Five weeks ago, I quit sugar - using the cannily named 'I Quit Sugar' programme by Sarah Wilson. I had reached a stage where my I was going out of my mind craving iced coffee drinks, eating larger and larger portions and topping them off with a sweet fix. Normally I'm not even a sweet-tooth. I think I've said before that I would happily give up chocolate if I could eat bread and chippies for the rest of my life and not gain a gram. But recently, since Dear Boy really, I looked to chocolate and coffee as a comfort, as a concession, as a reward, as an energy fix, and sometimes as a punishment. I was on a one-a-day McDonalds coffee frappe habit. Admittedly, I'd get it without the cream and syrup but, that's a lot of coffee frappes. I could write an ode to the coffee frappe.
So I quit sugar.
Sugar here is not just the granulated stuff you spoon into your coffee but all the sweet stuff. ALL of it. No artificial sweeteners, no nothing. By sugar, what they really mean is fructose, which most anti-sugar devotees see as the devil's work, even the natural fruit version. A dried sultana? GET THEE BACK, DEMON! In the first few weeks of the programme, they don't even let you use the "good" sweeteners such as rice malt syrup or dextrose (glucose? whatever). Instead of all this sweet, sweet goodness, they replace it with fat. A LOT of fat. Full-fat milk and cheese and yoghurt. Butter. Nuts. And spoons full of coconut oil.
I feel like I've been single handedly supporting the coconut industries of several small south-east Asian countries over the last few weeks. Last week was detox week and suddenly it was the broccoli farmers getting a boost with broccoli in nearly every single meal.
Each week they give out lots of tips and tricks (a bacon lattice? Really? Can you just tell me why I'm not allowed to eat tinned tomatoes?), a few newsletters with links to the "science" of fructose and what our bodies do with it, and a few hints about which brands they prefer (*cough* sponsorship deal *cough*). They give out full meal plans and recipes, which is what I was really after - not having to think to hard about what I ate.
If you're interested in the programme - here's the good parts for me:
- I didn't have any physical withdrawal symptoms apart from one headache on the afternoon of the third day (others were not so lucky - this seems to be an individual thing depending on your sugar habits, I guess).
- seem to have broken the pack-(of chocolate)-a-day habit.
- I feel like we're eating reasonably healthy foods - whole, unprocessed foods.
- The programme is great for dealing with leftovers and building a stock of frozen meals and meal components to make life easier. The Sunday cookup has also been pretty handy.
- I no longer drink sugar in my coffee (if I remember to tell the baristas not to sprinkle the damn chocolate on it).
- I don't automatically reach for cupboard door when I'm bored or tired.
- My tastebuds have reset so anything with the barest hint of sugar in it tastes incredibly sweet.
- I haven't had to give up bread entirely; I've swtiched to sourdough bread (which apparently does good things to your blood sugar).
- Aldi's tempura chicken nuggets have dextrose and no other nasty sugars.
- Some of the fructose-free sweet options from week 6 onwards are yummy. Hello Raspberry Ripple - my first taste of the good life in five weeks.
- I feel a little holier-than-thou about sticking to the programme. Smugness is sometimes motivation to keep me going.
Here are the not-so-good parts:
- I am still dreaming about coffee frappes, although I'm concerned that, because my tastebuds are now super-sensitive to sugar, it might blow my head off if I had one.
- The programme seems to have been rushed out early. There are typos and grammar errors in the written material and bugs in the system and website navigation (the search function in the recipe archive is so stupidly useless it's laughable) - overall, the quality control hasn't been great. This might be better next time round.
- There have only been a handful meals that I would want to eat again after I finish the programme. I feel like I've been living in blandsville the last few weeks - even after dumping in salt and a crap-tonne of extra herbs and spices. Admittedly, the slow cooker is handy, but wet meat really isn't my favourite thing. We also don't eat fish, so that's been a bit of a pain.
- I haven't lost any weight on the programme itself. I am putting this down to the huge amount of fat in everything. Some people have done really well on a fructose-free diet. I am still struggling to attune myself to a full-fat lifestyle after years of living low-fat.
- I think the real reason I'm not snacking as much is that my snack options are so incredibly boring. I am so sick of nuts and coconut and, really, it's not terribly convenient to whip up a green smoothie when I'm feeling the need for something awesome. I don't want to eat a spoon full of coconut oil. I don't want to nosh down on a boiled egg.
- Nothing to drink but coffee, herbal tea, soda water and water. Water with lemon. Yay.
- Dear Boy hates the sound of the blender and calls it a 'scary dinosaur'.
- A lot of the products are either obscure and hard to find or expensive or both. I cannot get cacao products at the supermarket.
- I am so sick of broccoli.
- Quinoa has started to smell like broccoli.
So this will be a temporary thing for me. I'm going to eat fruit. I'm going to return to low-fat. I'm going to ditch the butter. I may go back and try a coffee frappe. Not today. Probably not tomorrow. But some day.
Have you tried a fructose free diet or gone paleo? How did you do?