How to Quit Sugar

posted on: Friday, 23 August 2013

Little old sugar 

Last year I gave up sugar. I had never thought about it or considered it before, I got the idea from reading Sarah Wilson's blog about how she gave up herself. Getting into it, I also read David Gillespie's Sweet Poison. I defy anyone who reads these not to be terrified. It threw a light on my supposedly healthy eating habits. Many of the things I habitually bought at the supermarket were sugar-filled and I was none the wiser. I'm talking about low-fat yoghurt, fruit juice, jam, sauce.

Perplexingly, giving up sugar is the one thing that I have not been able to persuade any of my friends or family to try. I have never been met with so much resistance.  'It's too hard.' 'I love my sweets.' People said to me. 'Everything in moderation.' That one was said by a family member who I saw exercising great moderation this week while buying a four pack of peppermint Aero because it was on sale.

To be truthful, at times it is hard and I have fallen of the wagon a number of times.  It's because, even though I know and agree with the anti-sugar theory, it's not easy to break habits formed over 20 years. But while I have not been perfect, I do keep moving in the right direction. And, actually, it's really not that hard to let new habits emerge. 

For those contemplating quitting or significantly reducing their sugar intake, here are some of the easiest swaps I have made. I used to eat 3+ pieces of fruit per day - now I'll have one a day or every second day. I stick to blueberries or strawberries and steer clear of high fructose fruits like bananas, pineapple and grapes. 

I've swapped low-fat yoghurt (which has been stripped of fat but injected with spoonfuls of additional sugar to make it palatable) for Baramabah Organic yoghurt or greek yoghurt. Anything around 5g sugar per 100g is what I look for. I don't drink any fruit juice. I've swapped jam for vegemite or peanut butter. Cocktails are now benched in favour of red wine, or vodka, lime and soda. 

But the best thing I did wasn't food related, but a habit change. I started saying no to all the cupcakes, morning teas, cakes and lollies offered to me at work. I thought it would be hard, that I would be missing out, that I would offend people. But nothing else has eliminated more excess sugar from my day. 

I've also sought out others doing the same thing. Sarah Wilson has an e-book about her experience along with a sugar-free recipe book. She is also starting an 8-week I Quit Sugar course online. I also  joined a facebook group of others who have quit sugar.  I re-read David Gillespie's books and Michael Pollan's Food Rules. His mantra: eat real food, mostly plants, not too much. His suggestions are simple and sensible: Don't eat things your grandparents wouldn't recognise as food and Don't fuel your body where you fuel your car.

 Nick Crocker recently said: 'If you said to me, go and design a Diabetes store, I would just take you to the supermarket.' Quitting or not quitting is a personal thing, but I found that the more educated I become the more I absolutely agree.

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