Friday, August 26, 2011

Sugar Substitutes

Want to hear something mildly shocking?  I've cut nearly all the sugar from my diet.

For the average person, this might be no feat worth bragging about, but for me?  Well.  It's life-changing.  I may as well have decided to start speaking in Pig Latin all day, it's that big a deal.  Not eating sugar is a conscious choice that I must make throughout my entire day.  "No sugar, Sara.  Choose something else."

Why put myself through the agony of finding other ways to quiet my grumbling stomach?  Another bit you may not know about me is that I've got a stubborn case of acne.  I've been battling it for six years since my body was mucked up by taking (and then quitting) The Pill.  I've tried all the popular cleansers, drinking lots of water, taking vitamins, using no fabric softeners, using "free & clear" laundry detergents, changing my pillowcases twice a week, and on and on.  I did discover, a few years ago, that eliminating dairy from my diet cleared up all the breakouts on my forehead.  It was a huge breakthrough moment for me, because you cannot put a price on feeling even a tiny bit less embarrassed.  

But, my skin took a turn for the worse last December.  I began battling painful acne on my neck and jawline, and each new spot took a month to heal.  And it kept getting worse and kept leaving marks and kept making me sad.  Because I agree with everything I've read that says acne is the outward evidence of a hormonal imbalance, I've started giving more thought to what I eat.  And, it's no surprise that I eat quite a bit of sugar.  Quite a bit.  Having Sarandipity orders in front of me three nights a week is an obvious source of sugar.  But, I also turn to baking sugary treats as a means to relieve stress.  Which, of course, I eat.  Every last crumb is devoured, because, seriously, I bake delicious things.  

So, after reading comment after comment written by acne sufferers who cleared up after cleaning out the sugar, I decided to step up and try it myself.  And then, I bumped into this article, detailing how both dairy and sugar throw insulin and hormones out of balance, and it sealed the deal for me.  I've long had issues with sudden drops in my blood sugar, so I'm now thinking in terms of the things I can do to keep it even, eliminating the steep peaks and drops.  

And, here we are.  Seven treat-less days under my belt.  The only place where sweet has maintained its stronghold is in my coffee.  I've cut out the Splenda, but I haven't yet managed to cut out the flavored creamer.  I'm weaning myself off it; my coffee is looking more and more like a sad watery brown instead of a lovely, cozy, and delicious shade of tan.  But I'm content making baby steps there right now.

I've dropped the treats, the sugar, and I've quit serving starchy carbs with dinner.  It sounds like a lot, and it has been a huge transition.  But, I'm feeling extremely proud of myself for sticking to this.  And, I'm finding joy in new foods - The crunch of a roasted almond.  The variety of fruits I had previously bypassed when grocery shopping.  The versatility of quinoa.  The way a delicious sauce completely changes the taste of an entire dish.  The rainbow of color I put into every meal.

I'm learning new ways to love food.  And there are still so many foods I can love.


  1. Very cool, Sara! Especially considering your line of work, this was a great accomplishment! These pictures are just wonderful-especially the last one. Yay for you, sister!

  2. Good luck! Adult acne is the worse! I was successful with ProActive in the past but I assume you have already tried that. It kind of sounds like you are trying the South Beach diet which is the only diet I have ever tried. You might check out that book for good ways to get the sweet taste without the sugar. If I recall their favorite dessert is ricotta cheese mixed with a sweetener. Did you give up cheese with your dairy?

  3. I also wonder if the humidity in Atlanta makes it worse. Maybe you should move to Boise. :)

  4. @Alecia - Ha!! But yes, I'm both dairy- and sugar-free right now. That article I linked to specifically called out those two food groups. Right now, I'm trying to teach my brain to not crave sugar all the time. I taught myself to love veggies, I figure I can teach myself to get by without all the sweets? God help me ;)

  5. WOW.

    Super proud of you.

    Would be even happier if you moved to Spokane. Boise is so...not Spokane.

    Does your acne fluctuate on your cycle?

  6. And PS.

    What the F? Where are the recipes to these tasty things? What's the top picture?

  7. Fantastic!! Sara, I will keep you in my prayers and the dishes look great, you are so talented. We could all do with out a lot of sugar in our lives great idea. You have the will power and you are your fathers daughter, for he has alot of will power in him. Love the pictures of all the dishes fantastic job. You work so hard on perfection, you need to take some R and R. Take care. LOL Aunt Kay H.