Yep you read the heading correctly… I quit sugar.
Not just the added white nasty stuff, but also ‘natural sugars’ at least for a period of detox.
It has been 3 weeks now since sugar crossed my lips (except for a couple of slip ups), and yes, I am still alive and feeling great.
‘Why would you do this?’ I hear you ask… Well continue reading and I may provide an answer, or at the very least give you a little something to think about when considering your diet.
The trigger that got me thinking about improving our diet is the Treasure Yourself Project, and a dear friend who was planning to ‘quit sugar’, so for me it sounded like something that could be good to experiment with.
Week 4 of the Treasure Yourself project focuses on diet: You are what you eat.
If you are a regular reader of Fizzle Out you will know that I am quite focussed on health and wellbeing, and although generally I would say that our diet is reasonably good, it could certainly be improved.
A couple of weeks filled with ‘special occasions’ including birthdays, parties, baby showers, buffets, holidays, and winter-time eating left me feeling in need of a health kick. So the time certainly seemed right and when a friend mentioned that she was planning to start Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Program, I thought it might be worth a shot.
I know you won’t believe it, but throughout our medical degree we receive minimal training in nutrition, and since there is a myriad of conflicting information available, both online and in the medical literature, it leaves me in a hard place deciding what is the best plan for a healthy diet.
Of course, an ideal diet depends on who you are, your requirements and medical conditions, and I don’t believe that there is one single ‘perfect’ diet that works for everyone, so this is going to be part of an experiment to see what works for us and how we feel after quitting sugar, rather than a definite way that we plan to live the rest of our lives or something that I think everyone should follow.
My personal preference is to at the very least become aware of what I am eating and how it makes me feel, to listen more closely to my body and respond accordingly, rather than follow a strict eating plan or diet rules.
A friend who is into health and nutrition wisely shared:
So personally, I am trying to make that the core of our regular meals – with massive salads and a variety of veggies at lunch and dinner, even breakfast sometimes (mushrooms and spinach with eggs or green smoothies!).
As a life-time vegetarian, eating meat, chicken and seafood is non-negotiable, so I need to pay a lot of attention to food and we do eat a large variety of plant based stuff – including plenty beans and legumes. We aren’t vegan so eggs and dairy do play a large role in our diet, and although I have tried to cut out dairy numerous times I just can’t do soy milk and love a milky coffee in the morning, so for the time being we are sticking with lacto-ovo vegetarianism.
If you are curious about quitting sugar, or even considering it, I highly recommend reading Sarah’s ebook. Her cookbook also has some fabulous ways to replace sugar heavy meals with either sugar substitutes (just no artificial sweeteners please!) or naturally sweet alternatives such as coconut or cinnamon. I have already made numerous recipes from her book and have found them both satisfying and delicious!
The basic premise of quitting sugar is that fructose wreaks havoc in your body and is directly converted to fat. Add that to the fact that sugar is an addictive substance and you can see why the increased sugar in our diet might be a problem. A quick search of the medical literature shows that research on the effects of sugar is controversial, but the overall conclusion appears to be that excess sugar consumption is a bad idea. Sarah has numerous posts on her blog that elaborate further, that are definitely worth a read, even if you are a little skeptical.
To be honest the most challenging thing for me has been the psychological aspects. Sarah recommends eating full fat dairy and high fat foods to stave off cravings, which goes against everything I have ever known about healthy eating. Although I am still trying to keep it in moderation, I feel like I am eating more decadently than I ever have, and have definitely noticed that I feel much more full after eating (and have been listening to my body), meaning that my portion sizes have reduced and I don’t feel the need to go for seconds.
Considering that I rarely add sugar to anything, eat cake, chocolate, cookies or any other treats and always eat multigrain bread, I was shocked to realise that I was consuming a lot of sugar in a normal day. Tomato ketchup, balsamic vinegar and sweet chilli sauce feature very often on my plate, not to mention natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, dates and dried fruit. My usual snack would be a piece of fruit, and it wouldn’t be strange for me to eat 5 pieces of fruit in a day, in addition to starting the day off with honey sweetened muesli.
We have just begun week 3 of the program, which is time to completely cut sugar out, although I have still been eating a couple of berries (literally like 5 blueberries on my brekky), I have cut back my fruit intake completely, cut out all sugar and am attempting to cut back on the bread/pasta/rice that we tend to rely on so heavily in a vegetarian diet.
The most challenging thing that I have found so far is eating at friend’s places or social events. At home there are few temptations around and with a little meal planning it is super easy to stick to, yet when there is finger food and treats around it is a different story. Also snacks in the afternoon when we get home from uni are a bit of a challenging time, so I am attempting to be more organised over the coming weeks and have plenty of sugar free options ready to go.
At Woolies today I found myself staring at the big pile of bananas (I usually eat one on the way home if I am a bit peckish) but I steered my trolley towards the leafy greens and even bought some different veggies that usually wouldn’t find themselves in my trolley (brussel sprouts anyone?).
I plan on sticking to the 8 week program (and bringing Kris along with me), and will certainly report back with how we are feeling over the next couple of weeks. I also plan to share recipes and sugar free eating ideas so keep an eye out for posts coming up on Fizzle Out.
Have you ever done something extreme to improve your diet? Or are you more one for small sustainable changes?
I am endorsing the I Quit Sugar program as I have found it valuable, interesting and informative. The advice on this blog should not be substituted for professional advice, and I am not suggesting that this program suitable for everyone.
If you do purchase the ebook or cookbook via my blog I will receive an affiliate payment from Sarah Wilson. I would recommend the books regardless of receiving any compensation.