Quitting Sugar ? – A few tips before you start

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coconut oil post quitting sugar

If you are pondering or have even attempted to give the processed white stuff the flick and are now teetering about the idea, here’s a few tips on Quitting Sugar.
Many people these days, thanks to IQS Sarah Wilson, have a new awareness of sugar and all its counterfeit names, and the possible damage it can do to your health and the body if eaten in excess. Sugar can be a trigger for inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is often the number 1 culprit behind most of our health problems including heart disease, autoimmune conditions, diabetes and Alzheimers just to name a few. Sugar is also one of the nasties that will feed bacteria and fungus in the digestive tract and gut.

NB: A note about inflammation – it’s not our enemy – it’s a natural part of the healing process of our bodies. However, for many reasons, inflammatory markers have risen to the point that is no longer in a safe range of health and there are many studies that implicate sugar could be a cause for this. (1,2,3)

Maybe it’s a candida issue or fungal overgrowth that needs to be dealt with. Maybe it’s weight related issues that you need to get on top of or it could simply be that you are tired and have no energy. Any of these problems will be helped 5 fold by going off sugar for a period of time.

NB: A note about glucose – our bodies do need a certain amount of glucose. Sarah Wilson promotes Rice Syrup and sugars from whole pieces of fruit. The message here is to cut down on the processed white stuff and other “not really a food item” and  replace them with more healthier and slower release glucose such as whole fruit and grains in moderation.

A friend was asking me the other day how she should go about this. Should she just go cold turkey? Could she give it up gradually? How long should she cut it out for before adding in some natural sweeteners? Would she ever eat sugar again and would she ever want to?
So many questions that possibly would stop many people in their tracks, put their hands up and go it’s too hard!
My only claim to fame is I have a lifetime of experience in dealing with gut related illness and I’ve had almost a lifetime of sorting it out. I am a testimony that you can heal your body through diet. When it comes to sugar and the gut, I had no choice, sugars had to go in order to get on top of so many of my gut problems. When it’s come to elimination diets I have gone cold turkey and I’ve done the moderation technique. Both have worked but one more than the other. So before you throw up your hands in defeat, read on for some hopefully helpful tips in your decision to give up the white stuff or moderate the amount consumed.

If you wondering about whether giving up sugar is not so good for you, you might find this article useful.

Tip 1: Know yourself – this information comes from Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is a New York No 1 Best Selling author. You may know her books The Happiness Project and Happiness at Home. She is currently working on Better than Before – A book about habits (forming good ones, breaking bad ones). Her insight and research into how we form and then stick to habits largely starts with our personalities. You may be asking right now, Kerry, what does this have to do with quitting sugar. A: Quitting sugar is going to require you to break a habit (for some it might possibly be an addiction), and forming new ones. Gretchen has many names and many formulas for working out personality types, I’ve just borrowed two for you to look at and decide.

This is what has struck me most in my study of habits. We can’t change our fundamental nature. We have to form the habits that work for us. (source)

  • Moderators – do better when they avoid absolutes and strict rules
  • Abstainers – go cold turkey without a blink of an eye.

I am an abstainer, or at least I was for the best part of my life, I’ve found that as 50 has come and gone, I have somewhat relaxed and perhaps since having kids, I realise that maybe not everything is set in stone. However it requires a great amount of my self-control if the temptation is in the cupboard. An abstainer will exhaust their mental capacity if they know it’s there by trying to work out when they will indulge or how to avoid it. So giving up sugar and many other bad habits and addictions that I’ve had over the years has always been easier if I go cold turkey. When I discovered that I could abandon self-control I felt incredibly liberated.

The moderator doesn’t do well with cold turkey. They would rather know that every now and then they can have or do the very thing that they want to give up. Instead of sweating or fretting about the fact that it’s never allowed, they feel more relaxed when they can choose every now and then to indulge and will most likely stick to a strategy for reducing the bad habit.

As Gretchen says there is no right or wrong way. It’s more about knowing your personality type in order to adopt the strategy that will work for you.

Note: If it’s a serious addiction, studies and professionals still believe that the only way is cold turkey.

I know for many who are in need for giving up sugar but you are also of the moderator bent, you are probably wondering, how do I do this. With most elimination diets, including giving up sugar, you will need a period of no sugars for about 4 weeks. After 4 weeks you can slowly introduce some very low sugar foods that are naturally sweetened.

So the first plan here is to know who you are – a moderator or an abstainer. “Never” is not the word to use around a Moderator. “Sometimes” its not usually a great word to use around Abstainers.

Ask yourself – “Am I happy to not have any sugary food item in my house for the next 4 weeks?” If your answer is yes, most likely you are an abstainer, if you hesitated or said flat out “NO” then you are most liekly a moderator.

Want to read more about Moderators and Abstainers – Read here and here

Tip 2: Why are you giving sugar up? – This isn’t a trick question. You need to be clear about why you are doing this and then write it down. The writing down bit is so when you forget, you look at that list and you can recommit to what you started. If you don’t like lists you can try other visual reminders such as:

  • Before and after photographs
  • Stick it notes on the bathroom mirror, wardrobe or fridge
  • A journal of affirmations, clothes you want to fit into or pictures or words that spell out good health

Tip 3: Find someone to do it with or support you. – My friend who happens to be my daughters bestie asked if my daughter would do it with her. For some folk, knowing that you are not alone makes the difference between doing it and not doing it. If you are one of those, then find a buddy who will either do the challenge with you or at least be available for phone calls or social catch ups to help support you.

Tip 4: Have a plan – It could be as simple as I’m not going to eat sugar for the next 4 weeks – that’s great however, if you get out of bed on the first day of not eating sugar and then wonder what you are going to eat for breakfast you may end up resorting to the Wheaties in the cupboard for breakfast. You may find yourself giving up even before you have started.

Your plan should be written down, I don’t think anyone could manage to recall all menu options in their head for 4 weeks.

Include the following:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner meal options

Snack options

Water intake and other suitable liquids

What to pass on to the neighbours from your cupboards as you won’t be eating them for 4 weeks.

Tip 5: Arriving at the Finish Line – When you have finished your dedicated weeks that you are cutting out the white stuff, then you’ll need a plan also for the next few weeks to come. Getting to the finish line is great but often we undo all the good stuff in the week or weeks following our big achievements.

Think about your long term goal. Very few humans can sustain long term abstinence from glucose. While the white stuff is not good for you, it doesn’t mean that sugars from fruit, grains or dairy are bad for you. It’s about moderation, (even for the abstainers) and opting for whole food choices rather than refined, overly processed and convenient foods.

So, are you someone who would like to flick the white stuff to see if your health improves? Stay tuned, I am in the process of writing “Sugar Free in 8 Weeks” meal plan.