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Refined Sugar and Me Week 17 — Deserving Dessert

We’re now up to week seventeen of our ongoing series about refined sugar & me in 2017! (Sorry I skipped last week — life got away from me, but that’s bad for both this series and accountability. There’s a reason Weight Watchers has meetings, so thanks for being my virtual support group, guys! 😉 )

But anyway… this week I’m down a total of 14 pounds from where I started at the end of December 2016, pretty much just by cutting out most added sugars and processed foods. That’s. Huge!

A very quick before and after

I’ll do a better photo at (hopefully) 20 pounds, but on the left above is a random selfie from today, and on the right, my face from last year. I don’t see changes in the mirror, but I do see it in photos. (Although to be fair, left is a better angle — even if it’s a less professional photo, lol.)

Let’s talk this week about dessert as a reward

I ran across this Milano cookies ad in a magazine this week. It’s darn clever — but there are just so many things that disturb me about the message here that I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s just stick to the “you deserve dessert” part for the purposes of this post, because we all do it, right? Bad day? I need chocolate tonight. Good job on your report card? Let’s grab some ice cream and celebrate!

Food, especially sweet food, is the simplest and most instantly gratifying way to reward ourselves (and others) for a job well done, and it’s the easiest way to comfort ourselves when life goes awry. (More on emotional eating in installment 10 of this series.) Studies show that our sweet tooth is wired from day one, and that it’s especially intense in kids but then decreases as we get older. Which makes sense — even when I was eating a lot more sugar myself, my kids would go nuts for something like Pixie Stix or the huge wad of frosting on top of a grocery store cupcake and I’d feel ill just watching them.

What are your messages to yourself?

There’s been a lot of press about body image and the way women are portrayed in advertising. But, although there’s been increased awareness of (and a push to limit) “junk food” advertising to children, there hasn’t been quite as much press about the way these types of foods are portrayed in advertising to adults — and of how these types of underlying messages make it more difficult to stick to real food on a bad day. (I’m not picking on Pepperidge Farm in particular here; food manufacturers are smart, and they all do it.)

So the question is: What are your alternative messages to yourself? How do we effectively bypass short term rewards and remain focused on long term goals?

For me so far: About three months into this experiment, once I’d firmly established the habit of eating differently it became a lot easier to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Sugar cravings have also become much fewer and further between, and, since my body’s no longer used to its daily dose of sugar, it now affects me badly. So, when a craving does hit, I think about how awful I felt after the last time I consumed sugar: It was seriously bad enough that my wish to avoid backlash helps short circuit that immediate desire. (See more here on the last time I tried ice cream, back in the second week of March.)

So, that’s me this week…

How are you doing on your own healthier eating plan so far — and what have you found that helps you stay on track?

Earlier installments in this series

Dip your toe in with these highlights:

And you can catch up on the whole Refined Sugar and Me series here.


Thursday 27th of April 2017

Congratulations on your continued progress! You are doing great, and it really shows in those pictures. I don't eat a lot of added sugar, but I know I could cut back even more. What are the sweet things that you do eat? Just fruit? I'm trying to think what I would need to do to have even less sugar in my day. I already prepare most meals at home, so I know it's not hiding there...


Thursday 27th of April 2017

Thanks! Mostly just fruit, and I have made no-sugar-added homemade whipped cream a couple of times (just add vanilla & cinnamon and shake or beat heavy cream until it turns into whipped cream. I think for me it's also very much the hidden sugars in everyday foods like salad dressing, peanut butter, crackers, etc. that adds up without you even thinking about it. For a friend of mine who's trying to do something similar, the big stumbling block is creamer because she's always added a lot of (high in sugar) flavored creamer to her coffee and can't drink it without. So I think it will be different for everyone depending on your current eating habits.


Thursday 27th of April 2017

I think you look great, Rachel! I don't have anything to add to this discussion, but appreciate you sharing your experiences. Myself and the rest of my family are definitely on the refined sugar roller coaster and we need to start working on getting off it.


Tuesday 25th of April 2017

You look very nice. Good job sticking to it. I struggle with sugar myself so I understand how hard it is!


Monday 24th of April 2017

Wow! 14 pounds IS a ton to lose by just eliminating added sugars. I heard somewhere that 7 lbs. is a whole would you say you are 2 sizes smaller now? I think your neck and cheeks look smaller now for sure. I need to lose around my middle and thighs the most. I wish I would lose 14 lbs. off my spare tire! Keep up the good work!


Monday 24th of April 2017

Thanks! But no -- I think it's more like 12 lbs is a whole size, but I am down no sizes yet -- I have gone from my pants were all too tight, to now they're kind of loose, lol. The middle is the slowest to go.

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