Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast

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We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we’re doing fine!

Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast - We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we're doing fine!

FishBoy9 said today, “I can think of a million things I want to have on Easter.” (That’s the day when we break our sugar fast.) “You know. I probably won’t like all that junky stuff when it’s over.”

A mother can only hope.

FishBoy13 and I talked about it this morning as well. He said, “The problem is that so much normal food has sugar in it.”

So it does. So it does.

Now three weeks into it, with three weeks to go, here are some thoughts on how it’s gone down for us so far:

1. We read labels more.

Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast - We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we're doing fine!

When I first started thinking about this in December (when I myself was overindulging in sweets), I thought it would be easy. In some ways, it has been. But, three weeks ago when we started this “no-added sugar” thing, I wasn’t so sure. Have you read labels recently?

Our whole family has received a crash course in reading labels. I thought that I was pretty good about it in general, but I was really surprised, as were my kids and husband.

In fact, I think that brands change their ingredients from time to time. Years ago, I remember there being at least one yogurt company that sweetened with fruit only. Now I can’t find a one. They all say “evaporated sugar cane juice”. Ahem. That’s still sugar.

FishBoy13 and I had a laugh today at Target when we found a “healthier” yogurt with the label “not a lot of sugar”. Seriously, that’s what it said. But, sugar was still the second ingredient on the list.

I find myself more surprised to find a food without sugar than with it, like the spaghetti sauce Gramma had at her house. Most pasta sauces have added sugar and this one didn’t!

2. We make more things ourselves.

Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast - We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we're doing fine!

Since a lot of commercial items are full of sugar and the no-added sugar items are often more expensive, I find that it’s just easier to make my own. It’s saving us money, and typically it tastes better. The family generally likes our homemade versions better than store-bought, anyway. So, it’s a double win.

3. We eat more fruit.

Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast - We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we're doing fine!

Fresh and frozen, unsweetened fruit, particularly of the organic variety, is not cheap. But, it also rarely goes to waste at our house. In addition to our produce box, I buy organic at the store when it’s on sale or if it’s one of the dirty dozen — if I can stomach the price.

We’re eating more fruit this month instead of sweet treats like ice cream or candy. Even if it costs a bit more, I feel good about the kids snacking on fruit instead of other things.

4. We are finding no-sugar added convenience items.

Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast - We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we're doing fine!

I confess to getting a bit weary of kitchen work, so I’ve been happy to find some little cheats here and there.

  • Larabars – though, I’ve started making my own and we like homemade better
  • Trader Joe’s Shredded Wheat Cereal – an easy alternative to homemade granola
  • Trader Joe’s Harvest Whole Wheat Bread – there are not enough hours in the day to bake sandwich bread
  • Trader Joe’s Tortillas – ditto
  • St. Dalfour’s All-Fruit Spread – I’m going to experiment with all-fruit jam this spring

5. We eat at home more often.

Thoughts on Our Sugar Fast - We are about halfway through our sugar fast. And we're doing fine!

Since I don’t want to micromanage what the kids eat if we go out to eat, we just haven’t done it very much. It’s just easier to come home and make grilled cheese or something. We’ve done Chipotle, but that’s expensive for the whole family. Eating at home is working better.

Even date nights haven’t been that exciting on the food front. We’ve gone to two of our favorite places in the last couple weeks and both times were a disappointment. We decided it’d be more enjoyable to have a quiet dinner at home and watch a movie. And this is from the girl who LOVES to eat out.

We’re saving money by changing our diet.

So, that’s where we are today, about halfway through our challenge. The kids don’t complain. They have exceptional attitudes about the whole thing. It’s really so amazing. I’m feeling very blessed.

Have you ever made family-wide diet changes?

What’s been your experience?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Tara says

    I’m with you on wanting to try a no sugar/all fruit jam soon!

  2. Katrina says

    Can you please share your Lara bar recipe?

  3. Helen says

    Are those TJs bread and tortillas dairy-free?

  4. G’day! I have been following a doctor directed food lifestyle for a couple of years and am A LOT happier and healthier for limiting sugar. For me, it is easy….yes foods, no foods, sometimes foods…need to read labels re hidden and mis-labeled ingredients as well as enhance one’s understanding that all fruits and veggies are not the same as far as sugar content.
    Cheers! Joanne

  5. Danielle says

    I looked and could not find your recipe for Larabars…could you share that with us?

  6. Small stuff says

    Some tomato purees have sugar in them. The can in my pantry does. So maybe that tomato paste isn’t without processed sugar after all.

    • I’ve checked them before buying. 🙂 Tomato sauce is the same way.

      • amanda kost says

        I can my own tomatoes and in a quart jar, holding two pounds of crushed romas, I always add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp non-iodized salt. The sugar cuts down on the acidity, but theres only a tiny bit in there. Im guessing all those canned tomatoes only have a pinch of sugar in them as well. Still, its sugar…

  7. Sara K. says

    I have a question for you regarding making your own bread. I know you have done several other posts on that topic in the past so this may not be the best place to ask the question, but here goes 🙂

    I’m a single mom with an 8 year old daughter. We both prefer fresh homemade bread to anything store bought, but I am struggling to find a way to do it frugally on our scale. I can’t do the “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes” method because even though there may only be 5 minutes of hands-on time, there is still a lot of rising and baking time. I just can’t fit that into my schedule.

    A bread machine would be divine. I actually borrowed my mom’s for a little while to see how well it worked before I invested in one. I can set it up at night and have it start early in the morning. Ta da! Fresh bread for the day. The only problem with this is that most of the decent bread machines (especially ones with a timer) make a slightly larger loaf – the Oster one I looked at makes a 2 pound loaf. That’s too much bread for us to consume in one day (sometimes even in two).

    Do you have any thoughts on a frugal and time-sensitive way to make bread at home? Or is there any advantage to slicing up the bread and freezing individual slices?

    Thanks as always for your wonderful posts, Jessica!

    • Danielle says

      I bake a lot of bread, we always slice and freeze what we can’t use fresh. I find it always great for toasting or if homemade breadcrumbs.

    • Yep. Echoing both Danielle and Lee. Either make croutons with the balance (recipes here: or make a smaller loaf. My bread machine makes 1 pound loaves.

  8. Lee says

    My bread machine makes both 1 and 2 lb loaves….can you do a smaller loaf in the machine you have? Both of my machines have been inexpensive finds, one in my mom’s garage and bought another for $10 from a friends garage sale. If you put the word out that you are looking for one you may have a friend that tried it and didn’t love it.

    • Sara K. says

      Thanks Lee! The bread machine I am looking at actually says it makes “up to” a 2 pound loaf, so maybe it is adjustable as well. That would be ideal 🙂

  9. kathy w says

    I think what you are doing is awesome. I was wondering how you and your family are feeling, do you still crave
    sugar like you used to? Is it getting easier to do without or about the same? I would love to hear your thoughts.
    Thanks for the update.

    • No one is complaining. 🙂 It’s really that everyone knows it’s more work. Plus, I’ve kinda banned regular foods like lunchmeat (dextrose) and sunbutter (evap. sugar cane juice), so their own conveniences are gone. I have ordered a case of sugar-free sunbutter, but it won’t come until next week.

      I think I’ve lost a couple pounds, though, so that’s nice.

  10. Linda says

    We have been cutting out sodium for a while now. Now it is hard for us to eat out as everything tastes really salty. Just like with your sugar added, salt gets added to lots of food too. Making your own is the only way, but it can be tiresome at times. Maybe that’s just our rainy day talking…
    Thanks for sharing your sugar story…

  11. We stopped buying broth in the store exactly because it has added sugar, or worse high fructose corn syrup. Now on Sunday morning while I make pancakes, I will throw bones, a carrot, celery, and a bouquet garni into a pot of water and slowly simmer it. When it is done I will strain it into four containers. Since my kids love soup we have soup for dinner once or twice a week, and I use the other two portions of broth for cooking rice and quinoa or making sauce for sauteed chicken. I find this one of the easiest home made substitutions. Since it is on my schedule I do not have to think about it, and it requires very little in skills or prep. Right now chicken soup with sweet peas, potato and leek soup and asparagus-favabeans soup are the faves, although when any of my boys has a cold they just drink it up from a cup straight.

    • Costco’s broth is sugar-free, so if you need to buy it, that’s an option. I haven’t found bone-in chicken on sale in a long time, so I haven’t made any more stock.

  12. Sarah says

    I have recently discovered I am intolerant to sugar cane (and eggs). Your blog has been helpful! I am looking forward to the larabar recipe! Have you tried using date paste for anything?

    Check out Pomona’s for jam making! Go all fruit or natural sugar alternatives!


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