I Cut Sugar Out Of My Diet For A Month And It Changed How I Look At Food

By Ellie Turner

Maybe it started when I ate three donuts back-to-back just for kicks. The feeling that I needed to reevaluate how I eat hit me hard because, as I finished the last one, I realized they weren’t even good and I wasn’t actually hungry.

The truth is I’ve made myself believe I’m a fairly healthy eater because I often buy healthy groceries. The reality is, while I do incorporate healthy meals regularly, I also have my fair share of unhealthy, processed grub.

So, I’ve been doing some thinking and not a lot of doing for a while. Then, on a perfectly normal Tuesday, I went to my bible study group and overheard two women talking about a program called Trim Healthy Mama (THM). Normally, I would politely listen and ultimately not buy into any program that cuts out bread and sugar. Too much work and too much sacrifice, #amiright? But on this April day, the stars aligned and I was convinced this plan was a good idea. I borrowed the books (there are three – one about the plan and two cookbooks) and started reading the basic premise of the plan.

The short version is this: The plan completely cuts sugar and white flour from your diet and splits fats and carbs into specific “fuel” meals (S meals – satisfied/fats; E meals – energized/carbs). It may seem complicated, but it gets easier after a couple of days. The scientific research behind splitting the fuels makes sense. It says after you reach a certain age (basically, not growing anymore), your body can only burn one fuel at a time. If you eat both fuels (fats and carbs) at the same time, your body will burn one and store the other, which prevents you from losing weight. The other key is maintaining a stable blood sugar level, so the plan directs you to eat foods that won’t cause it to spike. You can read all about it online or in the books. There is a ton of info on the plan and so many people who swear by it.

So, I went in agreeing to do it for one month. I wanted to see if I felt like a new woman after eliminating sugar. I wanted to see if I would miraculously drop 30 pounds. I wanted to do it to say I have the willpower to do it. I documented everything I ate, so I’m sharing one week of that food journal with you here. I’ve also labeled each fuel to show how the plan works *IRL* for all of you visual learners. Here’s what happened:

 

Day 1:

Breakfast: apple, banana and oats smoothie with THM protein powder and MCT Oil. (E)

Lunch: tuna salad (tuna, mayo, relish (no sugar), boiled egg, red onion, salt and pepper) on Joseph’s pita with stick of sharp cheddar cheese (S)

Snack: mixed nuts (S)

Dinner: bunless burger (S), bourbon

Thoughts: Staying on plan is most difficult when you are going over to a friend’s house and they order pizza and have an assortment of beer and liquor drinks. And this was my first full day on the plan. My willpower was impressive because I ran through Wendy’s and bought a bunless burger and sipped bourbon. What kind of weirdo orders bunless burgers and foregoes pizza? Unfortunately me. Holding on to hope that I’m going to feel so much better after a couple weeks without sugar flowing through my veins.

Day 2:

Breakfast: apple, banana and oats smoothie with THM protein powder and MCT Oil. (E)

Snack: mixed nuts (E)

Lunch: grilled chicken and veggies and guacamole (FP)

Snack: parm crisps (S)

Dinner: tuna salad (tuna, mayo, relish (no sugar), boiled egg, red onion, salt and pepper) on Joseph’s lavish bread with a boiled egg on the side (S)

Day 3:

Breakfast: turkey bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese, coffee with almond milk and pyure (S)

Lunch (off plan): Rana five cheese tortellini

Active: glow barre class kicked my tail

Dinner (off plan): *leftover Rana five cheese tortellini

Thoughts: So I suddenly decided to do this THM plan and already had groceries not on plan. While I did give away some and trash others, I decided my pocketbook needed me to eat some of the groceries I had bought. The tortellini was one of those. But I paid for the transgression with glow barre so we’re even.

Day 4:

Breakfast: berry oatmeal muffins (3) (E)

Lunch: turkey, 2 cheese slices, mayo on Joseph’s pita, two hard boiled eggs, a handful of mixed nuts, unsweetened tea, 2 peanut butter cream cheese balls (S)

Dinner: Joseph’s lavish bread (halved), natural peanut butter, polaner blueberry spread, parm crisps (S)

Thoughts: The Polaner spread is actually good! THM win!

Day 5:

Breakfast: 4 berry oatmeal muffins (E)

Snack: stick of cheese (S)

Lunch: 6 slices turkey bacon, parm crisps, oikos strawberry yogurt with peanut butter (S)

Dinner: cinnamon roll protein shake, bai drink (E)

Thoughts: I went to the movies tonight to see “I Feel Pretty” – it was so good! But, I didn’t get to partake in popcorn or a Coke. And I love movie theater Coke! It was sad, but I lived and my body is probably thanking me.

Day 6:

Breakfast: 4 berry oatmeal muffins (E)

Snack: laughing cow pepper jack cheese (S)

Lunch: Popeyes naked chicken strips with ranch (S)

Snack: peanut butter cream cheese balls and Oikos yogurt (S)

Dinner: grilled chicken topped with turkey bacon with a creamy garlic mushroom sauce (1/4 of a low fat cream cheese bar, 1/4 cup heavy cream, fresh minced garlic, butter, mushrooms) (S)

Thoughts: I had a stressful day and I realized how I’ve made a not-so-great habit of comforting myself with food. A month ago, I would’ve gone to a fast-food drive-thru and ordered something unhealthy to drown my sorrows. I’m dramatic, I know.  Today, however, I went through Popeye’s (my favorite) and ordered naked chicken strips, which are on plan. And for dinner I decided to go all out (while still on plan) because my mind felt deprived of all the good foods, even though my stomach was fine. This dinner was so good and didn’t feel like a “diet” meal.

Day 7:

Breakfast: 3 berry oatmeal muffins (E)

Lunch: half a sheet of lavish bread, natural peanut butter and polaner jelly, parm crisps (S)

Dinner: Chicken parmesan on a bed of sautéed cabbage, THM fudge brownies (S)

Thoughts: Those brownies were to die for and were exactly what I needed for my sweet tooth craving.

Day 8:

Breakfast: 3 berry oatmeal muffins (E)

Lunch: greek salad with grilled chicken and minimal dressing (S)

Dinner: Chicken parmesan leftovers + dry red wine (S)

 

While I’m only sharing one week of the food journal, I’ve actually been making eating decisions based on the Trim Healthy Mama plan for 1.5 months. There have been points in this time period where I stepped off plan for a special occasion, and I think the occasional splurge is important for me to sustain this eating plan.

Things I learned from cutting out sugar and breads:

I didn’t really miss bread, but I really craved sugar, especially at the beginning. Luckily, there are many THM-approved desserts that pass my taste test. This was key to staying the course.

I don’t hit an afternoon slump after lunch and I generally have more energy, which I believe is due to fueling my body properly.

I never feel stuffed to nasty. You know when you eat a big bowl of pasta and you go too far and you just feel miserable afterward? Just me? I know I’m not the only one because I’ve heard far too many friends at dinner say it as well. On this plan, I never felt that way.

Eating healthfully can happen in restaurants or at other people’s houses, but it’s hard. It’s much easier to eat at my house or at one or two restaurants where I’ve mastered my options. The up side to this is it’s often cheaper to eat at home. The down side is your social life could take a slight hit. I personally didn’t turn down a meal out with friends, but I had to forego chips at the Mexican restaurant while others enjoyed them. And I often opted for a salad when I wanted the pasta dish a friend ordered. It wasn’t easy.

Overall, I don’t feel like a new person after eliminating sugar and bread from my diet. But I know that less processed food (sugar and bread included) is best for my body in every way. I know our country has built a fad diet industry on the backs of the sugar and grain industry at the expense of the health of the American people. And in many ways, it disgusts me.

So where do I go from here? I’m going with a 90/10 guideline. This may not be right for everyone and may not be THM-approved. But for ninety percent of the time, I’m going to eat whole foods and apply the THM plan to my diet. The other ten percent will be reserved for small splurges. And when those happen, I’ll have prepared for them, so the guilt isn’t there.

The best thing that came from this month-long experience is I’m more aware of what goes in my body. THM trains you to look at the ingredients list. And y’all, there is sugar in literally EVERYTHING. It’s scary. For example, one of my diet staples was granola bars. They were quick to grab for breakfast and I categorized them as a healthy option. I had to give them up because they had sugar in them. And it wasn’t a small amount either. There were several instances where I found out something I thought was a healthy option was actually not. Even if you aren’t interested in any one plan, I encourage you to pay attention to what you are eating. It takes some effort, but it’s important. What you eat affects everything. How you feel, how you act, how you think – your diet directly correlates.

 

 

 

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