I made a commitment for the month of April to be sugar and flour (wheat) free for at least 80% of the month, or 24 days. As of today, I’ve made it 5 out of 7 days. So far so good. The scale is moving in the right direction – this morning I saw a number I haven’t seen since September 2011. Clothes I haven’t been able to wear since then are fitting better too.
I’ve always been a low carb eater. I eat as little grain as possible, no pasta, no rice, no bread, no crackers. No potatoes either; they have too much starch, which turns to sugar in your bloodstream. I also don’t eat many baked goods or candy and stay away from most processed foods and dairy. I do allow myself a few exceptions of certain items, like salad dressings, butter or cream, that generally don’t have a lot of carbs or chemicals in them.
That means my optimal diet consists of lots of meat, eggs and veggies, moderate amounts of cheese, and minimal fruit, nuts and seeds. When I eat like this, I feel better – in countless ways - and I tend to lose weight. End of story.
But I have a weakness for bread, and I love my salty, crunchy crackers. When someone brings a delicious chocolate brownie treat to share, it’s really hard to resist. Holidays are always celebrated with food, most of it not in my low carb food plan. And once I start down that road, it’s difficult to stop. So I have to be very careful.
One thing I never worried about was the hidden sugars in many of the foods I eat. I always knew – have been harping on it for years – that when a food is labeled “low fat” or “fat free,” any fat that has been processed out has been replaced with sugar. Well, of course. It has to taste good, or no one would eat it. Right?
Except that the natural fats have been replaced not only with sugars, but with chemicals and “fake sugars” like high fructose corn syrup. So I don’t buy anything labeled “fat free” or “low fat.” I go with the full fat versions.
There can be no denying that sugar of one type or another is the culprit in many people’s failed efforts to lose weight, including mine. It is implicated in all kinds of health problems, including my momentary favorite, high cholesterol.
Even though I knew that some foods – even the full fat versions – have hidden sugars in them, they were so minimal that I didn’t care, and I was never truly aware of where those sugars were hiding. So when I committed to this sugar free month, I decided to take inventory of the few processed items I keep in my pantry and see what I was missing.
Here is a partial list. The first number is the total carbs in grams, the second number is the sugars in grams. The last item is how the sugar is listed and where it appears on the list.
Cream Cheese – 2 g – 2 g – 1st (it has milk, which has lactose, a sugar)
Bleu Cheese Dressing – 1 g – 1 g – Sugar, listed 8th
Ranch Dressing – 2 g – 1 g – Sugar, listed 3rd
Sour Cream – 1 g – 1 g – Milk protein, listed 2nd
Mayonnaise – 0 g – 0 g – HFCS, listed 6th
Peanut Butter – 8 g – 3 g – Sugar, listed 2nd
Pepperoni – 0 g – 0 g – Sugar, listed in the “2% or less” category
Shredded Cheese – 1 g – 0 g – Potato starch, listed in the “2% or less” category
Turkey Lunchmeat – 2 g – 1 g – Modified food starch, listed 3rd
If this is all the hidden sugar I’m getting, then I’m not doing too badly. But it is a reminder that I have to be vigilant. For this month, I’ve substituted a couple of things:
Instead of ranch or bleu cheese dressing, I’m mixing my own oil and vinegar dressing and experimenting with spices for flavor. It doesn’t save calories, but it has no sugar.
Instead of store-bought mayonnaise, I made my own, with egg, salt, mustard powder, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. No sugar.
Instead of standard peanut butter, I’m using all natural peanut butter which is made with peanuts and salt. Again, not a calorie saver, but no sugar.
At the end of the month, I hope two things have happened:
1. I have weaned myself off of these higher sugar items and the less sugary homemade stuff has become a habit
2. I have taken off the last 6 lbs to reach my goal
I’ll keep you posted!