Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I Quit Sugar - Part 2

I grew up with sugar.

We sprinkled it on our cereal, put it in our tea and coffee and baked with it all the time.

My sugar intake reduced and changed as the years went by & I focused on healthier eating options. I started using raw sugar instead of white sugar but I couldn't cut it out completely.

But high cholesterol is a family failing and during my 30's my levels hovered around the "we need to keep an eye on this" side. I moved to 'lite' everything and reduced my cheese intake.

Nothing happened.

A few years ago I came across a copy of Cyndi O'Meara's Changing Habits, Changing Lives in a second-hand bookshop. It encouraged me to change one thing at a time, starting with my breakfast habits. I cut my sugar intake from everything except half a teaspoon in my coffee and the occasional chocolate indulgence.

For the first time ever my cholesterol levels dropped to a level that my doctor was finally happy with.

So I know that sugar is bad for you and that your body is better off without it. But do you need to quit it altogether?

The science behind the I Quit Sugar idea states that it's not sugar per se, but fructose that's the enemy.  Fructose converts directly into fat, it makes us eat more as we do not feel full and it makes us ill. Fructose is in fruit, so the I Quit Sugar diet also includes quitting most fruits.

And that's where I have a problem with this book.

Up until now, everything I've read, known or heard about good nutrition suggested that balance, wholefoods (organic) and moderation were the keys to a healthy diet.

Cutting out a naturally occurring food group just doesn't seem to make sense.

So I've been researching it in my spare time.

People like Michael Pollan agree that the fruits that we eat today have changed (been modified) over the past 200 years in particular as we breed fruits and types to suit our (sweet) tooth.

But after that things just get muddy. One online scientists claims this and another online scientists claims that. As with anything, you can use statistics and figures to prove either side of the argument.

So what am I left with after all this pondering?

A gut feeling!

The same gut feeling that has been guiding my eating habits for most of my adult life.

Moderation and balance:

Anything and everything in moderation.
Eat a diet that balances all the food groups but focuses on naturally occurring and where possible organic foods.
Keep processed foods to a minimum.
Eat smaller portions at meal times.
Don't go back for seconds.
No snacking between meals.
Read the labels on the foods that I buy (if sugar is one of the top three ingredients, do I really need it? And I usually only buy foods with 5 ingredients or less listed on the label).
Include the occasional fast day.
Treat myself sometimes.
And, of course, exercise regularly and get a good night's sleep.

I do question the science and the validity of Wilson's I Quit All Sugar approach, but I also applaud anyone who helps us to look at, reassess and modify our intake of excess sugars.
Some of the recipes are very tasty, but the rigidity inherent in this approach is not something I feel comfortable with.

I Quit Sugar did inspire me to give up that last little bit of sugar in my coffee. And it convinced my husband to drastically reduce his added sugar intake too. A win/win situation!

I quit (added) sugars, but I do not quit fruit.

Happy Eating!

3 comments:

  1. Weren't those the days when we could sprinkle sugar on our cereal? Must be decades since I've done that :-(. Funny we both got to writing a post about this book in the same week. I think your points about moderation and balance are very important. A lot of this is like parenting advice, you need to find something sensible that makes sense to you, otherwise there's no way that you'll try it or stick with the advice. Sarah Wilson doesn't advise quitting fruit permanently, but she does quit them for 6 weeks (even that seems to long to me though), and then suggests a limited amount of low fructose fruits. Great to hear about your cholesterol levels. Mine have never been a problem, but with the changes I've made this year, my cholesterol is actually now- I'll have to start taking supplement soon ;-).

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  2. I've been off sugar for 21 days. Trying to give it up for LENT...and hope to stay off it!
    Feel great, not problems...but I do stare at the choc easter eggs longer than usual. :)

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    1. I could never give up chocolate, but I have learnt to moderate my intake. I have gone without alcohol for a month though - it feels good 😊

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