Unless you’re new to (Not) Just A Mummy (and if that’s the case, welcome! Put your feet up and make yourself at home), you’re probably aware that I quit sugar at the beginning of this year (you can read about it HERE if you so fancy it). I did this for a multitude of reasons, the primary one being that I wanted to see if it would have any impact on my mental and emotional health.
I’ve written fairy extensively about my experiences with anxiety and OCD before, and when I stumbled onto some research that linked a diet high in fructose and other processed food with increased levels of depression and anxiety, my interest was piqued.
I’ve always found that what I put into my mouth has a direct affect on how I feel physically, so it kind of made sense that the same could be true for how I felt mentally. Being the proactive kinda gal I am, I decided that the only way I’d know was to give it a go. The fact that I was also a serious sugar addict who could never stop at just one biscuit and used sugary food as a total emotional crutch also played into my thinking.
So I quit, almost six months ago now and when people find out about it, they tend to ask me one (or more) of the same questions. In the interests of sharing the sugar-free love, answering the burning queries most people tend to have, and to encourage anyone else who might be keen to wander down the same path, I thought I’d put it all out there for the world to see.
Q: I don’t know HOW you can quit eating sugar. You must have amazing willpower.
A: While I’d like to take a bow right about now and bask in the admiration clearly held for my will of steel, I have to be honest. The first maybe three weeks take willpower. They are quite hard. Funnily enough, not hard because of the lack of food, more because of the emotional stuff that gets thrown up (I feel sad, I think I’ll eat a tim tam. Oh crap, I can’t eat a tim tam. Now I feel sadder). If you’ve used food as a bit of a bandaid in the past, you suddenly find yourself sans first aid kit and that can be a bit gnarly. After the initial period though, hand over heart, it’s not about willpower. You just don’t want the stuff you’re being offered. I can safely say, right now, that I have next to no desire to eat any of my old favourites (Sara Lee is silently mourning the loss of the girl who could demolish 1L of icecream, alone. In one sitting). I have tried Cadbury chocolate, one of my truest of true loves, since quitting and it tasted like chemicals. I actually spat it out. Yes, my tastebuds have changed THAT much.
Q: Have you lost weight?
A: This is a biggie. It’s generally the first or second question I’m asked. I always make it clear, from the outset, that I didn’t stop eating sugar to lose weight. As I’ve mentioned above, it was for a range of reasons and my health certainly ranked above weight loss. That being said, I have lost weight. Almost without realising it. My husband, who also quit, has lost close to 10 kilograms. I reckon I’ve lost 4 or 5 kgs. Neither of us ‘needed’ to lose weight, both being in the healthy range, but we both have. I’ve always eaten reasonably well but by removing sugar, and the foods that contain it, I’ve ended up making a whole bunch of stuff from scratch. And eating a shed load of protein, carbs and fat. I rarely snack now, as I am full up after meals, but when I started, I snacked on bacon and halloumi. I eat nuts toasted in coconut oil for brekky. Full fat yoghurt, milk, cheese and organic butter are all my close friends. I eat probably the same amount that I did before (maybe a little less as I no longer get hungry) but the foods are different, which seems to have made all the difference in the world.
Q: But what do you eat?
A: Generally, whatever I like, provided it isn’t packed with sugar. My husband takes a much more practical approach to me. He isn’t into the organic side of things like I am so for him, it’s weetbix with full fat milk and vegemite toast (on rye or sprouted bread), for brekky. Ham and cheese sandwiches or leftovers for lunch. A slice of whatever sweet I’ve baked as a snack and whatever I’m cooking for dinner. I tend towards smoothies, salads and other wholefood lovelies. That isn’t to say I don’t eat toast or have a cheese toastie (I do), I just enjoy the other stuff a little more. What don’t I eat? Anything skim or low fat, anything heavily processed or with ‘sugar’ as the main ingredient. Commercial cereals, white stuff (white pasta, white bread, white rice). I steer clear of fruit juice (though do have the occasional freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juice) and make the majority of my own sweets.
Q: How do you eat out?
A: We tend to get takeaway once a week and go out to dinner every now and then (when we can find a babysitter). Thai is no longer on the menu, due to the high levels of palm sugar used, but we still devour pizza, burgers from our local fish and chip shop and things like Greek and Lebanese cuisine. I can now look at a dish and have a good idea whether it’s going to be laden with sugar, even before tasting it, so I just try and make good choices. At the pub? It’s always steak and chips or some kind of fish with salad and chips.
Q: Isn’t it expensive?
A: Stocking up on some foods in the beginning was, but now, we spend a little less most of the time when we do our grocery shopping. We’ve pretty much eliminated packet foods (apart from things like basmati rice and wholemeal/buckwheat pasta etc), and that’s where the big prices tend to lie. I don’t buy all organic, purely due to the cost, but instead pick and choose what I buy organic (meat, dairy and eggs are a non-negotiable). I also buy a lot of my sugar free stuff like raw cacao and coconut flour online, though I’ve noticed Coles and Woolies both offering a range of reasonably priced options these days.
Q: Do you think you can stick at it?
A: In a word, YES! I have never felt better, mentally and physically and for that, I’m more than happy to forgo some of the treats I used to indulge in!
Wanna read more? Check out my posts HERE and HERE about quitting sugar and my favourite sugar free recipes HERE and HERE.