Monday, October 4, 2010

Frequently Asked Question...

We were recently sent the following email, and I'm sure the clarification is needed by more than just one...

"I think I need some clarification on what 'sugar free' snacks are appropriate. For instance, I understand Crystal Light & sugar free gum are good but there are a lot of other sugar free 'snacks' that I think are questionable, such as sugar free chocolate, Popsicles, & ice cream.
Can you please do a blog post to clarify where the line is?? Thanks!!"

OK, we absolutely recommend all the sugar-free snacks that you named off (except the ice cream - Trisha says it's gross and will give you a stomach ache). Sometimes you just need something. I did my own little no-sugar diet after my 2nd baby was born (she turns 1 this week!). It was such a drastic change for me and I found that having a little cup of sugar-free jello or pudding (with a dollop of sugar free Cool Whip) every night for dessert kept me sane and SAFE. This time around isn't nearly as big of a deal and I haven't felt the need for anything like that. So technically, if it says SUGAR FREE, it's legal, and like I said, recommended if you need it to keep you from going crazy. But just as with anything, these things should be eaten in moderation. The whole purpose of this challenge is to replace bad habits with good ones. So if it is something sweet you crave, you need to train your body to accept fruit in place of something artificial. Have any of you ever had a Honeycrisp apple? Well now is the time. They are the sweetest and crispest (is that actually a word?) apples PERIOD. SO GOOD. They only come out in the fall and their availability dwindles through the winter. So go out and get some now. And when you think you need something sweet, go for that! Because what are you going to do when the challenge is over? Unless you've retrained your body to enjoy healthier alternatives, you'll be right back where you started.

So eat your sugar-free fudgesicles, jello, pudding, candy, etc. only as you feel like you absolutely have to have it.

One thing to be careful about - IF IT SAYS LIGHT OR LO-CAL, IT'S NOT NECESSARILY A GOOD IDEA!!! Sometimes you can be led astray. "Light" juices for example may still be chock full of sugar. It makes sense if you think about it - when removing fat and calories, you are removing all that good flavor. So sugar is typically added back in to make up for missing taste. Next time you go to the store, pick up a few items and compare the sugar amount in "regular" vs. "light" foods, and more times than not, there will be more sugar in your light versions. Also, check the ingredients. If sugar comes up in the first few items, that's a red flag. Make conscious and wise decisions and check your labels when in doubt. Try to take the time to learn more about the things you are putting in your body.

And by the way, has anyone had the Extra Dessert Delights Sugar-Free gum? There are a few different flavors out there, and I recently tried Key Lime Pie. Super tasty at first, then I thought, "I'd rather have mint." But now that we're full blown into this challenge, every now and then, I really look forward to putting that piece of gum into my mouth and tasting a little dessert. I recommend them.

I hope I was able to answer your question, and would ask that our readers post comments with suggestions for other sweet treats (8 week challenge legal!).

Trisha Says:

Karli seemed to have answered this question pretty thoroughly, but I just wanted to add a couple of things. Like she said, sugar-free snacks are "legal" in the 8 Week Challenge. That being said, there are definitely alternatives that are better, but if you really need that sweet fill than you can turn to a sugar-free snack, just do it in moderation.

Try some of these sweet treats first:

Fruit or Green Smoothie-its amazing when you blend up fruits and vegetables with some ice and a little honey or agave how sweet it will taste, and it will most likely take care of that sugar craving NATURALLY! We have 1 smoothie recipe on the recipe blog, but I will try to post a couple of my family favorites soon.

Protein Shake-For me, this WILL make my sugar craving go away and take away the munchies. Check out this post on our recipe blog to see how my family makes our protein shakes a TREAT, challenge worthy of course!

HONEY on yogurt, HONEY on toast, HONEY on a spoon if you have to. Dont overdo it, of course! But honey (or agave) are natural sugars and may just hit the spot for you.



  1. I appreciate the part about "light" drinks. It's something some people don't understand or agree with, so I'm really glad you made that point!

    I also understand the point that sometimes you just need something sweet, but still avoiding artificial sweeteners when possible...


    Even though the carbonation in soda in and of itself is bad for you, I would still think that if diet soda is out, then crystal light would be as well. It has not one, but two artificial sweeteners (which in many ways are worse than sugar) and they have other questionable ingredients including artificial colors.

    Just a thought...

  2. If it were up to me, pop and Blue Bell Ice Cream would not be a part of the no-no's on this challenge. :-) OK, just kidding.

    You aren't the first one to make that point regarding Crystal Light. We will have to take that into account next time and fine tune this area a little more.

    Thanks for commenting Mrs. Skeen!

    By the way, your friend, Laverne, SHE ROCKS. Just saying. :-)

  3. I agree with Karli, I have a soft spot for Laverne too...she is so sweet, and SO much fun!

    As for the Soda, GREAT POINTS! Yes its a NO NO for the sugar. But DIET is still a no no in this challenge, because of the "SODA HABIT" or "Diet Coke Syndrome" or whatever you want to call the "I NEED MY DIET COKE" thing:) Its a habit thing!

  4. oh and Im not gonna family loves Crystal Light. Its yummy and CHEAP, what can I say? I know it has sugar substitutes, but YES we drink it. :)

  5. Trish, I don't know what sugar-free ice cream you've had but I prefer it over regular ice cream most of the time (unless it's Moose Tracks, then hands down that's better). My husband is diabetic so we get a lot of sugar-free ice cream for him. (I haven't had any during the challenge and was actually wondering if it was allowed).The ones with chocolate mixed in aren't very good, but vanilla is my favorite.

    But you have to be CAREFUL. Usually when it comes to sugar-free items the fat content is usually higher, just like if it is 'lite', the sugar content may be higher. So always read the nutrition label before purchasing anything.

    Typically if you eat too much food that is supplemented with an artificial sweetener, you will have a stomach ache, your body is not made to eat a lot of the artificial stuff.

  6. I had to laugh when I saw the large image of the Key Lime gum because I was going to mention it specifically in my comments. That stuff is so yummy and could get anyone through a sugar craving!!

    I made some really healthy zucchini/banana bread (recipe not quite perfected) on Saturday morning so that when my family was having something sweet this weekend (we spent time at my moms - queen of all things baked and sweet), I had a slice of bread with honey on it.

    I'm pretty surprised at the green light on sugar free junk food, unless that refers only to the no sugar point and not the junk food point? I totally consider sugar free candy, sugar free popsicles, etc. junk food. They have little or no nutrients and are empty calories.

  7. Nisha-Is that zuchini/banana bread a recipe you would be so kind to share? :) SOUNDS DELICIOUS!

    In response to your comments about sugar free, I WOULDN'T say its a "green light-HAVE ALL YOU WANT!" From looking at your recipe blog "(which again, I LOVE) I can tell you are very health conscience and do not eat a lot of sugar AT ALL! WHICH IS GREAT! A lot of people doing this challenge have never tried "No Sugar," which can be REALLY hard at first. The first time I did it, I had withdrawals :) I can go without sugar now and be just fine, and honestly I would prefer natural sugars such as fruit and honey to be used instead of articial sweetners.

    I guess what I am saying, is for some people they may really be struggling with this no sugar concept and so if they feel having a LITTLE sugar free snack will help them get through it, then it is allowed. My guess is after they have been doing this even a week or two they will not need that anymore. So I guess its to get them over that "bridge". Does that make sense?

  8. I agree with everyone's comments, but I just wanted to add. I agree with Trish. We are all different. I myself have never gone off sugar and that first week, although it felt great, was pretty tough. I have had cravings like crazy. So with that said I think what is "legal" is a little different for all of us. Although we still can't break the rules, this challenge to me is all about doing better and being healthier than I was. So for me eating sugar free snacks occasionally instead of a huge helping of ice cream is a huge improvement. For some maybe improvement can be getting rid of those artificial sweeteners. I think we each know how we can become better and that's what's important in this challenge.

  9. So maybe the next Post needs to be some "junk food" clarification. But of course this will differ a lot from person to person too. For some potato chips and french fries and pork rinds would be junk food for others it would be jello and pudding. Still others would say that anything with white flour. I sat and stared at Ritz crackers on Sunday because I couldn't decide if they were junk food. I played it safe and didn't eat them, but maybe I could have. And what about baked tortilla chips? Pretzels? I'm having a hard time knowing where that line is? Is it just personal and go with your gut or do we have some hard fast rules here?

  10. Okay okay...I'll stop being so hard core.... :)

    Trish, I'd love to share the recipe when it's ready. The first attempt was not very good, honestly! It's hard for my daughter to try it because she used to my mom's recipe that calls for 3 cups of sugar and white flour! Drastic difference! I'll send it to you when it's ready.

  11. I personally try to stay away from all the sugar free junk... I'm not convinced splenda is any better for me than sugar.

    But I will say it is definitely what is making this challenge do-able for my son!!

  12. Oh, and we are so proud of the little guy! LOVE that he is doing this with you guys and learning how to make healthy choices at a young age!!

  13. I agree with Danielle's comment. We are all starting this challenge from a different baseline of health, fitness and nutrition knowledge. The key to making this a challenge is that we have to do something that is difficult--give up something that we like because we want something better. We can't call it a challenge, if we aren't actually challenging ourselves. So, yes, it's going to be hard...but it shouldn't be so hard that you can't maintain the lifestyle when this is all said and done. We want to make realistic, lasting changes, right? The goal should be for everyone to be a little better in each of the 10 areas at the end of this challenge--and that is something that really only you can gage. Sounds like everybody already knows which areas they really need to work on and are headed in that direction. Way to go everyone!

  14. Trisha -- I just posted my wheat recipes for banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, apple bread and corn bread on my blog if anyone wants to take a peak.

    I also have some really good muffins/scones made with berries or apples that are great in the fall too. I personally couldn't make any of these except for the corn bread without eating too many for this challenge (I've outlawed white flour and even wheat flour unless I have it with a bunch of veggies -- like a veggie sandwich or pasta). I just know my body and I'd gain weight otherwise. But most of you look at least a decade younger than I am and can probably handle it just fine.

    Here's the muffin link

  15. WELL SAID Janette! BTW, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN! We miss you. :-)

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