I finally got round to reading a book that I kept stumbling upon again and again, and that I have always put off getting because the title is a little scary for a sugar addict like me: Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar.
So when I saw it on Amazon for just a couple of pounds, I finally bit the bullet and bought it. And I am a complete convert.
Sarah makes it seem genuinely possible to come off sugar. This is something that for years and years I have wanted to do, but have thought was impossible, at least for me. And the few times I temporarily succeeded, I invariably was eating hidden forms of fructose without knowing it (fruit, some carbs, unrefined sugars, sauces, juices, etc), and so remained hooked and was surprised when I then caved because I had so many sugar cravings.
But Sarah not only provides you with really really useful and well-researched information (where fructose is hidden, what its effects are, why (good) fats are actually necessary to stave off sugar cravings and keep you healthy, etc), but she gives you hope that you can actually give it up for life, and still enjoy sweet treats that are sugar-free.
My husband and I are planning on starting her 8-week sugar detox officially on February 1st (weekly updates will be appearing on the blog), but since reading her book I have been desperate to start paring back already and testing it out to see if it really works. And, only a week since starting to cut back, I am 100% committed to the detox.
Because I have been absolutely blown away by the results of just starting to pare back! Immediate results have included: better digestion (no more IBS or inexplicable stomach pains), a flat stomach (no bloating after eating), some weight loss, more energy, better concentration…
I am following Sarah’s suggestions for the first couple of weeks of the detox (only I suppose I will be doing it for 4 weeks to really ease myself into it!), and doing what so so so many scientists are now saying is the right thing to do, which is skip the “low-fat” craze perpetuated by sugar companies (just look at the ingredients on “low-fat” products and you’ll see sugar listed as one of the first ingredients, which are ordered by highest amount in the product), and instead eating good healthy fats (coconut oil, butter, olive oil, nut (but not seed or vegetable) oils, nuts, eggs, full-fat dairy…) and filling myself up on those along with plenty of vegetables and protein (it’s surprising how little it actually takes now!) so that my body regulates itself and is no longer craving quick energy from sugar.
The most important thing, I have found, is recognising that sugar comes in many different forms, and that avoiding caster sugar on its own is not enough, as your body will still be getting fructose (the addictive sugar – some studies show as addictive as cocaine!) through things like fruit (particularly in juice form), honey, maple syrup, brown and unrefined sugars, sauces (ketchup, mayonnaise, etc), many take-out and restaurant dishes (go for “meat and two veg” style dishes (without sauces) to avoid it), etc.
This does not mean that I will never eat these things again. In the last couple of weeks of the detox, Sarah suggests slowly bringing back in things like fruit and (very) occasional sweet treats. But the idea is that by then my body should have regulated itself and my cravings should no longer be out of control, but should be few and far between. In fact, most people who have done the detox claim that when they then “fell off the bandwagon”, they actually felt sick and were reminded of why they were quitting sugar after all! I should be able to eat as our grandparents and great-grandparents did (back in the days when illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity were rare), when fruit was a treat to be enjoyed maybe once a day and access to fructose was practically non-existant.
Afterwards, I plan on actively cutting out caster sugar, unrefined sugars, fruit juice and soft drinks, and even honey and maple syrup as much as possible. But I still love to bake and enjoy sweet things, so I am very very grateful to Sarah for pointing out a couple of natural sweeteners that contain no fructose that I have made room in our budget for: rice malt syrup and stevia (I recommend buying in bulk if you do get these as it is cheaper, but you use tiny amounts of both of these as opposed to sugar, so no need to get excessive!). Sarah does advise still using these in moderation, because if your body believes it is getting sugar regularly (even if it isn’t), it could start to crave fructose.
So here is an adaptation of one of Sarah’s sugar-free recipes that I have found to be not only amazing-tasting, but also really filling (I can normally munch my way through
a whole half a pack of Oreos pretty quickly, but I found that one of these was enough to see me through quite a long time if I’m craving something sweet).
So, enjoy! And I hope that you will consider getting Sarah’s book(s) (I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar for Life are still only about £2 each on Amazon) and joining me and my husband in our attempt to quit sugar!
Based on the Oh-Oh-Oreo recipe in I Quit Sugar for Life.
Makes about 15, depending on size of cookie cutter.
115g/1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp stevia
40g/1/3 cup cocoa powder (or even better, raw cacao powder)
75g/3 tbsp butter, cold and cubed
60ml/1/4 cup full-fat milk
125g/1/2 cup cream cheese or ricotta
2 tsp stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (preferably homemade as you know it definitely has no added sugar)
1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C Fan/ gas 4. Mix flour, baking powder, stevia and cocoa powder together, then rub in the butter with your fingers. Slowly pour in the milk and mix to combine.
2. Roll the dough out on a floury surface (or it works well between two sheets of greaseproof paper, and means you get a pure cocoa Oreo colour rather than floury streaks!) until about 4mm thick, then cut out rounds use a small cookie cutter (I got 30 circles to make 15 Oreos). Prick the biscuits with a fork and bake for 10-12 mins.
3. While the biscuits are cooling, whip the cream cheese with the stevia and vanilla to make the filling. Spoon the filling (1 tsp should do) onto the cooled biscuits and sandwich like Oreos.
4. Taste, then “ooh” and “aah” about how it doesn’t taste at all like it’s sugar-free! 🙂