Sunday, 21 July 2013

I Quit Sugar- Part 2

So before I took up this quitting sugar malarkey I thought that fructose, was just sugar that came from fruit! Apparently I was WAY off. Fructose is in everything!! What we consider sugar, the white stuff, is actually made of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. It’s the fructose part that according to research is the one doing us harm. Making us fat, tired, and craving more, not to mention contributing to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It’s not the amount of obvious sugar we eat that is the most shocking but the amount of hidden sugar that‘s scary. I have always poured over the nutrition panel on most of the food I buy and as we have been taught by the diet industry, I had always focused on the calorie and fat content. However, when I started focusing on the sugar content in these foods I was stunned! The amount of sugar in my low fat mayonnaise was staggering, it was nearly 1/3 sugar! Not to mention my beloved BBQ sauce - 50% sugar!!
It was at this point I started to doubt this whole challenge. Sugar was in everything, what was I going to eat? Could I really keep this up forever? I was worried I wouldn’t lose any weight or worse still put on the weight I had already lost, that I would find the withdrawal part to tough to handle and that at the end of it all I would just slip back into my old habits. In saying that I was still curious as to whether ‘quitting sugar’ was actually possible. I knew it had a hold of me and couldn’t imagine not having to fight against constant cravings.
My quest was made all the more daunting by the fact that I am someone with an ‘all or nothing’ approach to dieting and therefore I found Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar 8 week detox program a little vague at times. I realise now upon completing it that she meant it to be this way, her approach as described by Sweet Poison author, David Gillespie, is a ‘down-to-earth, practical approach’ to quitting sugar and although on occasion I was in search of a little more guidance than is provided by the book, the best approach as suggested by Sarah is to take it on as an ‘experiment’. That attitude is exactly what got me through the 8 weeks.

I found the first few weeks reasonably easy. I think with most diets it’s the initial excitement of the possibility of change that drives you to embrace these things with such gusto. I did have to wean myself off Diet Coke after the first week which was a little tough but I basically drowned myself in as many varieties of herbal teas as I could get my hands on. It helped that the weather was getting colder so having a cup of tea constantly in my hands was a good distraction. I was loving going back to full fat dairy of all kinds, our cheese drawer which is normally pretty full was exploding at the seams! Sarah advises to give up all sugar for the detox period including fruit. I didn’t find this too hard either, although as is typical with anything that you ban yourself from all of a sudden had hankerings for apples and mandarins!
At the 4-5 week mark as foretold by Sarah I started to question why I was doing this, my kidneys were starting to ache and I felt extremely lethargic. (Although to be honest I have felt extreme lethargy since the birth of Miss M two years ago, so maybe that’s just Mum exhaustion!). I was finding the cup of tea after dinner wasn’t cutting it and neither was eating a bowl of yoghurt and nuts. I missed the sweet something to round off the night. I did bake a few sugar-free treats during this time but tried not to go crazy. Fortunately that got me through the cravings and back on track.

Week 6 and we were on holidays at my Mum’s house. Normally upon arrival we are welcomed with an array of homemade slices and biscuits. This time I forewarned Mum of my foray into quitting sugar and forwarded her some sugar-free recipes instead. As a result I had my first sugar-free birthday cake courtesy of David Gillespie’s ‘The Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook’ (A birthday present from husband!). I have to say it wasn’t as good as a sugar-laden cake but it was definitely close! The week on holidays was probably the hardest, catching up with friends and going out to dinner presented more challenges than I’m faced with during my normal daily routine at home. Skipping cake whilst out for coffee and ordering an entrĂ©e instead of a dessert at a restaurant were new adventures for me, but I made it through and was quite proud I had survived such temptation without faltering.

Week 6 also provided an expected boost when I came across Fountain ‘Smart Sauce’ at the supermarket. I curiously looked at nutritional panel to discover it only contained 5% sugar! The Fountain BBQ ‘Smart Sauce’ was even lower with 4.4%! Upon closer inspection I found that it was made with Natvia! It was as if all my prayers had been answered! It sounds like a funny thing to say, but it was at this point I knew I would be able to stick to this past the 8 week detox, thanks Fountain!
By week 7 I gave myself permission to eat some fruit, although to be honest the cravings had faded by then. I did find surprisingly that the last two weeks were probably the hardest. The reality that I would now have to keep this up forever was a bit daunting; 8 weeks seemed doable but forever?
Well here I am, 11 weeks in and I am happy to report, still sugar-free! So here is the round-up of my progress:
  • I lost just under 3 kilos in 8 weeks (I have lost another kilo since the end of the 8 weeks), not as much as I had hoped for but I also kept off the 7 kilos I had lost leading up to this so was certainly happy about that.
  • I still have the occasional craving for something sweet but they are controllable.
  • I didn’t give up bread and although one of my next challenges will be to cut down on my bread intake for me eating bread doesn’t lead me to eating blocks of chocolate so I am ok with it. 
  • I am allowing myself to eat fruit if I wish, even if it is the ‘high fructose’ fruits like apples, but since allowing myself to eat it I have probably only eaten two pieces a week.
  • My appetite is completely different, it is true (apart from being too busy most days to think about eating) I am seriously not hungry like I used to be. I found this to be a surprising outcome. Although this is said to be one of the benefits of quitting sugar I really couldn’t imagine cutting out so many foods and not being hungry all the time
  • I don’t have the ‘3pm slumps’ anymore.
  • I stick to the ‘Eat products with less than 3-6 grams of sugar per 100g/ml’ rule, and this rules out a lot!!
  • I also try not to buy anything with more than 5 ingredients in it, so you really aren’t buying much that comes in a packet!
  • As well as quitting sugar I have swapped a lot of our usual foods to healthier options and incorporated a lot more superfoods. For e.g. Our pantry is now stocked with spelt flour, coconut flour, rice malt syrup, chia seeds, dextrose, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, sugar-free nut pastes, coconut milk and lots more.
  • I am excited about experimenting with my sugar-free baking and although my first few attempts need some re-working I am enjoying the challenge!
Are we healthier?
Well unfortunately if we are its not noticeable at the moment! Everyone in the family has just gone through another round of viruses and as I am writing this I have tonsillitis. But everyone keeps telling me that this is life with a toddler and a baby in winter- so only another 3 months or so of this to go! (God help me!)
And finally for the million dollar question…Will I stick to being sugar-free?
Short answer, yes. My diet is far from being the ‘ultimate’ clean diet, but little steps. I have finally broken the hold sugar has had over me for all these years and it’s certainly not something I would be willing to give up anytime soon.

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