a peek inside the fishbowl

07 Sep, 2010

Know More Do More: the Fishbowl sugar fast

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Know More Do More|Challenge me, challenge you

sugar fastThe day has arrived! It’s the first day of our sugar-free week. (Which I mentioned in last week’s KMDM post.)

I’m uploading this post as a placeholder of sorts. I will be adding more to it later on today and throughout this week, so please bookmark it and check back!

My sugar-free week is September 8 – 15. [ETA: I need to clarify, the sugar fast will actually end at end of day on the 14th. As Mark pointed out, since we started on the 8th that means we’ll have done seven whole days at that point.]

I was going to start yesterday but it was Mark’s birthday and even though we celebrated it with family the day before for some reason he didn’t think it’d be fair to be sugar-free on the anniversary of the actual date of his birth. Go figure.

Anyway, for our purposes “sugar-free “means:

  • We will not be buying and/or eating food items which contain sugar and other processed sweeteners like corn syrup, glucose-fructose, etc. (e.g. yogurt, jam, peanut butter and cereal)
  • No honey or maple syrup either (!)
  • We will be cutting out after-dinner sweets and replacing them with things like fruit and popcorn
  • I am cutting Splenda out of my coffee (!)

We will not, however, be cutting out foods which have naturally occurring sugars like fruit and regular milk. And I would like to declare that we will be finishing up the small carton of pineapple juice in the fridge. :)

The reason we are doing this is to get the whole family reading labels and looking for hidden sugars (ketchup contains sugar, our mustard does not, for example) and thinking hard about the choices we make.

As healthy side-benefit I expect that the amount of processed foods we eat will drop to near zero.

I expect raging headaches. So if you know me in real life I suggest you steer clear. :)

If you’ve decided to come along for the ride and are trying this challenge at home, use the comments area of this post to share your progress. And if you’re writing about this on your blog, please let me know!

If you’re tweeting about your progress, please use the #sugarfast so we can all follow along.

I’ll be tracking our meals (below) and updating our progress within the comments.

Sugar-free Eve – Tuesday September 7

We eased into sugar-free week with a big healthy dinner of steak, green salad with strawberries and oil/vinegar dressing, bread and corn. Aaaaaannnnd since it was Mark’s birthday we had gelato from Piccolo Grande. This will be the last time we have a sweet dessert this week.

Day one: Wednesday September 8

Sarah: roll with butter, banana
Emma: pita with peanut butter and sliced banana
Mark: All-Bran Buds* mixed with Multigrain Cheerios and milk
Andrea: banana, grapes, slice of rye bread with peanut butter**, latte made with 2/3 cup milk (it’s day two with no Splenda for me)

Sarah and Emma: pita and hummus, grapes, cucumber slices, pear, water
Mark: Ham and cheese on a bagel, apple
Andrea: Marla’s black bean soup with grated cheese on top, boiled egg, goji-berry tea

Snacks etc.
Andrea: peppermint tea, apple, peach
Emma and Sarah: crackers and peanut butter
Mark: apples

Herb-dijon chicken, roast potatoes (and leftover rice for Sarah), brussel sprouts with toasted almonds, raw red pepper rings, green salad, cantaloupe. For dessert we had banana “ice cream” (recipe here) with whipped cream (ingredients: whipped cream & vanilla) OMG. So.Good. And sugar-freeeeee!  :)

Day two: Thursday September 9

Emma: peach, pineapple juice
Sarah: boiled egg, roll with butter, strawberries, pineapple juice
Mark: All-Bran Buds* mixed with Multigrain Cheerios and milk
Andrea: banana, slice of rye with PB, latte (day three with no Splenda for me), green tea

Emma: hummus and pita, cheddar cheese and crackers, cantaloupe, peach, water
Sarah: roll with butter and brie cheese, tomato, milk, cantaloupe
Andrea: (takeout lunch for work-related research – seriously!):  chicken/potato/coconut curry and jasmine rice (confession: sugar makes an appearance within the ingredients of the curry  – no avoiding it here. Gah!)
Mark: Shish Taouk wrap and an apple

Snacks etc.
Andrea: boiled egg, mug of hot milk with dash of vanilla, Hakurei Japanese turnips & greens, peach, popcorn
Sarah: peanut butter on crackers, sliced apple, popcorn
Emma: peanut butter on crackers, popcorn
Mark: CHEETOS (“But hey, there’s no sugar!”), grapes, popcorn

Mark and Andrea: butter chicken and rice (apparently there’s sugar in the butter chicken. I can’t win.)
Emma and Sarah: homemade tomato soup, garlic bread

Day three: Friday September 10

Emma: pineapple juice, bread with butter (gah – have I mentioned the girls pretty much make their own breakfasts?)
Sarah: 2 slices toasted rye with peanut butter and sliced strawberries (good replacement for jam!)
Andrea: slice of toasted rye with butter, handful of grapes, 1/2 slice of bacon (can you tell I was eating over the sink?), latte
Mark: bacon on rye

Emma: butter, cheddar & lettuce on rye, grapes, red pepper slices, peach, milk,
Sarah: butter, brie & lettuce on rye, grapes, crackers, pepperoni slices, water
Mark: Shrimp Pad Thai and an apple (Mark, you really need to bring your own lunch more often)
Andrea: leftovers from dinner, latte from Bridgehead

Snacks etc.
Sarah and Emma: unsweetened applesauce, apple-raisin muffins (new recipe!)
Andrea: peach, apple-raisin muffin
Mark: apple-raisin muffin

Everyone: Tacos: PC taco shells**, cheddar cheese, lettuce, PC salsa**, red peppers, avocado, tomato

Day four: Saturday September 11

Emma: apple-raisin muffin
Sarah: tomato slices, brie, apple-raisin muffin
Andrea: tomato and brie sandwich on rye, latte
Mark: All-Bran buds with multigrain Cheerios and milk

Andrea: Bacon and egg on rye, milk
Mark: Bacon and egg on rye, milk
Sarah: Smoked meat on rye, milk
Emma: Grilled cheese on rye, milk

Snacks etc [eaten during the course of a day… not in one sitting. :) ]
Emma: apple, bagel with cream cheese, chips**
Sarah: apple, banana, orange, chips**
Mark: apple, chips**, peach
Andrea: bagel with butter, 1/2 beer, handful of mixed nuts, chips**, grapes

Mark and Andrea: pork roast, roasted potatoes, corn, bacon-wrapped green beans
Sarah: pork roast, corn, raw veggies
Emma: port roast, raw veggies, roasted potatoes

Day five: September 12

Andrea: banana, latte, bagel with cream cheese
Sarah: apple, milk
Emma: bagel with cream cheese, apple
Mark: All-Bran buds with multigrain Cheerios and milk

Andrea: hard boiled eggs, slice of bacon, blueberry/peach smoothie made with yogurt**
Sarah: 1/2 bagel, brie cheese, tomato, blueberry/peach smoothie made with yogurt**
Emma: toast and bacon, blueberry/peach smoothie made with yogurt**
Mark: bacon, eggs, toast, blueberry/peach smoothie made with yogurt**

Snacks etc.
Sarah: hot-air popcorn, milk, peach, frozen grapes, apple-raisin muffin
Emma: popcorn, juice, apple-raisin muffin
Andrea: salad turnips, frozen grapes, apple-raisin muffins
Mark: peanuts, banana, apple, apple-raisin muffins

Andrea: multigrain pasta with meat-based spaghetti sauce
Emma: large carrot, multigrain pasta with meat-based spaghetti sauce, milk
Sarah: large carrot, multigrain pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, milk
Mark: multigrain pasta with sauce and parmasan cheese

Day six: Monday September 13

Emma: apple-raisin muffin with butter, ?
Sarah: apple-raisin muffin with butter, apple slices with almond butter, milk
Mark: All-Bran buds with multigrain Cheerios and milk
Andrea: banana with almond butter, handful of grapes, latte

Emma: havarti/lettuce sandwich on rye, grapes, red pepper slices, apple-raisin muffin
Sarah: havarti/lettuce sandwich on rye, grapes, red pepper slices, apple-raisin muffin
Mark: homemade chicken noodle soup, garden salad with homemade balsamic dressing, milk
Andrea: Tuna (packed in oil, therefore no need for may) and lettuce on rye, peppermint tea 

Snacks etc.
Sarah: carrot
Mark: apple
Andrea: apple-raisin muffin

Emma: slice of homemade pizza (mozzarella and pepperoni… and we noticed after the fact that the tomato sauce had sugar in it – gah), milk 
Sarah: slice of homemade pizza, milk
Mark: slice of homemade pizza, beer
Andrea: slice of homemade pizza, homemade carrot soup

Day seven: Tuesday September 14

Emma: rye toast with butter, applesauce**, watermelon
Sarah: hot milk, grapes, banana
Mark: All-Bran buds with multigrain Cheerios and milk
Andrea; watermelon, cheese, latte

Emma: watermelon, havarti and lettuce on rye, apple, grapes, milk
Sarah: watermelon, cold (homemade) pizza, havarti slices, pear
Mark: prosciutto and mozzarella on a multigrain bun with dijon and lettuce, Miss Vickies S&V chips,
Andrea: toasted slice of rye w havarti, toasted slice of rye with butter, homemade carrot soup

Emma: buttered popcorn
Sarah: dates (“they look mushy and brown and not very inviting but they’re very good”), buttered popcorn
Andrea: peach, buttered popcorn, herbal tea
Mark: popcorn

I was hoping our last dinner would be a fantastic example of sugar-free dining, alas, it was not meant to be. One of the girls had a school BBQ, which we attended. We COULD have made a point and brought our own dinner, but, we didn’t. I should have worked harder on this today – of all days. I felt like I had to let go a little, but I have to be honest and say that I am feeling pretty down about it right now. After all, we’d come so far.

The girls each had a hot dog on bleachwhite buns. I had a veggie burg on a similarly white glucosey-fructosey bun. Mark had two cheeseburgers. We had fries (Oh, chip-truck fries are so good!) and I found myself dipping them in ketchup out of sheer habit. The burger wasn’t the best, but the fries – and ketchup – were divine.

I wish I had a better dinner to report. We did, however, avoid the ice cream afterwards. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Will write up conclusions soonish. :( 

* Doctor prescribed, minus the Cheerios. We know this is not sugar-free but this is a concession we are making.
** All these kinds of foods – like the bread and the peanut butter – have been checked and are sugar-free varieties and do not contain added sugars and/or sweeteners.

This post is part of the Know More Do More initiative which was spearheaded by the Champlain Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Network. KMDM is about empowering parents and inspiring them to take charge of their children’s health by taking easy steps to increase activity levels and improve eating habits. I’m one of two champion families who has been asked to take this challenge. You can join too. Check out the official website for more information. If you’re blogging about your participation, please let me know so we can cheer each other on! You can read all of my past weekly challenges here.

41 Responses to "Know More Do More: the Fishbowl sugar fast"

1 | bushidoka

September 8th, 2010 at 8:36 am


Oooo, getting rid of honey is just evil! We go through next to no processed sugar except for things like making jam and pickles. But I love honey in my coffee! And our overall intake of it is not enormous either. Though it is a good exercise to make everyone aware of that stuff.

BTW, all natural peanut butter has no sugar – just peanuts (and sometimes salt). We enjoy it a lot more than the sugary stuff. Even the kids do! President’s Choice has one that is good and inexpensive. Yes, you do have to stir it from time to time but it is no big deal once you are used to it. Even our 6 year old is well versed in the technique.

2 | Chrissy

September 8th, 2010 at 8:44 am


I’ve been sugar-free since Monday. I’ve been drinking lots of green tea instead of coffee. Yesterday morning when I put my toast in the toaster, I realized that I couldn’t have jam or sun-butter so I opted for a tomato sandwich. It was a great breakfast! I’ve stocked up on eggs and my favourite fruits to get me through the week. So far so good!

3 | andrea

September 8th, 2010 at 10:19 am


bushidoka: I will miss honey too, but am able to give it up for a week to make my point. :) All-natural PB is great. I prefer it over the Kraft stuff anyway. The girls seem to be taking to it ok.

Chrissy: you rock! I am going to up my green tea intake this week.

4 | andrea

September 8th, 2010 at 10:21 am


I had my first sugar-free screw up. (That didn’t take long, did it?) I was making a big batch of soup for myself this morning and didn’t I notice until AFTER I poured it in that my organic vegetable broth contains sugar. I didn’t notice it at frist because it’s way down the list, and it’s called “cane juice” on the lable. I am assuming this is sugar cane. Frig. It’s my first day too. Am eating it today and freezing the rest. :(

5 | Lana

September 8th, 2010 at 10:44 am


Even though we’re not doing the challenge, I totally support your efforts. (We have enough other foods to avoid!) Isn’t shocking where sugar sneaks in? Broth?? Wha? Why?? And I will admit that peanut butter with icing sugar added totally skeeves me out.

6 | bushidoka

September 8th, 2010 at 10:53 am


BTW, no matter how good your stirring efforts are, with natural peanut butter you will often end up with a hard lump of solid mass at the bottom of the jar as it nears empty, and there will be no more oil to mix in with it to make it usable. Just take a bit of good vegetable oil of your choice and mix it in there – works great. It’s not 100% peanuts anymore (unless you use peanut oil of course), but it works well, still tastes great, and is still healthy if you use a healthy oil.

7 | Betsy Mae

September 8th, 2010 at 11:22 am


good for you guys!

i bet you feel differently by the end of the week, imagine two weeks?

8 | Judy

September 8th, 2010 at 11:26 am


Great work! I admire you for doing it, but admit to not joining in… food is hard enough when you are allergic to raw fruit & veg.

Our goal this week is to not buy lunch or snacks while out. Really hard. Really hard when you are unpacking nearly 1000 chocolate bars at work.

9 | Krista

September 8th, 2010 at 3:19 pm


I noticed a little while ago that our box of iodized table salt has sugar in it. Huh? I believe it’s in there to keep it free running. Who knew?? Sugar just sneaks in everywhere.

10 | Carla

September 8th, 2010 at 3:46 pm


Yeap, sugar in salt. It’s weird. But it is not to keep it running, there is usually a silicate or starch added that does that (depends on the brand). The sugar is to prevent the potassium iodate in the salt to become iodine and then evaporate, thus losing the iodated salt claim. We have been using sea salt for years now so only saw this once at a friend’s house recently and looked into it because I was so dumbfounded. You can avoid the sugar by using sea salt or kosher salt. My conspiracy self says that it is also to make the salt taste less sweet so you buy more salt, especially as they could use other things instead of salt for the same effect.

But now about sugar. I like the idea, but doing it without honey or maple syrup is just, i don’t know, cruel. We barely use cane sugar and stick to the syrups mostly, which although sweet yes, have nutrients and minerals in them. And, we also make sugarless goodies, like zucchini date muffins (dates are the sweetener) and things like that, that I would find it hard to draw the line. Is it sweeteners or is it sweet things?

Also, not to get too technical, but most bread, including bagels, contains sugar, as it is needed to feed the yeast and rise the bread, unless you are eating sourdough bread.

11 | andrea

September 8th, 2010 at 4:10 pm


Carla – My personal definition of “sugar free” includes pulling honey and maple syrup out of rotation. If you’re playing along feel free to define the term however you’d like. :)

The point of this week, for us, is to (a) reduce the number of sweets in our life (b) learn to eat more mindfully and think about how much we actually eat and (c) learn to look a little closer at labels and find those hidden sugars!

12 | Marianne

September 8th, 2010 at 5:31 pm


Multigrain Cheerios have added sugar (unless you have another brand without the sugar?) I was hugely disappointed when I found out, as I thought they’d be a healthier alternative than the plain cheerios for my toddler daughter’s snacks.

13 | Theresa

September 8th, 2010 at 8:51 pm


We’ve done this before. The only think that was terribly hard was no honey. We like our honey.

Surpridingly, the kids have always taken in in stride, and at 10 & 7 are quite the adept little label-readers. *wipes a tear*

The 10 year old reminds us to “eat from the farm, not the factory”

14 | bushidoka

September 9th, 2010 at 7:53 am


Oh, can you post the recipe for zucchini date muffins?

15 | andrea

September 9th, 2010 at 7:57 am


I’m not sure how exactly how many of you are taking the Sugar Fast challenge, but judging by the number of hits on this post I am guessing that a lot of you are checking back for progress reports. So here goes.

(In case you haven’t noticed, I’m tracking all of our meals are listed at the bottom of the post. Other progress is posted here in the comments.)

Today is day two. By the end of day yesterday I was feeling pretty darn good. My only low point was just before dinner. I was starving. Instead of reaching for something sweet to tide me over I chomped on raw veggies during dinner prep and chugged back a huge glass of water. It seemed to take the edge off.

The other thing that worked was a big sugar-free dessert. It wasn’t exactly low-fat but it made my tummy happy and I wasn’t craving anything more. Mark offered me a peach later on, which I enjoyed.

Conclusion: if you like sweets and have a big craving, a sweet fruit will fill the gap in a pinch.

16 | andrea

September 9th, 2010 at 7:58 am


I also wanted to add if you have links to sugar-free recipes please share them!

17 | Chrissy

September 9th, 2010 at 1:08 pm


I’m on day 4 now and doing surprisingly well. I’ve gotten a lot more fruit in my diet than usual. I don’t tend to eat much fruit so this is good. A handful of fresh blueberries really satisfies a craving!

18 | Binki

September 9th, 2010 at 4:22 pm


About peaneeboo….

Have any of you tried the brown cap Kraft peanut butter. It’s just peanuts and it stays stirred up (no oil separation) forever. No refrigeration required. It’s soo good. And no added sugar.

19 | Vanessa

September 10th, 2010 at 7:08 am


Congrats on trying this sugar fast! I know it’s tough. When I was first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I found it really tough. I have to say I’ve slipped. A lot. But I try really hard to make the right choices – and by default, my kids are much more aware of what they’re eating as well. It’s too bad people feel the need to point out what is not “truly” sugar free in your meals. I would just like to applaud you for making the effort.

20 | Kaitlin

September 10th, 2010 at 9:25 am


Day four here. Nary a slip-up, except for the beer. Which, obviously has sugars in it, but not refined sugar, per se.

That a friend brought me a huge bag of Haribos last night will toughen the deal, mind you.

21 | Amy

September 10th, 2010 at 11:03 am


I love that you are doing this. It is very inspiring. I wouldn’t say my family is ready, I know we are not, but we’ll be watching our labels and making better choices at the store after this:)

22 | andrea

September 10th, 2010 at 1:01 pm


Binki – That’s the brand we’re eating right now. It’s good!

Thanks everyone for your positive comments. Your support has been keeping me going this week.

Someone tweeted yesterday that I’m “brave” to do this. Well, I wouldn’t call it brave at all. :)

Other people have said they could never do a sugar fast. And to them I say: WHY NOT?

I know some of you out there think I’m a few Froot Loops short of a snak pak … but I feel good about what we’re trying to do here.

This is not about self-deprivation or torturing my kids.

The sugar fast is about (a) trying to eat right at a time of year when parents are bombarded with “EASY” lunch drinks and snacks (b) being mindful of the foods we eat (c) teaching our kids how to read labels and getting in the practice of doing so early on and (d) learning about food options that are better for us.

What have we learned recently? Emma just figured out there’s sugar in mayonnaise. They both know what glucose-fructose is. They know that HFCS is crap. I’ve learned it’s harder to avoid sugar than I thought. And it’s only day three!

23 | Mary @ Parenthood

September 10th, 2010 at 8:14 pm


I’ve been sort of following along but not forcing my husband and 18 month old to do likewise (my husband would NOT be happy about giving up his morning cereal!)

I say sort of because I keep slipping up – haven’t had a sugar free dayyet. Sugh. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

24 | Dee

September 11th, 2010 at 9:11 am


I’ve been refined-sugar & yeast-free (so yes, that includes booze because of the yeast) for a few months. You have to pay attention, read, and educate yourself…that takes time! But my energy is more level (noticed that the first week) and since it’s not a ‘diet’ I’m not hungrier than usual. To satisfy the sweet tooth, I LOVE frozen grapes. In regards to PB, has nobody here tried almond butter??? Natural (sugar&salt-free) PB is, well, BLAH. Almond butter has so much flavour and is sugar-free too.

I know it’s challenging to do this, but I love how much your girls are getting out of it too. I wonder how I can apply this in my Glebe Brownie unit…

25 | andrea

September 12th, 2010 at 7:21 am


It’s the morning of day five and I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to write this update. Maybe I should wait until that sugar-free latte kicks in. :)

I have a lot to say this morning. And I am bound to offend. (So hold on tight!)

Mark showed me this Wikipedia entry about sugar addiction. I recommend giving it a read.

I found this part pretty interesting: “In 2003, a report was commissioned by two U.N. agencies, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, compiled by a panel of 30 international experts. It stated that sugar should not account for more than 10% of a healthy diet. In contrast, the US Sugar Association insists that other evidence indicates that a quarter of our food and drink intake can safely consist of sugar.”

You can interpret that however you like.

I don’t think I’m a sugar addict. Sure, I may have stashed some good-quality chocolate around the house for hormonal emergencies, but I don’t sneak candy or ever feel guilty for eating it. I love candy, but it doesn’t control me. I don’t see myself giving it up entirely. But I can certainly understand how some people out there can be addicted.

There is a lovely box of chocolates sitting on Mark’s desk, totally untouched. It’s not killing me. I’ve discovered that the odd pang/need for something sweet can be quashed by eating a lovely peach or a handful of grapes. (I love the idea of eating frozen grapes! I must try that. Thank you Dee!) As a result, I’ve been eating more fruit, which is great.

Someone mentioned in an email that I’m feeding my kids “a concentration camp diet.” That is a direct quote. I think this is a grossly offensive statement on many levels, and I was going to let it slide and write it off as crazyness, but I wonder if there are more readers who think I’m torturing my kids somehow by not letting them have sweets and ketchup and salad dressings because they contain sugar.

I will confess. There has been mutiny among the troops. They’re feeling deprived of what they see is their “right.” Is it really their right … when I hold the purse-strings, do the grocery shopping and cook 90% of the meals?

Why is sugar seen as a right? I think fruit and vegetables are a right, but not sugary snacks.

There was a time when sugar was heavily rationed and 100% of the foods we ate were made at home. There was a time that candy bars were a once-in-a-blue moon treat. These days they’re beside us as we check out of the store, and packaged in appealing sizes for small lunchboxes. Sweets have become an everyday food, not a sometimes food. When did this happen, and why?

Our sugar fast is not a diet. My kids do not need to lose weight. I did not weigh myself before we started. It’s not about carbs or South Beach or counting fats.

I mention this only because someone asked if we were eating bread. (I wasn’t offended by the comment – in fact I welcomed the dialogue.) Bread is good! The bread we are eating does not contain added sugars and refined stuff like high fructose corn syrup. Many do, which is why I advocate always reading the label and choosing whole grains. BUT, the reason why dieters are told to skip bread is because of sugars which occur naturally when you combine yeast & flour. So we are indirectly getting some sugars into our bodies.

Anyway, yes, we defined our “sugar-free” week in such a way that it included bread.

The sugar fast has been an education tool (and it’s TOTALLY worked in this way) and a challenge. Can we go a week without eating sugar, yes or no?

The answer as I see it now is NO, we can’t go a week without eating sugar, because we’ve eaten it by accident a couple of times already. I realized too late a vegetable broth contained cane sugar, and the Indian food I was eating had sugar listed among the ingredients.

That’s where things stand right now.

Things are going to come to a head on Tuesday. We’re invited to a social gathering at which there will be ice-cream available. I’m going to skip it, as the sugar fast ends the day after, at end-of-day Wednesday (the 15th). I’ve told the kids that the decision to accept it – or reject it – is theirs. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll be curious to see what they choose to do.

26 | Rebecca

September 12th, 2010 at 10:14 am


Andrea I’ve been following this with interest. Even though we are a household of label-readers and try to eat healthy foods, we are sweet lovers.

Recently, we’ve decided to try and greatly reduce sugar. In particular, REFINED white sugar. This shouldn’t be mistaken for sweet.

What I think people think is that all sweet is to be removed. I don’t agree with that. Everyone can set their own parameters for this type of experiment.

I personally think honey and maple syrup as a good kind of sweet. As is molasses.

But refined white sugar (and brown sugar, my personal fave which is really no better nutritionally) are hard for me to ditch. I love to bake and most recipes call for that.

I am starting to experiment with substitutions, but it will be interesting to see how I can do.

Congrats on you for teaching your family about reading labels, fructose etc.

Small changes do make a difference to our health

27 | Mary @ Parenthood

September 12th, 2010 at 8:04 pm


Andrea, are you eating bread that is made with sugar? Pretty much all the recipes I have for yeast breads use sugar to go with the yeast.

28 | andrea

September 13th, 2010 at 7:35 am


Mary: I understand that many breads contain sugar. In a homemade loaf it’s there because of the baking process. It’s chemistry, really. The yeast needs to consume some sugars in order for the bread to rise.

The VAST majority of processed breads out on the market have added glucose-fructose or HFCS.

It must be very hard for people to believe that the bread my family is eating doesn’t contain added sugar. I’ve had a few people zero in on this detail.

It’s Dimplflmerier brand light rye that we have on the go right now. And it contains the following: Unbleached wheat flour, natural spring water, rye flour, sour dough (rye flour, natural spring water, bacterial culture), yeast, salt, skim milk powder, buttermilk powder, ccultured whey powder (whey and bacterial culture), sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate. I bought it at Loblaws.

29 | andrea

September 13th, 2010 at 7:47 am


Rebecca – thanks for you comment! I am not a baker like you are, so cutting desserts out of our lives wasn’t a big stretch.

The reason we cut out maple syrup and honey is because we wanted to reduce our sweet tooth for awhile and see if that does anything to our sense of taste. Much of what you perceive as tasting good just happens to be what you’re used to eating. For example, if you don’t take sugar in your tea, and suddenly someone dumps a Splenda in there and you take a big slurp … you’re going to think that’s pretty disgusting.

I guess I’m wondering if I can change our tastebuds. I know a week isn’t enough for that, but I still thinks it’s interesting nonetheless.

I think that sweets should be a treat again, and not an everyday right — as many kids seem to think it should be.

When I’m given the choice about what sweets to eat I think about it this way:

Is this chocolate a grocery-store variety, or a high quality specialty brand? If it’s the latter, I’ll eat it and not feel guilty.

Is this cookie made in a factory with ingredients I don’t recognize, or is it homemade with care and love from whole foods? If it’s the latter I will eat it.

Baking is one of the most selfless and loving things you can do for your family. Keep going. It’s the other stuff I have the biggest issues with: gimmicky processed single serving snacks intended for kid-sized lunch boxes… the gimmicky dunkaroos and lunchable-type items. Yuck.

That being said I know where you’re coming from re: refined sugars (and flour too). I think it’s important point to consider, but I’ll take the refined sugars in a piece of homemade cake before I take it in my shrinkwrapped Twinkie. You know what I mean?

30 | Carla

September 13th, 2010 at 11:02 am


Thanks for the continuous updates, interesting to read how things are evolving. I am also of the opinion that refined sugars and we do a lot of baking at home so we can control that (our kids are also smaller). Anyway.

Here is a really good recipe, with no added sugar (dates are the sweetener (my version, based on recipe by Jae Steele in Get It Ripe):

*Zucchini Date Muffins*
1.5 c pitted dates, chopped in food processor
3/4 c just boiled water
2 c whole spelt flour (or mix of whole and light)
1 t xantham gum
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1 t cardamom
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t sea salt
2 c grated zucchini (ideally with fine grater, should be about the width of a thin yarn so you won’t even be able to see the zuc when the muffins are done)
1/2 c chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds
1/2 c coconut oil
1T apple cider vinegar

Place dates in heat-proof bowl and add just-boiled water. Cover and let soak. Heat oven to 375F, coat muffin tin with oil. Whisk all dry ingredients together (except nuts). Add zucchini and mix until it is well coated in flour. Put dates and date water (don’t drain) into food processor and pulse to get a date lumpy puree (no big lumps). Add date puree and oil to dry ingredients Stir just until flour is absorbed. Now, your oven should be hot, tin oiled before next step. Add vinegar and stir until just evenly distributed. Portion the batter right away and bake about 22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. After cooling, keep in the fridge if not eaten within a day or so.

You could use any vegetable oil and any nut/seed you like. If you don’t use spelt, you could try wheat flour minus the xantham gum which is there to increase moistness, as spelt tends to be crumbly.


31 | Carla

September 13th, 2010 at 11:06 am


Just thought I should clarify that the zucchini date muffins are vegan, just in case someone was wondering where the egg/butter/milk is. And yes, they rise and are moist! Yum.

32 | andrea

September 13th, 2010 at 8:15 pm


Thank you Carla!

I just wanted to chime in with a quick update before I forget. The girls have been offered sweetened foods twice and have refused both times because of the sugar fast. I am so impressed. We never talked about what do to “in the real world.”

Once was at a neighbours (the girls were together). The other time was today, at school. Someone brought chocolate chip muffins and pretzels to share with the class. Sarah didn’t take a muffin. The way she tells it: “my friend XX saw how sad I was and SHE didn’t take one either and said she’d do the sugar fast with me.”

Isn’t that nice? I’m calling the mum to let her know how nice her little girl was today.

33 | andrea

September 14th, 2010 at 9:55 am


Today is the last day of the sugar fast.

As Mark pointed out, since we started on the 8th that means we’ll have done seven whole days by the end of today (the 14th).

That means that tomorrow morning we’ll go back to eating cereal and everything else.

I might go longer, but I’m sure about that yet. I’m feeling pretty good.

Has it been hard? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Do I have more to say about it? Oh yeah. I just need to gather up my thoughts first.

Have you been following along? Did you try to go sugar free too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

34 | Mark

September 14th, 2010 at 10:33 am


I ate bacon three times this week…was I perhaps trying to fill a void? Maybe or maybe I just like bacon A LOT.

35 | DA

September 14th, 2010 at 1:12 pm


As a follow on to Mark’s comment, I’d be interested to know whether you found yourself loading up other vice foods. For example, did you find yourself putting more butter on everything but it was the good tasting thing you were allowed ?

36 | Mary @ Parenthood

September 14th, 2010 at 8:05 pm


I found it hard. I have other dietary restrictions so I think that didn’t help. I actually don’t eat a lot of cereal, but I already mildly resent not being able to eat most cereal and going sugar free meant giving up cereal for breakfast altogether. Not something I really would be happy about doing.

In order to avoid sugar, I found myself eating more fruit. I baked a lot less, because it was so discouraging trying to come up with acceptable recipes.

I was proud of the gluten-free sugar free strawberry shortcake I managed mid-week though. My family didn’t even notice the sugar free part, but it took me an hour to figure out something that worked around everyone’s allergies and strong dislikes.

Overall, I think I could manage to live sugar-free without regretting it too much, but not maple syrup / honey free too.

37 | Barbara – Week 6 – Looking for a challenge | Losing It In Ottawa

September 21st, 2010 at 7:05 am


[…] I know myself, however, and I like new things, shiny ones, changes. To that end, I committed to the “sugar fast” that @MissFish wrote about about a couple of weeks […]

38 | Know More Do More: sugar-free is done >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 21st, 2010 at 8:44 am


[…] saved the wrap up post of our sugar fast for today, because I needed to sit and think about it for awhile, not to mention the fact that the […]

39 | The kickoff post of my “no whites diet” - no sugar and no flour. >> a peek inside the fishbowl

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:31 pm


[…] Embargo wasn’t enough eh? As of today I’m also taking another go at a Sugar Fast, blogged here and written about here too. But this time, the family is not included AND I’m tossing in one […]

40 | A long and rambly update with lots of bullets about Sugar Fast II. >> a peek inside the fishbowl

January 17th, 2011 at 3:36 pm


[…] of you will remember the first Sugar Fast. What you may not have realized at the time, is that the troops were starting to mutiny by the end […]

41 | Day one of March Break, and a new gig >> a peek inside the fishbowl

March 14th, 2011 at 8:46 am


[…] tip jar to see if we could shake things up a little around here. It was KMDM that inspired me to go on a sugar fast, read labels a little more closely, and organize a neighborhood game of freeze […]

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