Eighteen months ago I had an epiphany.
I was at my sister’s and couldn’t get to sleep. So looking through her books late one night I discovered David Gillespie’s “The Sweet Poison Quit Plan”.
She had talked about it, I hadn’t taken much notice (I am the typical older sister). But I had to admit she was looking increasingly happier, healthier and fitter.
In fact she looked fantastic.
A number of hours later I finished the book all in one reading, it was about 5am. I could not put it down. This book described what was happening to me in absolute detail. I was amazed I hadn’t heard about the problem with fructose before. It made so much sense to me.
So I quit sugar, right there and then.
You have to know that I was an absolute sugar addict.
On any given day I would drink a minimum of 2-3 hot milos a day, plus I would eat so much sugar it makes me shiver to think about it. To this day my family and friends cannot believe I don’t drink Milo anymore. I would take a tin of Milo to anyone’s house I was visiting and leave it there for each time I came over.
I tell myself today that I didn’t know any better; now I do.
I often think about the damage I must have done to my body (my poor, poor liver) and hope that I’m now busy reversing it by trying to be sugar free.
Sugar free is not always easy and I will tell you that sometimes I stray. But what’s different today is that if I do eat sugar it is a very conscious decision and I no longer feel addicted.
Today it’s actually quite rare for me to eat traditional sugars and I don’t eat or drink any “false” sugars either.
But when you’ve been brought up in a household that loves to bake and really loves to eat baked goods it’s tough to say goodbye to your favourite foods.
So my sister and I started to experiment cooking our favourite foods with dextrose powder and rice malt syrup. It’s lots of fun and is as much cooking adventure as science experiment.
What we did realise is that we couldn’t get the dextrose powder and rice malt syrup that we needed to produce the results of baking that was like our favourite foods.
One night I had a dream that we could supply fructose free products and I sent a text to my sister saying let’s create these ourselves. She was just as excited and thus The Sugar Breakup was born.
Over the eighteen months I’ve lost 6 kilos. I’ve got 14 kilos to go.
It’s the first time I haven’t gained weight in 12 years. I sleep better, rarely get bloated and my body is healing itself so well that my doctor recently asked me what I’m doing differently, my blood results are coming back with improved results. So I know it’s making a difference.
It can be tough for those around you to understand fructose free or accept it. But slowly and surely they come around. We come from a family of feeders and lovers of sweet goodies, but I’ve noticed that as a family we are all making better decisions about our diets and health.
Maybe it’s because we have learnt to make our favourite foods in healthier ways.
The last thing I want to say about being sugar free is the life style changes I’ve experienced. I want to eat better so I cook a lot more and am careful about where I eat out.
I now read all the food labels and ask lots of questions at grocers and restaurants. My taste buds have changed and I’m eating foods I’d never tried before and liking them.
I feel like exercising because my energy levels are what I’d now call stable. My body wants to stretch and run. I feel happy almost all of the time, to the point that other people comment about the smile on my face. It might not all be due to being sugar free but I’d like to think it has helped.
If you are already sugar free then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
If you are thinking about it, I would advise you to read David Gillespie’s “Sweet Poison” books. Also good to watch Dr Robert Lustig’s YouTube video, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” and read his book, “Fat Chance”.
I doubt you will ever be able to think of sugar in the same way again.
Going Sugar Free and avoiding Seed Oil
I started out looking for a way to help my wife avoid moving from a diagnosis of insulin resistant to the next stage of type 2 diabetes. I was also weighing in at 96.5 kg and not getting any lighter. I was actively researching and helping her find a suitable diet, when I read “Big Fat Lies” by David Gillespie. I resolved to cut out sugar and remove seed oils where possible from my diet. Maryanne didn’t have any say in this process! The next morning WE and it was both of us, went through the pantry and refrigerator removing any product that had more than 4% sugar – judged that by using the ingredients list and using 4g or less per 100g of sugar, unless it only had glucose or a variation of glucose in the list. So next step was off to the supermarket to restock with suitable products, we spent a lot of time looking at the nutrition information on the back of packets, also trying to decipher the actual ingredients as some state that they have no added sugar … liars! – they actually had agave syrup or honey which are both high in fructose. Fortunately we had the sugar free app on the iPhone which allowed us to find the good, the bad and the artificial sweeteners. I followed David’s two week quite plan quite rigidly at the start whilst we were discovering what we could and couldn’t eat. Found a really nice recipe for chocolate brownie on his web site / forum which we have modified slightly now to give us a quite moist brownie with a delicious chocolate flavour, even our sugar addicted friends find it tasty and cannot tell it has no white sugar only dextrose. Another favourite has become vanilla ice cream made with dextrose.
I started researching sugar further and came across two other useful sources of information. “Pure White and Deadly” by Professor John Yudkin, and a YouTube video of a lecture by Professor Robert Lustig, who has also now written a book “Fat Chance”. I have gotten really passionate about being sugar free and freely lecture people about the evils of sugar, my wife says more like evangelical! I have taken to writing to Professors of nutrition in New Zealand universities with most having the courtesy to reply even if they are not necessarily convinced of the merits of being sugar free. I have also written to the health minister and received the usual fob off – that of being directed back to the ministry of health website and their standard doctrine of eat less fat, more fruit and vegetables and sugar in moderation. No one defined what moderate sugar intake levels were! We ate about 2-5kg on average annually at the turn of the century and now consume on average 40kg annually, a large movement in whatever might be called moderate. Imagine that stacked up on your shelves!! How much sugar do you buy each year!
Our focus till now was predominately upon getting sugar free, and I would say we have been successful, I no longer crave any chocolate or sweet desserts and Maryanne has lost the urge to buy sweets particularly liquorice.
In March we got results from Maryanne’s blood tests as well as mine from a few weeks before. Previously Maryanne had a HbA1c of 42 mmol/mol which was borderline diabetic. New results are HbA1c of 36 mmol/mol, which puts her well out of the diabetes risk. My reading was HbA1c of 33 mmol/mol. So having glucose in our diet instead of sugar (glucose plus fructose) has improved our health. Also to date I had lost 19.5kg since starting out in June 2012 about an average of 1.5 kg per month.
I have now set up a website http://www.nzsugarfree.co.nz to make the information accessible and to try educating from the bottom up and get as many people as possible onto the sugar free revolution so that businesses will try to reduce the sugar in their products and in turn we will become a healthier, happier nation.
I keep posting recipes on to the box link as I find recipes with the right ingredients. I also have a list of products from the supermarket that have the right stuff.
People ask why am I not making money from this website, the answer is someone got me sugar free and I am so grateful for the change it has made. I want to pay it forward. I also want our children to grow up without having the sugar addiction.
I can attest to F being a sugar addict, I’ve known her and her family for most of my life. I was also a victim of an increasing stockpile of the famous Milo tins and of chocolate gorging girls nights.
To be honest, being more of a savoury tooth I was often in awe, hoping for a while there that I too would suffer late night ‘Death by Chocolate’. The reality was though that I (and a number of friends) were watching our mate’s health deteriorate from an ever increasingly sugar addiction. I think for a while there, there was a sense of denial with just one more sweet compounding into an ever increasing problem.
I only realised from today’s blog that my mate had read ‘The Sweet Poison Quit Plan’. I had noticed a fairly marked change in attitude to sugar, health and weight loss and she was running which was uncharacteristic (sorry to say that dear). What I noticed most was that the desire to give up the sugar was no longer just a statement but marked by a significant change in lifestyle. I think what helped was also a supportive and transitioning family – in terms of their own eating habits. Her sister (a partner in this venture) had gone through a similar process of change showing it could be done. Now they jointly revel in their achievement doing what they do best, delivering sweets, but a much healthier version there of.
I think that if my mate can break free of sugar which was such an intrinsic part of her life and that of her family’s then with perseverance that transition is definitely possible for the most hardened sugar eaters. I might seem a little unqualified to make such a statement given my preference for a roast over cake but I’ve travelled the journey with my mate (including days marked by concern for her health) for many years and know the weight of the struggle and now the sense of achievement.
I applaud my mate and her sister for this health stance and their holistic approach to the Sugar Breakup reflecting a combination of their own life experience (and that of others); a sugar substitute and tried and tested recipes from experienced (and formerly prolific) sweet eaters.
Do you know what changed my habits? Reading the science behind fructose. Because I have a medical background learning from David’s book what fructose based sugar was physically doing to me was the wake up call that I needed. But the human body is an amazing, AMAZING machine and I’m on the road to recovery.
Really enjoyed this Blog post — I’ve actually had a very similar experience myself, where a friend recommended I read Sweet Poison, I ignored him, and then later “discovered” it for myself!
While quitting sugar can be hard at first, it quickly gets to the point where the taste becomes disgustingly sweet… Then it gets a lot easier. I lost about 14-kilograms over 12-months, although I was exercising regularly, too. But it’s easier to exercise, when you have more energy.
I’m a great believer in putting your goals on the “path of least resistance,” and in this case, the answer is to simply replace all the sugar in your house with dextrose. As soon as you do that, you’re on your way.