Sugarfree

I normally don’t do new year’s resolutions but for 2015 I’m willing to make an exception. I’m going “sugar commando”.

It all started with this book (dutch): Zonder suiker.

het boek: Zonder Suiker

It contains some good tips and a clear explanation on sugars and which sugars are wrong. It offers answers to common questions when you’re reducing your sugar intake. The recipes in this book are great. They are just very easy to follow and don’t require any cooking skills or “exotic” ingredients.

No added sugar(s)

Let’s be clear from the start. It’s not the intention of avoiding sugars at all. That’s simply impossible and just unhealthy. It’s all about avoiding the added sugar(s). Natural sugars, like the sugar in an apple or banana, are essential. Your brain needs them and they’re responsible for the communication between your cells, they supply energy for your body and a whole lot more. Natural sugars also contain some important components which processed refined sugars don’t have. Processed sugar is the white table sugar you add in your coffee or cake. It contains nothing but the power of sweetening stuff and clotting your arteries.

A short history lesson

Studies have shown that since the 1930’s our annual sugar intake has gone from 12kgs to 30kgs in 1990 and around 2010 upto 40kgs per person. And that’s not only from added sugars in candy or soft drinks but also from (canned) food you buy in local supermarket or store. The food lobby has been adding sugar to everything because it’s cheap, it lengthens its expiration date and adds to the mass of the product making the product cheaper to produce for the same amount. So actually you’re getting less “real” product and more sugar. Our taste buds get used to so much sugar so after a while the product tastes dull so they add more sugar. A never ending story.

Why do I do it?

I’m not a diabetic or have any health issues (to my knowledge), I just wanted to change something and see how it affected my day to day live and especially my running performance. Maybe I’ll sleep better, maybe I’ll lose a few kgs, maybe I’m happier, maybe I’ll have more energy during the day.

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional athlete so I don’t have to avoid all sugars and be very strict about my diet. Occasionally I do indulge to some tasty sweets and drink some beer or other guilty pleasure. Running is something I do for fun so and I like to keep it that way.

How?

Start with a transitioning period of 7 days in which you progressively decrease your sugar intake. Skip your afternoon Snickers bar and replace it with an apple. Switch to whole grain bread instead of white bread. Drink fewer soft drinks, replace them with water. Reduce sugar in your tea or coffee, replace it with natural sweeteners like Stevia or no sweetener at all.

It’s possible you can have headaches when you’re cutting down the sugar, it’s one of the detoxing side effects. I was lucky, hardly had any headaches in this period.

After this week you will have to be able to avoid sugar as much as possible. No sugar in your coffee or tea. Drink lots of water and check the products that you buy for added sugar(s). The following 4 weeks you spend on improving your meals and shopping habits and discovering new ways to eat snacks. All this until it becomes natural to you.

Benefits

You taste palette will change drastically. Once you’re used to eating less sugar everything will taste better and more intense. I do sleep just a little bit better and my focus during the day is also better. I also starting cooking a lot more, something my wife likes very much. Started with baking healthy snack replacements like oatmeal and fruit muffins and gradually evolved into cooking real dinners in the weekend. I also hope to lose a few kgs so I have less weight to carry when I go out for my long run.

Recipes

homemade granola
Right out of the oven

My Favorite: Homemade granola. Based on this recipe by Jeroen Meus, a belgian TV chef. I eat it every morning with some yoghurt, maple sirup and raisins or cranberries.

oatmeal pancakes
Delicious with some maple syrup, blueberries and raspberries

Oatmeal and banana pancakes

Recipe:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 200 grams blueberries (frozen)
  • 180 grams oatmeal (blend it so it looks like flour)
  • 440 ml milk
  • 30 grams butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Stevia
  • 1 bag (7 grams) vanilla sugar
  • 1 tablespoon line seed
  • 3 teaspoons of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • vegetable oil to bake your pancakes
  • maple syrup (or honey) and some fruit to dress your pancakes

Mash your bananas. Mix your oats with the baking soda in a separate bowl and leave it alone. In another bowl mix the melted butter with Stevia, vanilla sugar, salt, cinnamon, eggs, line seed and the mashed bananas. Now mix the 2 bowls, stir until you have a nice liquid with no lumps and let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. Bake your pancakes and enjoy.