No sugar challenge week 7: my taste buds are changing
My sugar intake drastically increased this week. In fact, you could say I had a sugar overdose. Twice I made the choice to consume sugar (and I suffered the consequences), but several times I didn’t know the food I was eating contained sugar – until I put it in my mouth. My taste buds are changing and detecting the sugar in my diet for me. Still, it is frustrating that as a consumer you never really know what you’re eating. But I have a plan.
How did I know which foods contained sugar?
After a seven week no-sugar diet my taste buds are changing and adapting. My sense of taste is more acute and food is so much more enjoyable. I have always been a food lover, but now the most simple ingredients blow my mind because I can appreciate their natural qualities. For example, raw carrots with cashew nut butter. I won’t go into detail, but trust me, snack on these two ingredients (check the cashew nut butter label to ensure it’s 100% cashews, or make your own) and you’ll be a very happy camper.
They say the life cycle of taste buds is anywhere between 10 days and two weeks, but some also say it can take up to 90 days for our taste buds to change. Cleaning up my diet – quitting sugar, culling artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and eating as close to nature as possible – was hard at first. I was used to smothering meals in sugary dressings and rich sauces; snacking on packaged foods described as ‘healthy’ but could never be replicated at home due to the extensive and unnatural list of ingredients. However, it wasn’t long before my taste buds sat up and took notice that what I was eating actually tasted better because the flavours weren’t masked beneath the heaviness of sugar. Now that my taste buds are more sensitive, I am much more aware of what is in the food I’m consuming.
It’s like I have a natural, in-built sugar radar. At a work function this week there were canapes floating around and I saw it as a bit of a test. Could I guess which canapes contained sugar? I didn’t want to eat sugar – I am trying to avoid it! So I stuck to my philosophy of eating as close to nature as possible and opted for a cucumber round with cream cheese and smoked salmon. It was a relatively safe bet, although some cream cheeses do contain sugar (read the ingredient label, or make your own). The crouton with horseradish cream and roast beef was a bit more daring and it didn’t pay off. It smelt sweet and it tasted sweet. Interestingly, I was ‘hungrier’ after that canape. So I had another cucumber round and felt satisfied.
If I eat sugar, I don’t beat myself up about it. Sugar is honestly everywhere. Instead, I put it down and opt for something else. There was an occasion this week where I ordered a salad that came with red wine vinegar dressing. Ordinarily that would be fine, but just to be safe I thought I had better order the dressing on the side. Unfortunately, what came out was a salad smothered in honey mustard dressing – sugar alert! There are times when you just have to let it go. In this case, I didn’t want to cause a fuss so I ate the dam salad. Afterward, I was bloated. In fact, after the sugar overload of week 7, I was bloated for a full five days.
How to avoid sugar when eating out
The easiest way to avoid sugar when eating out is to ask if what you’re thinking of ordering contains sugar. Until this week, I was too embarrassed to ask, but I’ve began to think of it like an allergy. Plenty of people at cafes and restaurants ask if their meals are nut-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, egg-free, fat-free – why can’t I ask if the food is sugar-free? It’s a simple plan, but at least you can be sure that what you’re eating is not going to have undesirable consequences later.
No sugar challenge week 7 – What I ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks:
|Fresh lemon and mint tea (early)Chia pudding + pot of French Earl Grey tea||Fresh lemon and mint tea (early)Coco-nutty granola with almond milk + pot of Madagascan vanilla tea||Fresh lemon, lime and mint tea (early) Oats with rice milk, blueberries, blackberries, pecans, and cinnamon + pot of green tea||Freshly squeezed orange juice (250mL), sourdough toast (1) with butter, Vegemite and avocado + sourdough toast (1) with butter Vegemite and Jarlsberg cheese + pot of green tea||Lemon and lime tea (early)Bacon (3 short-cut), poached eggs (2) and avocado +pot of green tea||Spanish omelette on sourdough toast (1) + soy latte||Sourdough toast (1) with poached egg, smoked salmon and avocado and hollandaise sauce + sourdough toast (1) with bacon (1), scrambled egg and oven roasted tomato|
|Black coffee + almonds||Black coffee + hazelnuts||Black coffee + almonds||Carrot with cashew nut butter|
|Chicken quinoa salad and boiled egg||Chicken quinoa salad with Dijon lemon dressing||Leftover lamb stroganoff with brown rice||Chicken and boiled egg with garden salad and basil pesto dressing||Chicken breast and prawns with brocolli, carrot, green beans, chips and garlic cream sauce||High tea: four sandwiches, scone with jam and cream, apple-blueberry crumble cake, lemon meringue tart, chocolate mousse, hazelnut mousse cone, vanilla ice cream and camembert with pistachios + 2 glasses champaigne + pot of summer tea||Smoked salmon salad with olive oil and lemon|
|Pistachios||Canapes: cucumber rounds and salmon with cream cheese (2), crouton with roast beef and horseradish cream (1)||Soy latte + almonds|
|Cajan-style chicken with baked sweet potato, broccoli and button squash||Lamb stroganoff with brown rice||Italian-style tuna with vegetables||Moroccan lamb chops with zucchini, button squash and green beans||Anchovy toast, lamb cutlets on pea mash with chilli-infused olive oil and pancetta-wrapped prawns in fresh lime juice||Lebanese banquet + 2 glasses red wine||Roast pumpkin, feta, pine nut and rocket salad with tortilla and honey mustard dressing|
|Lebanese coffee and baklava|