We already have well over a hundred people planning on doing the sugar free challenge for a week next Monday. That’s great! I have gotten so many questions from you all, I am afraid I won’t be able to answer all of them today. But I thought the most important aspect to talk about today was preparation as well as a few other details. By the way, I am a little behind in adding people into the challenge, but I will finish adding you all in tonight and of course people are welcome to join in at any point!
So here it goes.
The goal: My personal goal is more long term with the challenge. As I shared earlier, Elena is sensitive to too many sweets. So for her sake, we will cut out most sugar forming food for a while. My goal for my blog challenge is to reduce sugar consumption and bring awareness to this important issue. I will be blogging more about why this is so important next week. But I think most of us know why we should avoid too many sweets.
Why The Different Levels?
I realize that some of us need to make more dramatic changes than others. Some of you need to just make that first step and cut out white sugar and white flour. That is a big step for a lot of us. But if we set the goal too high (as in, cutting out all starches too), people will get overwhelmed and not change anything. I bet you all will find that cooking with natural sweeteners is quite fun. At least, I think it is!
The moderate level is a great level to be in. Fulfill your sweet tooth with fruit and you get the health benefits of fruit while still eating sweet things.
The Advanced Level is mostly for those who already eat a white sugar and white flour free diet on a regular basis. They eat a pretty sugar free diet already, but perhaps still have a few lingering sugar cravings or yeast issues. Going on a yeast free diet for a week isn’t going to solve any deep set issues, but it’s the first step in the right direction.
I was a little vague on what was allowed on this level and that was because there are different opinions on what a yeast free diet should look like. There’s the GAPS and SCD diet which basically removes all starches and limits you to food that breaks down into mono-sugars, but in the full diet does allow some fruit and honey. There’s The Body Ecology Diet which practices food combining, allows buckwheat, millet, and quinoa, but doesn’t allow any fruit or honey. There is also more traditional yeast free diets, which allows some higher glycemic grains (like brown rice). The point is this, there is more than one way to do a yeast free diet. And there are people who have done all of the different diets with success. I won’t dictate the exact guidelines for you, you just choose what you want to follow.
Two General Rules to Keep in Mind
However. there are two rules that I think would be helpful for all the levels.
1) Reduce sugar forming foods
2)Add in Cultured or Lact-Fermenting Foods (lacto-fermented sauerkraut, coconut or milk kefir, sugar free, live culture yogurt, etc)
Yeast free diets in the past just tried to starve the yeast out. Now the good yeast free diets (like the Body Ecology Diet and the GAPS diet) are more proactive by adding in foods that actually feed the good bacteria in your body. The other plus is that eating foods like this actually helps you deal with sugar cravings!
On my resource page you will find a great source for buying water kefir grains, yogurt starts, lacto-fermenting supplies, and other helpful cultures. I would order soon, if you want to use any of them this next week. But consider starting to lact-ferment on a regular basis. It’s so good for you! You can also buy already fermented vegetables and dressings (check it out here). The lacto-fermented dressings are nice because they are very mild. Not sour at all.
Shopping List and Recipe Ideas
If you are in the beginner level, start gathering natural sweeteners and looking up recipes. You can find a lot of different ideas on my recipe index page, look under baked goods and desserts. Have a few sweet things on hand, but also concentrate on food that’s not so sweet.
If you are in the moderate level, pick out some yummy fresh fruit. You can also get dried fruit (which is still quite high in sugars) to sweeten things, like soaked oatmeal.. Instead of having cold cereal, have hot cereal or smoothies.
If you are in the more advanced level, breakfasts are probably the trickiest meal. When we’re on really strict sugar free diets, we usually eat eggs and veggies (there are so many ways to enjoy eggs too). Or even leftovers, like soup.
Basically, everyone should concentrate on vegetables and high quality protein sources. That’s easy enough.
I find that my three year old loves zucchini, so we buy a lot of them normally. Made like this is especially good. Broccoli is also a favorite. Sweeter vegetables, like carrots (pan fried, buttery carrots are good) or squash are good too. We really like butternut squash fries and just had them last night! Avocados are really nice too. They are filling, rich, and satisfying. Japanese style Avocado is lovely. Cucumber slices are a nice snack, and we like this cucumber salad as well.
We personally really like having green salads a lot. So we try to buy a few heads of lettuce every week. Most dressings in the store are going to not only have inferior oils, but also sugar (as well as other additives). Make your own! You will save money too. Lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar are the best choices for a yeast free diet, along with olive oil. My everyday dressing is one that we love (and use all the time).
In everyday life, we also consume a lot of homemade soups, made out of homemade soup stock. It’s very nourishing, healing to the gut, frugal, and filling. I am definitely planning on making plenty of soups! Once again, you can check out my recipe index for some ideas.
So there are some starting ideas for you. Remember to concentrate on enjoying the foods you can have instead of thinking about what you can’t.
My last piece of advice is for those doing this with families. Make sure that you prepare them for the week without sugar by explaining why you are doing it and talking about all of the other yummy food you will be feeding them.
What about the rest of you? Have any food advice for everyone on the challenge?