We made it through!
More than that, we made it through feeling great and ready to start phasing sugar back in slowly. We have both said that it’s not only been worth it, but that we would not hesitate to do the detox again should we need it somewhere down the line. I’d say that’s a pretty good result!
While my husband finally got his much-anticipated “jam day” (marmalade on toast for breakfast!), I’ve been focusing more on bringing back a little fruit and some sugar-free goodies. I can’t believe how much our tastebuds have changed – we have found many things to be too sweet for us, and are therefore able to have sugar-free or very low-sugar treats in moderation, because it is just not something we particularly want. Having said that, I’ve noticed that when eating sugar-free goodies, even though I know they contain no sugar, they are sweet enough that they can have an almost similar reaction to sugar, in that I then crave more and more sweet things… So I have to be careful with how often I have them!
I’m enjoying fruit again, but I have found the thought of higher fructose fruits like apples, bananas, grapes and exotic fruits to mostly be quite unappealing. It’s berries and citrus fruits I have been wanting, and enjoying.
Although I loved the I Quit Sugar detox and believe in the principles it upholds, I felt most at home with the suggestions Dr Robert Lustig makes to at least cut back on sugar by giving his children (and himself) whole fruit for dessert after dinner during the week, and simply having one slightly more sugary dessert at the weekend (he suggests cutting the sugar in recipes by a third, which is what I used to do – I now find I can cut it by half or more due to the lack of a sweet tooth!). He suggests that it ultimately doesn’t massively matter whether you have a high-fat/low-carb or high-carb/low-fat diet, but that the way both of these can be successful and healthy (he includes a lot of stats and studies on this in his book), is when they are high-fibre and low-sugar. The reason is that we evolved as either hunters (high-fat) or gatherers (high-carb), and our livers can therefore cope with either, but struggle to cope with the intake of both together (sugar, or more specifically fructose, is the only natural foodstuff which is both high-fat and high-carb). Either way, a high-fibre diet (wholegrains, legumes like beans and lentils, some whole fruit and lots of vegetables) is what helps our body absorb all of this the best.*
As I’ve said, I would gladly do the detox (or a mini-version) again, as I have found it an amazing experience. If nothing else, it has made me incredibly aware of how much sugar my supposedly “uber-healthy” wholefoods diet contained. I feel like I’ve gone back to the basics of cooking, baking and nutrition, and I’m so glad I did, because when you think about it, you wouldn’t try to jump straight into trigonometry and calculus without a knowledge of basic arithmetic.
My husband and I even noticed the early effects on our 7-month old daughter, which was quite worrying! Obviously we are not feeding her sugar, but unfortunately many baby foods include some sugar or at least fruit juice (which is just as bad). And when feeding her these (or simply blended fruit), she whinges for more between every mouthful, while with savoury foods/vegetables, she takes her time, doesn’t whinge, and is clearer about when she is full. While I have still been giving her fruit, I try to give her whole things like berries now she is old enough, and I limit them to no more than once a day, and usually try to give them with some extra fibre where I can (Weetabix with raspberries is a favourite). As a result, she is really happy with savoury foods (some of her similar-age friends are not, and even refuse anything not sweet!), has yet to refuse a new food, and absolutely loves her vegetables. I don’t imagine for a moment that we can keep her from being exposed to sugar long-term, but I hope that by laying good foundations and teaching her about the nutrition behind it, as well as encouraging her to help with the preparing and cooking when she is older, she will actually (like us) find many things too sugary or sweet. And if not, well at least we can keep things healthier at home most of the time!
And in the meantime, I can join the wonderful UK-based campaigners such as Action on Sugar and various other UK organisations who are trying to encourage our government to help our health and our wallets (the cost of obesity on the economy and taxpayer is enormous – as much as £5.1billion per year!) by forcing food companies to be clearer on the sugar contents of products, as well as encouraging the government to adopt the World Health Organisation’s RDA of sugar.
I’ve been surprised by how effective this detox has been, the amazing results I have observed (the cellulite and stretch marks I had tried everything to get rid of actually disappeared almost overnight last week!), and how much more aware I am of what I am eating and how it affects me. That, and the extra energy I find I have – I’ve even found myself motivated to start exercising in the mornings again – make it 100% worth it.
For more information, see the below articles:
“What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up Sugar?” – includes details of some of the scientific studies showing the similarities between sugar addiction and drug addiction, and the fact that one could predispose you to another – if nothing else, this alone convinces me I need to keep my daughter from getting addicted to sugar as best I can!
“Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Is Ruining Our Health” – includes details of a French study in which rats already addicted to cocaine actually chose sugar over cocaine when given the choice! And the discovery that UK citizens consume an average of 238 teaspoons (1 kilo) of sugar a week (that’s 34 a day, when the current RDA is 12, and the WHO are saying it should be 6!)
“Sugar Was Making Me Unwell, So I Gave It Up Overnight” – Hazel hasn’t had sugar for 7 years for medical reasons, and says she doesn’t miss it at all! She also noticed the effect on her budget: “my food bill has more than halved since I gave up sugar in all its forms.”
“How Much Sugar Do We Eat?” – this shows how it is virtually impossible for us personally to calculate accurately how much sugar we all take in on a daily basis, thanks to lax governmental laws on food labelling that allow food companies to hide a lot of sugar in food and get us hooked, thereby ensuring we will keep buying their products and need more and more of them to get the same “buzz”. Grr…
“Cut Sugar to 5 Teaspoons a Day, Scientists Urge” – this article urges halving the RDA for dental health, but many scientists now urge the same for health in general!
“I Dropped 2 Dress Sizes By Giving Up Sugar – And You Can Too!” – exploring the common effects on people’s weight after giving up sugar
“Sugar: The Family That Gave It Up” – this family gave up sugar when one child was diagnosed with diabetes. They say “they all feel healthier, have higher levels of concentration, eat less overall, and their food bill has gone down too. And their daughter’s diabetes is under control. She still takes a bit of insulin, but is mostly stable.