I didn't intend to quit sugar.
I asked the doctor for free membership to a slimming club, and went along. I have to say, I was shocked and horrified at the attitudes of the 20 or so women there. Purporting emulsified fat sprays, low fat yogurts and instant noodles, they seemed to be looking for a miracle - a way to somehow fool their lumpy bodies into losing weight whilst still eating all the foods they love and washing it down with weekly boozy nights out. Cheese is the enemy, vodka is the saviour, and putting on weight after a week's dieting warranted a round of applause.
I knew in my bones it wouldn't work... And I had 11 more weeks to go!
Then the weekend - not the ideal way to start a diet. Thursday was dinner and a night out with an old friend, Friday was a family meal out for a curry, and Saturday was our anniversary, so hardly the best start.
Then I bought this book... Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar. I stood in the book aisle and skimmed the process. It made sense, it seemed like it could work. It certainly made me think. 4 days after the slimming club fiasco, I decided to give it a go.
Surprisingly, the first day was not hard. I kept reading and rereading the book, because it seemed a little too simple. I stated taking lunch to work, instead of having the canteen food. I started checking labels and realised just how ridiculously high in sugar my diet had been, and this is coming from a person who doesn't take sugar in tea, and generally thought I was quite healthy.
The basic gist of the plan is to remove all fructose from the diet, and replace it with quality fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It was new to me to snack in cheese and switch to full fat dairy, but as much as I didn't fully believe it, having the fat did help omit the sugar.
The headaches were something else though! I wasn't prepared for the withdrawal symptoms, which really were comparable with a spectacular hangover. But they only latest for a few days, and by Wednesday night's slimming meeting I actually felt ok.
Anxiously I stepped on the scales, not expecting miracles (or anything really) but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had put on half a pound. Doesn't sound like a reason to be cheerful, but given my weekend, I could easily have put a pound or more on, so the fact that all the extra fat and cheese had not really had an impact, I thought I'm ok to keep at it, and see how it pans out.
Then came the miracle. Now the headaches had eased off, and I'd settled in a bit, I found energy I haven't had in years. As a teacher I work 70 hour weeks, but suddenly I was catching myself dancing in the kitchen while I cooked the dinner, and leaving work feeling full of energy, bit desperate to sleep. As the days went on, I kept it up, checking labels and continuing to be shocked at just how much sugar I had been eating without even realising. 28g in a low fat yogurt, 20g in a cereal bar - just making those 2 small changes has cut out 12 teaspoons of sugar per day, or 60 in a working week. And that is without the cereal, dessert, sauces, and all those other hidden teaspoons.
The weekend has been tricky in places - lunch with the girls at a city centre pub left me a little short of options, chicken and avocado salad to eat but only spring water to drink, then a night out with him indoors where I had a steak and chips, feeling a little uncertain about the rules. Actually, having checked the book, the meal was fine, but a couple of pints of real ale left me with a killer headache this morning. (Not a hangover, but the same sugar head from the beginning if the week.) Still, live and learn.
So now it's been a week. It's weird, because in many ways it feels like much longer, but no, 7 days exactly. But how do I feel? Like a new person.
Honestly, it's like rocket fuel. Looking forward to week 2.