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How to go sugar free: Our new family challenge

Updated on March 5, 2015

Do Sugar Free Snacks Exist?

It all started with a realization

Eating sugary and sweet treats have always been a a bit of a release for me. Lately I've been finding that I've been projecting my bad habits onto my kids. Treats are often used in our home as a reward or as an incentive. The power that refined sugar has on us is strong-I've found that lately, our 3 year old has been experiencing a lot of manic behaviour. These meltdowns, we've come to realize, were all a part of his relationship with sugar (or treats). Unhealthy snacking between meals has become a problem for us and for our child. Most of the snacks that we have been consuming are full of sugar and are highly processed. We've experienced sugar induced behaviour as well (my husband and I), just showing up in different ways. Lately I've been feeling more tired lately (could be the sun, but I think it relates directly to my sugar intake). Anyway, because of my son's behaviour as of late, and his picky eating habits, we're hoping to stop the madness by taking out ALL refined sugars from his and our diet and we're learning how to go sugar free.

Another realization I had was that we (my husband and I)consumed a lot of our treats after 9 pm, once the kids were all asleep. Not only should we NOT be eating after 9 pm, we should not be loading our bodies up with refined sugar at night, when we can't even burn off the calories. Sugar free snacks will be essential for us in the next while.

How to Go Sugar Free: Where to Begin

We began our journey of going sugar free by simply removing all items from our cupboards and fridge that contained refined sugar. One exception we made was to keep bread around for our 3 year old, a picky eater, who basically lives on bread. Which brings up a potential challenge for kids-what food items can be easily removed and which food items need to stay, for the time being? You can't just start 100% from scratch when it comes to changing your kids' diets.

Next, we began to research sugar free foods and sugar free recipes and ideas and started our first healthy grocery list. It's amazing how there is refined sugar in almost EVERYTHING! Pasta sauce, bread, canned soups, salad dressings, just to name a few. I guess we'll be taking out processed foods altogether and making a lot of things from scratch. My first trip to the store after coming up with a make-shift plan was the first one in months that didn't include buying a ton of sugary treats. And no ice cream either.

On the sugar free food list so far:

  • Rice (we've discovered rice bowls and rice wraps)
  • Rice wraps
  • Seaweed snacks
  • Barley
  • Steel cut oats
  • Cheese
  • Peanut butter (sugar free and all natural)
  • Sugar free jam
  • Plain yogert
  • Coconut milk (for cooking)
  • Meats (chicken, beef, sausage)
  • Fish (salmon, white fish, shrimp or prawns)
  • Smoothies
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Bananas
  • Peaches (fresh from the tree in the summer)
  • Cut up veggies with humous (I keep a constant supply in the fridge for snacking)
  • Romane lettuce (I use these for wraps-great bread substitute!)
  • Peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Celery sticks (we put PB and raisins on top)
  • Cucumber (with tzikki)
  • Sweet potatoes (you can make great homous dip with sweet potatoes!)
  • Homemade, sugar free muffins
  • Homemade pizza
  • Homemade sugar-free popsicles (current favourite is coconut banana pineapple)
  • Various nuts and seeds
  • Sparkling water (we make our own with our soda stream)

Sugar free diet plan

Source

Sugar free diary

Week 1

Even after one full day of going sugar free, I'm still reaching around in the cupboards for something sweet and chocolatey, but no luck. Our cupboards are cleared out of anything sugary.

I love to bake and I'm not planning to give this up, going sugar free. So I'm learning about sugar (and white flour) substitutes. I made some delicious zuchinni banana muffins the other day (see recipe below). I used coconut flour, coconut oil (a good, healthy substitute for butter or other oils) and honey. The best part about the muffins is that my son loves them (he's pretty picky) and they have VEGETABLES in them! And no refined sugar to boot!

Week 2

Last night was my sisters bachelorette party and we did a pub crawl. I threw out the sugar free rules for one night because, guess what? Every single drink has sugar in it. Except water, but I wasn't planning on drinking just water on such a memorable occasion. After a night of drinking, I couldn't stop myself from buying candy at the convenience store that night. Sugar is really an addiction, once you start, it's really hard to stop.

Sugar free snacks: Healthy Zucchini muffins
Sugar free snacks: Healthy Zucchini muffins

Zucchini muffins (grain free, dairy-free)

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup Spelt or almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup unpeeled, shredded zucchini

Instructions-Zucchini muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Fill muffin tin with liners or grease.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients. Pulse together eggs, honey, vanilla, and coconut oil until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and pulse.
  3. Let mix sit for 3-5 minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb. Add the apple cider vinegar, banana and zucchini and pulse.
  4. Scoop batter into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 min.

Sugar free snacks: Healthy, delicious muffins

3 stars from 47 ratings of Healthy zucchini muffins

Sugar free foods can be delicious

Source

Sugar free substitutes-for baking

How to go sugar free

Step 1

Clear out everything with refined sugar

Step 2

Make a sugar free diet plan and make a grocery list of supplies, sugar free snacks and sugar substitutes.

Step 3

Talk to your family about how you want to see sugar free foods introduced to your family's eating plan. Even preschoolers will be able to understand and benefit from an explanation. It's important for everyone to know why you're doing this. The bottom line is to be more physically healthy as a family.

Step 4

Make a plan to slowly take the sugar out of your kids snacks and foods. If there's a food item that they love that IS sugary, see if there's a way to modify it. For example, flavored yogerts have a TON of sugar in them. If your kids love yogert, just feed them plain yogert with some honey or maple syrup mixed in with some fruits. Slowly cut back the amount of sweetener over time.

Step 5

Continue to find delicious and nutritious recipes that your family will enjoy.

Just because it's sugar free doesn't mean it's good for you

In being more diligent about reading food labels and ingredients, I've some to the conclusion that just because something is sugar-free, doesn't mean it's healthy. Some products are low in sugar or even gluten free but the sodium levels are sky high! And let's be logical people, just because french fries or potato chips don't have sugar in them doesn't mean they should be on the sugar free food list.

© 2013 healthygurl

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    • renee21 profile image

      renee21 2 years ago

      I have given up sugar mostly. I don't eat it even on birthdays. I will only eat it on the major holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Great hub!

    • psin profile image

      John A. Velasquez 3 years ago from Colombia

      Sugar free life is possible. here is how I did it.

      The trick is not to go slow, it is actually the opposite. If you are able to stay away from all refine sugar (sodas, candy, regular sugar, etc) for 21 days non stop, your taste buds will become very sensitive to all sugars and from there you will see how much you will despite sweet food.

      Little sugar here and there, Its like having a new girlfriend while still keeping in touch daily with your ex. NOT HEALTHY. By the same token "You need to divorce sugar once and for all otherwise you wont make it."

      Let me know how it goes.

      Buy lots of fresh fruits and put them on the counter so everyone at home can see some options when they get the cravings.

      Hope I was of help!

    • healthygurl profile image
      Author

      healthygurl 3 years ago from Canada

      Thanks everyone! Glad this article is helpful and useful.

    • married2medicine profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 3 years ago from Europe

      Wonderful tips with awesome recommendations. This is such a breath-taking piece... You did an excellent job here and no doubt you deserve the thumbs up and all accolades (except "funny").. I will definitely be visiting your page once in a while to get such enrichment. Well done once again!

    • profile image

      Felicia 3 years ago

      So true...so addicting!

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Voted useful, i need to do this to... My children and I have started a year with no candy, but I notice I quickle put other sweets in my mouth instead.

    • Angie Peterson profile image

      Angie Peterson 3 years ago from Greenville

      I Have made a post myself about eating better, feel free to check mine out, this post has lots of great information, i loved reading it, the real bad sugar is high fructose corn syrup, the processed sugars, they are like a drug, bad affect, very harmful. I hope to read more and inform many, happy blogging everyone.

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 3 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I hear what you are saying and you are right. Problem is, going sugar free is really expensive. Surprising how anything "healthy" always comes with a price, even honey! At least in South Africa.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

      Stevia is the best..after that just use honey or maple sugar but just a little.

    • Lori P. profile image

      Lori Chidori Phillips 3 years ago from Southern California USA

      This one will be really tough for me but it's critical that I do it as I'm a diabetic. I've relied upon sugar substitutes but now hear they are worse than sugar. ugh.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

      You have to buy plain oats and cook them like they did in the old days! Don't worry they taste even better!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      You are so right about the artificial sweeteners being harmful. Yesterday, I bought two boxes of oatmeal and it had many claims of how healthy it was and it only showed 1 gram of sugar on the box. When I got home, I continued reading the box and it said it was scientifically proven to be good for you and then I read it contained aspartame!

    • T-X-2 profile image

      Tammy 3 years ago from Louisiana

      I just wrote on another hub that I need to cut back on my sugar, then I came across your article. These are great ideas to try. I don't know if I could give up sugar altogether, but I've definitely been eating too much of it lately. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • christryon profile image

      christryon 4 years ago

      Congratulations on making a plan and sharing your story.

      I would like to add a word of caution when going sugar-free: Do not eat ANYTHING that contains artificial sweeteners! They are more hazardous to your health than sugar is. Honey is an excellent alternative.

      Personally, I haven't licked the sugar habit. I have cut down quite a bit. I am getting better at making fruit and vegetable smoothies when my cravings get bad and they have been working.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Congrats on your quest to give up sugar. I have to do the same. I do notice even when I cut down, that I feel so much better and have more energy. Hope you have continued success!

      Liz

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Congrats on your rising star win and your zucchini muffins look very tasty and I'll be giving them a go. I love anything baked with almond flour.

      I've tried many times to make our family sugar-free, but since everyone else protests too much (or else they go out and buy chocolate) I use a middle ground approach these days. I've found that pureed dates are a great sugar substitute when baking and also use rapudura, which is whole cane sugar so much better than the refined variety!

      Your last point is very important - as well as sodium, many sugar-free products have artificial sweeteners that are potentially even worse for us than sugar.

      Pinned.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Hi healthygurl,

      Great hub. I also tried going sugar free in my 20s and whenever I did, people immediately noticed I was calm, alert, and slimmer. I eat much less sugar than I used to, but your hub inspired me to give it up for good. By the way, I was told as far as checking the label on the ingredients, if sugar (or its "friends" - fructose, corn syrup, etc.) is the 5th or more ingredient on the list, it is considered acceptable containing only a trace amount in the item. Congratulations on making such a good decision for both you and your family. Can't wait to try the muffins.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 4 years ago from Manhattan

      I went sugar free for 2 years..lost about 40 pounds, then had some sugar last Christmas and gained all the weight back. It's a tough nut to crack. I would like to suggest (when drinking) to just have a glass of wine or beer and skip the cocktails. That is what I did and it didn't affect me. I'm hoping to go back off the sugar and have been without it for about 4 days now. By the way, don't make the mistake of using artificial sweetners..they are worse than sugar. Stevia is pretty good. I used that, honey, maple syrup and sometimes agave.

      Good luck to you.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      You can also get jam which is 100% fruit juice sweetened... I found some at a discount store (Ocean State Job Lot, which I'm sure is not in Canada) for around $2 recently.

    • healthygurl profile image
      Author

      healthygurl 4 years ago from Canada

      Alex-My kids still ask me almost everyday for store-bought snacks but overall, I'm pleased with all the healthy things they are consuming, even though they don't eat as much as I would like them to. I'm just referring to my 3 year old though, my one year old eats literally everything at the moment.

    • Alex Simring profile image

      Alex Simring 4 years ago from Australia

      Voted this up and useful - I'm going to try it out, but not so sure if the kids are going to enjoy it!

    • healthygurl profile image
      Author

      healthygurl 4 years ago from Canada

      ElleBee, I just checked the ingredients on my sugar-free jam and it's sweetened with sucralose(Splenda)! Guess I'll be making my own jam now.....

    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      This looks really interesting! I think cutting sugar out (or at least cutting back) on sugar in my diet, could be very beneficial! I do have to make one comment on the sugar free jam - a lot of those sugar free/no-sugar added jams use splenda, aspartame or similar as a sweetener which could be arguably worse than sugar!! In my very non-expert opinion, it seems like no-sugar added preserves that just utilize the natural flavor of the fruit are the best bet.

    • lifeintheworld profile image

      lifeintheworld 4 years ago from The World

      Zucchini muffins (or really any zucchini-based baked good) are great. They always stay so moist. Nice recipe :)

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      What a great sugar free diet plan, and I like the zucchini muffin recipe, I will have to try making those. Thanks for the list of sugar free foods too, I'm going to put that on my fridge.

    • Missy Mac profile image

      Missy Mac 4 years ago from Illinois

      healthygurl you are so correct. I am a diabetic and watching my sugar and salt intake is very challenge. Sometimes I have sugar cravings and a small portion can easily lead to more. I need some sugar when my level drops, but it's a work in progress to eliminate sweets. Great hub!!!

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Been working on a sugar-free diet since January because I think I am hypoglycemic and read all the harm sugar can do to our bodies. Been feeling much better since. And yes, sugar is every where sauces, bread and ketchup!

    • Lacey Taplin profile image

      Lacey Taplin 4 years ago from Highlands Ranch, CO

      Giving up sugar is the worst! I've been doing it slowly (started with cutting out soda, limiting sweets, etc.), but it's hard when it is in so much of our food. Keep up the good work. Great hub!

    • healthygurl profile image
      Author

      healthygurl 4 years ago from Canada

      Dataload. It's truly a hard thing to do. Especially when you live in a world filled with temptation at every corner. (I'm talking about sugar here..)

    • DATALOAD profile image

      DATALOAD 4 years ago from Michigan

      Sugar free is a noble plan. I don't think I would last long though.

    • healthygurl profile image
      Author

      healthygurl 4 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for your encouraging words, movies and peach!

    • moviesreviews profile image

      Billy Taylor 4 years ago from NY

      A very useful and resourceful hub. Voted up and look forward to more of your work. Thanks.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i like the diet plan idea. Got to cut down on the sugar food. Voted up