She quit sugar AND grains...crazy? I think not.

Hihi!  Seems like everywhere I look there is something that says sugar is the devil. My instagram is full of anti-sugar recipes, my inbox is tips on how to quit this "drug" and my best friend swears it helped her lose weight.  Grains...that a whole separate topic.  Is EVERYTHING bad for us? No...but you need to find what works for YOU. 

While I am NOT a fan of fad diets (been there done that..all of them) this idea of quitting sugar or at least refined sugar makes a whole lot of sense.  I would never recommend a client cuts out fruit because of the sugar content for example.  Fruit comes with loads of health benefits like vitamins and fiber that the sugar is just a small naturally occurring piece.  The sugar I highly suggest limiting is the garbage that's in soda, packaged foods, most candy, and table sugar.  This added sweetener is highly addictive, the more you eat it the more you crave, it does nothing but create a rapid raise in blood sugar leading to a crash AND adds calories. No bueno. 

I sat down with my gorgeous friend Lindsay of Lindsay Jean Design and also owner of Duchess, a fab boutique in Newton, to hear what her experience has been quitting the sweet stuff.  At this time she is also eliminating all grains as well.  This is an experiment to see how her body reacts and if she feels better...spoiler alert...she is feeling pretty great.

Meagan: What inspired you to make a change in your diet and cut out grains and sugar?

Lindsay: First because I wasn't feeling great, some general body aches/pains. Second because with Type 1 Diabetes, I’m always looking for a good way to help my control my blood glucose level.

On a scale of 1-10 how hard has it been?  For real...

The first week was definitely an 8 on the hard scale. I was having a lot of cravings plus a few headaches. Now heading into week 4, it’s turned to about a 5. The cravings have totally stopped, but the food prep for the week and each meal definitely doesn't make it the easiest!

When you say sugar...do you mean fruit too? Why/why not?

I decided not to cut out fruit simply based on the idea that it’s natural, good for you, and a whole food. 

What was the hardest thing to give up? What do you miss the most?

The hardest thing to give up by far was splenda in my coffee. I'm now drinking my coffee black and still miss the sweetness here and there. I’m convinced at this point that I actually liked the splenda more than the coffee! Besides that I get a little twinge for a piece of chocolate (or 7) after dinner. I’ve helped ease this feeling by going for some strawberries or pineapple.

  • Such a great point that maybe it was the sweetness she craved...NOT just the coffee. Lesson here: pay attention to your body and what its telling you.

Sum up a typical days meals...bfast, lunch and dinner...  

  • Breakfast: An egg or two (usually scrambled), half an avocado broiled, and sweet potatoes prepared in different ways. On special occasions, some sugar-free bacon! I resort to a banana in a rush!
  • Lunch: Veggies with chicken sausage or chicken breast. Salad. Cauliflower fried rice has been a favorite go-to.
  • Dinner: Salad with grilled chicken, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles with various meats/sauces, lettuce wraps. Slow cooker chicken soup.

All of that sound awesome! Minus the bacon...you know how I feel about bacon. Is there new sugar/grain free recipe that you love?

Grain-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, & Soy-free Turkey Meatballs(I adapted this from my family's favorite Italian meatball recipe. I removed the cheese, breadcrumbs & milk and used turkey instead of beef! They are delicious!)

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C. coconut milk (full fat, canned)
  • 1/2 C. coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped or grated)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with hands. Form into 1-2 inch balls. Place on lined baking sheet. Drizzle or brush with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles with homemade sauce or your favorite store-bought no sugar added version (I love the Monte Bene brand found at Whole Foods!)

Lindsay's balls. 

Lindsay's balls. 

Wow, sounds great and I love modifying traditional recipes to make them meet my goals too! How are feeling overall? What changes have you noticed?

I feel really phenomenal! My skin (with touches of adult acne) has completely cleared up and I have stopped using my antibiotics for those issues. I have a lot more energy and feel alert late into the evening. Before starting this I was crashing early in the night with no energy to do anything. My mood has completely improved, I feel level and happy. Added bonus: my blood glucose levels have definitely improved and my insulin dosage has decreased!

All of that is amazing! Good for you woman. How long do you plan to eat this way?

I’ve learned so much. I will continue to read labels and keep added sugar and grains out of my diet on regular days, but I think I will allow for some leeway on a limited basis for special occasions. I think to stay healthy and happy it's less about eating in moderation/calorie counting and more about making the right ingredient choices on a daily basis, meal to meal.

I couldn't agree with you more. Would you recommend other people make this change?

I do, I think it’s eye opening to how much sugar is actually in things we eat all the time-- ketchup, canned tomatoes, marinades, salad dressing, even bacon --but don’t bother to read the ingredients. As far as grain goes, I think elimination diets can be so helpful to tuning into your body and what really makes you feel the best. I also think the habits created (and broken) by removing ingredients like grain and sugar, are amazing.

***Moral of the story here...eat whole, real foods. Cut out the packaged garbage, read ingredients and don't drive yourself crazy.  Listen to your body.  The best way to tune in is to simplify.  Your diet should be comprised of mostly veggies and fruit, lean protein, and grains like Quinoa or brown rice.***

I hope you find this helpful!  Now go throw out all the crap that's in your cabinets. Good job. 

xoxo

ps: Lindz mentioned her skin clearing up and there will be more to come on that topic and cleaning out the toxic chemicals that are in your everyday products. Its pretty scary.