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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

DIET | Why I have quit sugar.

I Quit Sugar, Nicki Kinickie, blog,Diet

You have no doubt seen a lot of bad press surrounding sugar in recent months - even years - we are being advised that cases of obesity are not down to consuming fat but to do with consuming sugar. The sad and scary fact regarding having too much sugar in your diet is the truth that it will make you ill later down the line, not might.

Sugar is addictive and some even say a 'poison', it causes many different diseases and worst of all is hidden in so many different foods and drinks;

Soda drinks, fruit juice, gravy granules, ketchup, mayonnaise, most sauces and condiments, burger buns, bread, bovril, even low fat meals.

Low fat meals have more sugar added to make them palatable to the consumer because of there being very low or no fat in them. It is hard to know what we are eating sometimes. I make all our dinners from scratch and STILL found I was eating more sugar than I thought in foods such as healthy cereals. I realised too that I 'treated' myself much more than I thought and it was always to sugary things - cake, chocolate, sugary tea (I didn't have that often but often enough!) A treat every now and then a few days a week soon adds up! Add on top of that that I was eating sugary fruits such as bananas, strawberries and grapes and my sugar intake was waaaaayyyy over the recommended 4 tea spoons a day. Even having one plain biscuit had two in them! So if you have a couple then you have eaten your daily allowance! 

Now, my post today isn't to lecture you - if you want to know more about why sugar is bad for you (and by you I mean your organs and not just your waistline) then I will leave you to look into it - this is my story. 

I have been thinking that I need to cut it out for a while now, probably a couple of years, sugar just does not agree with me. The thing is, I never realised how bad for you it is, how many health issues it causes until I really researched it. Sugar can actually cause you to eat more in some cases because in products such as soft drinks, the ingredients don't set off the chemical in our bodies that recognises calorie consumption so if you have a sugary drink or two (which also have lots of salt in to make your thirstier for more) you find yourself hungrier and therefore you eat more. People forget consuming drinks when they add up their calorie intake so they become 'negative calories' and these calories are full of sugar.

Because I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) giving up sugar will do wonders for my health. I have known this for many years, I have just never really done anything properly about it. 

Here comes the science:

''The condition is associated with abnormal hormone levels in the body, including having high levels of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that controls sugar levels in the body. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their body, which contributes to the increased production and activity of hormones such as testosterone. Being overweight increases the amount of insulin your body produces.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with an increased risk of problems in later life, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels.''
- NHS.uk

Basically, sugar is particularly bad for me and any other sufferers with this condition. Too much insulin means if I put more sugar into my system, my body can't cope and it will sit around my middle and around my organs and cause health risks later in life. My body doesn't break it down well and it feeds my illness causing weight gain and for my symptoms (none of which I really suffer from and haven't for years because I manage my weight) to worsen.

When looking into quitting sugar more, I read that if you need to lose weight around your middle and are in fact slim everywhere else (just like me!) you probably need to get rid of the white stuff. The fact I got a 3pm slump and opted for sugar to help me out meant I probably needed to quit too as well as fancying sweet foods after having had a meal.

But it is hard work though. 

Sugar is addictive, it causes you to have withdrawal symptoms initially such as feeling tired and having headaches but if you want to do it, you will do it. Not everything in life is easy, it sometimes takes hard work. 

I have done it for three weeks now although properly (with no fruit) for two and can say I am really noticing a difference in my shape. I do exercise too as I have a post pregnancy paunch to shift but my tummy feels flatter mainly when I sit down or bend over which it never has. I have always had tummy rolls and even side / back fat which I have hated but for the first time in about ten years my back fat is pretty much gone! (exercise has also assisted this I know but I am still amazed I have lost it quickly) I have lost nearly 8lbs and also find that now I really don't want sweet stuff. I am eating 'clean' and fill up on veg, salad, good fats and lean meat and not so many unnatural foods. If I have desperately fancied something sweet and can't resist I have had a banana so I know it is something nutritional too however now I have even stopped eating those. 

Fruit doesn't have to be removed from your diet, where as say biscuit has no nutritional value (but tastes bloody amazing!) fruit obviously is good for you in other ways so it isn't essential it goes, I have simply done it because of my condition and because I want to stop putting sugar into my system in any form as best I can. I know there probably will be times when I do have it perhaps if I go to someones for dinner or whatever, I can't be rude or fussy but all in all the white stuff is gone and on those occassions I have it, it really will be a rare treat. 

My energy levels are better now, I drink lots more water and have green tea with lemon instead of normal tea (trying to reduce caffeine to help aid getting rid of cellulite!) I am also really enjoying eating healthy foods and not eating crap. If I eat something bad now it makes me feel ill. 

So what CAN I eat if I don't eat sugar?

Well, if you like a tipple the good news is you can still drink beer and wine! The sugar levels are very low in them that they are nearly non existent because it is the sugar that ferments into alcohol. Sweeter wines do have more in than drier wines and dessert wines are best avoided but overall you can still have them. Hurrah! Any parent will understand a glass of wine is sometimes needed.

Chocolate wise, it is best to stick with dark chocolate, anything over an 85% cocoa rating. If you can buy Cacao instead of cocoa (which is the refined version of cacao) then that contains less than 1% of sugar and is also nutritious. Cacao is the raw, original ingredient, store bought chocolate also can contain bad oils and additives. If you like baking, it is better to make your own chocolate!

You can eat fruits, they are obviously good for us, I have just chosen not to and prefer to get the goodness I can from vegetables. Lower sugar fruits include cherries, raspberries and blueberries so if preferred, stick to having them over high sugary fruits such as strawberries.

Bread contains sugar, when we make our own we never add sugar and add much less salt than the recipe advises. We all know bread - especially white bread - is bad for us. It has so much bad stuff in it to make it live longer. It is much better to make your own! 

Same goes with gravy. Use the juices that come out of the meat and add a little flour if it needs thickening. It is much yummier than granules. I add some herbs if needed too or even roast an onion to add. 

I am not a baker but have been looking at great no or very low sugar cake recipes to try out for any occasions that may crop up that require cake. I am looking forward to trying them out even though for some reason baking scares me! (Mary Berry I am NOT)

Make your own sauces, mayonnaise home made is a bit tricky at first but yummier and there is no added sugar plus home made sauces for pasta, shepherds pie, meat dishes - anything! - are all much better and tastier. Another thing that looking at ingredients to check for sugar has made me realise is also how much salt is in things. I have drastically adjusted the amount of salt I add to my cooking to allow for salt in things I add, for example tomato purree is made of tomatoes and salt (I assumed it would be sugar) so now when I use that in dishes I don't add any extra salt.

I definitely don't want to lecture people on how to eat, this is just something I am trying out for now and so far it seems to be really doing me good. If you are curious too I suggest you look up 'I quit sugar' by Sarah Wilson, she has a website, an 8 week programme and a book but if you are just after information for now the website is great. Even by googling 'quitting sugar' you will find various great articles, blogs and other information which is helpful and interesting. I also watched a seminar on YouTube by The University of California entitled 'Sugar: The Bitter Truth' which is informative too (It is an hour long though so you may have to watch it in bits as I did!)

Giving up sugar is working for me; I am seeing and feeling all of the benefits. If anyone has any questions or comments please let me know! I always love feedback. If you too are quitting sugar then I would also love to hear from you!


Sarah Wilson's website - I QUIT SUGAR

University of California's lecture - SUGAR: The Bitter Truth


  1. Well done for quitting! I'm currently trying to reduce my sugar intake, along with upping the amount of fresh veg I eat but the lure of chocolate is always there. I definitely notice that I want less sugar the longer I go without it, and then when I do have something sweet it tastes even more so than before x

    1. Thanks hun! It is really hard - sweet treats are good! What is the hardest though is realising how many hidden sugars there are in food. I am really noticing my sweet craving shrinking now, glad to hear you are too! So many people seem to be trying to cut down or cut it out of their diets now. Xx

  2. Wow. A blog post has never influenced the way I live my life until now. So much of this resonates with me and I know some of my health problems would benefit from a drastic sugar decrease.
    I do make alot of things from scratch (like bread for example) but am sure there is alot more I can do.
    Im a size 8 but my lower stomach has become a problem over the past few years with no amount of exercise helping...hopefully taking your advise on board will help.
    Fab post. Well done and congratulations on adjusting your diet.
    Wish me luck for the withdrawl phase! Haha

    Best wishes, Danielle

    1. Thanks so much! Glad to hear that - I didnt want to 'lecture' but I think it is important to be aware at how bad sugar is. I didn't even realise just how bad it is and I thought I was quite clued up on health etc. Good luck! Depending on how much sugar u have in your diet u may feel a bit crap!! But thats normal and u get over it! It doesnt last long either. Xx


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