No-sugar vacation

Monday, September 9, 2019

We got back last week from a lovely visit to Charleston, South Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina where my son and his wife live. As we were leaving Michigan, where the weather had cooled a bit and the humidity had lowered, I asked my husband why in the world were we going to hot and humid Charleston?! (This was a couple weeks before the hurricane.)

But we had great weather there, in the 80s and low humidity. We were assured by a number of people there that we had picked a good week, somewhat unusual there, where in late
August it is normally in the 90s or higher with high humidity.

And thankfully, we got there and out before Hurricane Dorian. We definitely would have had to cancel if we had gone after Labor Day, which was our original plan.

Anyway, I promised a series on my new, no-sugar life, and I wanted to let you all (y'all -- I just got back from the South!) know how I managed, eating in restaurants almost exclusively.

Our very first stop was McDonald's. (I know, not an auspicious beginning!) We rarely stop there, but we wanted coffee and something fast as we got on the road. I got a sausage, egg, and cheese muffin. I took the muffin off, which most of the cheese stuck to, and just ate the egg and the sausage with my coffee.

Cracker Barrel had lots more options.

There was a wait at Cracker Barrel, so we had time to browse. So much candy! I reminisced about the "old days" when I would have bought the Moon Pies and the sugared pumpkin jellies, and more.

I'm proud to report that I didn't have any sugar on this trip. At. All. Or white flour.

It wasn't easy, and I had to get creative with my orders, but it can be done! 

Just before we left, I decided that I was going to do the Mediterranean diet, instead of Keto (which explains the sweet potato).

The sauce had sugar, so I removed that.

Low country boil, eaten at a restaurant on the beach. We were able to spend two full days lounging on the beach. It was so relaxing. I love to listen to the waves. The water was 84 degrees! So different than our (to me) freezing cold Great Lakes!

I decided halfway through the trip that Mediterranean wasn't working (couldn't get enough good carbs), and switched back to Keto. Now that I'm home, I'm back on the Mediterranean. I just can't manage all the fat on Keto. It's been trial and error, and restaurant eating is so different than home eating.

I've been tracking everything on a free app called LifeSum. You choose the diet you want to follow, and they have quite a few options, and then you plug in what you eat and it tracks macros for you (carbs, fats, and proteins), as well as calories. You enter your current weight and your goal weight and it tells you how many calories you need. It adds calories to your plan when you exercise. 

I usually don't like to be tied to food tracking like this, but it has been a really useful tool to educate me on what constitutes Keto or Mediterranean. I was always falling short of the fat intake on Keto, and I've been running short on carbs on the Mediterranean. Yesterday I got three big smiley faces for each meal, so I guess I finally nailed it!

We had friends over for dinner Saturday evening. We hadn't seen them for several years (they live out of state), and I didn't want to make a big deal over my diet as we had so many other things to talk about. I was able to eat sugar-free and sensibly without anyone noticing.

For appetizers (we ate them out on the deck -- the Michigan weather was perfect!), I had whitefish spread (from the straits of Mackinaw in Michigan) on (sugar-free) crackers, vegetables and (sugar-free) dip, cheese, and olives. 

For dinner, I made large, composed salads with greens, tomatoes (fresh from the farmer's market -- yum!!), cucumbers, celery, and marinated, grilled chicken sliced on top. There was blue cheese crumbles, shredded cheddar cheese, and pecans to put on top as desired. I bought some salad dressing (ranch, which has sugar) and had some homemade olive oil dressing. I noticed everyone had the homemade, sugar-free version! I also bought some dinner rolls to go with.

The tricky part, dessert, was an assortment of lemon bars, brownies, and chocolate peanut butter bars that I bought, cut into smaller pieces, and arranged on a tray. I also bought some Lindor truffles. And I had a bowl of strawberries and a pot of decaf coffee.

I had the coffee and a few strawberries. I told my husband that any dessert left over by Monday morning was going in the trash. He had a couple small brownies on Sunday, and this morning, three or four leftover lemon bars and brownies went straight in the trash! I put the rest of the truffles in a baggie and sent them to work with him. I'm doing well, but I really don't quite trust myself. And why have temptation lurking around?

The discouraging thing is that the weight is coming off SO slowly. A pound a week. I had gone to Target at the beginning of the summer and bought a few cotton dresses that I wore all summer. Now I've got one pair of jeans to wear every day until I lose some more to fit into my fall/winter wardrobe. Losing one pound a week, I will be wearing these jeans exclusively until Thanksgiving! I just don't want to buy anymore clothes at this size.

Two whole months today sugar free!

Thank you for following my journey everyone. Your support is so encouraging. xo

How to eat sugar-free over a three-party weekend

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Making an omelette for my son Monday morning before his meetings. He's eating healthy, too!
This past Friday I hosted our 5th annual book club sleepover. Then Saturday we went to a barbeque that our daughter hosted for her husband's birthday. Sunday we continued the birthday celebration here as our youngest son had just come home for a week of meetings at his company headquarters nearby.

A weekend like this could easily cause me to pack on an extra 3 or 4 pounds, but I was determined to stay faithful to my no-sugar plan. Thankfully, two of my book club friends are also trying to avoid sugar. It's always helpful to have allies!

The night of our sleepover we always go out or order in. We decided to go out and debated over Mexican but decided against that because of dairy allergies. Then we considered Middle Eastern, which I love, but nixed that because of my sesame allergy (in hummus). We finally decided that a steakhouse was the best option, taking into account all our special dietary restrictions. 

At this steakhouse, you cook your own steak on a 750 F piece of lava rock. Delicious with melted, flavored butter.
A salad (no dressing, just some balsamic vinegar requested on the side), a steak, and some vegetables fit right into my plan, and was so satisfying. Unfortunately, the Brussels sprouts were served in some kind of heavy sugary dressing. I haven't had sugar in any form since July 9, and one taste told me they were covered in it! Never even thought to ask if there was a sauce on them. So they were left uneaten. We did share a big side of sauteed mushrooms which tasted delicious with the steak.

I passed on the bread. No one wanted dessert, so another temptation was circumvented.

For snacks during our movie time, I had popcorn popped in olive oil, some grain-free, sugar-free chips, and some nuts. Tasty enough for even those friends not on a sugar-free diet.

Gifts bags for my dear book club friends -- pampering items, including sheet masks and cooling eye masks.
For breakfast, I made two breakfast casseroles, one with coconut cream and no cheese for our dairy-avoider, and the other with cream and cheese. No potatoes or bread in them. 
I made these ahead of time to avoid rushing in the morning.

A friend brought sugar-free bacon. I had the eggs and bacon and a small amount of fruit, which felt like dessert to me. I was able to bypass the scones, homemade bread, muffins, and juice.

It was a real advantage not to have had fruit for a while. It really felt like a treat, and made it easier to ignore the scones and bakery treats.

Lady Carlyle, one of my all-time favorite patterns.

In one of the guest rooms.
At the barbeque that night, I enjoyed a hamburger with tomato slices and some fruit again. No bun, no sugary condiments, no potato salad, no salad (it had dressing mixed in), no chips and dip or baked beans or ice cream. I handled this by staying busy serving and washing up and playing with my grandson. I also made a point of socializing instead of eating. The hamburger was big, and I felt full.

The next night I made shish kebabs and grilled marinated shrimp. I made a tzatziki sauce with yogurt, cucumber, and garlic, and brown rice. I meant to get pita bread to go with but didn't get to the store. I was able to eat everything except for the brown rice. 

For dessert I bought a bakery cake and a very small carton of ice cream. I had a cup of decaf coffee while the rest enjoyed cake and ice cream. Everyone said the cake was good. It was easier to resist than a homemade cake, and I sent the remains of it and the ice cream home with my daughter. We had leftover fruit from the weekend and I had a bowl of that on the table. I had thought I would have that instead of the cake, but discovered I was quite full and satisfied and didn't need it.

Oh, and for appetizers beforehand, I had olives, baked brie and grain-free, sugar-free crackers, cheddar cheese, and cut up veggies. I was able to eat these.

 I have to admit, after doing so well over the weekend, I felt very tempted on Monday and Tuesday. Like I deserved a special treat after being so good. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't deprived, and that I had enjoyed good, healthy food.

We are going to dinner tonight with family, and I told the hostess ahead of time about my sugar-free diet. I told her please not to be offended if I don't eat dessert. And also not to worry about me. I'll be fine with a cup of coffee. 
This is going to be my life. Am I really doing this?


One day at a time.

Slow and steady wins the (weight-loss) race

Monday, August 12, 2019

After losing 8 pounds in three weeks, I gained a pound back and it has taken me 10 days to re-lose it.

It's discouraging after being so faithful to this eating plan. But, of course, on any diet, there is the initial water weight loss. And, I have to remind myself, slow and steady wins the race.

Baked Parmesan cheese with herbs. Dipped in a little sour cream, these are delicious and filling!

I'm reminding myself of several things:

*** I'm older. Weight just isn't going to come off as quickly as it did when I was younger. My metabolism isn't the same as it was. As with many things in life, patience is key.

*** I have to remember that quick weight loss, especially in -- ahem -- more mature adults, can often lead to sagging skin and more pronounced wrinkles. The more slowly I lose the weight, the less likely (I hope!) I will have to deal with that gaunt, tired look that comes from rapid weight loss. I hope as I exercise and lose slowly, those negative effects will be mitigated.

*** If I lose 40 pounds quickly, and I'm "done" by November, say, then what? I've barely gotten used to a whole lifestyle change. I run the risk of saying, "Yay! I'm done," and gradually returning to old habits. If I lose a pound a week, which is what many experts recommend, I have more time to settle into this as a way of life. Almost a year. Hopefully, then it has had time to become more of a lifestyle change.

Love this sugar-free bacon!

*** I need to forget about the weight loss, and just focus on health. The weight will come off, but good health and energy should be the ultimate goal. Losing weight quickly and then returning to old habits is not going to benefit my health. When I eventually reach my weight-loss goal, I am still going to be sugar-free and white flour-free and processed food-free. For life. So what am I rushing for? These eating habits will be continuing long after the weight loss.


I am relying on prayer these days and trying to remember to turn to the Lord rather than turning to food when I'm feeling anxious or stressed, or in need of comfort. I'm remembering that He is the Bread of life. That we are to "feed on Him with thanksgiving." This is very different than my previous attempts at weight loss. Yes, I might have prayed for success, but I was really just relying on my own willpower to do this. We can't do these things alone, and I'm grateful I don't have to. 

xo, Deborah
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