We are in our last day of the first week of the Gingersneezes Eats Clean Challenge, things are probably starting to sink in now, and perhaps grocery shopping has become a bit more frustrating because of infamous sugar. Going down the shopping isle picking up products whose packaging promises health and fitness only to find out the first, second or third ingredients is processed white sugar or better yet high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can become a little exhausting. So you are probably quickly finding out that sugar and HFCS is in pretty much everything, even things that you wouldn’t consider sweet.
So why the heck is this stuff in everything we want to eat? I am not even going to get into the addictive nature of excessive quantities of these items, instead I am just going to focus on what they are good at (besides being kind of delicious). Sugar is a great preservative (shelf life extender) and where sugar can’t take the lead HFCS will definitely get the job done (in products that have been artificially sweetened generally speaking). And most importantly that shit (normally I wouldn’t swear but it was the best word to sum it up) is cheap making it pretty attractive to commercial producers to use it.
It is in everything from ketchup to bread what do you do? My first suggestion to you would be, if you didn’t have the chance to go through your pantry and fridge before the challenge began, to do it now. See what you have lingering in there, you might be surprised to find out how much of the “food” you have is full of HFCS and/or sugar, plus a bundle of other chemicals, additives and preservatives.
Secondly, I would recommend getting familiar with your kitchen. Cooking your own food and making your own sauces will seriously help to not drive you bonkers looking for food without sugar in it and there are a bunch of great books, magazines and web resources out there (heck Gingersneezes is one) that can help you find great recipes that will for sure satisfy even the pickiest of palates.
If you aren’t the cooking type there are brands out there that can help you out, but it might take you reading the ingredients label for many products before finding something that doesn’t have some form of processed sugar in it. A general guideline could be for looking for whole grain or sprouted grain products when looking for breads, stay out of the snacks and chip aisle (it will only bring you heartache), and try to sweeten things using fruits, raw honey or pure maple syrup.
It is so difficult how do I keep going? So if you are a bit new to reading ingredient labels (I am not due to allergies) it might feel a bit overwhelming when you are doing your groceries, and you might feel like for every 10 products you pick up you can only actually bring home one of them. Well that feeling might be based in fact, but don’t lose hope.
The first 1-2 weeks of anything (new diet, new workout regiment, new practice schedule, new sport) is always the most challenging. You are swimming against your natural instinct to grab something that is “easier” or “familiar” so it is going to feel a little rough, but you can take solace in knowing that it will definitely get easier. Soon you will have a better idea of what is out there, what to avoid and soon enough you will be a master of your kitchen (if you aren’t already).
So what do I take away from this? Well I think the best approach is to remember that this is a challenge. There should be points during the next 44 days that you feel like things are difficult/challenging, just try to remember that at those points you have the option to make several different decisions. You can decide that it is too tough and throw in the towel, you can decide that you will find a solution, and if you are feeling like your soul really needs it remember you have 3 cheats that you can use at any time if you have to. This adventure is supposed to be challenging not destructive or painful, it is supposed to push you and encourage you, not deflate you. So remember at every point in this challenge to listen to yourself, and to encourage yourself and most importantly remember why you started it in the first place.
Sugar is pretty tricky so I really hope this post helps you navigate a bit. My best suggestion would be to stop picking up the boxed foods unless it is absolutely necessary. 9 times out of 10 a prepackaged food item will not conform to a clean eating diet, and won’t fit into this challenge so it is better for your brain (at least it is for me) to just avoid those items for now.
Happy Tuesday Everyone.
Let me know what you are struggling with maybe we have the same vice and we can support each other.