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I mentioned on my Instagram awhile ago that I was challenging myself to a year of no sugar and flour. So far I’ve kept my challenge going strong and steady for 5 months and have no plans to stop the rest of the year. I feel so much healthier-there has been so many benefits for me.
At 52, and a cancer survivor (for lack of a better term-it was pure luck to catch it when I did), who has always struggled with eating healthy, emotional eating, and good eating patterns, this has been something I just felt called to do. I found Amanda Sanchez (who has a lot of good guidance on her blog) and she really gave me the idea of just eliminating those two things from my diet. There is no nutritional worth at all in sugar and most of the flours we consume are worthless as well nutrionaly. But the bigger thing for me is they do NOT make me feel good. I have a sensitivity (allergy would be too strong a word) to gluten and sugar – I’ve found my joints ache, I have a multitude of digestive issues, the more I eat them the more I crave them which starts a perpetual cycle. I could, and have, just survived on candy, pretzels, chocolate and cookies all day!
I have always struggled with emotional eating when I became a mom and sugar/flour was my go-to. It is SO difficult to find time while raising kids to eat healthy when home all day and busy fixing others food, and easy to just grab a bag of pretzels, or pick off the plates. Treats were my reward after a long day of constantly doing for others. I would go through phases and fads or eating healthy (Whole30, etc) but none of the phases were convenient to a normal lifestyle. They all required so much prep work also. With eliminating sugar and flour I have never once had an issue of finding something to eat anywhere I go.
Also, as I said before all my joint pain is gone. I have more energy, no sugar crashes, no sinus stuffiness (this has been a lifelong issue for me) and my weight has been totally steady. No bloating, clearer skin with less puffiness. I’m never hungry and enjoy large portions of the food I do eat. I lost about 15 pounds within a month or two of cutting sugar and flour out with no exercise. But the biggest thing for me is I eat so much healthier. Tons of fruit, vegetables, and some protein-meat and beans, and dairy.
(Just to be clear when I talk about sugar I don’t mean fruit. I do chew gum with artificial sweetener in it occasionally, and will have some salad dressings and ketchup that has sugar as an ingredient. I stay away from all other types of sugar-honey, maple syrup, etc. As for flour that means all bread, pasta, everything and anything made with any kind of flour or other grains at all. If I make a pizza for myself for instance it’s cauliflower crust.)
So what do I eat?
Usually I eat very little before noon. Maybe a smoothie, a banana or another piece of fruit.
I will eat a huge salad for lunch or a soup and chili that I make earlier in the week. I use the premade salad bags often but add a lot of goodies to my salad-maybe more vegetables, cheese, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fruit, a little bit o chicken (pre-cooked frozen that I thaw in microwave), or ground beef if making a taco salad. Pinterest has so many good salad ideas.
For snacks I will have fruits or vegetables or sometimes I’ll sometimes have a small bowl of chips. I also LOVE popcorn and make it on the stove with coconut oil when I am craving salt and carbs. (Parmesan cheese or Everything Seasoning are my favorite toppers and yes I use a little butter and salt too!)
For dinner, I will either eat the meat and veggies that I am making for everyone, and don’t eat the bread or noodles, or make myself something separate if need be. Sauteed vegetables, cauliflower rice, meat, etc.
For dessert if I’m craving it-frozen bananas with a little almond milk in the blender makes delicious ice cream!
Yes, I still bake! I love baking for my family and my friends! It’s a hobby of mine for sure. I just don’t eat it-nope not even a lick. And yes, it takes will power, but I have promised myself I am doing this for a year and by golly, I’m going to do it.
This does take a little planning but it’s so simple really. I could not do it if it was complicated. I do not ever want to count points, or percentages, or calories, or get complicated in order to eat a healthy diet. There is nothing wrong with those things at all, they just do not work for me. And that’s really the key to healthy eating and/or weight loss. (And concentrating on the healthy eating leads to the weight loss so it’s killing two birds with one stone.) To find what works for you, your body type, your lifestyle and what your goals are long term.
An important side note: PMS cravings are real and awful. I struggled with them for sure-and now my friends are telling me perimenopause and menopause are even worse when it comes to cravings and weight gain and I fully believe them. I was feeling awful at least half of each month hormonally for a year or two before I found my cancer at 47/48, and whether it was due to the tumor or perimenopause it felt like I was living with chronic constant PMS. One of the nice things chemo did for me is give me is knock me past all that awful change straight into post menopause. It is SO much easier for me to control cravings and feel “even”. (I joke that a couple doses of the “red devil” chemo is all it takes and might be worth it!). I just wanted to disclose that because it is easier for me without that added element for sure.
Here are a few tips:
- Dehydration is the number one thing for me that causes sugar cravings. And I am SO not good about drinking enough water, but this forces me to.
- Make sure you have convenience foods for emergencies-it is a priority for me to have salad fixings and fruit and vegetables in my fridge always, along with a few healthy snacks that I love.
- Have a strong mindset-set the goal and do it. Think “this is not for me” about food that doesn’t make you healthier or feel good. I consider it strongly as an allergy for me-and maybe that holds more worth for me with having had cancer, but I want to live a long and vibrant life -I know how precious health is.
If you have any questions about my year without sugar or flour, feel free to ask in the comments, or email me!
Some recipes I make often (I will add more as the year goes on):