For real. It’s been about four months now and we just aren’t going back. We started out with an intention to experiment, and I have to say, it’s been a raging success.
I honestly do not miss sugar at all, and on the handful of occasions when I’ve allowed myself to eat it I haven’t enjoyed it. Anything with sugar tastes so sickly sweet, and quite literally makes me feel ill. That I think has been the biggest surprise: how much my tastes have changed. For instance, at a church dinner the other night, I had one of those shortbread cream biscuits (you know the ones in the Arnotts multi-pack?). I could only stomach half of it. It tasted gross. And I LOVED those things. Seriously, Pete and I have been known to wolf down a packet between us on the drive home to Noosa. Oh gosh how shameful! Even Peter, my sweet-toothed husband, is finding that his taste buds and preferences have significantly changed. The man who used to be able to comfortably eat a family sized block of chocolate can now barely get down more than two squares. Neither of us enjoy sweets in the same way that we used to.
The biggest benefit to us I think is that being aware of the sugar content in our foods has made us more aware of what we are actually eating. We actually look at labels (not in an obsessed calorie-counting way, we definitely don’t count those!!) but just out of interest to see what is actually in our food, and are making more informed choices about what we do and don’t want in our (and our kid’s) bodies. Our rule of thumb these days is that we don’t touch anything that has more than 6g of sugar per 100g. It’s incredibly surprising to find which foods have higher numbers than that. For instance, tomato sauce is nearly 50% sugar, and barbeque is even higher! There are even a lot of savoury foods that have significant amounts of sugar added to them, and I’m coming across more and more that have specifically added fructose. As a result of all this, we very rarely buy anything processed or that comes in a package. I’m making so much food from scratch, including sauces and condiments. And I’m still baking. We didn’t bake or eat much sweet food at all during the 8 week quit plan, but now that we are no longer addicted to sugar and more in control of the quantities we consume, I have begun to experiment more with sugar-free baking. I mainly use rice malt syrup as a sweetener, and have also been converting some of our old favourite recipes using dextrose to replace sugar. You can read a really great explanation about dextrose here if you are interested. I find it best to taste the uncooked batter of recipes I’m converting, as often if I use the suggested amounts of sweetener we find it far too sweet.
Mayana has picked up on the fact that we aren’t using sugar anymore, and asks questions about foods that she is unsure of. I am honest with her that we are trying not to eat too much sugar anymore because it’s not very good for us. I tell her that it’s okay for a treat and don’t push it any more than that. I don’t want to be militant about it and I don’t want her to feel like she’s ‘naughty’ if she does happen to have something containing sugar. She is aware of foods that are sweet and will ask if things are sugar free, and even refuses juice if it’s offered to her when we’re out.
I feel good. Great actually. I am still losing weight.. I’m up to about 9kg now and about 6kg off my goal weight. It’s so exciting, and incredibly motivating. I am doing Zumba once a week, but other than that no significant exercise – though this is something I’m looking to change. I love feeling good about how I look, putting on clothes that used to be tight and that are now too big, buying clothes a size smaller than what I’m used to buying. It is such a boost to my self-confidence, and I’m enjoying feeling healthy. I feel like I am in control of my appetite. I can listen to my body better, and tell the difference between wanting and needing to eat. My taste-buds don’t control me anymore. I don’t feel deprived, and I still eat because I enjoy food. Pete and I consider ourselves to be foodies, and love to cook and eat and try new recipes, and we can still do all that.
I love seeing myself in photos and thinking, I actually look okay! Good even! Like this dress, on the left a photo of me wearing it at my brother’s formal in 2010, very intentionally hiding myself behind my gorgeous daughter, and wearing it again a couple of weeks ago. I can’t tell you how proud I feel looking at this. And a little horrified of the first picture to be honest. My whole face has changed! I just want to keep going! Anyway. Quitting sugar seems to have kick-started my previously non-existent metabolism, and I am so, so happy about that.
If you are wanting to do something good for your body, maybe lose some weight and just improve your health and general well-being, I can highly recommend giving up sugar. Just give it a go. And tell me what you think.