My sugar free experiment- Jan 2016 – Jan ‘17
Firstly, it’s important that you understand that this blog is based on my opinions. These beliefs are based upon my personal experiences, observations and study as a nutritionist. I believe nothing in life is fact; just opinions which each individual forms through out their lives. I hope you will take from this what you want; don’t take my word for it, challenge, question and do your own research. This is very important as everyone is different. Our personal bodies (including our specific gut bacteria, metabolic type and insulin resistance), lifestyles and mindsets mean we all have a unique relationship with food.
O.K, this is my story; take what you wish….
This experiment really began over 3 years ago when my boyfriend heard an interview about John Yudkin on radio 4. John wrote the book ‘Pure White and Deadly’ back in 1972, when he was miles ahead of the times but many now believe his work was hidden and undermined by large sugar companies. Previous to this discovery I knew sugar was a bit naughty but I didn’t care; I loved it and was a proud chocaholic! However, the more I read and understood the more I began to care and realize it wasn’t just this one guy’s opinion! When I found out that refined sugar was connected to chronic diseases and actually fed cancer cells I started to feel quite strongly about it. My mum is fighting a chronic cancer and if there was anything I could do to help I had to learn about it. So I spent a year studying to be a nutritionist and continue reading everything I can get my hands on to understand more to this day.
I had spent years of dabbling with reducing my sugar intake, but still falling short of my addiction I knew I had to try something more drastic! As many of you have gathered (through my awful smugness and often moaning) I set my self the challenge to cut refined sugar out from my diet on Jan 1st 2016 with the aim to beat my addiction and prove it was possible to go a year without the sweet stuff! I can honestly say to you a year later, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Now I’m not going to lie to you, (other than going completely cold turkey for the first 8 weeks) I had backups and a few cheats which made this year manageable and enjoyable. My aim was not to suffer, but to find a way of harmoniously living without the huge amount refined sugar that is found in nearly every manufactured food these days!! I had plenty of sugars though. Pretty much anything ending is ‘ose’ is a sugar, (sucrose, fructose, lactose, glucose) which naturally occur in fruit, dairy, nuts, pulses and many vegetables. As a chocoholic my real saviour was an occasional few squares of 85% organic Green & Blacks. On a few special occasions I broke and enjoyed a homemade pudding (partially to not offend the chef!) but every other pudding I ate was homemade with natural sugars, for example dates.
So you might be thinking, “You didn’t cut out sugar at all! This experiment is not a fair test”….Well you may be right, but I’ve probably eaten less than a week’s worth (of my old diet) in a whole year and that’s a good enough test for me!
One of the greatest things about this year is that my appestat (hunger control center in the brain) seems to have changed. I no longer crave sweet, refined foods and I don’t snack between meals or eat the empty calories that I used to. Not only is it a huge relief to no longer have hunger pangs and cravings but I have been able to maintain my ideal climbing weight effortlessly.
So the best thing is, I didn’t suffer. I enjoyed sweet treats but just not in a refined, packaged, full of loads of other crap way! This has been the significant thing for me; not eating the addictive, packaged treats that I used to crave and over indulge in. There is only a certain amount of ‘real’ ‘whole’ food your body can eat before it is content and full. It’s the highly refined artificial foods that have the addictive properties we can’t stop eating-, ‘Once you pop you can’t stop’! Hence why when I set up my nutrtion company I called it ‘Be REAL Nutrition’.
I can think of so many occasions this year when chocolate/ biscuits/ sweets have been offered or are readily available and the ‘old me’ would have been battling between working out how much I could get my hands on vs. how to stop eating so much because I look like a pig and am beginning to feel sick! But with this goal, knowledge and mind set in place it was easy not having the option. I just didn’t start eating them so I didn’t have to try and stop! I have not missed that over-full sugar sick feeling that I had on an almost daily basis, plus the guilt that followed and the desire to exercise until I felt I had burned it off! It was exhausting and not good for me!
I believe that a lot of people have a sugar addiction. I know I did and probably still do to a certain extent but I’ve decided that I don’t want it controlling my life any more. Some of my friends feel the same about alcohol or cigarettes; for me its sugar and for many its refined carbohydrates (which are really just sugar anyway). A lot of you who don’t have a sweet tooth, who can take it or leave it, may laugh at this blog and think I’m being melodramatic but I believe if we are honest, many of us struggle more than we like to admit with controlling our eating habits. It’s a taboo that we don’t like to talk about and make light of it but over eating ‘bad foods’ is contributing to chronic diseases in a similar way to other drugs including alcohol and cigarettes, not to mention type 2 diabetes and heart attacks. I have seen with my own eyes type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure reversed by reducing sugar in the diet.
So in conclusion, my aim of this blog was not to preach. I just want to share my experience with you all and talk openly about a taboo I feel we laugh about and justify because we associate sugar and fast food with treats, rewards, happiness, special occasions….but that really is what they should be for; an occasional treat! A slice of cake on your birthday, some chocolate at Easter and some Christmas cake at Christmas…Not a chocolate bar and fizzy drink for a midafternoon snack most days of the week! That’s when sugar becomes dangerous; it’s integrated into our daily lives to a scary extent now. It’s found in savory foods like pasta sauces, baked beans, mayonnaise, even most breads not to mention the foods we know are sweet!
I share this with you as I feel a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders this year. I now have the most consistently high energy levels I’ve ever had and I’m happy because I feel and look better inside and out! I feel particularly smug and passionate about this discovery because I have had so much fun this year and really enjoyed my food- those of you who know me know I bloody love food!!
So, I’m beginning the New Year with no intention of going back to my old ways- it’s no longer a sugar free year but a way of life.
If any of this rang true for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m so passionate about what I teach and practice, so I would love to help you feel the best you can feel too.
With love and best wishes for 2017,
It wasn’t all fruit and veg;
these sugar free banana soufflés
were one of many delicious
recipes we developed over the year.
The Banoffee Pie and Apple n Date
slices are my current favourite!