Avoiding Added Sugars Retrospective – February Health Challenge

In February, we tried to avoid added sugars. This meant that we could have things like 100% orange juice, but not many other things. You’d be amazed at how many things have sugar, but also how poorly you can still eat without added or processed sugars.

My wife continued to join me in this challenge and struggled near the end of the month. We both had a few days where we failed for the day, but overall, I feel we did quite well.

Over the twenty-nine days of February, I had two days where I failed to avoid added sugar. One was my sister-in-law’s birthday cake and the other was that some of my Big John’s Beef Jerky had some added sugar that I didn’t realize until Annie told me. Sure the sugar in the jerky was really low, but I still counted it as a fail day.

One of the interesting things from this month was getting used to reading labels. We should all be doing that anyways to get a better understanding of what we are putting into our body.

This month wasn’t crazy great for weight loss, but I did seem to lose some over the course of the month. I started the month at around 277 pounds and ended it with a weigh in this morning at 271 pounds, so around a six pound loss. Based on the trend-line of the month though, I think I’m probably closer to around 273, which would still be around four pounds down, or about a pound a week, and that’s sustainable.

I didn’t have too many points where I felt ravenous about sugar. I had lots of fruit, veggies, no-sugar added juice, and the odd little bit of honey. I gave in on honey for a number of reasons, and I think it made it possible to succeed over the course of the month.

I made oatmeal, banana, strawberry muffins a few times. I got the recipe from Bebe and Bear. It is a modification of a recipe found on greenlitebites that swaps out chocolate chips for strawberries. I made a few changes though, so here’s my recipe.

Malcolm’s Honey Sweetened Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Yield: ~12 muffins


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup of 2% milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped frozen strawberries


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mash the bananas with the rolled oats. Course mash is okay, but you want the oats to look wet.
  3. Mix in the other ingredients, leaving the strawberries for last and mix well.
  4. Fill up your muffin tray and bake for around 25 minutes.


We used quick cooking rolled oats, and that seemed to work fine. We also liked how having the higher fat in the milk made the muffins taste, but the original recipe calls for unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead. And of course, the more ripe the bananas are, the more of a sugar kick you get from them, and the lower the amount of honey you’ll need to make it have flavour.

The first time I made these, I did it with a teaspoon of honey, the bananas were not very ripe and I didn’t put in enough vanilla. It ended up tasting like a block of dry oatmeal without other flavours. I was pretty bummed but felt that I should eat them because they were healthy and filling. My other batches turned out better, so you’ll have to play with the recipe based on your preference.

March Challenge – Mood Tracking

In March, Annie and I are going to track our mood. We are going to grab five data points per day and then we can plot out our mood over the course of a month. For me, this is a check in to take a moment to reflect on how I’m feeling more often and to have data showing that my meds are not only working but that I am having more good days than bad. This is a mental health month.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t be looking for opportunities to eat better, and I know Annie has other elements she is considering for her health in March, but the process of a year of health continues.


I highly recommend everyone try at least a week without added sugars and see how that makes them feel. I think today, Annie and I might go a little overboard compensating for our month without, but I hope once we get that out of our system, we can continue to eat more fruit and veggies, and avoid added sugar here.

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