I Quit Sugar – an update on the journey

163510_587265551291774_217544845_nThere’s been a lot of talk lately about the benefits of sugar quitting, often combined with chatter about the paleo diet (Google it – it’s everywhere).  I bought my ticket for the sugar-free bandwagon just recently, and I’ve been a ridin’ it now for 5 weeks (Violins? Small round of applause? Oprah special?)  This means I’ve (mostly) had no added sugar in daily foods, no obviously sugary treats (chocolate, biscuits etc), no soft drinks, no fruit and no processed stuff with sugar in it (like bread, tomato sauce or strawberry jam).   Do I feel better for ditching sugar?  Yes.  Has it changed my life? No. Will I keep going? Yes.   I don’t do a lot of self help on this blog (who am I to help anyone??) but I thought I’d do a little summary to cut through the spin for anyone else who might be considering embracing the ‘I quit sugar’ phenomenon.

Why quit sugar?

Around 6 weeks ago, a friend put me onto Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar books and I liked the idea of the promises she made – more energy, clearer thinking, clearer skin and better longer term health prospects in general.   I have a long history of embracing fad diets for weight loss purposes (cabbage soup anyone??), but this time (being mature-ish and 40 and all that) it was the promise of more energy that piqued my interest.   Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times over the past weeks!  Indeed I leaped off the wagon in a wine-fuelled backward take-off, closed pike with a triple twist swan dive* a few Saturdays ago.  But even with the odd wagon-jump, it seems to be making a positive difference and I reckon it’s worth keeping up the experiment a little longer.

Why Sarah Wilson?

The 3-kid-challenge gets on top of me at the best of times without my energy being impaired by own slack culinary (in)abilities, so I was in the market for a book that told me how to get some sexy back nutrition-wise.   There are several sugar-quitting guides around at the moment;  and it’s a case of same, same but different.  I like Wilson’s books though because they are extremely laid back.  They seem to say “Here’s the info…give it a shot…see how you feel” – no real evangelism and no suggestion that this is something everyone MUST do.   Being shouted at by the likes of Michelle Bridges just makes me want to eat cake.  Wilson’s relaxed attitude is to ‘be your message’ rather than beating people over the head with it.

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I have Wilson-envy

The reasons Wilson thinks sugar quitting is a good idea include:

– Many of us tend to be addicted to sugar. It has a mental and physical hold over us.  It is comfort food, quick fix energy and a ‘treat’ – all of which create powerful associations between the way we are feeling and the notion that we ‘need’ to eat something sugary.  For some people, one biscuit soon turns into 10. Quitting it altogether helps break this cycle.

– Sugar is hidden in a million different foods that don’t need to have it – like yoghurt, pasta sauce and most of the ‘healthy’ and ‘wholegrain’ snacks we give our kids.  It is very easy to eat too much sugar in a day, even if you haven’t touched a donut.

– We are not biologically designed to eat as much sugar as we do.  If you’re into the notion of ‘paleo’ eating, our forefathers (and mothers) would have eaten a piece of fruit or two in a day – nowhere near the 20-30 teaspoons of sugar we routinely consume nowadays, even if we’re eating fairly healthy foods.  Low-fat foods are often extra high in sugar. There are huge, very pushy and convincing industries helping us to eat more sugar.

– There are a bunch of studies that tell us nasty things about what sugar – and fructose in particular – might do to us, including making it harder to fight infections, interfering with mineral absorption and contributing to anxiety and loss of concentration.   There’s some stuff at the scarier end of the health spectrum too.

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Everything old is new again – Dino does Paleo

The benefits to me so far include:

– More energy.  I’m not saying I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, but I do feel less ‘foggy’ when I get up in the morning and have more stamina during what’s always been my mid-afternoon slump time (3-5 o’clock).

– I feel less addicted.  I don’t feel that I need a sweet treat to pick me up.  I really just don’t feel like it, which is great!   My wagon-jumps have been more related to bread than the obviously sugary stuff**, but I’m learning to make some good substitutions there (like some soda/rye breads that don’t use sugar).

– Clearer skin.  I wouldn’t call it a youthful glow, but I’m not as sallow and puffy as I was (stand back boys, she’s taken!)

– Recipes.  I’ve picked up a few nice, easy new recipes, which the kids ACTUALLY EAT, and added them to our standard weekly repertoire.

– Weight loss. I’ve only lost 2 kilos, so no biggy, but my clothes seem to fit better because my stomach is flatter (as in less bloated, not bikini-ready).

They’re only small changes, but I’m good with that as a starting point.  I have tried way too many ‘revolutionary’ eating plans that get too hard or too boring or too tasteless after a few weeks,  so this is something I’m happy to do slowly but surely for the longer term.

MasterChef-midgets

Sarah also knows these guys. I’d yell ‘crumpet!’ but I don’t eat them anymore. ***

Some of the easy I Quit Sugar switches include:

– Homemade tomato sauce.  The I Quit Sugar cookbook has a great recipe.  Unfortunately my kids are in love with the red stuff, so I’m stoked about giving them a wholesome alternative.

– Cereal.  The I Quit Sugar cookbook has a totally yum recipe for muesli that has now replaced chocolate as my addiction of choice.  It’s nice as a breakfast with natural yoghurt, but also good to grab as a sort of ‘trail mix’ during the day.  Delish!

– Embracing coconut oil for cooking. It does a whole bunch of sweet and savoury things and is better for you than a lot of other cooking oils.

Some things in the books that I will probably never do (sorry Sarah!):

– Make my own almond milk by soaking almonds and squeezing them through gauze etc.  Too hard, too tasteless.

– Drink bright green smoothies made of watercress and spirulina (vomit!)

– Activate my nuts (well, that’s a whole other issue…)

So, as I head into Week 5 it’s a case of so far, so good.   Wilson reckons it takes about 8 weeks to detox your body to the point of being a ‘clean slate’ – at which point you can reintroduce a few sweeter foods if you want to (the ‘need’ should be gone).    Obviously the more times you slip up, the longer the detox takes – but if you’re looking at a long term plan, there’s no need to beat yourself up about it.  Do what you can and see how you feel.  It’s all an experiment and a way of getting to know your own body’s needs.

Sounds all very rational and grown up, don’t you think?  I’ll get back to you in a few weeks!

Has anyone else tried quitting sugar?  What are your tips and tricks for rookie players?

If you’ve reviewed this or a similar book, feel free to link it in the comments.

Meanwhile, you can buy the books here if you want to see what the fuss is about:

i-quit-sugar-cookbook

(FINE PRINT: Yes, I do get a small commission if you buy Wilson’s books via this link, but I discovered the books before I discovered the Affiliate program so I’m not a total sell-out, OK!)

*May not be an actual thing.
**This is not a full on ‘no carb’ diet, but Wilson believes processed, wheaty kinds of things can fuel the sugar addiction.
***For more on crumpet of the manly variety visit Mumabulous. She’s the expert – I’m merely dabbling.

22 comments for “I Quit Sugar – an update on the journey

  1. Megan
    February 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I have been on this now for 4 weeks with my daughter. So maybe you could say I really can’t comment. But here goes anyway.
    For me too it was the ‘more energy, better sleep, better skin..’ along with a conviction that I would lose a whole lot of weight. Whilst I have learned quite a bit from it and become more aware of sugar content. I think I have come to realise also that following this diet is next to impossible for people who work long hours, (the amount of preparation is always WAY under estimated in the recipes) and is impossible to maintain hereafter. Many people seem to do it multiple times – which goes to show that it is not something you can maintain. Which means it sets you up for ‘failure’ from the get go.
    The cost has been rather more than I ever expected.
    It has been an emotional roller coaster, and I can’t say that I have more energy, my skin is no brighter, and my sleep is not really different, except I feel tired more. And irritable. Perhaps because I haven’t lost all the weight I expected to. The lack of fruit has been the biggest deal breaker for me. And yes I have now ‘cheated’ by eating it anyway. And I’m relying on Protein bars to get me through my long busy days. At least I’m not having the problems you read of in abundance from those on it who are all blocked up.
    However, I am certainly now more aware of labelling and food content.
    Sadly I think it is more about making money than being a truly concerned and inclusive and community minded health program. It’s essentially a fad, and like most fad diets, especially those based on celebrity, is not based on scientific evidence.
    I think that moderation is the way to go. Educate yourself and then don’t beat yourself up for being a ‘failure’ if you eat a piece of fruit. Will I do it again? Absolutely not. Unless it is actually my Dr says it is essential for life. And he doesn’t.

  2. Michelle
    December 11, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    OMG, I agree with you about those ‘active nuts’. I think I must be a lot more lazy than Sarah Wilson! I didn’t even try the almond milk…

  3. BossyMummy
    May 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I am on the edge of committing fully to primal eating – I keep playing around with the idea, but haven’t converted the household yet, but Sarah Wilsons book was a big part of getting me here. I love her book and know when I avoid sugar and grains I feel sooooooo much better. Good luck on your journey 🙂

    Hello from #teamIBOT

  4. May 10, 2013 at 11:54 am

    hm. I’ve thought of doing this, but my general approach to life is NO DIETS. But I’m also really struggling with acid reflux and I’ve read that maybe the paleo diet can help with that. I might just get desperate enough. I really appreciate your frank, laid-back approach.

  5. May 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of people who have done it with great success. Personally it’s not for me, but if it’s working for you, go for it!

  6. Rita
    May 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    I admire people who can quit sugar. Sugar is everywhere… But well done! Great to hear it had positive effects on you!

  7. May 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I haven’t tried it Lara – I fear I’d literally fall over and be unable to get up. I’m just going to try and get through this parenting of three young kids before I do that. BUT I am UBER proud and envious of your willpower. Em x

  8. May 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Wow, good for you. Quitting sugar is not something I can ever imagine doing. But I managed more than six months without chocolate (before pregnancy cravings kicked in!) so who knows? Maybe… one day… perhaps…

    Good luck with the rest.

  9. Pip
    May 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Great sum up!! So detailed and hope it may inspire others to give it a crack. I swear it was the reasons why the worst of my mood swings disappeared (don’t get me wrong – I still have a trace of them 😉 Gawd, total agreement, almond milk in packet is just aok for me too. May you ride your sugar free wagon as often as possible.

    • This Charming Mum
      May 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Wow, that’s interesting. I am also hoping to see a bit of mood stability come out of the experiment! Fingers crossed. Today was a bit of an ‘off the wagon’ day I must admit, but I have certainly proved to myself that I feel better when I stick to it. Feeling dreadful tonight after giving in to temptation!

  10. May 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Wow – you are making great progress. I found out recently that sugar is not my friend(medically speaking), yet it has a hypnotic hold over me.
    Have tried to eliminate it, but struggled i already hear the chocolate calling. Have opted instead to cut it back.

  11. May 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Sugar is something I have bad reactions to (makes me cranky and tired) so I try to minimise it. I do struggle with giving in when I have pms or get bored of the food I am eating. I like the is treat recipes and so need to get started making things I can enjoy that are sugar / fructose free. Congrats on making it 5wks so far

  12. Fiona Sparkles
    May 7, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Well done, this is definitely food for thought. Have you noticed any behavioral changes in the kids, not saying that you’re sugar proofing them entirely?? I did the small stuff a few years ago, skim milk, no sugar in coffee, don’t add sugar to my weetbix, cereal, etc….because they already taste like they’d been soaked in it…..wonder why!?!?! I was turned off low fat a long time ago due to sugar content, take out the fat and what do you have……tasteless garbage…..add sugar and it’s sugary garbage!! I’m more than eager to try this one with the kids. Bryce has put on a bit of pudge recently, he’s on the treadmill already at 11!! Stirling is more mental than his normal mental if I give him anything……including apples, grapes, etc….all full of sugar. And then there’s the big kid. Because I’m usually the one that does the groceries I cringe when Paul tells me to get another bag of (eeeeekkkk) white sugar!! This is every couple of weeks, due to his 3 teaspoons in tea and 2 in coffee which in total daily would equate to probably 25-30 teaspoons and that’s only in drinks!! I’ve tried to tame the beast in the past, not possible or maybe not worth the man drama that comes with it!
    Thanks for your blog, I’m definitely going to explore this…….and GOOD LUCK!!

  13. May 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I have been trying to reduce sugar in our household for ages, but not by making such a great concentrated effort. We are still having all the sugar that comes in our products, so this looks like a great idea. Will have to look at it closer, although I think it will take some preparation first. Thanks for sharing xx

    • This Charming Mum
      May 7, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Good luck Elise. I’m treating it as an experiment. I does take planning, but I have just slowly bought bits and pieces – I didn’t throw everything out of the pantry and start fresh or anything drastic. My kids are still eating some sugar cos I know they wouldn’t like the taste of some of the homemade sauces and things straight away – but I’ll work on slowly converting them. 🙂

  14. May 7, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I’m very encouraged by what you’ve said here. I’m literally just starting the IQS bandwagon… it’s only Day 4 for me!

    I’d read a little about what Sarah Wilson did with IQS a while back and was finally curious enough to give it a go myself. I don’t have a big sweet tooth generally but even so, I was quite surprised by how much sugar I was still eating. Those condiments are killers!

    I may have to get that cookbook! Thanks for your IQS update!

    • This Charming Mum
      May 7, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Best of luck Sarah! I’m the same. I wasn’t eating a huge amount of cake or anything, but if you add up the condiments, the dried fruit, the sugar in meal sauces etc PLUS the odd chocolate treat it really is a lot! The cookbook has almost all the same info as the original book plus the recipes. I’m finding it handy to have all the info in one place. Anyway, hope it goes well for you 🙂

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