including starch) and sweeteners, and had limited sprouted bread (2 slices per week) brown rice (2 portions per week) oatmeal (2 portions per week) and limited fruit (2 portions or less per day.)
We used our skin, weight, and overall well-being as the measure of change but our skin conditions were the primary focus.  For reference, I used Gillian McKeith's You Are What You Eat cookbooks for my recipes.

Grain Free Peanut Butter Bread Rolls
Observations:  Skin - At about day 8 or so, Diva's skin became very sensitive to the high-powered over-the-counter face wash, astringent pads, and medicated moisturizer all of which she had been using to try and control acne. She then switched to a light organic face wash for normal skin and nothing else. Her face had simply stopped producing so much oil. Her skin has been steadily clearing up ever since.

Unfortunately, I have not noticed a change in the redness of my face however, as far as the texture of my skin, face and body, is much improved.

Weight - We both immediately started losing weight and have continued to do so.  At our last weigh-in the two of us are down about 13lbs.  Diva has dropped a dress size, maybe 2.  I have lost enough weight that I am actually drying my jeans in the machine (not hanging them to dry) to get them to shrink a little.  I had gained 10 stinking whole pounds in the 1 year in Bossier City!!!  That's what good food and living next to a take away daiquiri place will do for you.  I had begun losing that weight slowly since living in Clear Lake.  But in the 30 days, I burned through those last few Louz-yana pounds and am now 12 lbs. off of my ultimate goal weight.  Weight was only a measure of change and not the objective of the experiment...that being said, it sure is nice to be able to zip up a church dress that I couldn't just last month.

Overall Well-Being - We began the experiment on a Monday, on the following Saturday our household had descended into chaos.  Everyone was mad at everyone else.  No one could have a civil conversation and whenever anyone tried to talk with anyone else, it became a shouting match; this is highly unusual for Team Moppins.  By the end of the day we had all scattered to different sections of the house so as to be left alone to stew in our rage.  It was intense.  The next day, everyone was back to normal.  I looked up the symptoms of sugar withdrawal and the list fit us perfectly:  headaches, mood swings, angry outbursts, anxiety, fatigue, severe cravings.  Yikes!  This has not been an issue since that one day.

Before we started this experiment, I felt really sleepy and lethargic by mid-afternoon, but I haven't felt that way at all since about day 7.

It was a bummer to have to turn down dinner with friends or wine in the evenings or our usual pizza on weekends or treats friends brought to school.  

We had already planned to have one of our Pop-Up Cocktail Parties when we started the experiment.  So there I was, mixing drinks, passing around pretzels (I love pretzels) and key lime dip (that I could try) while my husband and neighbors imbibed much more interesting cocktails than my iced tea.  Unsweetened of course.  Those kinds of things are a two-faced situation:  on the one hand it stinks to not drink at your own party and have to explain to everyone why you aren't eating the delicious dip, on the other hand, it's empowering to be able to say no and stick by it.

Taco Pizza on a Cauliflower Crust
Analysis:  We were both hoping for more change in our skin conditions although definite progress has been made.  We have been amazed at how easily the weight has come off so far.  Our outlook has been rather sunny and our general welfare is quite good.

Conclusion:   I was surprised at how much this experiment affected us.  We don't drink cokes every day, I make most food from scratch, generally chips and stuff are treats, etc. yet we experienced the Day of Rage, along with the weight loss and skin improvements.

I was also pleased that it wasn't as expensive as I expected.  Another benefit was no wasted food left lurking in the back of the crisper drawer.

We decided that self-control is like a muscle that has to be flexed to be strengthened.  Every time we said no, we built up more resistance.  As for no chocolate on Valentine's Day, it was day 30 of the experiment and by then we were conditioned to be okay with no sugar.

Diva and I are proud of ourselves that we kept strictly to the plan.  At Engineer's suggestion, we will be continuing on a no-sugar lifestyle for the foreseeable future.  We have reaped too many benefits to discount that way of eating; however, we will also be introducing a "cheat meal" so as not to exasperate ourselves or become recluses with no social engagements...plus, we just bottled some pear wine that I'd like to be able to drink.

I am particularly proud of Diva that she did not succumb to temptations while at school and held her head high as she ate her mung bean casserole, asparagus and zucchini soup, or eggplant tagine.

I won't say that it was easy.  It wasn't.  I really missed fruit....and wine.  

And for someone who enjoys food as we do, eating simply is not all that exciting.  But then again, it has forced us to be aware of what we fuel our bodies with, or not fuel our bodies with as it was in the case of afternoon lethargy.

I meticulously planned out all of the food we would eat for the week with very little wiggle room.  Every ingredient had to be scrutinized to see if it had obvious sugar or anything ending in -ose in it - fructose, dextrose, sucrose, etc.  I was cooking all the time - which normally is a joy - but instead of baking brownies or muffins, I was making lentil stew and the like.  Lentils are good but decidedly less fun than brownies.   

Lately I've been trying to find ways to eat things we like but healthier versions.  For instance, I made pizza using a cauliflower crust, cheddar herb biscuits made from almond flour, and bread rolls made from peanut butter.  I have not yet found a no sugar brownie recipe.

Our saving grace was dairy.  We did not restrict our dairy consumption and if anything, ramped it up.  Diva and I have eaten cheese, butter, yoghurt, milk - all full fat - like our lives have depended on it.  

The other grace has been nuts.  We've eaten truckloads of mixed nuts.  

Anyone want to give this experiment a try?


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