You know that feeling of perennial exhaustion and lingering sadness that makes you eat that sugary treat? Have you ever noticed that after the immediate satisfaction of swallowing it, it actually often makes you feel worse?
I quit sugar in 2014 and I would never go back. I didn’t lose weight in the process – maybe a few kilos, but that was unintentional and definitely not the point. I didn’t quit sugar because I wanted to be thinner.
It started as an experiment. I enrolled in Sarah Wilson’s 8 weeks programme to see how my body (and my mind) would react to erasing the white stuff from my diet.
I will be completely honest. At first, it was hard.
I was covert-addicted to sugar. At the time, you wouldn’t have probably guessed looking at me from the outside: I was conscious of my food choices. I bought organic and sustainable whenever possible, I always cooked my food myself, I didn’t drink any fizzy stuff and never had a crush on candies. The thing is, I considered some kind of sugar to be healthy – chocolate bars, honey, cereals, homemade cakes. And these “healthy sugars” were my comfort food.
Truth is, sugar is sugar.
There is not such thing as a healthy sugar. The chemical composition of sugar is the same if it is in a doughnut or in a muesli bar. Naturally, the latter contains more nutrients and it is, generally speaking, more nutritionally complete – but sugar is sugar, and it is highly addictive.
Riding the roller coaster of sugar highs and lows was exhausting me, physically and mentally. I did my researches, and read about the scientific evidence showing that sugar is highly dangerous for our health if eaten in bigger quantities than we are designed to eat.
I felt I deserved a treat after a long day at the office or, later on, after a long day running after my child. Of course I did. What I did not know though, was that instead of rewarding me, that sugar was slowly sabotaging me.
Guidelines and public recommendations around the world are constantly being revised down – the experts are positive that the amount of sugar we (and our children) consume is a potential threat to our health.
I am planning on writing a post specifically on why sugar makes us ill, but to give you a rough idea, five to nine teaspoons is the maximum added sugar we should eat daily, when (as Forbes already stressed in 2012) the average American consume 22 teaspoons per day (for children, it goes up to 32 teaspoons per day!).
I decided to try and go off sugar. It was a matter of committing, and I said to myself – I can do it for eight weeks. Then, we will see.
And the results I saw were mind-blowing. More energy. More focus. Less bloating. More positive attitude towards life in general. Freedom from comfort food dependency.
I am not suggesting that you should never ever eat sugar again. I actually think that drastic resolutions (especially when involving the words “never” or “always”) are seldom a good idea. Even now, occasionally, I eat a slice of sugary cake. The difference is that now it is my free choice. I do it because I want to, not because I am addicted. And I savour it, guilt-free. Often, I find it too sugary for my taste and I consider strawberries or blueberries a sweet enough treat.
Quitting sugar reprogrammed my taste buds. I am now more of a ‘savoury food person’ than I was before, and I find it easier to taste food in a mindful and slow way. I learned how to quickly read the label of the food I buy. I learned where the hidden sugars are (sauces, low fat yogurts, fruit juices… again, more about this soon!).
In short: I gained awareness about my food choices.
This is a topic I am very passionate about, and we will certainly talk about it a lot in the future!
Until then, I hope this serves you and your child.