It’s hard to believe that over a week’s flown by since I devoured a chocolate cookie, cooked an apple pie in the oven, or had beans on toast. Over a week since I quit sugar.
Having hit the 7 or 8 week mark for quitting alcohol, and realising that sugar was doing me no good either, I thought, why not? If I’ve quit alcohol, why can’t I get rid of one more negative thing I was putting into my body on a regular basis? I was also fed up with going to work and constantly feeling like I was starving and on the verge of fainting. Dizziness, severe fatigue, constantly needing to pee, constantly feeling dehydrated, constant hunger…
Realising that these symptoms are warning flags of diabetes or pre-diabetes, I became suspicious of the cookies I was scoffing every lunch, and the granola I was consuming every breakfast.
There was no way around it, sugar had to go.
How I quit
The day I made my decision I removed all of my sugary snacks from the cupboards and binned what remained (which wasn’t much). Of course, I left my family’s snacks well-alone. Even though I would still be greeted by the sight of cakes and biscuits belonging to my husband or kids, that wouldn’t bother me anyway because I’m gluten intolerant and can’t have the normal versions they eat.
As I went through the cereal cupboard I was stunned and disappointed to discover my favourite gluten-free organic Mesa Sunrise cereal was packed with more sugar than I realised, despite not tasting sweet. Cane sugar was its second listed ingredient. However, rather than throw it out and waste food, I let my husband have it instead.
In one fell swoop I cut out:
- Sweets, cakes, biscuits, and ice cream
- White rice
- White pasta
- Anything ultra-processed or which converts to sugar quickly in the body
I cut back on regular potatoes and swapped for baked sweet potatoes where I could (delicious by the way!). I also swapped white rice and pasta for the brown varieties. Since I’m gluten intolerant, I found it much harder to find brown free-from pasta, but eventually I discovered some in my local Waitrose.
In place of the junk, I loaded my stash with gluten-free oat cakes (they’re not actually a cake but more like a savoury biscuit you can load with any topping you fancy), almond butter spread, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and sweet fruits such as persimmon and pears. When I had soup in the week, instead of dipping a supermarket variety, additive-laden bread into it, I lightly cooked some broccoli instead. Not only was this delicious because it absorbed some of the soup, but it added a fresh taste and lighter feeling to the lunch.
For puddings I’l have a tablespoon or two of full-fat greek yoghurt spooned over persimmon, pear, or banana, and sprinkled with cinnamon. I have full fat varieties of dairy because anything marketed as low-fat is usually loaded with sweeteners or other additives in it’s place to make it still taste good. There’s also evidence that sweeteners are even worse for you than sugar and they drive excess consumption of ultra-processed and sweet foods.
I know that some people cut out certain fruits on a no sugar diet, but I find they’re vital in helping me to cope with the sugar cravings, as well as being full of nutritional value. I also found they don’t seem to cause any negative effects in regard to how I feel through the day.
Withdrawal and Benefits
Has it been hard? My God, yes it has! The first few days I came down with a headache which felt like a white hot volcano being suppressed by a huge boulder. My sugar cravings went through the roof, into the stratosphere, and into another dimension. Walking to work the day after quitting sugar, I felt like my feet had huge anvils attached to them while my head felt like a bag of rocks.
By day 3 I started to feel much better, and you know what? Over the entire week my energy levels stayed stable. There were no dizzy spells or severe fatigue that made me feel faint. I’ve also found I can keep going for much longer and that my head feels even clearer.
I do have ME, so I’ll always have to manage the fatigue from that, but it’s much less severe than it used to be. The last thing I needed was a diagnosis of diabetes or to keep feeling faint and hungry through my work days. I was also horrified to discover that sugar causes the skin to age much faster as it stiffens collagen and affects just about every other vital process in the body.
Sugar also weakens the immune system, as well as raising the risk for metabollic syndrome. Not to mention the erosion of your pearly whites.
Now, when I go out for a meal, I will eat a gluten-free sandwich or a normal baked potato if that’s the only thing available to me, and I’ve got no problem eating what other people cook for me (as long as it’s gluten free or I’ll be extremely poorly). And I’ll definitely have some cake on my birthday and Christmas!
The issue is, I was eating high GI foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus sugary treats every single day. Even in small amounts, this stuff isn’t good for the body.
My aim is to reset my palette and reverse the damage I’m certain has been done by my diet over the years before I partake in the odd indulgence on special occasions. Alcohol is still out of the question and will remain out of my life as I’ve experienced too many benefits to reintroduce what is essentially a poison.
As my sugar-free diet continues, I will update my journey on this blog, and you’re also welcome to ask me any questions in the comments or via email.
If you went sugar-free yourself, I’d also love to hear from you.