Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Quitting sugar - my journey

Now if anyone was a sugarholic it was definitely me!  I consumed sugar, specifically chocolate, on a daily basis, often more than once a day.  It was my way to relax, how I rewarded myself, the pick me up I craved after having an off day, especially during pregnancy.  But now I know what I do I can say I won't be converting back to my old sugar consumption habits.

What made me want to find out more?
I had seen info about quitting sugar here and there, but it wasn't until one night a couple of months ago when I was reading one of my favourite blogs Flair To Remember and the post on quitting sugar when I was home sick on the couch, that it seemed to intrigue me.

I decided to take the bloggers advice and watch the YouTube video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", a lecture presented by Dr Robert Lustig.  You can watch the video here, it goes for an hour and a half but it's definitely worth it!  Dr Lustig goes into detail about sugar (specifically fructose - sugar in it's purest form), how our body processes it and the effect it has on the human body.  I was completely shocked and horrified to find out just how bad fructose is! 

The main facts (or shocking points!) I got from watching this video were;
  • fructose is a carbohydrate 
  • fructose is metabolised like fat
  • fructose is a toxin
  • consuming large amounts of fructose regularly can lead to many diseases including heart disease and there are also links to cancer
  • fructose can only be processed by the liver, making it worse for our bodies than alcohol (which has a percentage that is processed by other areas of the body)
I must admit I was skeptical before watching "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", but the facts are there and I found them so shocking that it really made me think twice about what I am putting into my body.

So then I went out and bought "The Sweet Poison Quit Plan" by David Gillespie (I found the cheapest place to buy it was at Big W).  This book summarises the effects of fructose on the human body.  It goes into detail about how the author David tried pretty much every diet around to lose weight and it was only when he quit sugar that the weight started to drop.  He has done alot of research behind this & the book details his discoveries.
The book also goes through products found in the Australian supermarkets and the sugar content of some of the most popular/well known ones, it also shows which products in each category are best to have if you are aiming to eliminate fructose from your diet.  In reading this section I was again gobsmacked at the amount of sugar contained in some of the products I frequently consumed.

Some foods containing high levels of sugar that I was never aware of include;
  • tomato sauce - some brands have over 50% sugar
  • bbq sauce - can be up to 75% sugar
  • breakfast cereals
  • muesli bars
  • dried fruit contains lots of sugar and not much goodness as all the bulk of the fruit is lost when the fruit is dried
  • low-fat products (what the products lack in fat they make up for in sugar)

I have also learnt that swapping sugared drinks for "no sugar" drinks can actually be worse for you as the "sugar" is replaced with artificial sweeteners that can actually be worse for you than fructose itself.

Quitting sugar - my changes
Being pregnant I was a bit wary of completely cutting out sugar - I didn't want to make any massive changes that might freak my body & the baby out, plus I also have a major sweet tooth so some days I still like to have a bit of a treat!  So the last couple of months I have been making more conscious decisions about what I eat and what may contain sugar.  

Some of the changes I have made are;
  • swapping my regular breakfast cereal from cheerio's/special k (which I have discovered are around 20% sugar) to vita-brits (which contain less than 1% sugar), I will be having porridge as the weather gets cooler too
  • swapping my morning/arvo snacks from muffins/chocolate to nuts (almonds) and yoghurt with fresh strawberries mixed in
  • cutting out soft drink/juices/energy drinks and replacing with water - and let me tell you I feel so much better for just doing this step alone!

After a couple of months of alternating between no-sugar consumption days and sugar consumption days, I have decided not to completely eliminate sugar from my diet.  
I still enjoy a treat every now & then, but the difference is now I am much more aware of the content of that treat & the effects it has on my body.  And I am definitely consuming much less sugar than before which has to be good for me!
I feel very empowered by taking the time for myself and my body to learn about fructose and the impact it has.  Being aware of it and dramatically cutting down my sugar consumption has made a difference in me and I really feel so much better, I have more energy too! 

Have you thought about quitting/cutting down sugar?  
If you haven't considered it before I would strongly suggest giving it a crack, or at least take the time for yourself to read a bit about it and then see what you think.  

My recommendations;
  • watch the lecture by Dr Lustig "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"
  • read "The Sweet Poison Quit Plan" by David Gillespie
  • check out the Sweet Poison facebook page for more information
  • Sarah Wilson has a wonderful blog, she has also written an I Quit Sugar e-book you can buy online
  • Make Bliss Happen is a fantastic blog which has a section on quitting sugar, as well as recipe ideas and other organic lifestyle changes

I would love to hear your stories on any diet changes that have changed your life!

Hope you're all having a fabulous day :)

Donna x