EDITOR’S NOTE: Ketchup, candy, soda, cookies — four brave Gazette staffers took a five-week challenge to give up their favorite sugary foods. Here are their final reports.
"A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
Mary Poppins was right. My craving for sugar is most intense when I am tired, stressed or down in the dumps.
For years, candy has been “my medicine,” giving me a little buzz when I’m blue.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Boston Baked Beans (the peanut candy, not the legume), Dots, Juicy Fruits, Swedish Fish and licorice have filled the prescription.
Milk Duds, those chewy cocoa-coated caramels that yank molars, are my current addiction.
However, I am happy to report that during our Sugar Busters challenge, I gobbled only one box of them, and that was for The Gazette photo on this page.
Over the past month, I discovered that fresh or dried fruit is a super substitute for candy, and I grabbed raisins, grapes, bananas and pomegranate seeds when I got cravings.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas looming, I plan to pack my fridge and travel bag with fruit.
On Thursday, I will enjoy a slice of homemade pumpkin pie, but then it’s back to fruit-o-rama.
Remember Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian singer, dancer and actress who wore a tropical fruit headdress?
I’m thinking of making myself a fruit hat: When stressed, I can pluck a cherry or a banana right off my head.
Now that’s food for thought.
— Karen Bjornland
’ll take your Halloween candy!” a Gazette reader yelled as I walked up the aisle at CVS. That was just one of the reactions readers had to my abstinence from candy as part of Sugar Busters.
Dr. Paul, the chiropractor and loyal Gazette subscriber, raised the red flag in regard to artificial sweeteners and their link to digestive problems. He also warned me that giving up sugar would be hard.
He was right.
When I started I was most worried that I wouldn’t be able to resist chocolate. Instead, cravings for creamy sweets, like ice cream and cheese cake, bore down on me, especially at night. Comfort foods.
My family would tell you that at times I’ve been pretty grumpy. If you came to my house you’d notice there are piles and bags of stuff all over. I’ve been channeling my discomfort into a fury of house cleaning and clutter purging. The City Mission will benefit from that.
It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m grateful for all the support from friends, family, colleagues and readers. I’m also grateful that tomorrow I can have pumpkin pie.
— Andrea Cramer
I have followed the quest.
The impossible dream — avoid sugar-heavy products for most of November — has been the mission. I have answered the clarion call, fought the unbeatable foe and acquitted myself with honor.
For me, ketchup, chocolate chip cookies and miniature candy bars topped a personal public enemies list. I kept my Heinz and Hunts in the refrigerator and substituted salsa for infrequent cheeseburgers. Mushroom gravy became a trusted ally for weekend meatloaf spectaculars. The red sauce will stay put through the weekend — I never put ketchup on turkey.
I’ve only had bread once during the month. Chef’s salads have been my only daily meal on weekdays since Nov. 3.
There were a couple breakdowns. I had a long day at the newspaper last week, and halfway through my “Festival of Trees” story — shameless plug here, read the piece on Thanksgiving — I grabbed an ice cold Pepsi left over from an office pep rally. Thirty minutes later, I popped another. Never even considered a lousy-tasting diet cola.
So while most sugar was vanquished, the soft drink’s late rally spoiled the shutout. Tough customer, that Pepsi.
— Jeff Wilkin
I didn’t have a great week, but how many times do you turn 62?
It was a birthday week, and with partygoers like my nephew (Bubs) and his little sister (Britches) it was hard for a guy to walk the straight and narrow.
On the up side, I did walk right past some bags of candy corn marked down to 45 cents, and it was easy. On the down side, refusing a piece of birthday cake was impossible. I also I has one sugary soda, a Pepsi, during the week, and I did put away three diet Mountain Dews.
Yes, like much of my life, it was like a roller coaster ride, but I’m happy to report I didn’t crash and burn.
This whole Sugar Busters experience has helped me appreciate eating better, eating less of everything and, on rare occasions, allowing yourself to have a little tasty treat.
I lost about five pounds, have drastically cut my soda intake and did not have one kernel of candy corn after Halloween.
For me, that’s a big victory.
— Bill Buell