Sugar-Free!

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Call me crazy (it wouldn’t be the first time) but I have given up sugar.  Despite what my Dad thinks, this was not on a whim…I have had various minor health issues that were bugging me and I felt like something had to change, but I didn’t know what.

Until I read David Gillespie’s book (with a cynical smirk to start with) and it ticked all the boxes.  ALL. OF. THEM.  So, I decided to take it on as a personal project and see for myself what would happen.

I asked SH to support me by not bringing home blocks of dark chocolate and packets of Wagon Wheels to woo me with anymore and he thought I was crazy.  Not for the first time.  I gave him the book to read and then the world exploded.  He found Sarah Wilson’s books, and went looking in our pantry and then SH decided not only was he coming on this voyage with me – our whole household was.

The Pantry Clean-Out

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So we cleaned out our whole pantry, throwing out anything that had more than 6g of sugar per 100g/100ml and, believe me, that was a lot of stuff.  A scary lot.  It went to my Mum and Dad’s and I think Dad has made it his mission to re-introduce it all back to our poor, deprived kids ever since.  What shocked me was that two different brands of the same food type could have such a different ingredient list: we threw a popular brand of Worcestershire out because it had 12.6 grams of sugar per 100mls, but the home-brand one had 4g (thank Baby Cheeses because I love my Woostie).

The Kids

The kids were the tricky bit…as I explained to my Dad, we were aware they had their own lives away from the house and could make their own choices, but our house would be sugar-free and I wouldn’t buy them sweet treats with my money if we were all out.  The 16 year old does Human Movement and he was on board right away because he is learning about what food does to the body and it all gels with what his (I suspect very pretty) teacher is saying.

Middle Child (14) has ADHD, so we figured this would really help him if he could give it a try – interestingly he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth – already prefers sugar free soft-drinks, and snacks on tuna with lemon pepper almost exclusively.  He complains a bit, but can still get his favorite takeaway (falls in the low category) and is aiming to get a job soon to buy the sweet crap he needs apparently, but I think it’s mostly posturing and having something to complain about (aka teenager rules)…that’s OK – if we can just reduce their use of sugar, setting them up for when they leave home so they have an awareness that will be enough.

Youngest Child (11) had a meltdown.  Interesting, because she is the biggest sugar addict you’ve ever seen.  Her birthday money/allowance etc burns a hole in her pocket until she can get a pile of Poddidly WonkaBabies….and it’s never enough.  She’s the classic example of how sugar overwhelms the ‘enough’ valve in the brain.  She spent the first half of the holidays with a face like a slapped arse, until finally we confronted her and she said the problem was we “were mean and the sugar thing was stupid! It must be dumb if I can’t even eat fruit!  Fruit’s healthy!”  SH sat with her, got David’s book out and showed her the chapter about his kids, and what food labels look like and really talked with her about it.  She’s a smart girl, and she knows she can demolish 2 kilos of mandarins in an afternoon (these kids are so expensive to feed, I tell ya!) and that is exactly how she operates if she has no lollies to graze on.  (Just so you know – of course she can have fruit, two pieces a day is plenty.)  Once again, for her, this may not be forever but if she just learns to be discerning – that will be OK, after all, as our kids grow up the sugar content of packaged food is likely to increase.

The Pros

It’s been 30 days for me, and what I’ve noticed may or may not be because of the sugar detox, but these are big differences to me from a month before and I doubt they’re coincidental:

  • We aren’t snoring. By all accounts.
  • I feel less bloated.
  • My clothes are looser.
  • My IBS-like symptoms have gone.
  • My PMT is minimal
  • In fact, I’m more even tempered all the time.
  • I can use full-fat anything (low fat products are boosted with sugar so they taste good enough to buy – check the grams per 100ml/gram on the label!).  YAY!
  • I’m more regular.  Don’t make me spell it out.
  • I’m more energetic.
  • I sleep better plus I wake up better. Cos I’m regular.
  • I don’t overeat – I ‘feel full’ in a different way, not ever getting to that uncomfortably full stage anymore.
  • I can taste food in a whole different way.
  • I found sugar-free dark chocolate at Coles for when I’ve finished the detox.
  • There are natural sugar replacements for baking and everyday use (for after the detox).
  • There are heaps of great sugar-free recipes on the internet.
  • I can still drink alcohol – just not the sweet cocktails, fortifieds or some mixers.
  • My head is clearer.  It is so.

The Cons

  • It’s disappointing to see how much sugar is in my favorite foods.
  • It’s sad looking at pancakes with maple syrup and knowing I might never eat it again.
  • Tonic water has heaps of sugar.
  • I have to think about what I’m eating when I’m out – the only two lapses I’ve had were when I’ve had mayonnaise in takeaway: once with sushi (the sweet kewpie doll mayo, I think, and it made my mouth burn!) and last night with my schnitzel roll.  Whole fat, whole egg mayonnaise generally doesn’t have much sugar.
  • I miss sweet tea.
  • I miss dessert – even though we rarely ate it.
  • Once a month I want dark chocolate.
  • I feel rude when people offer me something lovely they’ve made and I decline it.

Seriously, right now that’s all I can think of.  And most of those can be gotten around or substituted.  I’ve found Loveable Licorice Tea from Adore Tea and I’m in Heaven.  We are eating lots of nuts, which I know I should have been doing for a while.  Recipes from the popular Paleo diet dovetail nicely for sugar-free cooks and it’s making us a bit more experimental with our cooking.

Just like with my usual opinion/lifestyle disclaimer – it’s not for everyone and it might not even be forever for us (between you and me, I thought SH was crazy for dragging the kids in on this – but if they learn something from it, great – and if they go get jobs so they buy their own sugar-shit, fantastic!)

Of course it’s hard; giving up smoking was hard too – but in the meantime I feel really good and it’s driving my Dad nuts and that makes it all worthwhile.

4 thoughts on “Sugar-Free!

  1. I know, I know…I’m still freaked out by all the nothing in our pantry and fridge! And I just realised I’ll probably never (by it’s very definition) be able to make a substitute for Golden Syrup Dumplings and that’s why Dad can’t cope!
    xx

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