Anyone who's quit sugar will tell you that it's all well and good to start the journey. But are you prepared to keep it going? To reach new heights on the supermarket shelf? To live the impossible dream and eat the impossible vegetables? To really grab that sugar bull by his sweet, sweet horns and scream, “No more!”?
Because I've seen the benefits with my own eyes:
I've lost about four kilos so far.
I'm less hungry.
Everything tastes better.
I no longer crave ice cream, cake or cookies (The Treacherous Three).
I drink alcohol less frequently and still manage to enjoy life.
I have developed telepathic powers.
I can travel through time, Quantum Leap-style.
(I'm just kidding about the last two. Maybe.)
And all of these things have far outweighed the sacrifices I've made, which include:
Making all of my meals.
Reading food labels.
Attempting “fast and easy” recipes by Pete Evans and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Developing a paranoia about the Big Sugar Conspiracy, which aims to keep us all fat and dumb.
Watching Outlander from start to finish (not really related to sugar, but an incredible sacrifice nonetheless).
But in the real world, when you're finally off the Sugar Free Farm, temptation and sugar-related terrors await around every corner.
So here's how I'm going to stick to my plan and really change my lifestyle with this lifestyle change...
I'm going to live completely sugar free... 80% of the time
Unless you want to live like a monk, a truly sugar free life is not realistic or probably even desirable. You'd never have a drink. You'd never eat chocolate cake. You'd never live and love and laugh and smile and dance.
The good news is that all the sugar free gurus say that 80% is okay. They don't expect you to be perfect. Gwyneth Paltrow and ol’ Paleo Pete put sugar in their recipes - raw honey, maple syrup and something called xylitol (delicious much?) all make an appearance. But they're natural sugars that are allowed in moderation.
Sarah “I Quit Sugar” Wilson even endorses natural sweeteners like Stevia and Rice Malt Syrup.
But I'm pretty much done with refined sugar and processed carbohydrates, unless it's in small doses or something really special
One of the high points of this journey was passing the Gelato Test. When I first tasted a chocolate fondant gelato, I found it enjoyable and extremely sweet. But I only wanted a taste. Normally, I would have polished off 3 scoops of the stuff before you could say "trendy overpriced gelato that people stand in preposterously long lines for”.
And the other night, I was at a Mexican restaurant where the tacos aren’t particularly special, so I just ordered them in lettuce rather than a tortilla:
I'm also going to try to make those desserts with recipes that sound like lists of things you shout out during a Rorschach test but are actually decent
Almond, rosewater & chocolate donut cakes? You got it.
Hemp tahini date-caramel bars? If you say so.
Beetroot, quinoa and chocolate muffins? Might as well!
[The above are from SBS Food, the best food website on the planet, so I assume they're great.]
I won't be eating mystery car dealership bread off the ground anymore
This isn't healthy for a lot of reasons.
And definitely no more street potatoes
Anything with over 5g of sugar per 100g is off limits
This is what Wilson recommends and it seems reasonable. And now that I've done the detox, it shouldn't be too hard. My palette now has almost zero tolerance for sugar. After the detox, I tried some Coke Zero, which used to be my best friend but now tastes like poison.
In fact, I can barely look at soda anymore...
I'm going to drink beer and wine and whisky - but in moderation and, again, as a special treat
When I started this whole thing, the thought of eating dinner without a glass of wine or a beer seemed like the worst thing that could happen to someone. "What kind of a god would allow us to live like this?!" I shouted out the window of my building.
Now, I can see myself drinking when it's warranted - a great home cooked meal on the weekend, a nice dinner out, a family fun run…
(Just kidding, you guys. I don't drink and run. That's not safe.)
Plus, this drinking strategy is endorsed by the no sugar gurus, so I feel good about it.
At a restaurant, I am going to be one of those annoying people that you want to punch in the face
Given what I've learned about what goes into sauces and dressings, I'm to be careful about what I order, even working up the gall to ask the server about the contents of a dish. It's not a great look, I know, and god knows I hate to communicate with wait staff more than is necessary for fear of some back kitchen retribution, but if I'm going to be sugar free 80% of the time, the hard questions need to be asked.
I'm not going to become obsessed
No one likes someone who's way too focused on healthy eating. There's even a scary word for it, apparently: Orthorexia. It's what makes people hate (misguidedly, I think) Gwyneth Paltrow and resent Pete Evans.
But somehow - and here is something I never thought I'd write - I can relate to Gwyneth.
That's right. Even GOOP makes a bit more sense to me now. I don't know everything about GP’s life so I can't say for sure if her all-natural strategy is making her look and feel wonderful. But I believe her because the no sugar thing seems to be working for me.
Also, I thought she was pretty good in Shakespeare in Love and The Royal Tenenbaums. If that makes me a monster, then I guess I'm a monster.
But I’m not going to be embarrassed, even if some animal gets in my face
And I'll do my best to never ride the sugar dragon again
I mean, look at this guy:
Plus, this experience has taught me about the powerful hold sugar can have on all of us...
Missed the last episode? Watch it right here: