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?

Sigh.

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

13 ways to cope with sugar cravings

Monday, August 5, 2019

 Giving up sugar for life is such a radical step I still can't believe I've made this commitment. I get overwhelmed when I think of going the distance with this. Will I be able to do it? Is this crazy?

Yet, on the other hand, I feel such a sense of relief, as though a real burden has been set aside. It feels so freeing.

This whole new way of eating -- for life-- cannot be done by sheer willpower. Sure, I can lose the weight by sheer willpower alone. I've done that before. But maintaining? Really changing? That's going to need something more.

Feast on beauty (#12)
Here are some things I've been thinking about that will help me take care of myself over the long-term, so I'm not turning to food for comfort or security, or out of boredom, fatigue, or habit. These are things I'm trying to implement in my daily life to help keep me stronger and more resilient through temptation.

1. Dress well every day. Put on good foundation garments to tame that jiggle! You will feel pulled together (literally!) and have more respect for yourself than if you slop around in your "fat" clothes. Put on some makeup if that's something you like, or a spritz of perfume. Do your hair. The better you look, the less you will be tempted to indulge in mindless snacking.

2. Think about what you might be really craving besides sugar. Comfort? Security? Love? Are you sad, bored, lonely, frustrated? Call a friend. Hug a pet. Do something kind for someone. Ask God to show you what you really need, and then do it.

3. Don't give food more importance than it is due. This is a hard one when you are learning a new way to eat and researching healthy eating ideas and recipes. This can involve a lot of time and energy going into thinking about food. If you are preparing food for a family every day, you have to think about food. Try to prepare as simple a dish as possible that is still satisfying so you're not in the kitchen as much. Give food its necessary due, but then move on.

4. Consider online grocery shopping. You still will probably need to go to the store for vegetables and fruit, etc., but you can limit your time around all those temptations. Seriously, I think it's a conspiracy to keep us all fat and unhealthy!

5. Limit meals out. This can be a hard one if you're used to eating out as a special way to enjoy time with a spouse or friend, or when you're too busy to cook. But there are so many temptations! Yes, you can eat healthy out but it requires some discipline. Learn to cook quick, nourishing, fast meals at home and the scale will thank you. Look for other ways to spend a night out. Go to a movie, go to a park, have a game night with friends (with healthy snacks).

6. Enlist the power of prayer. A friend and I are working through a free online course which helps us to rely on the Lord rather than on food for our ultimate needs. So far it's been really helpful for keeping our eyes focused on the most important things and not on that doughnut down at the local bakery!

7. Think of other ways you might treat yourself than by having a piece of cake or pie. Put on a sheet (face) mask (they're just a few dollars at the drugstore) and put your feet up for 15 minutes. Give yourself a mani or pedi or go get one done. Go for a massage. Take a luxurious bath. Light a candle and read from a favorite book or devotional.

8. Drink a large glass of water, maybe with a lemon or lime wedge. Oftentimes, we are really just dehydrated rather than hungry.

9. Exercise. I just hate that word, I really do. It's been a struggle for me. But, wow, you just have to do it. I'm trying to find ways to make it a little more enjoyable, like watching a YouTube video when I'm on the treadmill or really working up a sweat cleaning my house (that counts!). (Not that cleaning a house is that enjoyable, but the end result is pretty nice.) 

10. Enlist the help of friends. Ask for prayer. Join forces. Encourage each other. 

11. Don't be a people pleaser when it comes to food. Preaching to myself here. In other words, don't feel guilty turning down a friend's homemade cookies or pie. Don't apologize for what you're trying to do. Don't let people guilt you into accepting "just a bite" because it's a "special occasion." You don't want to start down that road! Explain your diet and quietly do your thing. Don't be a nuisance either; bring your own food if you need to, but don't go on and on about your diet or your "special needs." It's boring and annoying to those who just want to enjoy their food. And don't judge others!

12. Feast on beauty, not food. Surround yourself with beautiful things that bring you joy. Declutter your home and add some flowers. There's so much to be said on this subject. But really look at, soak in, and be grateful for everyday beauty. Try to allow it to speak to you and feed your soul. 

13. Bad-mouth the sugar. I find it helpful now when I see sugar-laden treats to start up an inner rant right away. Look at that stuff. Poison! They're trying to kill us! This equals diabetes and wrinkles and constipation and cancer! Why would I put that in my body, the one and only body I have that works so hard for me? Why would I poison myself that way? Etc. Whatever works for you. Just don't say it out loud. Other people want to enjoy their sugar without feeling judged. (I know, I've been there!)

*******

Thanks to you all who have left encouraging comments and who've sent helpful links. I was especially encouraged by a post Margie sent me by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, who has been sugar-free for 7 years! I loved her thoughts about "moderators" versus "abstainers," and how she just functions better as an abstainer. I think that's me, too.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Anybody have any other ideas? Would love to hear them.
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