Friday, 23 May 2014

Quitting sugar: The warts and all truth about quitting, 12 months on

I really struggled to write this post, so much so that it actually started as "I Quit Sugar- 9 months on", so basically for three months I have been going back and forth adding a few sentences and then deleting them. I just couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time writing it. This is a topic I am really passionate about, you know what reformed addicts are like, will bore anyone who will listen with their quitting story. So why was I so reluctant to put down in words my experience of being off the white stuff for a whole year?


Then one night as I was sitting on the couch eating some sugar-free chocolate cake it came to me. The reason I was having a hard time writing this is that I felt like a bit of a fraud. Hand on heart, I can honestly say I am still 'sugar-free' but 12 months on things are not all green smoothies and quinoa salads.
 
The truth is this, I still do not eat sugar. 90% of the food our family eats is home made, from scratch, from unprocessed, sugar and seed oil free foods.  BUT I still don't eat enough vegetables, especially greens, I still eat way too many carbs and we still have fish and chips on a regular basis. I bake sugar-free recipes weekly and will usually have some sort of  home-made sugar-free treats such as biscuits, muffins or cake in the house.  Whilst on the confession couch I also ate some Cadbury mini Crème eggs at Easter (pre-quitting I would have eaten a dozen full size ones!), I have had the occasional Magnum ice cream (for some reason ice cream is one of the only things I have craved- I think maybe because its hard to replicate sugar-free) and I often eat sea salt chips after dinner.
I have also put on about 3 kilos in the last four months and can't remember the last time I exercised. (Yep, I'm putting it all out there!). Honestly it is possible to be sugar-free and put weight on.  If you aren't feeding your body enough nourishing and nurturing clean foods then you are still going to be hungry and you are going to crave more carbs. Although you do not have to cut out carbs to be sugar-free, I really do believe that limiting carbs and eating the right ones does help to keep your sugar-levels in check and stop you from craving the sweet stuff.
 
What I can say though is in a year I have not bought one thing from the chocolate aisle at the supermarket (the eggs were a nasty gift from my evil sugar-addict parents ;) and technically the Magnum ice cream is from the freezer section!). I read every label on the food I buy and avoid sugar and seed oils as much as possible. I mostly bake with healthier alternatives to processed white flour and attempt to sneak in vegetables or superfoods in most things I bake. I have not baked anything with sugar in over 12 months, including all our extended family's celebration cakes.
Confessions and 'lapses' aside I would NEVER, EVER go back to eating sugar. The initial benefits I gained from quitting sugar are still with me (you can read about that here and here). I really was addicted and it impacted not just my health and my emotions but also my relationships. It's funny sometimes to tell stories of satisfying cravings by going to the shops in your pajamas to buy some peanut M&Ms or eating a whole packet of chocolate freckles in one sitting. But the self-loathing you feel afterwards and the disappointed looks I would get from my non-addict husband were not so funny.

Looking back at my year without sugar I still feel so unbelievably proud of myself for quitting something that really has devastating effects on your health and well being. The lapses and ups and downs is what life is all about. If I thought I had to do it 'perfectly' I would have given up months ago. There is certainly room for improvement, that's for sure, but it can be done and I would still talk the ear off anyone who asks me about it. Actually I don't even get asked if I will do it forever anymore, its just part of who I am now. I don't feel deprived, I feel released from a vice that really did have control over me. I really am sugar-FREE!*
 
(*Apologies for this cheesy line- I couldn't help it!)

4 comments:

  1. This is really inspiring Nicole, and I too have given up sugar (for periods of my life, i.e. 6 months with no fruit, no alcohol, no honey, sauces etc) and although I am not completely sugar free, I limit my intake of sugar to special treats and find I don't often have cravings. I'm going to investigate the sugar-free baking a bit more, as I think it's so important to know what is in your food. You're biscuits look amazing!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! I think once the initial adjustment period is over and it becomes 'normal' it is easier, but I think like all things there are times when it can be easy to slip into old ways. I agree, now more than ever its so important to know exactly what we are all eating. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Hi Nicole
    I've been seeing so much about going sugar-free this past year and it always make me wonder if I could do it. To be honest with myself enough to pull it off scares me! But health reasons are making me think it's the way to go. I'm off to check out your other articles and see what books or blogs you suggest to help.
    Thanks for your honesty.

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    1. Hi Debra, thanks so much for your comment. I really cannot speak highly enough of the benefits of quitting sugar. I too was so scared at the start, but seriously although it was the 'scariest' diet I have embarked on it was remarkably the easiest! I have never stuck to a diet for this long and I think that speaks volumes! I read most of David Gillespie's books, 'Sweet Poison', 'Big Fat Lies' and 'Toxic Oil', they can be a bit full on but does give you all the research. Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar' and 'I Quit Sugar for life' books are great and to be honest the ones I followed the most. Her approach is a lot more down to earth and easy to understand. Basically I get me hands on any articles or updates I can regarding the benefits and research on quitting sugar. For recipes I google a lot! Because I love to bake I basically love to experiment with converting normal recipes to sugar free but to get started David Gillespie's Sweet Poison cookbook and Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar for life have the best recipes. Blogs like 'Sugar Free Mum', 'Sugar Free Kids' also have great recipes! Good luck, I would honestly say give it a go!

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Thanks for your comments!