I posted this on my old blog, but given that it was a popular post, and I’ve archived my old blog, I figured I’d re-post it here!
I’ve mentioned a few times that quitting sugar is the best thing I ever did. Sugar is just like cigarettes. The only thing smoking does is make you want the next cigarette and the only thing sugar does is make you want more sugar.
Quitting sugar sucks – just like quitting smoking sucks – but its worth it! The Whole9 (a program similar to the SSoS) have a post on what to expect doing their program and some of it describes the sugar withdrawal well – you can find it here.
I found that the first week was hideous. I also quit diet coke at the same time, so it may have been aspartame withdrawal in addition to the sugar withdrawal.
This picture generally sums up the first day.
I had a terrible headache, and was a cranky moo to anyone who dared talk to me. So I drank a load of water and took headache tablets. There are some who might disagree with this, but my head hurt and I only took the recommended dose, and found things to do that meant I could stay away from people I didn’t want to randomly yell at (namely my kids and husband lol).
It was only really a few days that were really bad. By the end of the week I was starting to cope better although the thought of toast or a big bowl of pasta was torturing me.
See the thing is its not just sugar. Yes that’s a big part, but you also have to look out for starches (potatoes, pasta, bread etc). I know there are many that say that these are to be included as part of a healthy balanced diet. However, from my personal experience, apart from the fact that I like to eat them, there is very little they offer that you cannot get from other foods. Given that in my experience (and many others) that they trigger cravings for more sugar and starch and generally increase my appetite I don’t see a reason to eat them. Yes they are good sources of fiber and vitamin b, but so are other foods.
Now don’t get me wrong. I loooooove pasta. I love bread (especially homemade dripping with honey and butter). I love muffins, and cakes and all the naughty things, but I also like the healthy whole grains. I love salad rolls, and chicken wraps. I like couscous and quinoa salads and brown rice! but…
I spent the last 10 years begging dieticians and doctors to tell me what was wrong with me. Why was it that I prepared a lovely dinner, say homemade spaghetti bolognese, with wholemeal pasta and a nice salad on the side. Yet 30 mins after eating it I was starving. Not ‘oh I’m a little peckish’ but ready to eat dinner all over again!! The same as I felt after eating my healthy whole grain cereal and skim milk for breakfast (pretty much the exact meal Carrie shows at the end of this video). I would eat breakfast at 7am like a normal person and wonder what the bleep was wrong with me and why the bleep I was standing in front of the fridge by 8am with my stomach rumbling!
I saw dieticians and doctors all over – in Sweden, Australia, England and Canada. The same answer, eat smaller meals less often, eat more healthy whole grains – nothing helped. I even asked for pills to suppress my appetite and at one point asked for a brain scan to check for a tumor that must be growing on my lateral hypothalamus – the doctor looked at me like I was the biggest hypochondriac he had ever met – but I was getting desperate!
I know giving up sugar and pasta and all the good stuff is hard. But being hungry is harder. You can’t stick to a diet if you are starving all the time. If you struggle with excessive hunger, or trouble sticking to your diet, I highly recommend trying this. It may feel like you have nothing left to eat (because every packet of food you pick up has heaps of sugar in it) but there is loads of inspiration online (search LCHF, paleo or the fabulous Carrie Brown).
There is other great stuff about not eating sugar or starch, even apart from the fact that I don’t have those annoying cravings and desperate hunger anymore.
The biggest for me is the fact that I don’t have to look my daughter in the face and lie about why there is no more icecream. I don’t have a problem with kids eating a little of these goodies. I think their metabolisms can handle a little bit and I am confident my kids know the difference between healthy foods and sometimes foods. That said, each time my daughter has asked how a big tub of icecream can vanish in one night I’ve wanted to crawl under the floorboards in shame. The icecream we have had in the freezer for the last month is still there, the kids get a scoop on saturday night after dinner, knowing its a treat, and I don’t feel like the worlds worst mum in the world for scoffing her kids treats in the dead of night.
Its the same with the other little treats they have. Its rare, but they get them. Not ones packed with colours and flavours, but there are grains in them. I just don’t
steal eat them anymore.
I have replaced sweet stuff with things that I never thought I would eat (this in particular) and I actually enjoy them. The improvement in taste is actually more profound than when I stopped smoking.
I’m also less grumpy. I argue less because I can think more clearly and I don’t get hangry anymore either!
I sleep better. There is a lot of science that discusses the relationship between body composition and sleep – Before I quit sugar I would be starving in the evening. I would either give in and stuff my face. Or go to bed and lie awake thinking about how hungry I was. Internally yelling at myself for being so pathetic for wanting to quit yet another diet after 12 hours.
There are a bunch of scientific reasons to quit sugar – and you can study it to your hearts content, all the while telling yourself that you can’t live without something (pasta, rice, bread, whatever). In my opinion, the easiest way is to test it. Honestly test it. Not just a little, or for a few days. Give it a solid month at least. Take it ALL out of your diet, suffer the withdrawal (and see how addicted you really were). Don’t replace it with fake stuff either (birch bark xylitol and stevia are apparently ok – but some people get an upset belly from that) – just let your body show you how good real food tastes!! What’s the worst that can happen?
If you’re brave enough, let me know how you go!! and if you need any help or encouragement let me know!