The Cake Project: A success and a failure, all in one

by Suw on February 22, 2007

Over three months ago I pledged to give up sugary drinks for, well, three months.

“I will stop drinking sugary drinks for three months but only if 20 other people will do the same.”
A 1000ml box of Cranberry juice contains enough sugar to bake 1.17 cakes. A 500ml bottle of Coke has the same amount of sugar as half a cake.
I am promising to give up all sugary drinks, including fruit juices and cordials, for three months in order to improve my health. I do not include drinks that include alcohol, by the way, as one has to enjoy oneself once in a while and I think giving up alcohol would be a different pledge.

Twenty seven other people joined me, and together we have bravely fought the evil Coke, and all manner of other sugary evils, with the assumption that surely it must be better for us not to be drinking lots of, well, sugar. Did you know that a litre of cranberry juice has enough sugar in it to bake a cake? No? Well, now you do.
Today, the pledge finally ended.
Was it a success? Well, yes, it was. I really did give up sugary drinks for over three months, and the only time I broke the pledge was last week at a conference when I was suffering a bit of a sugar crash, and when the waitress mistakenly gave me an orange juice, rather than the wine I had asked for, I decided that in this instance it was probably better for me to drink the orange juice than the wine. I think I can be forgiven for that.
A few people, T'Other included, took the piss out of me over the alcohol clause, but I really haven't abused it. I haven't been sitting here of a lunchtime, necking vodka and Coke to fulfil my craving. I genuinely did switch from Coke to green tea and water with a squirt of real lemon juice.
The worst moment for that was when we were in Dallas for Thanksgiving and Kevin's lovely parents, who know I love Mexican coke, had brought up six bottles from Yuma especially for me. In order to keep the pledge, I made them drive me round McKinney until we found a proper 'liquor store' that sold vodka. Thankfully, they didn't think I was completely barking. (Either that, or they hid it well.)
So yes, I think that's a success.
On the other hand, the deeper reason for doing this was that I thought that if I perhaps cut out the sugary drinks I might just lose a little weight. Not that I'm fat, but I'm the heaviest I've been since my early 20s, and frankly I'm in no fit shape to be trying on wedding dresses with this sort of podge. From that point of view, the pledge was a total failure. I've not lost an ounce – I've actually put weight on. Bugger.
I think it was all the chocolate I ate to satisfy my cravings for sugar. D'oh.
Before you say it, I know that a reduction in caloric intake should be accompanied by exercise, but up until now I've had rather a lot on my plate and it's hard to take an hour out of your day when your 'to do' list only contains urgent items. I did start doing Pilates again, but then had my operation, so have had to give that up for a while. Years back I used to do it pretty regularly – every other day, or thereabouts – and I need to get back to that.
Of course, I can't do anything which involves my arm for at least another month, whilst the new scar strengthens up. If I use my arm too much, the scar will widen and that won't look very nice. I'm going to have to work out a new routine that doesn't involve the usual press-ups, sit-ups etc.
I think this pledge has had at least one lasting change: I drink green tea now. I learnt how to make it properly in Washington DC last year, (you pour cold water on the tea first, then water which is no longer boiling. If you pour boiling water on green tea you will singe the leaves and it will taste bitter), and I really love it, so I can't see me breaking that habit any time soon.
Meantime, I'm enjoying a vodka-free full-fat Coke with precisely no guilt whatsoever. Mmmm, lovely!

Anonymous February 23, 2007 at 12:02 am

Hi Suw,
Just wondering about the Cranberry juice – does it have added sugar, or corn syrup juice, etc on the ingredients label? Or is it the type that has 'no added sugar', with the sugar innate to its cranberryness?
And congrats on your willpower – next, to do it again with no chocolate allowed 😉

Anonymous February 23, 2007 at 1:50 am

Congratulations on the success of your willpower! While of course exercise helps, diet is the easiest (and least-effort) way to reduce weight. Although you didn't change, but hey, now you know that you can cut out sugar, and now cut out something else on top of that.
And yeah, I'll bet some of it was that chocolate 🙂
My goal is this month to reduce my portions by a 1/4, and then next month a 1/4 more (wherever feasible)
– Nic W.

Anonymous February 23, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Even with no added sugar cranberry juice must be sugary, but I was under the impression that 'fruity' sugar was different to the sugar you put in cakes… (fuctose + glucose) = (sucrose) or something… I don't know, I gave up science a long time ago.

Anonymous February 23, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Well I am surprised, I looked at your blog as I was sipping at my usual North American cranberry and apple drink, a drink I enjoy regularly. The label boasting more than 50% fruit, no colours, high in vitamin C. So I thought I would check the ingredients what sugar, first on the list meaning than it is the single biggest constituent. I can't possibly stop drinking it as it keeps my days clear and hydrated. Along with my drink of choice, coffee. I could not stop drinking cranberry juice, I gave up alcohol in 1999, and that was and still is very hard even seven and a half years later. Always enjoy your blogs.

Anonymous February 24, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Peter, get Knudsens Cranberry Juice Concentrate, and dilute that. It is all cranberry, no added sugar, and so a bit bitterer, but good. It has 9g of sugar in 2oz, and expects you to dilute it 3:1 to drink (diluting it more is fine).

Anonymous March 1, 2007 at 4:08 pm

you were in dallas and didn't call? i would have taken you to the fiesta mart and bought you all the cane sugar sweetened coca-cola and dr. pepper (a texas tradition) you little heart desired!
of course, one has not lived until they have tasted the classic texas coca-cola cake (r the variation the dr. pepper cake) – chocolate, sugar, butter AND coke (or dr. pepper). i would offer to make and send you one, but, i think because of its high sugar content is classified a controlled substance in many countries.

Anonymous March 8, 2007 at 11:22 pm

I wasn't differentiating between types of sugar, just equating sugar to calories. Easier that way, if not as scientifically accurate.
Still, it was a nice feat of willpower, even if it ultimately didn't work.

Anonymous June 13, 2007 at 9:34 am

I think it's a great initiative ! I read in a Reuters article that Sugary drinks are tied to extra pounds in preschoolers sites a new Canadian study which looked at the weight of children who drank sugary drinks vs. those that didn't. Not shocking results but the study reminded me of how my husband and I always thought we were giving our daughter a healthy drink / snack but in actuality the sugar content was way too high.

Anonymous June 19, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Sugar drinks, alcohol, coffee, carbonated water they are all bad for health. So, what can we drink? Someone told me to drink home made juice but I'm not sure about the fruits. All fruits on the market have chemicals included. I should start searching for a natural spring in the mountains to drink only water. I'm sick of all this crap. Tonite I'm going to get myself drunk.

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