Mini-Pledge Week 9: No Refined Sweeteners

The time has come to cut out all refined sweeteners including sugar! And this particular challenge is actually what inspired me to start the mini-pledges in the first place. It all started when I was having lunch with my kindergartner one day at school. I was looking around at what the other kids brought for their lunch and between the white bread, the flavored yogurt, the crackers, and the jelly every single meal I surveyed contained some sort of refined sugar and in most cases – lots of it.

As I’ve said before, it is not necessarily the sugar itself (yes, white sugar is technically “natural” albeit highly refined), but it is the quantity in which our society consumes sugar that concerns me. What have things come to if we can’t even have a cracker or a bowl of cereal or a beverage unless it has been sweetened? Come on, sugar is in almost everything these days even when you least expect it. So it is time to put our foot down and live one week of our entire lives without any refined sugar. Can you do it?

Mini-Pledge Week 9: No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.

I get so many questions about sweeteners especially from those wondering why we’ve chosen honey and maple syrup as our sweeteners of choice. The moral of the story is – and most experts would agree – sugar is sugar and no matter what form of sugar you choose always consume it in moderation. Whether it is white table sugar, raw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or maple syrup they are all – for the most part – sugars. We selected honey and maple syrup as our sweeteners of choice because they are two of the least processed “sugars” out there, and they are also difficult to find in highly processed foods. Honey and maple syrup also have slightly more nutrients than highly refined sweeteners like white table sugar, although – once again – all sweeteners are similar in the fact that overall they are high in calories and low in nutrients.

During our 100 Days of Real Food pledge, when we were restricted to honey and maple syrup as well as nothing out of a package with more than 5 ingredients, we ended up having to make all the “sweetened” foods we ate ourselves. I could not find any store-bought “sweet treats” that followed all of our rules – and trust me I looked! Since this sweetener restriction forces you to make sweetened foods from scratch you can see and control how much sweetener is being added. And chances are you will use a lot less sweetener than some factory. So back to how Americans are consuming sugar in overwhelming amounts these days…I saw an interesting statistic highlighted on

Health experts recommend we eat no more than eight teaspoons of sugar a day. But on average, Americans consume four times that much.

In case you are challenged with simple math (like me) that means we are, on average, consuming 32 teaspoons a day! Also how about this for “food for thought” from New York Times Magazine article “Is Sugar Toxic?”:

Sugar is likely the “dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.”

Assuming you are now convinced that reducing sugar intake is a good idea, I don’t want to leave you hanging. So next you will find everything from detailed meal plans to recipes to school lunch ideas that will help you successfully complete this pledge. You pretty much won’t find anything on this blog that calls for refined sweeteners so there are plenty of ideas to choose from. Here are some to get you started:

Resources for Meals without Refined Sweeteners

In closing, there are two key takeaways when it comes to sweeteners. Never choose an imitation sweetener (like splenda) over the real thing and no matter what sweetener you choose always consume it in moderation. We hope that restricting you to honey and maple syrup next week will help you accomplish both of those things!

To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and kids in your household that will participate, and also share if you will do it for one meal, one day, or for the entire week. Put it in writing and make it official!

Good luck!


Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!
  • Comments

    1. |

      My husband and I read the “Is Sugar Toxic” article a couple weeks ago and it has been an eye opener! We are working on cutting refind sugar out of our diet (this week I made your recipe for granola cereal!). I am often shocked where I find sugar listed in an ingredient list. We are going to continue to work on cutting out refined sugar.

      I wanted to point out that on this posting, your blog links for Main Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, etc were not working when I tried them.

      Also, I have a love for baking – do you have any ideas on how to substitute honey or maple syreup for white sugar when baking?

    2. |

      Ooooooh my gosh. This is the week that’s gonna kill me.



      I normally don’t eat much food at home that contains refined sweeteners. Really just once a week when I serve dessert to guests on weekends. Though I don’t exercise the same restraint when I’m out of the house and I’m offered a cupcake or something.

      The artificial sweetener thing will be difficult too. While I don’t keep artificial sweeteners in the house, I do still have a diet soda habit. It has gotten better in recent weeks, but I still average two or three 20-oz bottles of some sort of diet drink a week.

      I haven’t decided if this is going to be easier or harder than the refined grains thing.

      Anyway, I’m in. At least, I’m going to try to be in!

    3. |

      Once you get in the habit of cutting out more sugar, food tastes better without it. Plain old-fashion oatmeal and yogurt used to be so gross to me, but now I love them both. I’m sure I still eat waaayyyyy too much sugar (cookies, anyone?), but it’s amazing how little you actually need. Thanks for the helpful info and the reminder to steer clear when possible!

    4. Aron |

      I’m going to give it my best effort :D I already use honey in my coffee, so that’ll be easy. It’ll be skipping the yogurt that will be hard for me.

    5. orchid |

      putting sugar in oatmeal sounds disgusting to me. i’ve always had it with just cinnamon.

      i almost never have sugar in anything except things i’ve baked myself. runner’s world just had a recipe for a mango lassi that calls for sugar. i can’t understand that–mangos are sweet!

    6. Laurin |

      I was planning on doing this one next week anyways! So glad it’s the pledge of the week!! I’m going to try extra hard :) I’m planning on making your banana bread recipe tomorrow actually! (your zucchini bread AND pumpkin bread have been a gigantic hit with my whole family INCLUDING my diabetic grandmother who can have a slice without a spike in blood sugar! yay!) Thanks so much for all you do! (p.s. Happy Early Mother’s day!)

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        Thank you!! Love to hear all that! :)

    7. |

      i’m definitely joining in on this challenge! i’ve been struggling with sugar so much lately… i can’t leave it alone!! i quit eating sugar almost entirely for two years and did very well at it. i felt great and knew i was doing the right thing for my body by not eating sugar. i’m not saying that’s the right thing for everyone to do, but it was definitely the right thing for me.

      long story short, i’ve totally let my sugar consumption get out of control again. perhaps it would still be considered moderate by some people’s standards in comparison, but it’s still too much for me. i can “feel” it.

      thanks for the extra push in the right direction!

    8. Natalie |

      What about Stevie…isn’t it all natural and unrefined? Not” Truvia” I mean pure Stevia?

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        No stevia allowed…I just added it to the list. It was only recently approved in the U.S. as a sweetener (in the 1980s) and is still banned in some countries. When in doubt leave it out!

        • KELLI UGARTE |

          I am recently researching Stevia after being told by a personal trainer that it is natural and doesn’t affect the body as sugar does. The more I read, the more I believe Stevia was banned by the US to protect the artificial sweetener companies here…basically political with lobbyist involved. So that has made me disregard the US “ban” as being legit. It’s been highly used in Japan for decades.
          I have a husband who is trying to make the switch but still needs a little help in this department. The good thing about it is that it is natural if you purchase it right. Some manufacturers add stuff so we are researching where to buy it. And there are studies that show if consumed in large quantities, it is bad for you, but what isn’t? Everything in moderation. I haven’t decided to start using it, but so far, all natural and doesn’t affect the body as white sugar does? I think this deserves more research.

    9. |

      I’m into my 3rd week for this part of real food. It feels good to pay attention to all of the ingredients.

    10. Tiffany |

      This one is going to be really hard!!! I will try to do this every other day – 1 adult!

    1 2 3 13

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *