Video: The Great Indoors: 10 days without added sugars an enlightening experience
What would you think if everything you've learned about food and exercise for the past 30 years was "dead wrong?"
That's the claim made in the new documentary "Fed Up" made by the producers of "An Inconvenient Truth," who draw a link behind sugar consumption and America's obesity epidemic. A link, which they say will result in 95 percent of Americans being overweight or obese by 2035.
At the release of the film on May 9, co-executive producer and narrator Katie Couric encouraged all of us to try the "Fed Up Challenge" going without added sugar (or artificial sweetener) for 10 days. I just completed the challenge and chronicled it on video and in a day-by-day breakdown.
Day 1 - My husband Mark has decided to take on the challenge with me. I feel like a soldier without a battle plan. Because I wasn't able to make it to the grocery store over the weekend to prepare for this, I find myself rummaging through the cabinets trying to find anything to eat that doesn't have added sugar. My label reading is getting me down. Who knew added sugar was in so many things - from salad dressings, granolas, breads, yogurts and flavored water?
Day 2 - Decided to arm myself with a real shopping trip. After some quick research, I have some recipes to try and a grocery list full of fruits and vegetables (Naturally occurring sugars in fruit are OK).
Mark is a huge cereal eater, and we find just a couple of cereals that don't contain sugar. I settle on Grape Nuts.
I need to find something to fill the pop void, so I start looking at carbonated water. I realize not all of them are the same. Many of them contain aspartame, but some seltzer waters do not.
Day 3 - Uh oh, a work potluck. This could be rough. So many yummy sweets, breads and sodas. But not for me.
I load up on turkey, cheese, veggies and fruits. And oh happy day! After reading labels, I find many regular potato chips don't have sugar, but the baked ones do. Apparently, lower-fat foods sometimes have increased sugar to make up for the loss of flavor fat gives.
Day 4 - Cravings seem less, but when I want something sweet after meals, I grab a raw ball made from oats, walnuts and dates. (The raw ball recipe was featured on "The Great Indoors" in January).
Tonight is also spaghetti night at our house. We've had to change spaghetti sauces. Most of the jarred sauces on the shelf contain either corn syrup or sugar. Fortunately, I find the Classico Tomato and Basil does not contain added sugar.
Day 5 - Halfway done with the challenge, and it's pizza night at our house. It's not easy to find a pizza dough or sauce that doesn't contain sugar. I'm happy to report after extensive research, it looks like Pizza Hut's Thin and Crispy crust with regular pizza sauce is sugar free. But surprisingly, all of the meat toppings contain sugar or sweeteners. Looks like we're safe with cheese and mushrooms.
Day 6 - Is this almost over? I really want pop. That's been the toughest part for me. Maybe I'm actually addicted to carbonation. Is that a thing?
Day 7 - Another potluck? Are you kidding me? This is worse than the one at work. And by worse I mean more desserts than you can shake a sad little sugar-deprived finger at.
Chocolate-chip cake, Creamsicle pie, lemon bars and seven-layer bars. As much as I'd like the cake, I don't feel like I HAVE to have it.
Day 8 - After wrapping up our first week, I ask my husband, "Well, do you feel any different?"
He replies, "Yeah, I'm angrier."
He is Scandinavian-Lutheran, so that really doesn't mean much. Nonetheless, our friend Lisa comes to the rescue by providing us with a delicious alternative to ice cream that uses frozen bananas. Yummy.
Day 9 - I've planned meals for the rest of the week, and I find when I make my own food versus rely upon processed food, added sugar is not an issue. Hello, light-bulb moment.
For example, for dinner I threw some chicken in the crockpot with rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, onion and white wine. No need to add sugar to that blend.
Day 10 - I can't believe we've almost made it.
In addition to learning the importance of reading labels and cutting back on processed food, I've learned I'm stronger than sugar. That doesn't mean I'll continue this restrictive way of eating. I want to have the occasional chocolate chip cookie or piece of cheesecake. But I'm so grateful for the lessons the Fed Up Challenge has taught me.
It's about questioning the foods we've come to take for granted and taking responsibility for the ingredients that go into our bodies. They can nourish you or slowly erode your health. It's up to us to choose. And that's a pretty sweet deal.
Watch 'The Great Indoors' with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on www.InforumTV.com