Mini-Pledge Week 12: No Sweeteners

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Knowing our society’s obsession with all things sweet I have a feeling this could be the most difficult “real food” mini-pledge yet. But don’t feel discouraged because even if you only join us for a day or two, I promise it will still be an eye-opening experience proving just how sugar-obsessed our society really is. And I am not just referring to white sugar and other refined sweeteners, which we already tackled a few weeks ago. I am talking about all added sweeteners even including honey and maple syrup. As I’ve said a thousand times before, no matter what sweetener you chose (natural, organic, raw, etc.)…a sugar is a sugar and it should always be used in moderation. So what better way to learn how to reduce your consumption of sweeteners than to completely live without them for a few days? And if you think this challenge sounds like a daunting task then right there is my proof that we really are sweetener-obsessed after all.

So here is next week’s mini-pledge, which starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 12: May 30 – June 5 – Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.

It blows my mind looking through cookbooks when I see recipe after recipe for things like pancakes, soups, and sauces that call for a tablespoon or even a teaspoon of sugar…is such a small quantity even necessary? And then at the grocery store they sell product after product, even savory items like bread and crackers, that can’t make it on the shelves without being sweetened. And I admit I am just as guilty as the next person with my big ol’ sweet tooth, although my taste buds have definitely changed – for the better – since taking our 100 Days of Real Food pledge. Abstaining from highly processed junk really gave our palates an adjustment and now just a little bit of sweetness seems to go a long way.

Aside from preferring the added flavor of sweeteners I think we might have a mental obsession with it as well. How many times have you sprinkled a little sugar onto your dish or into a recipe without even trying it first? Just the other day I decided to put this little philosophy to the test. Whenever I fix my girls oatmeal I always drizzle a little honey on it before adding the cinnamon and raisins, yet I admit I’ve never even tried serving it without any honey at all. So after a little mental struggle on if I should or shouldn’t “roll the dice” by leaving out the sweetener all together I decided to add extra cinnamon just in case it could help make up for the loss of honey. And what do you know…my 4-year-old gobbled it down like it was the same bowl of oatmeal I’ve been fixing her for years. I was honestly a little surprised, but of course pleased!

As I’ve said for every mini-pledge it is up to you if you want to join our weekly challenge and it’s also of course your decision if you want to sign up for the entire week or just for a day or two. This is the perfect pledge to try on a smaller scale because I would much rather everyone give this a chance rather than not do it at all. And following are some resources and meal ideas to help you along the way!

Articles regarding sweeteners:

Sweetener-free recipes and meal ideas:

Caprese Salad

To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and children 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!

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52 comments to Mini-Pledge Week 12: No Sweeteners

  • Celine

    Stevia is an all natural sweetener that comes from a plant and is a great alternative! Why would you tell people to not use this? The only type they should stay away from is truvia because it is mixed with an artificial sweetener.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      The stevia leaves are fine, but the stevia that’s been processed in a factory (like Truvia) is what I advise against.

  • Just curious, why would sugar in bread be bad? We use honey when I make bread, but sugar is a necessary part of the rising process. Same with adding a teaspoon of sugar to homemade tomato/spaghetti sauce, it is integral to the recipe because it cuts the acidity. Would you consider those “added” sugar, or basic parts to the recipe?

    Overall, I think this is an amazing idea. I need to do this. When I was pregnant, in my first trimester I couldn’t eat anything with sugar, even fruit was bad, it made me nauseous and gave me the worst heartburn. I lost 10 pounds in my first trimester. I know I am addicted to sweets (chocolate), and if I accidently eat something with HFCS in it, I turn into a sugar hoovering machine. Seriously, it is bad.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Sugar itself is not “bad” it’s the quantity in which it is consumed in this country. And yes, whether it is honey, white sugar or even HFCS if it is added to a recipe it is considered “added sugar” and should be consumed in moderation.

    • Stephanie

      I know this was posted awhile ago, but I wanted to respond to the comment that sugar is needed in spaghetti sauce. You can actually put a carrot in your sauce while it simmers to cut the acidity! Simply take it out before serving. I read that in Christina Pirello’s cookbook, and she doesn’t use any sugars. She occasionally uses natural sweeteners like brown rice syrup and barley malt.

  • renee

    If I’m understanding things correctly, a total break in sugar consumption for 10 days or 30 or 100 is very beneficial to break our unintentional addiction to it. Like any addiction, we may not want to call it that until we try to go without….on the 2′nd or 3′rd or 7′th day, if we find ourselves prowling the kitchen repeatedly (and hopefully there’s nothing there) and we find ourselves just a little grumpy and under-the -weather, then viola! You must admit that you’ve been addicted to sugar. It will always be lurking in the grocery aisles and at your Aunt Patty’s house and in the machines at your office but I used to smoke too but now I don’t have any desire to. One teaspoon of sugar in a whole batch of speghetti sause is not going to transform you into the Cookie Monster nor one piece of birthday cake every once in a blue moon. The problem is, we are such self-delusional creatures that we want to cave in to that little voice that whispers, “Oh, it’s no big deal….it won’t hurt…..”
    I think of it as big diamonds…..yes, they’re pretty but they’re just too dam8ed expensive!!!!!!!

  • Meloney

    Accepting this challenge for this week. 2 adults and three children. This is one that won’t be a lifetime but will be a week-to cleanse our sugar palate and to help is to be aware of what were eating.

  • Nicole

    Stevia for the win!

  • Tyeanna

    I am taking the challenge starting June 24th and will go through the 4th of July weekend just to get through the weekend with relatives. I would like to do ‘no sugar’ for a year but I don’t think I will go to this extreme. 1 adult and two small children will be doing the challenge. Thanks for the incentive and I am SO excited to start using your recipes from this blog!

  • Tyeanna

    Just a follow up, I was able to do the challenge. It really helped me get off of sugar and I felt great. Now I need to recommit and keep it up. I always feel better with less sugar in my diet. Again, thanks for the challenge. I am trying some of your recipe meal plans this week.

  • [...] Week 12: No sweeteners – Avoid all added sweeteners including, but not limited to: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, maple sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. [...]

  • B

    What sweetener can u recommend my husband put into his coffee he needs me to provide an option to take to work or he will just use white sugar.
    Thanks for all the advice here

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi B. I would suggest honey. I’m not sure if he can bring some in a container to just have there. If not, I might recommend coconut palm sugar. Jill

  • Annie

    Congrats on the no sweetener! I have not had any sweetener for two years now and I have more energy and feel better physically. Stevia and other natural sweeteners are addictive for me, so I stay away from that, too. I eat whole fruits for sweetness, like this evening I had cut up pineapple and cut up watermelon for dessert. Recently I visited a friend of a friend who presented me a plate of sugar-free cookies made with artificial sweetener – ugh! :)

  • Christa

    I planning to try at least some of the mini-pledges–some are already no brainers, like artificial colors and such. we already don’t use those.

    But I have two small dilemmas…
    1. I have problems with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that have been worse lately, even if i’ve just eaten sometimes. I am beginning to suspect that I may have celiac (my father does), and that perhaps the breakdown of the longer burn foods like fats & proteins is not happening properly, leaving my blood sugar precarious. I try to stick to fruit or such to relieve such problems, but at times I need something more quickly available and (cane sugar) soda or glucose tabs are the fastest response items.

    2. I make my own yogurt much of the time. I get whole, raw milk from a farm, but I generally skim probably half of the cream from the top to save for ice cream, butter, sour cream or whipped cream type items. I also use a non-fat plain yogurt as a starter–I figure there are more bacteria cultures when the space isn’t taken up by fat… but frankly, it’s the cheapest reasonable item available. So, my yogurt is .. probably “low fat” in grand scheme of things. But we do use the cream other places. Since we’re ultimately consume the whole thing, does that count?

    Also one question, when you are counting ingredients, water doesn’t count right? even if it’s in the list?

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Annie. When you have a medical condition, you have to make adjustments that will work for you and what is best for your health. Regarding the yogurt, one of the main reason we avoid low fat items is because of what tends to be added to products to make up for the lack of fat and flavor. If you are making the yogurt yourself while not adding sugar and such as well as still essentially consuming the whole food, that is a different story. Hope that helps! ~Amy

  • teri

    We are still a few weeks out, but are wondering is there a bread that doesn’t contain a sweetener? We get ours at a local bakery but theirs either has honey or molasses in them. Or do we just skip bread for the week?

  • David G

    Is it true, about the stomach, good and bad probiotics?
    I am looking for a healthy way to live.
    could you let me know if buying probiotics is the right way or is that all hype?

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi David. You can get loads of good probiotics in yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods. Regular use of them can get your digestive system on track. Here is a list of some: http://sprouts.com/features/powerful-probiotic-foods. ~Amy

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