sugar, it’s alright, I’m just checking in

It’s been a very long time since we’ve talked sugar, so I thought it might be nice to revisit and see how everyone’s doing... if you joined me last year in quitting sugar, how’s it been? If you’re still thinking about it, maybe now is as good a time as any?

via activehandsyoga

Me? I’m pleased to say I quit sugar a year ago and have stayed off the stuff since then. That’s not to say I haven’t indulged in a bit of quality chocolate from time to time, or haven’t had a slice of my niece’s birthday cake. But by and large, sugar is not a big part of my life (and believe me, it once weighed heavily).

If you’ve never considered quitting sugar, or you’re still weighing it all up, start here with part 1 of my series:

  • part 2 is about how sugar makes us fat and sick.
  • part 3 gives the low-down on fructose. 
  • if you’re tinkering on the edge, you might find this handy. 
  • for my best tips on quitting, read here
  • or try Sarah Wilson’s step-by-step 8-week program, here.

If you're questioning how much sugar you really eat, this might help.

Some of my favourite sugar-free treats to try:

Ricotta with lavender, coconut and raspberry
Raw chocolate balls and a special tea for cravings
5 sugar free treats
Tahini honey almond balls
2 sugar free treats
Home made chocolate

And here’s 5 things to do with sugar that don’t involve eating it.

A little note of kindness (as in, kindness to yourself): quitting sugar isn't about avoiding everything sweet for life. It’s about becoming aware of how much sugar you are gobbling down (hidden or otherwise - quitting sugar helps you cut out a lot of crap), making a decision about whether you’re comfortable with that, and, if not, breaking free of the addiction so you can control how much sugar you want to include in your life. It’s also about embracing healthier sweeteners, like rice malt syrup, stevia and honey (yes, honey).

For some, being sugar-free becomes an obsessive and anxiety-ridden quest of avoidance. Me, I hate strict rules. Personally, it’s important I avoid sugar on a day to day basis, because this way I can avoid the nuisance hypo issues I was previously experiencing. But from time to time, when a dessert of extraordinary culinary exquisiteness appears in front of me, I don’t always say no. I know I can have a slice of brownie without wanting to polish off the rest of the tray then and there.*

*To be honest, 9 times out of 10, I don’t actually feel like eating sugar, and if I do, I generally find it, well, too sweet. But on the odd occasion, you know. 

Another little note of kindness:  being mindful and healthy is a wonderful thing, but when you find yourself battling with anxiety over it, it’s okay to take a side-step. It’s okay to dance a little with the issue, because this is how you come to a harmonious balance.

I’d love to hear how you’re going with living a sugar-free life. Have you gone all out, or found that harmonious balance? And if you’re still toying with the idea, but not yet committed to it, please feel free to ask any questions below!


19 comments:

  1. I'd love to know how to quit sugar with allergies. I'm allergic to dairy, soy, eggs and nuts. I do eat butter though.

    I'm not addicted to sugar but would like to cut it out more.

    Any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mrs B... yep that does sound a bit tricky, but not impossible! Cutting out refined sugar from your diet automatically cuts out a fair whack of other ingredients that aren't good for us, like refined flour etc. As Sarah suggests below, if you can include loads of veggies and quality proteins in your diet then you're on the right track. Where do you get your sugar from at the moment? It's hard to make suggestions without knowing that, but perhaps it's a case of substituting refined sugars for healthier sweeteners like rice syrup, raw honey, stevia (you can use the leaves of the stevia plant- the real thing), even unrefined maple syrup.

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  2. I quit sugar about a year ago too, and same as you I will eat it on a special occasion. I was a complete chocaholic and sugar addict, but since quitting I don't feel that I need it at all. I make desserts using rice syrup, raw cacao, coconut, etc and they hit the spot. I also find that the organic full fats and the glucose foods I eat stop me from needing to eat more than a small portion because they don't have that super-addictive quality of fructose. My skin and hair look much better but I didn't lose any weight which I thought was surprising till I found out I have hypothyroidism which is my latest hurdle.

    Mrs B: I am intolerant to wheat, salicilates, amines, MSG, preservatives, colours soy and fructose. Cutting out sugar was the easiest thing that I have had to cut out because there isn't really any fructose-ladden food that we need to eat. I have to be super careful how much I eat of certain things, but it looks like you can eat vegies, grains, meats, etc? Just give it a go. if you are feeling like you'll miss out on too many things you like by cutting fructose, just try the safe substitutes. I use rice syrup ( I have heard that rice syrup may have arsenic from the soil, but from the research I have done and the feedback from companies, I am satisfied that it is perfectly safe in Australia) and glucose powder to sweeten (some people use stevia but I don't trust it) and I love to use berries.

    Hope that helps! I feel your pain with such a restricted diet!

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    Replies
    1. Great news Sarah, I can tell you my skin improved dramatically also! Can I ask why you don't trust stevia?

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    2. It's just a niggle I have after researching it and reading David Gillespie's 'Sweet Poison'. To me it's like other sweeteners, although it is a plant, no one has used it long or often enough to know if it has any ill effects on the body. I have a super-sensitive digestive system and I just have a gut feeling that I shouldn't consume it.
      It's not hard because I hate the taste anyway, it's like metal. I feel comfortable with organic rice syrup and glucose powder.

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    3. Gut feelings are usually spot on, so good your going with it! Thanks for explaining, I was just curious because I haven't heard much feedback about it. Cheers

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  3. I am on week four of Sarah's eight week plan and I feel so good! Probably eating too much cheese and going back to full cream milk does fill me up. I thought I would lose more weight, it is coming off very slowly, I'm 49 and

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  4. Sorry, my computer went funny.. I think I'm perimenopausal so maybe that isn't helping

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    Replies
    1. Hi Justine, I didn't lose any weight either to be honest (I was less puffy, but no real weight loss), mainly because my diet was pretty low in processed fatty foods to begin with. Ha ha, I also went through a period of eating probably too much cheese etc... you do settle down in the end. So glad you're feeling so good!!

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  6. It's so good to read about other people's experience with this! I quit sugar the day after Easter (I'm not sure what goes down in Australia, but here in the states many people celebrate with tons and tons of candy that come to kids in baskets hidden around the house). I had a big going-out bash and then went cold turkey the next day, and cut out everything sweet like Maria suggested. It was so hard to not eat bananas but now they taste as sweet as candy, as do certain apples!

    Basically, I am very happy with this food lifestyle change. I worked in a school last year and we had a huge culture of candy - it's great to get rebellious kids to do what you want. But I had headachy cravings literally every hour, and I felt so unhealthy and unhappy about my addiction. Quitting cold turkey was hard (withdrawal, literally!) but so so worth it. I bake a lot with honey now, and have found chocolate sweetened with birch (http://roxchox.blogspot.com/) that hits the spot for a chocolate craving. I recently found stevia-sweetened chocolate but don't really like it that much. I know it's a healthy alternative, but it's intense sweetness is a bit too much for me.

    Overall, it's been great, and I'm so grateful for Maria for posting so much solid information and tips to quit. (chai tea during a craving is one of the best, I think). People are generally really interested in why I don't eat sugar, and I pass the link to econest on fairly frequently. Thank you Maria!

    Eva

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of birch as a sweetener, I haven't seen it here in Australia. Interesting, is it much like maple syrup? Thanks so much for your kind words, I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog and are feeling so much better for quitting sugar. It was a big life changer for me too.

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  7. Hi, I enjoy reading your blogs Maria and I wanted to share with everyone a good combination of herbs in a tea that helps satisfy my cravings for sugar. The combination of liquorice root, fennel seeds and mint creates this amazing sweet sensation in your mouth, but also has nourishing effect on my gut (this is a plus for me). There's plenty of information on the benefits of these herbs on the internet. As with any intake of herbs read information on side effects and if you have a particular condition to consult with a doctor or alternative practitioner before ingestion. Happy tea drinking!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Monika, that tea combo sounds delicious, thanks for sharing!

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  8. Hi, Thanks for a great blog, I've only been following for a few weeks, but I just read most of your links above - great information. I have been cutting way back on sugar, for me and my 2 young girls (7 & 4), over the last several months. But on the first Tuesday in October, after my birthday weekend splurge, I started a strict Paleo diet to try to get all my unhealthy cravings under control. So today is day 11 and I think I am already pretty much cured of my sugar addiction. Yesterday I was at a very lavish morning tea with an enormous table laden with every delectable sweet treat you could imagine and I wasn't tempted at all. And it didn't require vast amounts of willpower - which was the real blessing (and surprise). Previously I would not have been able to stop myself from having at least 5 items at such a spread. Last weekend at a kids birthday party both my girls took one bite of the birthday cake and handed their plates to me saying "it's too sweet Mum". (Yay!!!!) So hopefully I am setting them up to avoid the sugar addiction that has been so difficult for me. Oh, and on the weight thing - I have lost 2kg in 11 days, and I am never hungry. Just eating good quality meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and a tiny bit of fruit added back in the last few days - I had no fruit for the first 7 days. I'll admit, for the first week I felt extremely ordinary. But I have started to pick up again, so I am keen to stick with it strictly for 30 days, then start allowing the occasional treat back in. Looking forward to exploring your blog further now. Thanks again. Regards, Carolyn

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    1. "Last weekend at a kids birthday party both my girls took one bite of the birthday cake and handed their plates to me saying "it's too sweet Mum". (Yay!!!!)" - oh my, what an amazing thing! I love that! Congratulations for what you're doing for your kids Carolyn, wish more parents did that!

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