Monday, June 30, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 3 Recap

Week 1
Week 2
Reading Food Labels - SUGAR

Confession...week 3 did not really go as planned. I ate out a lot more than I planned to but I told myself I wouldn't be anti-social because of this whole program and I tried my best to choose sugar free restaurant items...I think I did ok!  BUT, I also definitely felt a bit off after eating out so many times and my stomach didn't like me too much so I'll be resetting and planning to enter week 4 a bit more prepared for the week.  Week 4 is "clean week" so I will be making a big effort to eat all my meals at home this week. 

But hey I cooked some amazing things anyways.  I roasted up a chicken on Sunday evening and ate it most of the week which was awesome.

LEFT: Roasted chicken with quinoa, roasted root veggies, other veggies with a olive oil/apple cider vinegar dressing.
RIGHT: Roasted chicken, broccoli, and smashed potatoes with peas and feta

Breakfasts have really been one of my favorite things on this plan. And this week the addition of a quinoa porridge made me look forward to waking up each morning. I will most certainly be adding it to my regular breakfast rotation.

Cook 3/4 cup already cooked quinoa with 1/2 cup milk and add your favorite mixins! I topped mine with yogurt and pepitas!
Sunday's pre-run fuel of veggie bread with avocado-feta smash and two fried eggs!

Week 4 Prep

Week 4 is "clean week".  It is actually optional but they recommend you remove gluten, alcohol, and caffeine for just 5 days only.  Since I don't want to have a headache everyday and be a grump I'm not giving up caffeine but I can do no gluten and alcohol for 5 days easily and make my meals a little greener for the week. But the main idea is that we should be getting through most of sugar detox symptoms and now we give our bodies a change to get rid of any other toxins hiding in there.

The IQS team also recommended about a hundred different supplements, spices, powders, etc to help with detox, etc but I'm not jumping on that bandwagon and will just fill my cravings with tea and snacks like usual :). For example, I made these Meal in a Biscuit Crackers last night and they are pretty good, especially slathered with some cream cheese or nut butter.  They were super easy to make but I could see how they would get expensive to have all the time since they contain a lot of chia, sunflower, and sesame seeds.  Since they are a super hearty cracker one large one with some cream cheese usually curbs my appetite in the late afternoon.

Note: I subbed buckwheat flour for the almond meal since I'm allergic to nuts and didn't use dulce flakes.

The end of week 4 marks the halfway point of this 8-week program so I'll plan on posting more about how I'm feeling so far next week!

More Reading:

Report: The Sugar Lobby Threatens Organizations, Buries Science on Health Effects - found this after my sugar label posting last week...interesting information about WHY we may not be pushing sugar limits in the United States, makes you go "hmmmm".

I ate Sugar - Even Sarah Wilson (the creator or IQS) "cheats"!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reading Food Labels - SUGAR

First off HUGE disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist…not even remotely close, but this is information is based on a wealth of knowledge I've been exposed to as part of the I Quit Sugar program, some online research of my own, with some links to back it up.  This post is simply meant to get you thinking about sugar on food labels and what to watch out for if you are thinking about cutting down on your sugar intake.

I've mentioned it before but the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women (9 for men).  According to a recent Forbes article most americans are eating about 35 teaspoons a day on average.

Even more recently (March 2014), the World Health Organization (WHO) opened public consultation on their recommended limits for sugar intake that echo those of the AHA, about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day.  This equates to about 5% of your total energy intake for the day.  But you know the craziest thing…have you ever noticed that there is not % daily value calculation for sugar on all nutritional labels?  There are guidelines on percentages of daily value for fat, sodium, fiber, carbs, and vitamins…but NOT sugar…hmmm.


Now the debate is still out on whether to include fruit in those 6 teaspoons per day but the I Quit Sugar program argues that while fruit is obviously a way better choice than a can of coke for other reasons, once fructose enters the body it is all the same…straight to the liver and turned into fat when consumed in large quantities.  My personal goal is to only consume 6 teaspoons or less per day and including fruit in that number.

Let's dissect some common "health" foods for their sugar content shall we?


Yogurt is excellent for you, good dairy and probiotic source but combine that with fruit the way most companies do you can end up with a sugar bomb!

Let's take Chobani 16oz blueberry blended yogurt.  Greek yogurt, that's healthy right? Fruit…healthy? Well take a look a the label and you can see there are 23 grams of sugar per serving in this container and you are lying to yourself if you say you don't eat the entire container at one time…so there is whopping 46 grams of sugar in this container.

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon by the way so…

46 grams of sugar = 11.5 teaspoons <---already over your daily limit in this one snack.

Now choosing a plain yogurt is a way better option!  Chobani 2% plain greek yogurt contains 6 grams of sugar per serving. Now here is where it gets a bit trickier. In terms of dairy the first 4.7 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving is all lactose (milk sugar)…not fructose, so sugar in dairy is actually a-ok under these levels.  So how does this yogurt stack up?

This serving has 6 grams per 227 grams serving so 227/100 = 2.27 100 gram servings.  Take the 6 grams of sugar and divide it by the 2.27 100 gram servings and you have about 2.64 grams sugar / 100 grams…hey this yogurt is a-ok! No fructose here! Can't stand the taste of plain yogurt? Add some low fructose fresh berries like blueberries or raspberries and you are still way better off than eating the Blueberry blended above.

Nutritional Bars

Protein bars seem to be all the rage lately, but besides the fact that many contain ingredients you can barely name they are usually full of sugar, sometimes disguised in other names.  For example…


Each bar contains 13 grams of sugar but the thing to watch out for here is sugar listed in the first few ingredients as circled above.  Sugar comes in all forms and nutritional bars use all sorts of things to sweeten that just add to the sugar number.

What about LaraBars…they just use whole natural ingredients right? Well that may be the case but they pack their bars full of dried fruit with dates being the main culprit. Most of their bars have over 20 grams of sugar in them…pretty much your entire daily allowance.

Cherry Pie Larabar's sugar is just from dates and cherries!

Bottom Line

Am I saying don't eat any of these things? Absolutely not, you can make your own choices but I just wanted to throw the information out there so you can use it if you are looking to cut back on your sugar consumption.  If you decide to follow 6-9 teaspoon/day rule you can choose to fill those teaspoons in whatever way you see fit! Once I get through my 8-week program I'll share how I fill up those 6 teaspoons a day.

I'll leave you with this following thought.  If nutritional labels had a % daily value for sugar listed, then according to current AHA and WHO guidelines one Larabar, one bar of candy, one smoothie would be 100% of your daily value for sugar.  I don't know about you but I try not to consume 100% of my fat or calories with one snack…just a thought ;).

Question: Did this confuse you more? Will you check out the sugar content on products now? Any questions?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Rock and Roll Half Marathon

There is really one word that sums up the Rock and Roll race this year: WEATHER! The whole time we were running, my buddy Lindsey and I could not stop raving about how beautiful it was out and how lucky all the tourists running the race were able to see Mt. Rainier while running down Rainier Ave, a peek of the Cascade mountains while running down to Lake Washington Boulevard, the Olympic mountains, the Puget Sound and of course the entire Seattle skyline!  I don't think the temperatures reached above 60 while we were running so it was just perfectly cool and sunny the entire race. Spectators were out in masses, the bands were really pretty great, and Lindsey and I enjoyed a nice little 2 hour and 15 minute conversation with each other!

Thanks Nuun and Ragnar for all your support!!
There were no goals for this race other than to take it slow and treat it like a Ragnar training run.  Could I have run faster and harder? Absolutely! But did I want to be sore and tired for days after preventing me from running again? Not right now...Ragnar is less than 4 weeks away and these legs have to run 35+ miles in about 24 hours <---that is terrifying to me right now BTW.  Honestly, in the past couple of years running has really just been about having fun with friends for me.  I do think about trying to set a new marathon PR someday but for now I'm happy running for fun and at a nice comfortable pace (10:00 miles thank you!).

Oh and guess what? Lindsey didn't ditch me this year ;)!

I don't really think it's necessary to do a mile by mile recap or anything because all I would tell you was Lindsey and I ran a pretty consistent 10:00 pace the entire time and just chatted the race away.  I felt pretty strong most of the way…my hips started feeling achy and tired around mile 10 but nothing I couldn't push through! Instead I'll let you enjoy my race in picture form.  Oh, and I'm not apologizing for stealing the photos from the web this time around…I'm sick of them being so ridiculously expensive that even if it was the best running picture ever I couldn't afford it! ENJOY!

Pre-race with Lindsey and her mother in law, Leslee.  Leslee is one cool MIL and runs half marathons for breakfast pretty much everyday…and is always stylish while doing it!

Somewhere in the first few miles I think!
Proof that we were just chatting away the whole time (somewhere around miles 6-9)
See, having too much fun! (mile 7-ish)
Selfie with the Great Wheel (mile 11)

Ok, now we are looking tired (mile 12-ish)

We did it! And we ran into Andrea at the finish! I actually spotted her Oiselle butt around mile 8 on the course and gave it a nice slap before continuing on.  

Post race was spent soaking in the sun and watching Leslee finish.  After I met up with Andrea, Stacie, and Zoe for some pre-race breakfast and chatting at Buckley's….followed shortly after by a shower and looonnnngggg nap!! 

So happy I was able to run this race after all, I really do love it and it's probably worth the ridiculous entry fee even though I'll still complain about it ;). 

Check out my past Rock and Roll recaps on my Race Recaps page.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 2 Recap

Read Week 1 Recap Here

Two weeks down! This week really was much easier for me and the meals are filling me up even more than week 1 and I find myself not even being hungry between meals for snacks anymore (I used to eat 2 snacks a day minimum at work).  I don't think I'm eating more food during my meals just focusing on nutrient dense proteins and veggies with fat added to everything…fat is yummy :).

This week I actually ate out a couple times so I had to practice picking the best choices on menus.  I didn't go all crazy and ask for ingredient lists for everything just ordered things that were obviously not sugar coated or anything.

The biggest challenge came with running a half marathon over the weekend. Up until this point I ALWAYS ate some sort of sports fuel during a half marathon (sports beans were my drug of choice).  However, after listening to a podcast by Dr. Timothy Noakes (an exercise and sports nutrition doctor) I was convinced I didn't really need that fuel.  You should listen for yourself but basically since I've been turning my body into a fat burning machine instead of a carb burning machine I really don't need any extra fuel during a run as "short" as a half marathon…and he even argues a marathon!


So I loaded up on a fat filled breakfast of eggs with avocado and sourdough toast and then fueled my way through the race with only Nuun Energy.  Whether Nuun Energy really is just that awesome (it probably is) or I really am turning into a fat burning machine I don't know, but I felt strong the entire race and didn't even feel the need to inhale post race snacks like I typically do.

Okay, let's talk about last week's eats yes?

We removed all sugar (fructose) for week 2 so no fruit or any sweeteners of any kind.  In the beginning of the week I cooked a big pork shoulder in the slow cooker that made a few of the meals throughout the week.

LEFT: This was hands down the best meal of the week! It was super simple.  Just shredded pork mixed with sautéed onion, carrots and celery with some curry powder. Put that in a oven dish and top with mashed sweet potato and bake in oven. I topped mine with feta cheese after cause feta makes everything better!

RIGHT: Greek salad for lunch with shredded pork.

Another big win for the week was this coconut chicken.  Just replace bread crumb topping for coconut flakes in any breaded chicken recipe…YUMM! Served with some pumpkin mash (AKA pumpkin out of a can) and roasted broccolini.

Not everything is amazing in this program in my opinion and sadly half of this dish went in the compost bin.  It was a take on fried rice using cauliflower instead of rice…nope…doesn't work for me! Plus the whole dish was just veggies, not enough to fill this girl up! I did manage to eat a bowl for lunch one day but I disguised the taste with avocado and goat cheese :).

Eating out has really been pretty easy! On the left post-race breakfast of eggs, potatoes and sourdough toast! Lunch on Sunday was an Evolution Fresh bowl with quinoa, kale, black beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, avocado…so much yumm!

Week 3 Prep

The focus of week 3 is still no fruit or sweeteners of any kind and we are going to be learning about how to read labels.  I'm still trying to digest all the information but I plan on doing a post on it later this week.  But some bottom line information for you first:

  • The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women, 9 for men.
  • 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • A can of coke contains almost 10 teaspoons of sugar…a box of dried raisins, 7 teaspoons!
I roasted up a whole chicken on Sunday night to have in meals for the week…why I don't do this every week I don't know, it couldn't be an easier or cheaper way to have chicken ready for a handful of meals!  

Rock and Roll Half mary recap coming soon!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 1 Recap

I made it through week 1 of the I Quit Sugar program and guess what? It wasn't that hard! The food on the plan was seriously fantastic and I would make every single recipe again and again and definitely after this program is over.  Everything was super filling even though when I made fomr of the dishes I thought "no way is this going to keep me full for hours" I ended up finding that I didn't need mid-day snacks anymore to keep my hunger at bay.  Replaces sugar with fat works people!

I actually really looked forward to coming home from work or the gym or whatever I was doing last week and cooking up a great meal.  Most didn't take more than 30 minutes to prep and make and I never felt like I was slaving away in the kitchen all night. That and dinner every night made lunch for the next day.

Here were a few of my delicious meals!

LEFT: Berry omelet with yogurt and coconut - sounds weird, tasted pretty good! I'm not usually a sweet for breakfast person so I only made this one morning and then switched to a more savory omelet for the rest of the week.

RIGHT: Veggie bread with avocado-feta smash.  Seriously, amazing and filling! The smash just consists of half an avocado, some feta, a squeeze of lemon and parsley.

LEFT: White bean and chorizo soup with a side of veggie bread.  Who would have thought literally just blending up white beans and chicken broth and adding some parsley and chorizo would be so flavorful…and filling!

RIGHT: Pork meatballs with a lemon fennel sauce and sautéed spinach spaghetti.  I have never thought to make meatballs from pork but they were really light, moist and flavorful!  The plan is designed to use everything you buy and just 1 pound of ground pork made about 12 meatballs, 6 we were told to freeze for another meal.

Sweet potato, kale, and feta frittata! This frittata was designed for dinner one night and lunch the next day but it was seriously so large I stretched it into 3 meals!

Did I "cheat" at all? Well I didn't have any sweets (like the ice cream bars, strawberry shortcake or fathers day dessert items) or things that obviously contain sugar in them.  But, I was out of town for the weekend so I know that there was probably sugar in some of the breads I ate or hidden in something processed.  However, that is life...I don't plan on holding up in my condo for every single meal for the rest of my life or asking every waiter/waitress to see an ingredient list for what I'm eating.  I believe in balance in all areas of life, nutrition being a big one of those!  I'm hoping this 8-week program will address that more in the coming weeks.

Week 2 Prep

We were allowed to eat berries and use sweeteners like brown rice syrup and stevia in week 1 to try and slowly wean our way off all sugar, but I found I didn't really even need them past the first couple of days. I actually had a few pieces of cantaloupe and found it to be too sweet, crazy!  Weeks 2-5 are absolutely no sweeteners or fruit to really kick the habit and detox from sugar.

In our weekly weekend read materials for week 2 we were told:
It’s about finding your blank slate. The aim isn’t to ban sugar for life. It’s to establish a clean canvas from which we can feel what our bodies need (possibly for the first time in our lives). While sugar is in the system, this is impossible, as we’re responding to cravings and highs and lows, not true hunger and need. It takes about two months to find your blank slate. After that, it’s over to you.
Can't argue with that logic I say!

The focus for week 2 is replacing sugar with fat and protein and filling up on good wholesome food instead of sugar, which actually doesn't make you feel full.  I can already see this working in week 1 recipes that that totally filled me up even when I thought there was no way I would be satisfied after just eating chicken and veggies or a frittata for dinner..WRONG! 

I went out Sunday and did my weekly shopping for meals like pulled pork sweet potato pie, coconut chicken nuggets and carrot cake whip! My total grocery bill for week 2 was about $70.

Some more resources provided to 8-week participants this week to learn more about goodness of FAT:
Keep up on my eats throughout the week on Instagram!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Keeping the Seattle Rock and Roll Streak Alive!

Surprise! I'm running the Seattle Rock and Roll half marathon next weekend! For fear of being executed if I break any bib wearing rules I'll refrain from telling you how I procured said bib ;).  But let's just say I'm insanely happy I will be keeping my Rock and Roll streak alive and running it for the 6th year in a row! Also, those who have actually read my blog since the beginning might remember my first half marathon ever was the Seafair half in 2008, replaced with Rock and Roll in 2009.

2008 Seafair Half, so many moons ago!
You can read my past Rock and Roll recaps here (I wasn't blogging yet in 2009/2010):
 I'll be running it with my partner in running crime since 2008, Lindsey (aka EY) who has also ran every single Rock and Roll Seattle to date!  She ditched me in 2012 and 2013 after we started together when I had to use the bathroom. She pinky promised she would not do this year and I'm holding her to that cause I would really like company for the entire race please?

At the start line in 2013 before she ditched me ;), I still love you EY!
I have no goals for this race, other than treating it like a Ragnar training run and trying to keep my habit of back to back runs on the weekends alive for training. This whole I Quit Sugar program should be an interesting experiment to see if I can really live without some sort of sugary fuel during the half.  I plan on bringing my own Nuun (sugar free!...just another reason to love it) to have on the course and have some sugar free fuel ready for me after I cross the finish line!

I really do love this is always well run, the Seattle course is pretty scenic and challenging, the bands are awesome, and running into friends along the course is always a highlight for me.

So, who will I be running into this year?? Let me know if you are running and what corral you are in. EY and I are in corral 5 which is WAY too fast for both of us, but the heck...we get to start earlier, which means finishing earlier and then we can eat brunch faster ;).  And make sure to say HELLO if you see me out there, I'll be rocking some combo of Ragnar and Nuun gear!

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 1 prep!

I officially started Sarah Wilson's 8-week I Quit Sugar today!  Like I stated in my blog post last week, it's really quitting fructose that is the issue, however, this program helps you to quit ALL sugars to remove the addictive nature and just the "taste" most people have for it.  Towards the end you bring back in low fructose fruits and non-fructose sweeteners little by little but still in moderation.  Plus the meal plans are designed by a whole mess of experts in nutrition so they are just full of everything you need and more…why not have someone tell me exactly what to eat and when right?

While I wish I could share every recipe with you, I did pay for the program so that probably wouldn't be right, but I can show you pretty pictures and share other recipes on the site that are accessible to you!

The focus of week 1 is just to start off greatly reducing sugar and making some simple food swaps. I've been doing this part for quite a while now, so I don't suspect it will be too much of an issue. Some of these tips/swaps that have helped me over the past month or so include:

  • Eating/drinking full fat yogurt and milk…and cheese for that matter.  Replacing fat with sugar will make you feel FULL and help ward off sugar cravings.  Milk tastes pretty sweet to me so I find a glass of milk in the evening does the trick for "dessert".  For any dairy products the first 4.7 grams of sugar per 100 grams is lactose (OK)...any thing after that is added sugar.
  • Eating DARK chocolate to replace milk chocolate, cupcakes, cookies…any chocolate craving.  Sarah recommends 75% cocoa or higher to keep the sugar to a minimum per serving.  
  • Adding fat to fill you up during your meals.  Cooking veggies in butter, adding nut butter to breads, finishing dishes with olive oil, avocado, cheese, etc.  Don't be scared of the fat!
  • Instead of reaching for fruit juices, sodas (even diet), have some coconut water…super sweet and really low in fructose…not to mention super hydrating!

The Shopping!

On Sunday I set out to get everything on the list to make my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the week.  I'm going to stick to the meal plans as much as possible but I am going to my parents this weekend so I decided to not cook a couple of the meals and play it by ear this weekend.  I had a handful of ingredients already on hand and between Trader Joes and Whole Foods my bill came out to a little under $80.  Definitely more than I typically spend per week but I also usually spend more money going out and buying a random snack or lunch here and there, which I won't do on this program much. We were warned that our grocery bill might be a bit higher in the first week but that it will get lower since we will have more things on hand.  There is a HUGE focus on using EVERYTHING you buy and I can already see that when I make this meatball recipe this week I freeze half and use them later in the program.
Really glad I went to TJ's first, pretty sure my bill would have been double if I purchased everything at Whole Paycheck :)
And just to tease you a bit here is a pic of what I ate for breakfast and lunch on day 1. Berry Omelet (sounds weird, tasted great!) for breakfast and Avocado-Feta Smash on Veggie Bread for lunch.

Although this is not the exact recipe provided to the 8-week participants here is another veggie bread recipe from that is VERY simliar:

One Final Reflection - This is from our Week 1 Weekend Reader info:
Even as recently as 100 years ago we ate a little over a kilo (~2 pounds) of sugar a year. Now we eat about 60 kilos (OVER 130 pounds) a year. Our biology hasn’t changed in 10,000 years, let alone 100 years, but our diets sure have. So have our waistlines and our health.

Some more resources:

The following YouTube is a good educational piece on where sugar is hiding...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

MEET Team Six Pack With Racks Take 2!

Man oh man is Ragnar Northwest Passage totally creeping up on me this year.  I think my teammates feel the same way but I know they are all rocking their running lately so I'm confident we will all survive the ultra madness in July! As for my training it loosely consists of attempting back to back long runs on the weekend and running 1-2 times during the week…it's the plan that really isn't a plan at all.

The team is going to look a little different this year and I'm excited to see what some fresh faces and legs do for our team.  Without further ado here is team Six Pack With Racks…take 2:

Runner #1 - Robyn

Still smiling after 26.2 miles at Boston this year!

The mighty Robyn is back again and helping our team by tackling some of the hardest miles on this course for us.  I know she wouldn't have it any other way cause she does everything to the max! In the past year+ she qualified for Boston, ran Boston, got engaged, and moved to Colorado…oh all that while battling a recent diagnosis of Crohn's which she has not let slow her down!  I'm excited to spend 30+ hours in a van with her catching up on her life since she moved.

Runner #2 - Little 'ol me

Some of my last steps during last year's ultra Ragnar…hence the huge smile on my face!

Pretty sure you know enough about me, but I'll be taking the runner 2 position again this year which means some similar scenery as last year but I'm good with that.  I'll be tackling a little over 35 miles this year (a few more than last year) so I'm expecting everything to go just as good as last year…fingers crossed ;).

Runner #3 - Marilyn

How adorable are they! (stole this from Marilyn's blog)

Marilyn is a newbie to our team, courtesy of Bethany, and judging from her blog and tweets I'm pretty sure we found a STRONG runner. She is literally tackling the most miles (36!) for our team and in addition to filling a spot on our team her husband has agreed to be our driver.  I can't even imagine the amazingness that we will all feel not having to worry about driving, rotating drivers, who is driving next…THANKS TRAVIS! Oh and he runs marathons too, so I'm pretty sure he would jump in to help anyone through those scary night miles if they wanted. Can't wait to meet them both!

Runner #4 - Nicole

Comin in hot at the Mt. Si Relay 2012

Nicole and I met back in 2012 when we ran a little local relay at Mt. Si together and she has been popping in and out of my life ever since. She was beyond excited when a spot was available on my team this year so I'm expecting her enthusiasm to remain at 100% even in the middle of the night…ok Nicole?

Runner #5 - Jordanne

Jordanne on the far left after the 2013 Seattle Half

Jordanne joins our team courtesy of Nicole and I've ran (literally) into Jordanne at a few running events and races in the past and I know she will make an excellent addition to our team. I don't think she blogs…maybe we can change her mind during Ragnar?

Runner #6 - Bethany

Bethany starting the party for us last year!
Pretty sure Bethany needs no introduction after her fame from Ragnar last year :). I featured her on my blog before Ragnar last year and she was featured on Ragnar's Blog and the race Ragmag as part of their Northwest Passage Stories series.  I'm happy to say that she remains cancer free and still running marathons like it's her job! We convinced her blogging was a good idea during Ragnar last year and she set up her Running for Cannolis blog shortly after!

You should follow all these ladies via their blogs and tweets…here I'll make it easy for you:

We are changing up more than people this year! We will be rocking a 12 passenger van for added leg and sleeping room and running 4 times instead of 3…we are rebels I know! I plan on posting more about the 4 leg approach. 

Man writing this post just got me all kinds of excited for July 18-19!

Question: Who is running Ragnar Northwest Passage this year?!! What is your team name?

Monday, June 2, 2014

I Quit Sugar…

I've actually been thinking about this blog post for a while now, but wanted to make sure I felt well informed before posting about it.  See, I've been doing this experiment for the past couple of months…I quit sugar!  Now before you go all "you crazy", "that is impossible", etc let me explain.  I actually quit fructose, which is a type of sugar found EVERYWHERE.  It is part of sucrose (all table sugars), honey, agave, fruits, and in virtually every single processed food in America.

How did I come to this decision and life change? Well it all started with a little book author talk I attended at the Book Larder a while back for a book by Sarah Wilson called "I Quit Sugar."  This lady was super inspirational, super duper smart, and it was 100% obvious she did all her homework on this topic. After listening to her speak and devouring her book I began to find all sorts of other information online and began to wonder why I haven't really been exposed to this before?  I highly recommend this book if you are even curious about this topic, it is very easy to read and follow and the recipes so far are to die for (I've made coconut curry meatballs, one of the hash recipes, sweet potato casserole, and from her website vegan chocolate mousse).

There really is SOO much information and science behind why our bodies literally cannot process fructose but in an attempt to learn everything for myself I'll try to break it down simply and provide some resources at the end if you want to go crazy and learn about it yourself…like me :).

Why is fructose bad?

David Gillespie breaks it down in picture form (source)

1. The ONLY part of our body that can process fructose is the liver and it cannot be used by ANY other part of our bodies for energy.  The liver is the organ that takes in toxins…fructose = toxin.
2. When we eat too much (and we ALL do) fructose is converted into fat droplets in the liver…making us fatter.  See science here.
3. Fructose DOES NOT activate the enzyme that makes us feel full (leptin for you science nerds out there) so we can eat and eat and eat it without feeling full. See science here.

Where is fructose in my food?

From the I Quit Sugar website (source)

In a nutshell, everywhere!  Sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose, 50% glucose. Glucose good (body uses it all over for energy), fructose bad!  You know that agave stuff touted to be a healthy alternative to other sugars??…it is 90% fructose, so really it is the worst for you.   Sugar is the cheapest thing in America to produce/process/sell so it is in virtually every processed food product out there. Some of the more not so obvious things include most bread, condiments, salad dressings, certain chips/crackers, the list goes on. I challenge you to turn over products next time you are at the grocery store and see which ones have sugar that you didn't think did in the first place.

As you can see in the above graphic there are sugars without fructose…which I plan on discussing another time.

But what about fruit?

Yep, fruit has fructose in it. There are lower and higher fructose fruits and the research/websites out there seem a bit conflicted on whether you should eat fruit or not.  It does appear that most experts agree that minimal fruit is ok, but eating mass quantities of it and especially dried fruit and fruit juice is just as bad for you as drinking a can of coke.  Lower fructose fruits include berries, kiwi, and grapefruit. But keep in mind fructose in fruit is the exact same thing as fructose in table sugar, honey, and agave…bottom line!

How much sugar should I eat?

Does this mean you should consume 0 grams a sugar per day every day for the rest of your life? Absolutely not! BUT the American Heart Association website states:

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance come from added sugars. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons). For men, it’s no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons). 
6-9 teaspoons is about 25 grams per day.  The debate seems to still be out on whether to count fruits in this 25/day rule but Sarah Wilson counts it since fructose is fructose is fructose no matter what form it comes in.  But I say if you replace a bag of M&Ms and a soda everyday with a banana (~14 grams sugar) and an apple (~19 grams) that is a WIN in my book :).  It's all about balance people!
Your daily sugar is in this ONE bag!

How am I feeling?

Um…awesome! I used to feel bloated, uncomfortable, and just blah after almost every meal for such  long time. I experimented with gluten free, dairy free, everything free but since going FRUCTOSE FREE…I have had the least about of stomach issues that I've ever had in my life…SUCCESS!  In fact, I've even added a lot more gluten products back in my life and having zero problems with them.

I admit I'm still not super super strict but I want to learn more and be more strict (and my strict I mean still drink red wine, eat dark chocolate, etc!) with this new lifestyle so I signed up for Sarah Wilson's 8 Week Sugar Detox that I will be starting on June 5.  I plan on documenting it on this blog and provide more information and resources along the way.  I don't intend on preaching about this new lifestyle here in any way, but more documenting my own journey and if people get inspired by it…BONUS!

Other resources if you want to be obsessed like me:

This is really just scraping the surface, I plan on documenting a lot more of what I learn over the next 8 weeks and if you have any questions please let me know!

Oh and that running thing? Yeah, I'm still doing it…trying to just crank out the miles for Ragnar in July which I promise to try and post more about in the near future as well.

QUESTION: Do you have any questions? I'll have access to a whole mess of experts during my 8-week program so feel free to use me to ask them anything you want!