Monday, 1 February 2016

Goodbye Sugar - Might See You Again, Probably Not

We have never been big sugar consumers and in the past I went sugar free for a period of time as part of a low carb diet, lost a lot of weight and felt great as a result.
However slowly but surely sugar crept back into our lives.  There was more baking of sweet treats, more pudding and more treats.
Then there was Christmas.  We ate more chocolate in a week than we would normally eat in about 3 months.  On top of the chocolate there were rich indulgent puddings and sweet treats on hand and by the time we got back to Australia I was feeling a bit icky.
For me the biggest thing I noticed is that over time as I consumed more sugar I had less appetite control and was feeling like I was often hungry.  If I ate anything that was really sweet afterwards my tongue would feel like it was a bit swollen.  On top of that and I started to crave sweet things as snacks and after meals.

Over the past 12 months or more we have been educating ourselves about the negative impacts of sugar to our health but for some reason it was only this year that we really committed ourselves to ditching sugar for good.
I have read Sally Fallons Nourishing TraditionsDavid Gillespies book Sweet Poison, read "That Sugar Film" the book and seen the movie and read all of Sarah Wilsons "I Quit Sugar For Life" books.  And the thing that I have taken away from all of this reading is that sugar in 99% of its forms is bad for our health and we are jut not designed to deal with the quantity that most of us consume on a daily basis.

Now when I say we have quit sugar this does not mean we are now living a life devoid of sweetness or that sugar will not pop up in recipes now and then (think 1 TBS sugar in a curry that makes 6 serves), but we are opting for a savoury diet with the occasional sweet treat rather that having sweetness in our every day life.
We are adopting a fructose free life  in line with what both David Gillespie and Sarah Wilson recommend.  This means that lactose in dairy products, rice malt syrup (made from fermented cooked rice and is a complex carbohydrate that releases energy slowly), dextrose (powdered glucose available from some supermarkets and all home brew shops) and stevia will become our acceptable sweeteners. Whole pieces of fruit in their fresh state with all of their fiber are in (no juices or dried fruit) within moderation (up to two serves per day with a focus on those fruits that have the highest ratio of fiber to fructose (see the table below with raspberries and blackberries coming out most favourable)

The World Health Organisation recommends that we aim to consume only between 6 - 9 teaspoons (24-36 gm) per day.  Until I started reading up I had no idea how deceptive companies had gotten at hiding sugar in our foods. Foods that are marketed as being healthy alternatives are not always what they claim to be.

Do you like a smoothie? How much sugar do you think is in one?

According to Live Lighter Gloria Jeans’ 98 per cent fat-free Mango Fruit Fruzie, topped the sugar list with a whopping 31 teaspoons. The strawberry version came in at second place with 25 teaspoons in a large cup.

And Pure Power Fitness provide quick run down of the top 5 650ml sellers at Boost Juice and their sugar content.

All Berry Bang: 65g of Sugar (13 teaspoons)
Strawberry Squeeze: 69.55g of Sugar (14 teaspoons)
Gym Junkie: 66.95g of Sugar
Berry Crush: 68.25g of Sugar
Energiser Juice: 51.35g of Sugar. (10 teaspoons)

If that doesn't astonish you then let me compare it to some foods that are considered unhealthy.

Kit Kat 60g Crunchy: 31g of Sugar
Coca Cola 600ml bottle: 58g of Sugar
Magnum Sandwich 98g: 25g of Sugar
Big Mac: 8g of Sugar
Me Goreng packet Noodles: 7.6g of Sugar

Once you start cutting it out you will find it hidden everywhere.  Did you know there are at least 56 names for sugar?

One group of products most often changed to be "Low Fat" are dairy products. But when the fat (between 3 and 4% for full fat milk so not much really) is removed the flavour is maintained by the addition of sugar.  Dairy products will almost always have sugar listed on the nutritional table on the packaging as lactose is a form of sugar that occurs naturally in milk.  A really easy way to work out how much of the sugar is added sugar is to look at the grams of sugar per 100 grams.  Anything up to 4.7 grams is naturally occurring lactose, anything over that is added sugar of some variety be it fruit juice, honey or good old fashioned sugar.

Since we have been cutting out sugar we have been trying out new recipes and introducing some food into our diet in much greater quantities.
As I try recipes I will share them here if they are things we would be happy to eat again and again or make it into our regular diet.

I have a few recipe books to test recipes from and so far have found a couple that we liked straight away and even passed the taste test of other people who are not sugar free.

If you want to watch a great documentary about Sugar and how it came to be perceived as better than fat check this out.

How do you feel about sugar?
Have you ever tried to give it up completely?


  1. Good on you Fiona. I have a friend who quit sugar about six months ago and she's thrilled because her cholesterol has dropped enough to prevent her having to go on medication. She mentioned similar cravings etc when she did happen to have some sugar. I'm being more conscious about added sugar and simplifying our diet in general which cuts out a fair bit.

    1. Barb you are so right about simplifying your diet making a difference. Because we eat very few processed foods it is easy to avoid sugar but as soon as you want to take a bit of a short cut it gets tricky.

  2. I am just about to go sugar free again. Like you I did it last year and lost 10 kilos, but sugar has slowly crept back into my life and so has the weight I lost. And like you the sugar cravings after meals have come back too. It is hard when you first start but you soon get used to it. I hope like Barb's friend it might drop my cholesterol levels too.

    1. Jan am lucky that I not have any health issues and my weight has remained stable even with the added sugar but that does not mean I could not have been healthier.

  3. Great summary Fee! I am mostly sugar free but having trouble with giving up chocolate. I am trying to be strong and stick to 90% cocoa lindt rather than milk chocolate, then the sugar is lower and I don't eat as much of it anyway.

    1. Liz like you I like like a bit of chocolate in my diet but I tend to stick to either the 85% or 90% cocoa so that there is very little sugar. I have never liked that icky "not even chocolate" made by a company starting with C that favours the colour purple. It i not chocolaty tasting and is sickly sweet.

  4. Great to hear you are giving it a good try, I noticed anythi g sugary would set off a hot flush when I was going through that, now if I have a brownie etc, I just feel sick after and sometimes get a headache.
    I am not sugar free, but do keep a watch on everything, as I mostly eat home made food, smoothies, muesli, veg juice, salad, veg curries , homemade yoghurt .
    I used to think I couldn't manage without chocolate but I don't even think about it now, it is amazing how the body adapts and changes when you change your intake.
    I have bought Nourishing traditions for my son for his birthday on Wednesday, I am sure he will enjoy it, as it leafs his family on the path to better eating.

    1. Margaret I hope your son likes the book it has so many great recipes and tips. I now find one little bite of someone else's desert is enough to satisfy my taste buds and my curiosity,

  5. Oh that is timely Fiona, I look foward to seeing what recipes you come up with. I started a program called whole30. You give up sugar,dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol for 30 days. Then you can start adding back in ones you want to and see how they affect you. I am not even going to addd sugar back in. I find I am enjoying the flavour of my food so much. I am on day 16. My neighbour gave me some rhubarb, and I thought it had to be cooked with tons of sugar. In the end I cooked it with a few chopped apples, and then stirred in some berries. It is not sweet, but really tasty.

    1. AA I am not sure I could give up all those things at once but I guess I could if I put my mind to it. I look forward to sharing the recipes I try.

  6. Hi, Fiona. I first saw David Gillespie speak about sugar at a Happiness and Wellness conference that was held in Brisbane a few years ago. Since then, I've gradually learnt more and more. I still do use sugar when I'm baking, but I minimise it often cutting in half or greater the amount in the recipe. I don't have white sugar in any form in the house. I use small amounts of coconut sugar or honey or rice malt mindfully. A strategy that is working well at our place is to start off the day with a low fructose brekkie...toast, eggs, spinach,tomato, mushrooms, chippolata (our butcher makes them for me with no added nasties) or nitrate-free bacon. It's delicious (although my husband really missed fruit juice and will still mention it wistfully from time to time) and a way of avoiding a meal which, if based on packaged cereals and fruit juice, was often laden with fructose. A great post! I really enjoyed reading it. Meg:)

  7. Meg I have been baking with dextrose lately and I have had a few successes and a few things that have been not fails but a bit mediocre. If a recipe has 1 tablespoon of sugar per 6 serves I will still use it, at least until I run out of what we still have.

  8. Fiona, I was just reading about you giving up sugar, I am the friend Barb was talking about in her comment. It is amazing the difference it makes when you give up sugar eh? I gave it up this time last year after I had a cholesterol test done which wasn't good. A friend told me her doctor recommended giving up sugar as she had had good results with her patients. My friend then did so and brought down her bad cholesterol level dramatically. I bought the DVD 'That Sugar Film' for my daughter so she can see how much sugar is going into the food my grandchildren eat as it is surprising and shocking,


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