Hi, I’m Bettina. What I'm working on : Forget to slouch. Relaxing is freedom. Choose life.

Articles tagged “sugar addiction”

I Quit Sugar Postmortem : 5 things I’ve learned from quitting sugar

Quitting sugar

My eight weeks of quitting sugar has finally come to an end.

So what have I learned?

  1. Frankly, I hardly missed sugar. I was fine without sugar as long as I kept eating fat and didn’t ever get ferociously hungry. As long as I kept my body fed and happy, I could decide whether to say yes or no to sweets. Finally, I’m in control rather than sugar.
  2. My sensitivity to sugar has increased. I eat half the amount of cake as I would before. I never found milk sweet before, but now I can taste its natural gentle sweetness from lactose.
  3. I’ve learned that sugar is hidden everywhere : Dijon mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, pasta sauces, salty chips, sushi rice, almost everything in a package.
  4. People either found it totally weird and extreme that I wasn’t eating sugar or else they thought it was awesome but not something that they could ever do.
  5. That said, doing something hard with other people makes it way easier. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one who’s lapsed into a sweet indulgence or being inspired by their sugar-free recipes kept me going after I got off track.

If you want to quit sugar too, follow my journey of quitting sugar week by week :

If you want to more support in quitting sugar, buy like I did Sarah Wilson’s how-to manual on quitting sugar:

I Quit Sugar Book Cover by Sarah Wilson

If you buy through my link–THANK YOU–I get $6 from her, and it’s the same price for you but you also get my bonus PDF detailing where to get some of the supplies that’s hard to find outside of Australia. Once you make your purchase through my link, please contact me with your order number, I’ll send you my bonus PDF.

Illustration of Anti-saccharrites by James Gillray (which I first saw at Berlin’s Sugar Museum)
 

I Quit Sugar Week 8 : Choosing Sugar Consciously

Sugar in my bowl

So it’s the last week of quitting sugar, but I’ve already started to experiment with adding sugar back to my diet about a week and a half ago.

Usually when I’ve been integrating sugar back into my diet, I try not eat too much of the sugary stuff–just one bite or as little as I can. Over the weekend, however, I was invited to a traditionally German coffee-and-cake afternoon party where there’s basically tons of cakes, coffee, and tea. I decided that I was really going to eat as much cake as I wanted, like I used to before I quit sugar. Back before I quit sugar, I’d definitely eat a slice from each cake and then go back for seconds or thirds from my favorite/s. I thought that perhaps I’d revert back to my sugar-loving ways.

I was pleasantly surprised by what my body told me I wanted once I gave myself full permission to eat as much sugar as I wanted : I had a slice from two of the cakes and four or five waffle hearts, but I never even made it to the third cake. I was repulsed by the taste the way Sarah Wilson is. I really enjoyed the cakes as indulgences. I just didn’t need as much as before to be satisfied. Unfortunately, my body was not used to all that sugar,  and after that party I could not fall asleep until 3 or 4AM due to the sugar high.

I had the same reaction with the fructose-free chocolates I ordered. Previously, I finished bars of chocolate in two-three days. It’s been about ten days since my chocolates arrived, and I still have yet to finish a bar, even though I allow myself to have as much as I want. I just don’t crave them like I used to. In Sarah Wilson’s words, “The enemy just leaves the battlefield.” It’s just no longer an issue.

Results from quitting sugar

Even though other people report weight loss from quitting sugar, I don’t have a scale and don’t know if I gained or lost weight. I can testify, however, that my tummy was flatter when I quit sugar 100%, because I wasn’t retaining water. I did have a clearer head throughout the entire day, and I rarely got slumps when I needed something to pick me up.

Going forward, I’ll be back to eating fruit, chocolate (fructose-free for a while until I finish the many, many chocolate bars I ordered), and sweets.

The changes I’ll stick to from my eight weeks of quitting sugar are

  • drinking coffee and tea without added sweetness
  • not drinking fruit juice or fizzy sweet drinks at bars–just ordering water!
  • eating fat-full snacks when I’m hungry rather than reaching for a sugar-laden pick-me-up
  • adding flaxseed oil to my dinners to get happily full and to get my fatty acids
  • reading labels to see how much fructose is present and trying to stay below 3-6 grams of sugar per 100 g serving

I don’t want to become an anti-sugar bore, but quitting sugar has really improved my mental and physical health. If you’re interested, you can start the journey by finding out more from my first blog post about quitting sugar.

 

 

Illustration by noodlehug

I Quit Sugar Week 7 : Sugar’s back!

Sugar Free Cakes

So I’ve been adding sugar back to my diet slowly but gleefully after a few weeks of not having any sugar at all.

The plan is that I’m supposed to add some low-sugar fruits first, but I’ve just been eating sugar as they pop up in my life.

For example, today I went out for Thai food with my coworkers. And now I can really taste the sugar in the yellow curry sauce. Before I would have been surprised if you told me that Thai curry sauces were sweetened, but after a few weeks of very limited sugar I can actually taste its sweetness.

Because it was part of our set menu, I had a blackberry-juice-based sparkler at dinner last week.

And tomorrow I will eat a slice of cake to celebrate a birthday.

marie-antoinette-cake

I don’t know if its just coincidence, but a few hours after I drank the sugary juice drink last week I had a slight buzzy headache. And today after I ate the sugar-laden Thai curry, I got the same kind of headache in the afternoon. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow after the birthday cake if sugar really gives me headaches.

Meanwhile, my huge box of chocolate bars from Frusano arrived! Frusano is the only company offering chocolates sweetened with dextrose. The chocolates taste silky smooth, almost normal.

If you don’t live in Germany and find international shipping prohibitively expensive, I found a recipe to make Chocolate Toffee Drops with dextrose from Sugar is Poison:

 

Sugar Free Dextrose Chocolate

125 g solidified coconut oil
3/4 cup dextrose
6 T cocoa
4 T full cream milk powder
a pinch of salt

Melt 125g of solidified coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve 3/4 cup dextrose in some water on the stove and then add the coconut oil. Sift the 6 tablespoons cocoa, 4 tablespoons full cream milk powder and a pinch of salt together, and then add to the liquid. Spoon into moulds, a tin or just spread it out on a piece of foil and refrigerate till set.

Thank you if you’re reading this. Thank you if you’ve been on the journey with me. It’s you who keep me honest…just two more weeks! And then back to chocolates and cakes!

Photo sources from top to bottom: Ann Mah, Australia Entertains, and Sugar is Poison
 
 

I Quit Sugar Week 6 : Time to add sugar back to my diet?

Mushrooms

After six weeks of quitting sugar, of which four weeks were cold turkey–that means, no honey, no stevia, no fruit, Sarah Wilson‘s program allows for adding fruit back in.

But I don’t feel ready yet for sugar. The idea of quitting sugar cold turkey is to get the addiction to the sweet fix out of my system, but I’ve lapsed a few times during my four weeks. Two times I did so consciously, but two other times…well, let me just tell you that it is dangerous to have a box of chocolates from out-of-town guests just standing around innocently in my living room. And ever since I lapsed and had a chocolate, I’ve been back to craving chocolate every night : chocolate bonbons, cake, mousse, hot cacao.

It’s funny, because in Sarah’s experience she was ‘repulsed by the taste [of sugar]…it seemed so acidic and cloying’. As for me, sugar in the form of dark chocolate still rocks my world. So I ordered more than 60 euros’ worth of 100% glucose chocolates from Frusano. It’s the only recommended sugar, because it contains no fructose. I can’t wait until my box arrives…

If you’re also on the journey of quitting sugar, how are you dealing with sugar addiction or withdrawal? How do you know when you’re over it? Do share your tips with me!

Signature from Bettina of Active Hands Yoga

 

 

 

 

Illustration from Lucileskitchen

I Quit Sugar Week 5 : 11 Fat-full, Sugar-free Snack Ideas and Recipes

So I’m now on week 5 of quitting sugar.

To keep myself feeling full, I’ve been replacing my usual high-sugar snacks and drinks with the following:

1. Instead of a berry and banana smoothie every morning, I tried a pure green smoothie with cucumber, some lemon juice, ginger bits, and lots of green leafy purslane.

2 & 3. Instead of a slice of dark chocolate cake, I’ve been smearing almond butter on rice cakes (a recipe I got from Sarah Wilson’s quitting sugar manual) or eating it mixed into plain, full fat yogurt.

4 & 5. Instead of sugar with coffee and foamed milk, I’ve been drinking chai and coffee without sugar and with a lot more milk than usual. The lactose in the milk is a little bit sweet.

6. Instead of sugary apple juice, I’ve been drinking coconut water.

Food substitutes I’ll be trying this week:

7 & 8. Instead of salty chips that are laden with sugar, I will be eating salty, crunchy, sugar-free pickles or popcorn with butter and nutritional yeast.

9. Instead of sugary salsa, I’ll be trying this recipe for herbed crème fraîche as a dip for raw veggies. The recipe is just full-fat crème fraîche with dried basil or parsley or chives, salt, and pepper to taste.

10. For breakfast, I want to try this bacon-turnip casserole with vegetarian bacon.

Sugar-free Breakfast Casserole

 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground VEGETARIAN breakfast sausage
3 turnips, peeled and grated (a food processor works well for this)
4 eggs, beaten
3 scallions, chopped

Instructions:

Sauté sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon or spatula, until almost cooked through.

Mix the sausage with the rest of the ingredients.

Spoon into a 8×8 baking pan.

When ready to cook, heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes then cover the pan and bake for 25 minutes more. Let cool 15-20 minutes so the casserole sets before cutting into it.

Here is the original recipe at Mark’s Daily Apple.

11. For dinner, I’ll be making this vegan adzuki bean and pumpkin casserole.

Vegan Adzuki Bean Pot

Adzuki Bean and Pumpkin Casserole from Scandi Foodie
(Recipe adapted from Janella Purcell)

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 cup adzuki beans, soaked over night and drained
1/2 butternut pumpkin, cut into chunks
40g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water
1 stick of kombu
750ml water
ground black pepper
salt reduced soy sauce or tamari
toasted sesame seeds, to serve

 

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the garlic and the ginger and sauté for another minute. Add the pumpkin, the beans, mushrooms, kombu and water and season with pepper and soy sauce. Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Take out the kombu and slice it into small pieces, then return the kombu into the saucepan. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with brown rice.

If you have any good sugar-free recipes, please let me know!

xoxo,
Bettina

 

I Quit Sugar : Progress Notes from Week 1

Sugar

About two years ago I tried to quit sugar. I lasted about two days before I succumbed. Not that I haven’t quit successfully before : 2010 was a year of quitting. I quit coffee for a month. I quit dairy products for a month. And I have not eaten meat consciously (unless I was an unexpected guest of strangers who are doing their best to host me on my travels) since more than 15 years.

But sugar! Even the idea of quitting sugar makes something inside me scream in frustration. One, I love autonomy and I hate the idea of limitations. Two, sugar is my beloved. I use it to motivate myself to finish projects. I celebrate milestones with cake. Pastries was how I got to know French culture when I lived there for almost three years, how I got inculcated in their culture of pleasure of the senses. I love ice cream, cookies, chocolate, sweet coffee.

But I know how bad sugar is. Doesn’t everyone? If you don’t think sugar is bad, consider that

SUGAR

  • becomes fat instantaneously
  • gives me mood swings as well as energy swings
  • makes me more liable to get sick since it compromises the immune system
  • ages me faster than normal
  • fuels inflammation needlessly
  • induces salt and water retention giving me a bloated mini-belly some times.

If you want a huge list of 146 reasons why sugar is the devil, visit the website of Nancy Appleton, author of Lick the Sugar Habit, by clicking here.

If you want to know the science of why sugar–all sugar, even fruit sugar and “brown” sugar and honey–is bad for you, watch the very long and informative lecture below.

YouTube Preview Image

So I sat about two years with the idea that sugar will run my life. It’s really not a problem to start the day with sweet coffee every single day. It’s not a big deal to indulge in a sweet treat craving of the chocolate variety every single day. Sometimes for a few nights straight I drink hot chocolate (but dark hot chocolate!) right before bed for the sweetness it gave my dreams. Or so I told myself. And I needed to motivate myself somehow, right?

I know that I’m addicted to sugar because the thought of quitting it gives rise to irrational irritation and incredible resistance. Until one of the women who inspires me with her lifestyle Sarah Wilson wrote the book I Quit Sugar, which made  me to commit to quitting sugar again for the next 8 weeks.

I Quit Sugar Book Cover by Sarah Wilson

 

In fact, she’s leading a 8-week program on her blog to guide people through her book I Quit Sugar. So if you’re looking to detox your body after the excesses of the holidays or just from fast living in general, come join us! You don’t have to buy the book; you can find lots of information on Sarah’s blog.

But the idea of quitting sugar was so hard for me to face that it’s easy to have a week-by-week schedule. As they say in other addiction programs, one day at a time. The 8 week schedule for quitting sugar is really gentle and moderate, unlike when I tried to go cold turkey back in 2010.

Week 1 : Start to cut back

Week 2 : Operation Eat Fat

Week 3 : Quit!

Week 4 : Face the demons

Week 5 : Get creative, experiment, and detox

Week 6 : Adding some sweetness back in

Week 7 : Recovering from lapses

Week 8: Refining and moving forward

Sugar Free Contents Page from Sarah Wilson

Yes, you can quit sugar without the book. You don’t need it to just. stop. eating. sugar. More power to you if you can just decide to do it and get it done.

But I recommend buying the book if you want Sarah Wilson’s shopping list of great supportive sugar replacements, her recipes for breakfast replacements, her tricks for making quitting sugar a fun-ish experience, and the general feeling that you are supporting your choice to quit sugar with the kindest and most researched advice possible. You can buy the $15 book from her site or from my link here. If you buy from me, I get a $6 commission but the price is the same to you no matter where you buy it form. That said, I’ll be working on a German-based and American-based version of her shopping list, which is full of products mainly from Australia. Once I finish my research, I’ll send it out to those of you in Germany or the US so that it’ll be easier to source some of the teas and supplements Sarah recommends.

I Quit Sugar Preview Inside by Sarah Wilson

Progress Notes from Week One of Quitting Sugar

So for week 1 of quitting sugar, the idea is to just cut back. I’ve started to drink coffee without sugar and stopped drinking a fruit smoothie every morning for breakfast. Nonetheless, during yesterday’s and today’s afternoon slump I’ve already had 5 or 6 chocolate chip cookies and a dark hot chocolate. Oh! And a chocolate mousse after dinner last night…but the point is to endure the 8 weeks, so I’m cutting myself some slack and am happy that I am not adding honey to my coffees for now.

Edited to say : If you buy the handbook by clicking on this link, THANK YOU! I get a commission, but the price is the same no matter where you buy it. Once you make your purchase through my link, please contact me with your order receipt, and I’ll send you my bonus PDF detailing where to get some of the supplies in Germany and in the US that Sarah Wilson recommends on her Australian-based shopping list.

Have you tried to quit sugar or any other addictive substances? Please share your tricks and tips with me in the comments section below so that I can quit sugar as joyfully as possible in the next 8 weeks!

Top photo from U.S. National Archives ; all others from Sarah Wilson