Sugar-Free September Recap

Fall is here

It’s October, and that means it’s officially full on pumpkin season and the end of Sugar-Free September. Although I intended to celebrate with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, I had such a successful sugar-free experience that I’m planning to continue on with this low-sugar lifestyle.

I managed to avoid most added sugars, and definitely reduced my intake of those sneaky added sugars in products like cereal, bread, dressings and sauces. When I did indulge in some sugar, it was the obvious kind including desserts when I visited my friends in Ottawa, and at the wedding I went to this past weekend.

Looking back at the month, I ate added sugars only on 5 occasions, which is a huge accomplishment once you realize how many products have added sugars that many of us eat each day.

By avoiding added sugars during Sugar-Free September, I lost 5 pounds, fit back into my skinny jeans, and got through most of the month entirely craving free! Like last year, I definitely feel like abstaining from sugar has a big effect on my mood and energy. I found that I was having an easier time waking up, and hitting snooze less often. I also felt that I wasn’t experiencing many emotional ups and downs and felt consistently good all month despite quite a lot of stress at work and with the wedding.

I’m going to continue avoiding added sugars as much as possible. While I’m not aiming for 100% adherence, I’m going to continue checking labels at the grocery store, and avoiding products with added sugars. I think I’ll ease up on my Stevia ban though.

This year, with the wedding planning craziness, I didn’t have as much time to experiment with sugar-free recipes. Last year I made some fun ones like Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie and Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice “Nice” Cream, which I served up at Sugar-Free Thanksgiving.

pumpkin pie - sugar-free

This year I mostly stuck to the basics and avoided products with added sugars without trying to find sugar-free substitutes. While a lot of products contain added sugars, fortunately plenty of foods don’t, so I didn’t struggle with finding foods to eat. It just meant that I avoided most packaged, processed foods and stuck to the good stuff: lots of healthy veg, fruit and protein.

For more on quitting sugar, check out these links from around the web:

Quitting sugar for weight loss
Giving up sugar with the team up technique
Lots of sugar-free recipes
Tips from a sugar-addict
Sugar-free pumpkin recipes for fall
This blogger went sugar-free and loved it
An interview about quitting sugar
These people quit sugar
An e-book guide to going sugar-free in 5 weeks
Are you a serious sugar addict? There’s an inpatient program for that!

Bye, bye sugar cravings – Sugar-Free September Update

I’m 3 weeks into Sugar-Free September, so it’s time for an update. Since January, I’ve lost just about 19 pounds! (almost 20 lbs! crazy!) Almost 5 of those pounds have dropped off in just the last 3 weeks since I quit sugar with Sugar-Free September.

How has dropping sugar helped me drop the pounds?

Since I’ve been consistently logging my food on MyFitnessPal all year, I was excited to pull up the report that showed my sugar intake. I was sure that even though I hadn’t cut out natural sugars, cutting out those added sugars would have made a big impact. When I pulled up my report, I was actually a little bit disappointed!

I’ve been doing such a good job of avoiding added sugars. Not a single candy has passed these lips! But looking at this little graph, my sugar intake doesn’t really seem any different than the previous couple months when I wasn’t avoiding added sugars.sugar

When I looked a bit more closely, I did see some interesting things. My (added) sugar-free period is only 3 weeks long so far, so I don’t have a whole lot of data to go on, but it does seem to me like my sugar consumption is a little more steady. In the preceding weeks, it seems like every few days, my sugar consumption would spike up before dropping down again. I think that this is illustrating in a nice graphical form, my pattern of diligently sticking to my healthy diet before finally giving in to those sugar cravings before again re-committing to my diet.

Could avoiding added sugars be helping me avoid that sugar cravings cycle even if it hasn’t drastically reduced my overall sugar intake? Continue Reading

Oven-Roasted Drumsticks & Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts GIVEAWAY

I received a free package of Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Havest to review on the blog. All opinions described in this review are my own.

Oven-roasted chicken drumsticks breaded with hemp heartsSince my last weight-loss update, I’m now down another 3 lbs for a total loss of 18 lbs since January. Woohoo! As I’ve mentioned before, increasing protein intake has really helped me feel full longer, and it has gone a long way in helping me stick to my weight-loss goals.

In addition to filling up on healthy high protein foods like meat, eggs, yogurt, and nuts, I’d started regularly using protein powder, which I added to my low-sugar green smoothies. My favourite protein powders are from Kaizen and Vega, both of which offer delicious protein powders in a whole variety of flavours (I usually stick with vanilla or chocolate).

But for Sugar-Free September, I’m avoiding Stevia in addition to other added sugars and sweeteners, so my usual protein powders are off limits for the month.

Just in time for Sugar-Free September, Manitoba Harvest generously sent me a package of their hemp hearts to try. Hemp seeds are a great, sugar-free source of plant-based protein. Each 30 gram serving contains 10 grams of protein. Hemp hearts have a subtle nutty flavour and can be blended into smoothies, stirred into sauces and soups, and baked into muffins and cakes. I’ve been enjoying them sprinkled on salads, stirred into oatmeal and today I’m sharing a recipe for Oven-Roasted Drumsticks with a hemp heart breading. Click here for the best rotisserie oven options.

Hemp Hearts are a great protein sourceHemp breaded chicken drumsticks

For even more protein, Manitoba Harvest offers a selection of protein powders. (Also, looking forward to trying these hemp snack bites!) Manitoba Harvest’s manufacturing facilities are exclusively dedicated to hemp products, which eliminates the risk of cross-contamination with allergens, including peanuts, which can be a challenge with other protein powders.

Manitoba Harvest is offering one lucky reader the opportunity to try their Hemp Hearts, too. For your chance to win, enter the contest with Rafflecopter below. Winners must be from Canada or the US.

A winner will be randomly selected on September 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Oven-Roasted Drumsticks Breaded w/ Hemp Hearts

 Prep time 
Cook time 
Total time 
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken drumsticks (bone-in with skin)
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts
  • 2 tbs bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs coconut oil

 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel
  3. In a shallow bowl, mix mustard with crushed garlic
  4. In another bowl, combine hemp hearts, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper
  5. Roll chicken in mustard mixture and then thoroughly coat with bread crumb mixture
  6. Place chicken on pan greased with coconut oil
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 30 minutes
  8. For extra crispiness, broil for 2 minutes

Hemp-Breaded Chicken Drumsticks

What about Stevia? – Sugar-Free September

For Sugar-Free September, I set out guidelines that prohibited all added sugars, including added natural sugars like dried fruit and fruit juice. I also chose to eliminate Stevia. Extracted from a plant, Stevia is a natural and zero calories sweetener that can be used in granular or liquid form, and can be substituted for refined sugar in just about everything. So why did I eliminate Stevia for Sugar-Free September?

(source)

Current evidence tells us that Stevia looks pretty ideal when it comes to sweeteners. While older studies were a bit disconcerting, based on the most recent studies, Stevia doesn’t increase appetite or mess with insulin resistance, Stevia doesn’t damage DNA, and despite some concerns, Stevia doesn’t cause infertility (phew!). But it might be a bit of a problem for people with low blood pressure. Continue Reading