I Quit Sugar
About 18 months ago, I made the decision to quit sugar. I don’t eat particularly badly but was very aware that sugar was controlling me, not the other way round. I was riding the highs and lows of my sugar ‘addiction’. The addictive qualities of sugar always leaving me wanting more (it’s science), and I just kept going back for more. This resulted in low energy, my mood was.... cranky (at best), my sleep disturbed and I just had this awful fatigued, sluggish feeling all day; made only better by a little sugar hit and the subsequent insulin spike, which quickly faded, leaving me feeling worse and craving more! So, I read up on it and decided to try quitting sugar, not for good, I don’t believe that’s achievable for me, I wanted to try and reset myself, take back control of my diet and my sugar consumption.
I knew reducing my sugar intake wouldn’t be easy, and that I had to go cold turkey. Whenever I’d tried to cut back on refined sugar before, I simply replaced it with fruit sugar, particularly dates (I’d eat them frozen so they were like toffees) but they were still serving me with that sugar hit, just in a less processed way! So this time I cut out dried fruit too!
It was hard, really hard. The first few days I was craving sweet things big time, having mood swings and being even more of a cranky pants than usual. Then on Day 4 - I was struck by one of the worst headaches ever - kind of like a hangover but it lasted over 2 days and I hadn't had the pleasure of the wine! It was very tempting to give up. But, I’d made it public knowledge I was doing this (accountability to keep me on track) so knew I had to stick with it. I had increased my water intake and was eating a lot of greens, salads and slaw and they were filling me up so I wasn't grazing my way through the day and also meant I was no longer victim to the roller coaster of high and low energy.
I also started meal prepping and added a bit more protein to my daily intake and it quite quickly became easier. I found I wasn’t as hungry and soon I was experiencing less sweet treat cravings and was actually feeling more energised. The fog of processed food was lifting, I had more mental clarity and even started sleeping better! I also lost weight. I didn't have much to loose, I was healthy looking, in proportion, and athletic, but pretty quickly I lost the bloated tummy, my clothes started to feel looser and at the end of my 12 weeks sugar free I'd dropped almost 5kg! It was never the plan, but I felt so much better for it and it showed me how much of an impact sugar had on my body. (Note: I had also upped my exercise during this period as part of an 8 week gym challenge)
When I reintroduced sweet food to my diet, I found it so sweet that I didn't have nearly as much of it as I had before. The reset had worked, however, now here I am, struggling with sleep quantity and quality and reaching for the sugary snacks as a pick me up to get me through the day and then riding the highs and lows of that sugar wave. While I was lying awake in the small hours searching for a reason and a cure I remembered how well I'd slept when I cut out sugar and so, I'm doing it again. June will be sugar free and I invite you to join me.
Essentially, living sugar free is about enjoying nutritious foods, as close to their natural state as possible, and drinking plenty of water. A sugar free diet means looking out for refined sugar - things like processed foods and white flours, pasta, rice and bread. Instead eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, grain foods, brown rice, wholewheat pasta and bread, lean meats and poultry, healthy fats, legumes and beans, milk, unsweetened yoghurt and cheese or non-dairy alternatives. Aim for foods which haven't been processed and if there are things you really can't live without; check the labels, a small ingredient list with no added sugar is best (meaning it's less processed). It does require some planning, meal prep was great for me, and always having snacks on hand - nuts were my best friend. Low sugar fruits like kiwi, blueberries and strawberries became a staple and I discovered new foods such as chia seeds which now regularly feature in my food choices.
We all know that healthy food choices are good for us, a nutrient dense diet can improve overall wellbeing and reduce the risk of a range of preventable chronic diseases, including some cancers. So for a month, I challenge you to try it and see how you feel. If you are keen to try it, drop me a message, I'll happily set up a group to share recipes, ideas and motivation to keep us all going! I'm sure you won't regret it :)
Health & Happiness