Last Sunday I watched Sunday Night on Channel 7. I was half watching, and half talking to friends when the program about sugar came on. I watched with interest as the guest reporter, Peter FitzSimons, detailed his own journey with giving up sugar, and lost a staggering amount of weight as a result. According to experts every Australian eats 33kgs of sugar each year! 33 KILOGRAMS. EACH. A YEAR! I was absolutely staggered, as well as disgusted. Surely that couldn’t be true? Well I was about to find out.
According to the program, experts are now saying that we’re eating so much sugar that it is causing a number of diseases/illnesses including obesity, heart disease and even cancer. Further, it is claimed that sugar is addictive and there are calls for it to be regulated, like tobacco and alcohol.
In the past I had a number of friends who had read the book ‘Sweet Poison – Why sugar makes us fat‘ by David Gillespie. I laughed at them, and thought that is was completely ridiculous to blame sugar for making us fat. And I thought how completely absurd, and boring, it would be to cut out sugar from my diet. However, something in the program struck a chord with me, and I could not stop thinking about it.
On Monday, I was thinking to myself exactly how much sugar I personally would consume on a daily basis. I usually don’t eat breakfast as I don’t like eating too early in the morning. I also like to sleep in and would rather have an extra 10 minutes of sleep than make and eat breakfast. So instead I buy a can of Red Bull on the way to work and that is my breakfast. Pretty bad I know. The amount of comments I have received over the years about it now just go in one ear and out the other. Although sometimes I would drink fruit juice, which I thought was a much healthier option. I would then be hungry by about 10:30am, so I would eat a piece of fruit or have a yoghurt. Then for lunch I would have tuna and rice, sushi or a sandwich. Usually washed down with a coke and sometimes a freddo frog (I would justify this because it was so small!). In the afternoon I would buy myself a ‘treat’ such as a chocolate bar, so as to get my through the afternoon. For dinner I would usually have meat and 3 vege, stir-fry and rice or something like that. Then I would have another treat after dinner like ice-cream, chocolate or biscuits. I also often buy cakes and other sweets while out at a restaurant/cafe because I tell myself I don’t eat that badly.
While I think that I eat relatively healthy for lunch and dinner, until I actually sat down and thought about it I hadn’t realised the amount of sugar that I consumed on a daily basis. This is not to mention the times (usually once a fortnight or so) when I would go grocery shopping and buy a family sized block of chocolate, or a bag of M&M’s and then eat it all in one go! I also find that if I don’t eat enought sugar I get quite shaky, and so to pick myself up I eat more sugar, and the cycle continues like that. So to say that I am addicted to sugar is somewhat of an understatement. And it scared me to think that I was poisoning myself with all the sugar that I was consuming.
Spurred on by what I had seen on the program, and realising how much sugar I actually consumed daily, I decided to finally read ‘Sweet Poison’. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down and I read it late into the night. While alot of the chapters to do with chemistry and other scientific information didn’t make much sense to me ( I should have paid more attention in school!) I did manage to understand that:
- Eating fructose does not make us full for very long. Meaning that we can eat a lot and not feel full.
- Every gram of fructose that we eat is directly converted to fat
- Prior to sugar being so readily available there were not as many obese people
- In 150 years we have gone from eating no added sugar to eating more than a 1kg a week (which is actually 52kgs not the 33kgs I had previously heard about..Eek!)
- You would need to run 7km every day just to not put on weight from eating that much sugar
- We are addicted to sugar and it is in so many products that I would not have thought possible
- If you drank a glass of unsweetened fruit juice every day for a year you would put on 2.5kgs!
So these facts (and many,many more) made me think hard about what I was putting into my body. I have also put on a few kilograms lately, which I’m sure is because I eat so much sugar. I am addicted to sugar, and it is not doing my any favours. So for that reason I decided to give up sugar….Cold Turkey. So now there is no drinking any sugar anymore, and the only thing I can drink is water or milk and anything with artificial sweetners in it. Instead of snacking on chocolates, yoghurt and other sweet treats I am eating nuts.
Now I gave up smoking a few years ago, and I didnt have any problems doing that, and had no withdrawal symptoms like other people, so I thought that it would be a piece of cake (ha!). Because, despite all the sugary treats that I eat on a daily basis, the two meals I do eat are sugar free so surely it wouldn’t be that hard. Well I was about to find out just how wrong I was!
So here is how I have felt for the first 5 days of my new sugar-free self:
Day 1 – I felt completely normal. I did the groceries and did not buy a single sugary treat. I also didn’t buy any soft drink or fruit juice. My boyfriend tried to tempt me to eat some of his Cherry Ripe, but I refused. This is possiley the first time I have ever refused chocolate! I weighed myself and I was 70.5kgs.
Day 2 – I felt a bit lethargic during the day and I was craving a bit of sugar to pep me up. Then in the afternoon I got a headache that just wouldn’t budge. Not a really bad headache, but just a constant dull ache. I went to bed and started to feel a bit nauseous, but I wasn’t sure if this was from dinner or from sugar withdrawal.
Day 3 – I felt so sleepy and depressed I could barely talk on a 1 hour car trip (so unlike me as I’m a chatter-box) and my boyfriend kept asking what was wrong. I was so sleepy and felt like all the energy had been drained out of me. I still had the headache and had to take panadol to feel better. At night I felt really nauseous and I couldn’t sleep even though I felt so tired. I ended up getting to bed at 1am. I Googled symptoms of sugar withdrawal, and it seems that this is compltely normal. But not very fun!
Day 4 – I slept in until 11am! And I never sleep in! I just felt so tired that when I woke at 7am I thought that I would close my eyes and then I woke up and it was 11am! I had absolutely no energy to do any of the cleaning or errands that I needed to do. I just locked myself in my room and felt sorry for myself. Also had a massive cry for absolutely no reason at all. Still did not have any sugar as I thought if this is the reaction that my body is having it really can’t be good for me. So will just battle on with it. I didn’t feel naeusous today, which was a relief.
Day 5 – Feel a lot better today. Although when I went shopping I didn’t really have the energy to fight the crowds and try on clothes or browse like I usually do. I just got what I needed and was out of there in record time! I also couldn’t stand seeing all the chocolate easter eggs on diplay, as Easter is my favourite holiday. The thought of not having easter eggs this year made me feel a little depressed! I still have a little bit of a headache, but nothing as bad as the other night. I thought about having McDonalds for lunch, but then thought about how much sugar was in the burger bun and went home instead. I definitely have more energy than yesterday, but still not back to how I was. Also I weighed myself and I weigh 69.2kgs! How is that even possible in only a few days?
So I will let you all know how I go in the next few days. I really want to stick to this, as everyone thinks that I won’t because they know how much I love sugar. I really feel like I can do it and I think over the next week I will start to notice a change in how I feel.