Quitting sugar? Cold turkey or just cutting back a little?
For me, cutting back on sugar began on April 10th 2012, and as my sister likes to remind me, it was the Easter Weekend. What great timing, what a great way to prove my resolve. You may think giving up sugar at a time when everyone is eating chocolate, talking about eating chocolate or talking about buying chocolate is complete madness, but it somehow seemed a perfect time.
If I was going to make it, if quitting sugar was going to be my new normal, then I needed to get through times just like this, all the time. I didn’t go it alone. I had my sister with me all the way, and we did it, and I’d just like to say we have remained sugar-free since that day and we are very proud of our accomplishment.
You are going to hear more and more about this topic and if you are considering quitting for yourself, you may find it easier than you thought and you will most certainly improve your skin and your overall health.
There comes a moment, a turning point.
At the time, there was a definite groundswell starting to bubble up around the topic of sugar. In some circles, it is not a new topic at all, but, sometimes all it takes is a few very determined individuals to get us all thinking and talking. I’d just heard a radio interview by the very clued up David Gillespie and so impressed was I, that I went on to buy his book, Sweet Poison.
Reading his book was a turning point.
David’s research is so well done and so impressive for someone with no scientific background on the subject. I was hooked. I’ve never been a big consumer of the sweet stuff, but still, the evidence against continued consumption of any kind was stacking up.
So, I decided to go cold turkey and give it up.
Unlike a lot of what I’d read about the perils of going cold turkey, other than the occasional birthday party cake, where saying no through gritted teeth was sometimes a sticky situation to be in, I didn’t find it difficult.
However, in those early days, what I did find genuinely incredible was the amount of hidden sugar in the foods we eat, and I’m not talking about the obvious stuff, like ice cream, packaged desserts, confectionery, processed foods and the like.
Sugar is added to almost everything!! There are not too many foods without added sugar, and unless your diet is entirely unpacked or unpackaged, (which is another goal of mine) there is sugar EVERYWHERE!!
Check your pantry cupboard or fridge right now. Yep. That innocent jar of crushed garlic? I bet it’s got sugar added. I know! Who knew? This new-found knowledge led me to something akin to an all-out boycott on foods with unnecessary sugar added. Not just because it was terrible for me, but I felt a certain sense of indignation that sugar was there at all. Why? For what purpose? Has our taste for the sweet stuff become so commonplace we do not even realise how much we are consuming. It appears so. It seems we barely notice it’s presence. I don’t like the idea of that.
I thought I was quitting sugar to lose weight.
If I’m honest, I gave up sugar as an attempt to lose weight, which in hindsight is not the best reason to give up the stuff, but still, it was one of my motivators. The other huge reason was a history of Diabetes in my family, something I want to avoid at all costs and watching my darling mother suffer the consequences of Diabetes for the last 20 years of her life was enough for me to take stock of my health. Of course, there is more to avoiding Diabetes than just giving up sugar; you need to exercise, cut back on refined carbs, minimise processed foods (laden with sugar) and keep your fat intake at a healthy level.
Of course, like all ground swells, there is a debate that begins to rage. Everyone has a point of view. Some say everything in moderation, while others recommend avoiding all sugars, including fruits with fructose, or school canteens should ban it. Others would like it banned altogether and on it goes. Debating a topic like this is good; it’s the beginning of change and judging by the statistics on diseases like Obesity and Diabetes? Change is essential.
Moderation, moderation, everything in moderation!!
So what to do? Do you give up all sugar, including the natural sugar known as fructose found in cane sugar, all fruits and some vegetables? Go cold turkey as my sister, and I did, or do you sit somewhere in the land of “moderation”? Either way, the most important thing is reducing the amount of sugar to a level that does not cause you unnecessary health problems. But I will say this if you choose moderation, it leaves room for error. Or, it’s open to your chosen interpretation depending on the occasion and when given a chance especially when you are trying to lose weight, that “open to interpretation everything in moderation clause” can bring you unstuck in your resolve. You see, if you give up all sugars not just the obvious sugar-laden foods, then it makes dieting more manageable, you can just say “no thanks, I don’t eat sugar” It’s incredibly empowering. Try it.
You might be thinking, “moderation is fine, Julie. I don’t eat much sugar”, and you probably don’t. But its the sugar that’s hidden in the foods that you buy. Not so good. And those sodas with sugar added? Not so good either. They’re just going to turn to fat, and they are going to put you at much greater risk of excessive Glycation (sugar-coated cells) for one thing and Diabetes for another. Both of those things are going to age you.
So maybe quitting sugar is about moderation. Many experts will agree with this. But here’s the thing about moderation. It’s subjective. What’s moderate for you may be a complete blow out for someone else.
So, maybe quitting sugar is about moderation. Many experts will agree with this. But here’s the thing about moderation, it’s a bit like giving up smoking. However, you still have a cigarette occasionally (in moderation) in which case, you haven’t given up smoking, and the temptation is always going to be there because you are always telling your brain that you can still have a cigarette. That’s the way I see sugar.
So dieting (if that’s your motivator) kind of gets easier when you say “You know what? I just don’t eat sugar” and then it’s easy to say no to that cake, it’s easy to say no to that biscuit because sugar is just not in your world anymore. Hallelujah!
Now, this is the way I look at it and approach it. I don’t eat sugar (the white or the brown or the raw stuff), and I rarely eat sweet fruits like bananas or dried fruits like apricots or prunes; I keep them to a minimum and fruit juice is just a concentrated burst of fructose I don’t need.
Of course, I recommend a realistic approach, going cold turkey is not for everyone and quitting sugar doesn’t mean abandoning the sweeter things in life. Most of us choose to consume some fruit. Not just because it’s packed with Vitamin C; which is essential to life, but because it’s so wonderful to eat and wouldn’t life would be drab without a perfectly sweet strawberry, a bowl of gorgeous raspberries, or a handful of delightful blueberries? Nature provides and these fruits, especially berries, are at the top of the Antioxidants and Anthocyanin food chain; essential to your health. Eat them to your heart’s content as part of a well rounded, healthy diet.
I made a few mistakes in the beginning.
For me, quitting sugar has felt like the right thing to do, but I made a few mistakes in the beginning, like swapping sweet things for foods full of fat. So, while every article I read about giving up sugar told me the excess weight would drop away, I had quite the opposite experience, either I put on a few kilos, or nothing happened at all. So in my righteous pursuit of all things sugar-free, I forgot to look at all aspects of a healthy diet. Not so good, but now corrected. My fat intake is at a very healthy level, and I avoid processed and packaged foods, and to my delight, the weight has dropped away.
For me, quitting sugar has felt like the right thing to do, but I made a few mistakes in the beginning, like swapping sweet things for foods full of fat.
In the beginning, you may find, as I did seeking out sweet alternatives. There are some great cookbooks available, David Gillespie has recently published a cookbook, and the other inspiring trailblazer in the quitting sugar crusade is Sarah Wilson, she has some great recipes in her collection of cookbooks. Click here to visit I Quit Sugar. It’s worth looking out for if you want to quit while still enjoying the sweeter things.
Are you looking for sweet alternatives or just a bit more motivation?
If you’re considering quitting sugar then do the research, it’ll help with your determination and success and as I mentioned, losing weight is just one reason for giving up sugar. There are so many health benefits, including improving the health of your skin. I can’t recommend David Gillespie’s books highly enough. It’s a great starting point, especially if you love the science behind the impact of sugar on your body. Or, if you want to get started and need a bit of motivation, then Sarah Wilson’s books will be essential reading for you.
If you choose to give up sugar, then I wish your tremendous success, and I would love to hear from you, or if you’ve got a question, you can shoot me an email here.
See you next time,