Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet Surrender.

So, this no sugar gig. I thought I would write a bit about how it's all going but be warned, I am posting on about 2 hours sleep in the past 48 hours so forgive me if I start speaking in tongues. I should add for those who haven't seen the link I posted, it's fructose I'm giving up here. Fructose is one half of table sugar, the evil half and it's added to almost everything we eat. It can only be digested by the liver and is about as poison to you as alcohol is. So, when I say I'm giving up sugar, I actually mean fructose.

First of all I want to talk a bit about the symptoms of sugar withdrawal that I experienced. Even on the first morning, when I didn't have my usual hot beverage with its 2 heaped sugars I could feel the withdrawal setting in. I was dizzy, light headed and felt like you do when you've inhaled too much oxygen, kind of like when you've blown up a dozen balloons.

Day 2-4 were ok and I just had to remember that I wasn't eating sugar any more. I had to make a birthday cake for my 4yo (see totally awesome spidercake from previous entry :D) and I lost count of how many times I instinctively went to taste the batter and the icing mix. Being off sugar means just that, you're off it, no taste testing, nothing at all! So, I pretty much went through hell on these days. My symptoms were;

Extreme lethargy
Brain fog
Mild depression
Mild anxiety

Now, I didn't give up all sugar, only fructose so when the cravings hit hard I had glucose, mostly in tea. Glucose is a sugar that can be easily digested. My enemey here was fructose which is half of table sugar, glucose being the other half. Problem is, almost everything is sweetened with table sugar and/or fructose. It really does pay to watch that link I provided in my last post to get a better understanding of what I'm banging on about here lol.

When the cravings were at their very worst I ate fruit, lots and lots of fruit, particularly nectarines and peaches (If you're going to give up sugar do it now while these babies are still in season!). My worst time was in the afternoon, which is when the symptoms seemed to hit ten fold so this is when I consumed most of the fruit. I also drank tea with glucose instead of table sugar. Now, glucose is not as sweet tasting as table sugar so you do need quite a bit of it but it's harmless and much easier to cut down on once the cravings are gone.

Day four to about day ten I can only describe as pure hell. I actually don't remember a lot of it thank God but I presume that's because my brain was so shitty at me for giving up its beloved sugar that it partially shut down. During the worst of it I was eating 6-8 pieces of fruit a day and drinking anywhere up to 6 cups of tea. It was the only thing that got me through the cravings. It just goes to show how addictive sugar is. Problem is, we never know we're addicted because it's in so many things that we're eating it every day and are unaware we're doing it. It's not until we give it up that we begin to feel the effects of sugar withdrawal.

Day 11 came around and I realised the fog had lifted. I was no longer craving the sweet stuff and my afternoon slump never happened. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Day 12, again I crashed and it felt just as bad as before. I knew though that like any other addiction my brain was just screaming out for a fix but that it would soon give up once it realised no fix was coming. Day 13 and 14, again, great days and on day 15 I realised I hadn't eaten a piece of fruit all day. I was now over the worst of it. And thank GOD for that!

I remember one day I was craving chocolate, really really badly. I wasn't about to eat any, I didn't actually have any to eat, but I really wanted some. So, I improvised and made choc milk instead. I simply got a cup of milk, added about a heaped teaspoon of cocoa to it and a level tablespoon of glucose, stuck it all in one of my protein shakers and let rip. It tasted lovely! Just like choc milk only no fructose.

I've been eating a lot of whole foods, unprocessed things like fruit and vegetable. I eat a lot of eggs now as well as fish, chicken, beef and nuts.I still have that problem of needing to nibble on something now and then, whereas before I'd reach for something like a biscuit, these days I eat nuts and dried chick peas. They have a lovely crunch to them! I also eat chopped carrot and celery with some chopped cheese. For a sweet treat get some greek yoghurt (full fat) with no sugar and add some fresh or frozen berries and a teaspoon of glucose powder and mix it together. very yum and much better for you than store bought sugar laden yoghurt with pretend fruit.

If you don't think you are addicted to sugar and that it's not playing a big role in your diet, try quitting it for a week and see how you go. You will need to check lables very carefully, and you're not allowed to substitute for artificial sweetners, they are an evil all unto their own! I pretty much stick to unprocessed foods all the way but I do eat tinned corn and sometimes tinned tomato in things like chilli con carne.

So, in a nutshell that's my journey so far on giving up sugar. There's so much more I'd like to bang on about but there's no need because I'm sure you've all checked out that link by now.....;)

Haven't you???


  1. lol..I have checked out half of it..not the part that told me about fructose or glucose though so will need to watch the rest :p . I was wondering..can you substitute glucose in baking?

    I will watch the rest tonight when the kids are in bed and then do a little googling myself too :) . Thanks for sharing your experience so far Donna :)

  2. Doesn't most fruit (and some vegetables) contain fructose? Or is it ok in the smaller doses in some fruits?

    I found this link helpful:

    (probably explained in the video??)

    Good luck with it, cutting anything out of our diet isn't fun.

  3. Fruit and vegetables sure do contain fructose, but they also contain fibre which carries the fructose through the digestive tract. On it's own, without the fibre from the plant fructose is as toxic to you as alcohol.

    The video really explains it well. Although fructose is a natural substance and found in many edible plants, it should never be taken away from the plant, because when it is our bodies cannot digest it so we turn it to fat.

    Fructose malapsorption is a different kettle of fish. People with fructose malapsorption will most likely feel the effects of fructose as soon as they eat it and they often can't eat it even when it's still in the plant. People (such as myself) who don't have a malabsorption problem are happily munching on fructose laced foods that are not fruits or vegetables and it's causing all manner of problems.

    Watch the link. It's a real eye opener ;)

  4. How did you go, Jen? Did you end up watching the end of it?

  5. OK thanks! I thought there might have been a bit more too it. Thanks for the tips. :)