Tis the Season… To Eat Sugar!

I thought I might occasionally write a blog post here as I continue my sugar-free/low fructose journey.

I haven’t really stopped the low-fructose lifestyle, I still put rice malt syrup in my tea rather than sugar or honey. I eat 1-2 pieces of fruit a day, I avoid high-sugar condiments and I’m now rigorously checking all pre-packaged food to make sure it has less than 6grams of sugar per serve.

But as the ‘silly season’ arrives things are getting more difficult, there’s a lot of celebration in the air and time for desserts. This week alone I’ve had an office break-up lunch, which included an amazing peanut butter parfait for dessert. It was absolutely delicious but I found myself unable to finish it. I think my body is just not used to consuming a lot of sugar in one sitting because I honestly felt I was going to vomit when I finished it. Then I get to my office today and there’s a box of gourmet chocolates from an IT company we work with for Christmas, so I had four of them. Now this weekend I have a Summer Solstice party and my housemate has also been baking fresh short bread and almond bread at home, how can anyone resist that? I know it’s not a huge deal but it’s amazing how much my no-sugar lifestyle is being affected by all this indulgence around.

It just reminds me to eat sugar-free meals, snacks and drinks more rigorously so I can enjoy the sweeter treats as they come around.

 

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IQS Week 8: The Results

So I made it to the end, and now for the important bit – after two months of being sugar free, what are the results?

The Upside

Weight Loss: Did I lose weight while on the program? Yes, and I wasn’t trying to either. I probably only did a handful of gym sessions while on the IQS program and I was amazed to discover I had lost two kilos by Week 8. I had lost a lot of motivation after I had managed to gain a few kilos even when I was exercising at the gym a few months before starting my detox.

Although I wasn’t over-weight when I started the detox, I had gained about 5 kilos over the last two years. It wasn’t a lot but I occasionally felt down about it, especially when I couldn’t fit into a few favourite dresses any more. Over the last year I had been going to the gym a lot, at least 4 sessions a week, and felt like crying when I discovered I hadn’t lost any weight. In fact, I was gaining weight. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, I couldn’t see how the scales wouldn’t budge after all the exercise I was doing. Continue reading

I Quit Sugar: More Sugar-Free Recipes

Over the last month I’ve continued to experiment with recipes from Sarah’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ book, I find discovering new and delicious sugar-free recipes has kept me motivated during the detox and I don’t feel I’m missing out on much. Here’s a run-down on what I’ve managed to try…

Chocolate Raspberry Ripple – 9/10

This recipe ticked all the boxes for me, delicious, healthy, sweet and easy to make! This is one of Sarah’s most popular recipes and the blend of coconut, butter and raspberry is the perfect summer treat. I made this twice within a week, it’s so quick to make that I have to stop myself for making it too often.

Pumpkin Pie with Cream 9/10, Recipe 6/10

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while, it looks so good in the picture! I found it pretty easy to make, and making the crust from almond meal made the crust particularly sweet. This was the very first time I had made a pie from scratch, and I was happy to find out it was easier to make than I thought it would be.

It came out like a golden custard and cooked through perfectly, I also got the tick of approval from my house mate who spent a semester in America where pumpkin pie is more common. She said the filling tasted just like the filling she ate in the USA, which in my opinion made it a success!

So a 9/10 for taste, but only a 6/10 for the recipe itself. I don’t know if it’s because Sarah isn’t a chef, but sometimes her recipe proportions just don’t add up. I followed her recipe to a T, and I had enough crust and filling to make fill a 22cm pie dish (as is recommended in the recipe). However I ended up using only 50% of the filling I made, even if I had stretched out the crust as much as I could I still had a heap of filling left over.

The worst thing is I just have to make another pie 😉 which I’m ok with, but it just seems strange that this proportion problem didn’t come up when putting the book together. I found a solution (an idea in Sarah’s books) and I’m going to use my leftover filling to make mini pumpkin puddings in ramekins, with a bit of the crust mixture sprinkled on top.

What’s Next to Cook..I still have at least 10 recipes marked in the book to try, but I’ve got the ingredients for her ‘Almond Bark’ and ‘Health Bounty Bars’ (on her website, not in the book) so I’m going to have a go at those nexts.

Then maybe I should make a few of the recipes not in the ‘sweet treats’ section? 🙂

I Quit Sugar: Week 7, The Final Few Weeks

Wow, something has happened really fast – Week 7 of the IQS program. I barely even noticed that I passed Week 7 and will start Week 8 tomorrow. Once I was over the Week 5 hump, I started to feel I was in the glorious swing of things (as Sarah puts it) of this ‘not eating sugar’ thing and I’m starting to feel it’s simply a habit to not eat sugar every day.

My typical diet for the day is vegemite toast (wholemeal bread) and a cup of milky tea sweetened with rice malt syrup for breakfast, I’ll eat some cashews as a midmorning snack and either have dinner leftovers for lunch or a toasted cheese sandwich or beef and veggie wrap. My afternoon snacks consist of milky tea with no sweetener (for some reason I can handle unsweetened tea at anytime except when I first wake up!), popcorn with butter or salt, nuts or sugar-free dip on wholemeal crackers. I’m able to make my dinner sugar free quite easily as long as I don’t add a bunch of sugary sauces to it like sweet chilli or  tomato sauce.

Once I got onto Week 6 I started eating fruit again, but only a few pieces a week and not my usual two pieces a day.

Having said that, I also feel like I’m one of those smokers who quits cold turkey for 6 months and then convinces themselves they can just ‘have one occasionally’ and then are back into the throws of addiction again. Although I feel I’ve made being sugar free a habit, I’ve still stuffed up occasionally over the last two weeks.

I added a dash of sweet chill sauce to my stir fry, convincing myself there was only 9 grams of sugar per serve in it (but ignored what it was per 100g) ate a mini boost bar at a friend’s place when she insisted I had some chocolate (I did manage to turn down the coke though, and stick with water) and dessert at a work conference. I tried to make the best choices I possibly could and ate strawberries with cream, a vanilla panacotta with mixed berries and white chocolate and I had one scone with the tiniest spread of jam and mainly cream. I did manage to refuse the lollipops, macrons and biscuits – but god that was a tempting dessert!

To stay inspired and help satisfy my sweet tooth, I’ve been making more of Sarah’s recipes and tried the ‘Chocolate Raspberry Ripple.’ I’ve already made it twice in a few weeks, because it was that good! So easy to make and super delicious as well.

I want to keep making more of her recipes, I have at least 10 marked with post-its and I’m still eyeing that pumpkin pie. It’s been a matter of time to try new recipes that’s been getting in the way.

Overall though, I’m feeling better than before. I have very few energy slumps, I never get that feeling that I’m not clear in my head or alert, I’ve lost a centimetre around my waist and I honestly don’t miss my daily sugar fixes. Before I would have struggled to get through three days without sugar, or I would think I had a sugar free day when I really hadn’t.

I feel I had to do this detox, to get the sugar out of my body so I really knew what it felt like to be sugar free – things are looking a lot clearer nowadays.

 

I Quit Sugar: Week 5-6 & Cheating

So I’m now into the second month of IQS, and I am taking one day and one week at a time. Week 5 was probably the hardest week for me, it was the last week of what I would call the extreme week. No fruit, no condiments with sugar or anything that listed sugar in the ingredients list – it has been an eye opener in many ways and I’ve begun to realise just where sugar hides itself.

I used to kid myself and thought my only sugar was in my afternoon chocolate, but now I realise how much sugar I was consuming in dips, sauces, fruit juices, a teaspoon of honey or sugar in my tea, in my flavoured yoghurts which might as well have been chocolate bars. 

After a month of being sugar free, I’m starting to feel it is now a habit to simply not eat sugar every day. That was the real goal for me, not to quit sugar for the rest of my life, but to stop with the daily dependance of sugar. Before I read Sarah’s book, the idea of giving up sugar was terrifying and I couldn’t imagine committing to it. 

It almost makes me angry that I had been eating so much sugar without even realising it, that I’d been duped so much into the ‘low fat’ con that I chose to eat low fat yoghurt when the full fat version would have been so much better for me. Now it’s so hard to even find dairy products in their full fat version, even Yoplait’s ‘natural’ yoghurt had 12grams of sugar in it per serve! 

As I entered week 6,  Sarah’s program says its okay to let some sweetness back in. When she says sweetness she means a few pieces of fruit a week, but to avoid high fructose fruits like cherries, apples and bananas.

Here is where I am going to disagree with Sarah slightly, I believe in taking on new ideas with an open and critical mind. I find a lot of her stuff great, and a lot of her health philosophy is inspiring but I don’t need to agree with everything she says. She says she eats about 4-5 serves of fruit a week, and doesn’t really eat high-fructose fruits like bananas, mangoes and cherries. She mainly eats berries and kiwi fruit. 

If this works for her than great – I have no judgement. But during week 5 I started to feel my body really needed to eat fruit again, it wasn’t a craving for sweetness – I felt I was slightly constipated during week 5, especially on a day that I hadn’t eaten a lot of vegetables (to be fair on the days I had eaten a lot of veg, I didn’t feel any constipation). There is also a history of bowel cancer in my family, so I feel it’s important for me to eat fruit everyday. Finally, I believe in eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, because different colours provide different nutrients for us and it’s important to consume a wide variety of nutrients for optimal health.

After this program, I will be sticking to eating 7-10 pieces of whole, fresh fruit a week. Sarah’s convinced me about the fruit juice and dried fruit thing, but my body needs more fruit than hers to feel like it’s functioning properly.

As for Week 6, I did slide off the band wagon slightly. I ate two pears during the week (not sure where they sit on the fructose scale) but I also went to a dinner party where dinner was hamburgers and apple pie with ice cream for dessert. I felt it just wasn’t practical for me to say ‘sorry I won’t be having the dessert even though you cooked for me’. I ate my hamburger with a teaspoon of tomato sauce (my first taste of it in over a month) and enjoyed my serving of pie and ice cream. 

I didn’t find the taste artificial or overly sweet, but I noticed that I felt one small serve was more than enough and I didn’t feel that instant ‘I want more’ feeling after finishing it. Maybe this is a sign that my body has started to break the fructose addiction? Or becoming aware of it more? 

I also had a picnic on the weekend and indulged in cherries, strawberries, grapes and black current fruit juice. I know the juice was the worst bit, but I felt it was so refreshing and ideal for a picnic. I did bring some fructose free chocolate dipping sauce, which everyone loved (especially my friend who is diabetic) and were surprised that there was no sugar in it. 

Now I have 2 and 1/2 weeks to go, I’d really like to make more of Sarah’s recipes to keep me inspired. Her pumpkin pie looks amazing! 

I Quit Sugar: Halfway through, has anything changed?

So I have now entered the half way point of the IQS detox, I’m into Week 5 and I survived cold-turkey no sugar Week 4 while on holiday in Queensland – now that was a challenge. 

It was the first time I truly cheated on the program too, I had spent the whole week craving ice cream, wanting to sink my teeth into fresh, tropical fruit and watching my family eat desserts while I stuck to my sugar free dip and crackers. I was starting to feel I was really missing out on something, so when we went to Australia Zoo, it took walking passed about 5 ice cream stands before I gave in and bought one. 

It was a hot, humid Queensland day and no matter how much I sipped on water, it just wasn’t cutting it. I wanted ice-cream, not sugar free popcorn or nuts from the kiosks – a real ice cream, goddammit! So I did – and it tasted really good. Although something has changed, I noticed something that I’m not sure I would have noticed before. As soon as I finished off my cone, I thought “I want another one”. It was instant, like my brain had not even registered that I just ate a whole ice-cream. 

I’m starting to understand the addictive pull sugar can have on us, and no I didn’t eat anymore ice creams and haven’t eaten anymore sugar so far *YAY!*. 

So has anything else changed since I started going low-fructose? 

What I No Longer Eat

– Dried fruit

– Fruit juice

– Flavoured yoghurts

– Most pasta jar sauces

– A product that lists sugar as the first or second ingredient.

I’ve replaced the above things by eating whole, fresh fruit, eating sugar-free natural greek yoghurt with nuts, rice malt syrup and cinnamon (or mainly getting my calcium sources from milk and cheese). 

I’ve also now stuck to my own pasta sauce recipe, which is a lot cheaper to make and tastes a lot fresher than a Dolminos pre-made sauce. 

My recipes is simply, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, a tsp of tomato paste, vegeta, paprika, salt & pepper. Easy, cheap and delicious!

The hardest things to give up…

Thai food! Thai food has always been my favourite Asian cuisine, but they drench absolutely everything in palm sugar – not even the satay sauce was sugar free for me to eat. 

I’ve coped by swapping my thai food with Indian and Greek food. I agree with Sarah Wilson’s philosophy that by filling yourself up on great, sugar free food you don’t feel like you’re missing out as much. I also agree with her idea that filling up on protein, fats and vegetables make the process easier. 

A fresh Greek lamb souvlaki, rogan josh curry and rich satay beef stirfry (sugar free of course) has made me feel satisfied, without the sweetness. 

How I’m Feeling

One thing that I’ve noticed is that my energy slumps in the afternoon have completely gone since going sugar free, I also feel clearer in my head during the day. 

Physically I don’t think I look as bloated as I used to during the day, I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight because I haven’t weighed myself but it’s not a big focus for me – I might weigh myself at the end out of curiosity, but weight loss would be a positive by-product of the detox, not the goal. 

I Quit Sugar: Weeks 3 & 4

So I’ve now reached the dreaded part of IQS, the week where we go completely cold turkey. No sugar, meaning no fruit, sugar filled sauces or any product with sugar added to it for three weeks. I made it through week 3, and am now in week 4. I also happen to be in Queensland on holiday, definitely a hard time to be resisting fresh tropical fruit, ice creams and desserts. but when I  started this program I knew there was never going to be an ideal 8 week period where I would never be faced with sugar, so I’ve still managed to stay on the horse, even when my family ordered a chocolate cake for dessert, I chose to have a White Russian cocktail (sugar free) instead. 

Reflecting over my last week of completely no sugar, I have noticed that my mood and energy levels have stayed very consistent throughout the day. My post lunch energy slump appears to have completely disappeared, and I put it down to not eating sugar. I also feel a little less bloated, although I don’t think I’ve lost any weight. 

While I’ve been on holiday I have found ways to indulge like enjoying wine which has minimal fructose, popcorn, certain brands of chips, dips and take away food as long as its not Thai food or McDonald’s. Giving up Thai food does suck, but they drench everything in palm sugar, even the satay sauce has sugar in it! 

The only times I’ve stuffed up is having two sticks of “sugar free” chewing Gum (I use the quotation marks because it’s sweetened with an alcohol that contains fructose anyway) cause my ears can really suffer on airplanes and when I got motion sickness on a bus, but I think it hasn’t really affected my process. Now I’m in week 4 I’m trying to just take it one day and one week at a time.

So I’ve now reached the dreaded part of IQS, the week where we go completely cold turkey. No sugar, meaning no fruit, sugar filled sauces or any product with sugar added to it for three weeks. I made it through week 3, and now in week 4. I also happen to be in Queensland on holiday, definitely a hard time to be resisting fresh tropical fruit, ice creams and desserts. but when

I  started this program I knew there was never going to be an ideal 8 week period where I would never be faced with sugar, so I’ve still managed to stay on the horse, even when my family ordered a chocolate cake I chose to have a White Russian cocktail (sugar free) instead. 

Reflecting over my last week of completely no sugar, I have noticed that my mood and energy levels have stayed very consistent throughout the day. My post lunch energy slump appears to have completely disappeared, and I put it down to not eating sugar. I also feel a little less bloated, although I don’t think I’ve lost any weight. 

While I’ve been on holiday I have found ways to indulge like enjoying wine which has minimal fructose, popcorn, certain brands of chips, dips and take away food as long as its not Thai food or McDonald’s. Giving up Thai food does suck, but they drench everything in palm sugar, even the satay sauce has sugar in it! 

The only times I’ve stuffed up is having two sticks chewing Gum cause my ears can really suffer on airplanes and when I got motion sickness on a bus, but I think it hasn’t really affected my process. Now I’m in week 4 I’m trying to just take it one day and one week at a time.