The sugar-free me!

8 week detox - the sugar free me!
8 week detox – the sugar free me!

So here I am stepping bravely back into the blogosphere after a long break; my ‘Home Grown Babies‘ days are now over and I’m inviting you to come hang out at ‘Leah’s Place’; it’s all a bit new and I haven’t had time to decorate but bear with me and I’ll put the kettle on!

I’m launching straight into a ‘foodie’ post about my most recent project that anyone who follows me on Instagram will have been inundated with for the past 8 weeks. As of today I am proud to announce that I QUIT SUGAR!

…if you’re still with me I’ll explain; I’ve been stalking following Sarah Wilson on social media for a good 18 months; she’s a gorgeous Australian media personality with a background in journalism and health who decided to quit sugar for 8 weeks and then write about it, which became a book, which became a ‘movement’ I guess. After talking about ‘quitting’ for a while my lovely hubby bought me a copy of the book after it was launched here in the UK.

Now I have a weight food health story, and indeed a journey which I’ll save for another day but I knew I was addicted to sugar and it wasn’t enhancing or advancing my life at all – so here we go, let’s do something about it!

Introducing, I Quit Sugar: The Review

 

I Quit Sugar - Sarah Wilson
I Quit Sugar – Sarah Wilson

 

The Book

I found the book easy to read; Sarah’s relaxed style convinces you that you’re fully capable of ‘crowding out’ the bad with the good and that we’re able to make these lifestyle changes and choices that will affect our health and wellness forever. There are very short chapters outlining each week, I think I wanted a bit more in those chapters – you know like when you’re pregnant and read a ‘bit’ about what’s happening to you and your baby every week; I wanted a bit more ‘science’ to attach to my withdrawal symptoms, but there again she’s not a scientist!

She has great tips and hints for managing life without sugar, helpful info on store cupboard essentials and how to best utilise what you have (she’s all about sustainability which I love!). The recipes are great (I’ll list which ones I tried at the end of the post); some of the ingredients I found hard to get hold of and expensive but they last and, well – our health is a great investment!

An 8 week journey

I don’t want to spoil the book for you but here’s a brief overview of each week and how I felt.

Week 1

Week 1 is all about cutting back rather than going ‘cold turkey’; I was aware of my food choices, still had some fruit, maple syrup but totally cut out all refined sugar. Felt great in week 1 – felt like an easy transition which I was ready for body and soul!

Week 2

Week 2 is all about crowding out sugar with good, healthy fats (coconut oil, butter, nuts etc.); I really enjoyed this week, I didn’t feel deprived as I was filling up on great food that actually felt like a treat; cream in your coffee anyone?!

Week 3

Week 3 is the ‘cold turkey’ week; here we are totally done with all foods containing fructose; fruit, honey, maple syrup as well of course all processed, refined sugars. In week 3 I started to get into a rhythm of my sugar-free life; trying out new recipes and really enjoying my food…but week 3 also saw the onslaught of side effects and withdrawal.  My main symptoms at this stage were utter exhaustion and irritability (my poor family) – it wasn’t short-lived either unfortunately. I actually wasn’t having any major cravings at this point which meant I was obviously filling up on the right food and satisfying my appetite.

One thing I learnt in week 3 is that despite making my own lovely wholemeal spelt bread I wanted to eat the whole loaf, I craved it (smothered in butter) and could have easily eaten the whole loaf! At this point I decided to cut out wheat too, particularly bread as that was another craving

Week 4 

Keep going – Sarah emphasises here the importance of seeing it through even if the voices around you think you’re getting ‘obsessed’ and crazy:

They say: “but sugar is natural”

You say: “Indeed it is, but so it petroleum. And arsenic.” (Pg 34 I quit sugar)

The side effects kept going; pretty much similar to last week. Were my family patient and understanding? Most of time they actually cheered me on but to quote my husband in week 4: “I hate this quitting sugar thing, where’s my wife?”

But I kept on going…

Week 5

You’re over the half way mark now so feeling slightly triumphant; here we’re pressing on towards the end; just like a muscle that needs moving and stretching so does a habit – the more you do it the stronger you feel. I had some pretty major cravings in week 5 but never faltered just filled up on the good stuff. I also had a bit of kidney pain in this week which is a sign that my body is getting rid of toxins – nothing major but noticeable.

Week 6

Week 6 we can introduce a bit of low fructose fruit (e.g blueberries, raspberries); at this point I was still getting pretty strong cravings so I decided to hold off till I felt the addiction was getting more manageable and I could handle the fruit. At this point the withdrawal symptoms had stopped and I had significantly more energy; I was starting to feel the positive effects – yey!

Week 7

Things start to feel easier now; you’re a bit of a sugar-free pro; at this point I was really loving the sugar free feeling of energy and freedom – I still got a few cravings but got over them so quickly.

Week 8

Sarah’s words: “and my body – again for the first time in living memory – was able to tell me what it needed, meal to meal”

I can totally relate to this; I now feel full and satisfied after a ‘normal’ sized portion of food and I know what I ‘feel’ like eating at every meal rather than what I’m ‘craving’; it’s such a freeing thing to enjoy food rather than NEED food!

 

The changes in me

  • I’ve lost 12lb and am now comfortable in my jeans rather than squeezing into them!
  • I wake up feeling awake, not sluggish – I still get ‘normal’ tired for a busy mother of 4 but not like I used to
  • I have more energy, more zest for life
  • My hormones feel more balanced; I was really struggling with this and had some pretty low periods – this has stopped
  • My skin is clear and bright (could also be that I use coconut oil for moisturiser!)
  • I rarely have cravings for something ‘sweet’
  • I feel full after a meal and that lasts for a good few hours
  • I understand my body more and what it needs; it would seem that sugar and gluten have been key components in my life that have caused weight gain, feeling bloated and low mood

 Where now?

So I’ve come out of this 8 week period more passionate about ‘whole food’ than ever before; my plan is to keep well clear of refined processed sugar (and foods in general), stick to low fructose fruits (1-2 portions a day), avoid wheat/gluten as much as I can and to eat as whole, fresh and colourful as possible.

My family has not come along on my 8 week journey but just by default they are eating healthier (I cook the same thing for everyone) and they love my sugar-free alternatives that I’ve whipped up from the I Quit Sugar book.

My next steps are to up my activity again (getting up for a workout at 6am was pretty impossible when I was feeling exhausted and irritable!!), up my water consumption (still not brilliant at this) and carry on in the kitchen as I have become accustomed!

 

Recipes I’ve tried so far from the book:

Coco-nutty Granola – page 76

Cashewy Chia Pudding  – page 80

Green eggs with ham – page 87

Sweet green meal-in-a-tumbler – page 110

Basil pesto – page 126

Activated spicy nuts – page 146

Kale chips – page 151

Zest and poppy cookies – page 164 (for the record this recipe tasted awful but I think I made a mistake somewhere!)

Sugar free Nut-Ella – page 168

Raspberry Ripple – Page 186 (my favourite!!)

 

So there you have it  – the story so far! So what’s your sugar-free story?

 

Live whole & free!

Leah

 

6 thoughts on “The sugar-free me!

  1. Hi Leah – really interested in this. After giving up chocolate for Lent, Chris and I then completely overloaded over Easter weekend and realised just how bad all that sugar made us feel! Just a couple of questions – do the chocolate recipes actually taste as good as the real thing, and what fruit are you still allowed? (I’m a big fruit lover!).

    1. Hey Sharon – SO SO sorry, still not finding the right time for my blog despite really wanting to! I’d really advise reading Sarah Wilsons first book (the one in the review) as it helps understand the steps to take to get it out of your system…the ‘no fruit’ bit is just during the detox; after week 6 you start to introduce low fructose fruits back into your diet; then your understanding (and tastes) change which in turn affects your food choices.
      With regards to chocolate it all depends on taste; when you say ‘the real thing’ do you mean cabdburys dairy milk…cos that’s not the real real thing hey :-)!! I love the darkest dark chocolate and I’ve loved all the recipes I’ve tried but I don’t have it much as I don’t crave it anymore…hope that’s helpful. Let me know if you get ‘on board’!! Leah x x

  2. Such an interesting read Leah! I’d been wondering the history of your IQS journey…now I know! Is it very time consuming?x

    1. Hi Rachel – sorry for delayed reply; just easing back into blogging and missed your comment! I guess with any intentional eating it takes a bit of planning but no more time consuming that usual shopping and meal planning, and SO worth it!

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