{Random Thoughts} The Sugar-Free August/Good Habits Edition

(Linking up with Jen’s 7 Quick Takes since I have 7 here).

As I’ve mentioned before here, August has been almost entirely sugar-free.  I’m feeling really proud!

I decided to do “Sugar-Free August” because our July vacation had so many desserts in it (ice cream, chocolate mousse), a re-set was in order to get back to normal eating.  I started a “Sugar-Free August” Facebook group for friends to help with accountability and support, and I’m so glad I did.

Some people in the Facebook group were really trying hard to go without soda, or processed foods, or sweets (all those, for me), and even one of us, bravely, was doing the August Whole30 Challenge  (note that I’m linking to NomNomPaleo, a blog I enjoy, and not the Whole30, because something about W30 language/voice/ tone really annoys me).

It’s been fun to share our frustrations, joys, successes and failures, and I have really felt support from everyone. I’ve also appreciated the accountability and honesty of checking in.

Many, many links were shared over the course of the month, and I wanted to share some of them, as well as some others I didn’t get the chance to share there.  It’s a wrap-up of what I’ve learned this month.  Nutrition and health is a big interest of mine, and so I find this field fascinating.


This book, The Year of No Sugar: A Memoir, inspired a lot of discussion. At least of us got it from the library and read it during the month.

As I wrote in my GoodReads review, I didn’t love the author’s voice, but I did like how she moderated it with a family, and how they made it work. Eye-opening to realize how difficult it is in the US to eat anything processed without sugar.

2.  “Finding It Hard to Change a Habit? Maybe this Explains Why” — Gretchen Rubin.

“Often, habits can’t change until identity changes. For instance, a person identifies as the fun one, the one who says “yes” to everything — but also wants to cut back on drinking. A person identifies as a workaholic, but then wants to work reasonable hours. The identity is incompatible with the change in habits.”

This really spoke to me. On the good side, I thought, I’m glad I have a “Catholic” identity, because it had helped me do the right thing even when I didn’t want to, and it’s turns out those “right things” were really best for me.

But like the person at the end of Gretchen’s post, I have an identity as a “baker.” I love baking (and eating the yummy things), and that has been the hardest part about the . I don’t want to give up that identity. Maybe I’ll just be a “Sunday baker” starting in September?

3. “An Intuitive Eating Experiment”— Katie at Runs for Cookies.

This was kind of the opposite of eating no sugar, but it was a great concept written up by one of my favorite running bloggers.

4. “Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Send Messages to Your Brain?” –SciFri podcast.

Good interview with two scientists who are studying the on the frontiers of learning about our gut bacteria and how they might influence our moods and behaviors.  I liked best how the Irish researcher made the point at the end that while a lot of this science is speculative, eating a diverse diet of whole foods is a good practice for keeping your gut bacteria healthy.

5. “Our Microbiome May be Looking Out for Itself” –The New York Times

 “Take chocolate: Many people crave it fiercely, but it isn’t an essential nutrient. And chocolate doesn’t drive people to increase their dose to get the same high. ‘You don’t need more chocolate at every sitting to enjoy it,’ Dr. Maley said.

Perhaps, he suggests, the certain kinds of bacteria that thrive on chocolate are coaxing us to feed them.”

6. “Learning to Cut the Sugar” — The New York Times.

An article about Dr. Robert Lustig, whose anti-sugar video is hugely popular. (The video inspired “Year of No Sugar” author Eve Schaub to do a no-sugar year with her family.).

“But there’s one thing that doesn’t work for any country: processed food. And any country that adopts processed food, which is now everywhere, is getting sick. This is why I want to be known as the anti-processed food guy, not the anti-sugar guy.”

I am putting his cookbook The Fat Chance Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Ready in Under 30 Minutes to Help You Lose the Sugar and the Weight
on hold at the library–I wish I had known about the book it at the beginning of this month.

7. The Case for Sugar–The Detox Diva

Well, now I’m confused. (actually, not really) This was a little too science-y, t it did argue that no sugar can be as bad for our metabolism as too much sugar. She makes the case for fruit and small amounts of sugar. A good ending to the month.

As one of my friends put it on the Facebook group, “So bottom line seems to be; Too much sugar is not good. Not enough sugar is not good. Moderate sugar? Good.”

[Reading that quote made me realize it’s why a W30 has not worked for me in the past.  I did something similar several years back, and it wreaked havoc on my body, sleep, and just general good health. I think it was too little carbs/natural sugar, even eating lots of veggies.]

So what am I going to do September 1, after a month of no sugar or processed foods?

Well, I’m running a half-marathon.  The weather actually looks threatening , and I wonder if the organizers might cancel it if the projected severe storms materialize.  But I hope it’s just rain, or great weather, and I can finish in a reasonably decent time for me.

But being real and honest here?  After the half-marathon, I plan to  eat most of this treat that I just purchased at Trader Joe’s:


Sometime this week, I’ll go home and make frosted brownies.  I won’t eat the whole pan, but I will have a few and enjoy them.  I have missed baking treats most of all this month, almost more than eating those yummy treats.  I while  I will try to cut back and eat some of the healthier recipes I’ve tried, and I’m going to try to keep treats for special occasions as long as possible.

Have you tried a detox recently? Any successes to share? 

5 thoughts on “{Random Thoughts} The Sugar-Free August/Good Habits Edition”

  1. An interesting journey to read about, Nancy. You are on the right track, and we applaud what you have started! “Everything in moderation” is so fitting for all of life, not just what we eat. While we can encourage each other to practice “self-discipline” because it is good for our bodies, the problem I have with limiting it to that is that it is very “me-focused” and depends on me, alone. In my journey closer to Christ, what I have found is my motivations are entirely different because now the end for which I am aiming is different. The things of this world really are distractions in our journey to assenting to God’s will, to being present to him in the moment. How many times had I wrestled in the past with getting myself off of Facebook, or away from the cookie jar, instead of fulfilling my daily vocation. Sloth, greed, self-indulgence. If we recognize them for what they are, we realize how empty their promises really are. Deciding whether or not to satisfy our carnal desires, which really is the aim of our indulging, just misses the whole point. I don’t mean to discourage you, but invite you to dig deeper into why you have felt motivation to do what you have done!

    1. Lots of food for thought, here, Janice! I think there was a spiritual element for me in this, but I didn’t write about it much here. There was a quite a bit of spiritual discussion and sharing on the Facebook group. but for some reason I didn’t include that here.

  2. Thank you for sharing your links, Nancy. I am much more of a WW person than W30. I can’t just cut things out – that’s not going to work for me and it sets me up for a harsh fail. I need to re-learn to choose things God made first and then enjoy something special after.

    What you wrote about identity is very true for me, too. I love baking. Some people sew or run or refurnish furniture. I bake. I have yet to figure that one out for weight loss, though.

    1. I am not going to abandon my baking identity either; if possible I want to be a weekend baker, but I’m not sure how realistic it is. “Choose things God made first.” A great way to put it.

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