The other day I got involved in a soul stirring conversation on one of my favourite, honest and down to earth foodies Facebook page about the controversial topic that is the ‘sweet life without the sugar’ aka the sugar free lifestyle.
It became apparent to me that there are many people, who like me, see this sugar free propaganda/ yet another diet but with a heap of celebrity and tv endorsements, as fear mongering at its finest (the diet industry has to have a favourite kid on the block after all!) and that quite simply buying into the taboo that sugar is like cocaine is just as tasty as the recommended 6 teaspoons a day of stevia (a shocking tasting sugar free sweetener…that sugarfree followers certainly wont admit to!).
I get asked a lot about whether quitting sugar is worth all the effort.
Because let’s be honest: we all know quitting anything you enjoy will always be an effort and it’s fact that we all enjoy sugar. I don’t tell people to gorge on sugar, like I don’t tell people to gorge on anything (vegetables include). Gorge isn’t in my vocab when it comes to eating and if you’ve been a follower of my work for some time you will know this.
My philosophy is simple and incredibly logical: Food is just one part of your life so just like living, make sure whatever you eat you enjoy it, it makes you happy and you appreciate it.
To be a little more specific I eat, live and play with the aim to feel both emotionally and physically well.
If that includes a combination of vegetables and dessert, then I will eat and enjoy them.
In advising others about whether to try a sugar free lifestyle or not, the only experience I can draw upon is the days I was a devout sugar free eater, a status I achieved through joining Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar 8 week program.
I’ve made it no secret that a few years ago I was obsessed with how my body looked because I thought that the skinny equaled success, beauty and happiness was what the pursuit of life was all about.
If I couldn’t control my career, relationships, finances etc I’d control myself in the most obsessive way I could: through my mouth. Being a type A, perfectionist virgo, this was relatively easy to maintain because in a sense willpower was my (invisible) middle name (my parents aren’t all that cray cray!).
While I didn’t really know this at the time (or perhaps I did but wasn’t ready to face the whole ugly truth) quitting sugar was essentially a coping mechanism for the difficulties I was facing in life.
I genuinely thought that by being healthier I would be happier: a little exercise here and there for stress relief, eating strange and expensive super foods would surely boost my productivity (because sleeping was pretty hard given the stress and anxiety I was experiencing) and the vegan/ gluten free/ raw food diet seemed the answer to super clear skin and fixing my digestive issues (experienced because my body was starting to freak out that it was in starvation mode!). If you want to know more about my story you can check out my free ebook here and read this interview here.
That period of my life would soon turn into I Quit Life (I wasn’t suicidal- let me make that clear!! My reference to quitting life was about the severe feelings of hitting rock bottom: specifically watching my food fears escalate to a new level and watching friendships I valued tether away because of my toxic mentality around food….to name a few hardships).
Ironically though I Quit Sugar is marketed as an 8 week program designed to help change your relationship with food and designed to set you up with the skills and knowledge so you can stay sugar free.
Change my relationship with food this program certainly achieved. For the worse.
Sadly I haven’t got a glowing testimony of losing the 5-7 kg I Quit Sugar boasts ‘most’ people lose (which interestingly weight loss is the first question they answer in their Q & A section on the program landing page and address as a program feature in Sarah Wilson’s marketing video…and it’s not another diet anyone?!!).
My taste buds changed for sure because I was restricting (and I had paid a significant amount of money to do this course plus I’m a control freak by nature so you bet I was going to stick it out and restrict for the 8 weeks even if my life depended on it). And unfortunately I didn’t quit sugar for life because after you spend so long restricting (which is what this program is- it’s no gentle recalibration- it’s classic restriction) your cravings intensify (it’s part of our biological need). I’d be keen to know out of the 200,000+ people who have done the course are still sugar free life-stylers.
I thought I’d write a little testimony of sorts, to honestly document my perspective. Here goes:
“I graduated from the 8 week program feeling more scared about food than I have ever felt in my 28 years of life. When I once gobbled an apple with enjoyment and appreciation, I wound up staring the apple down, cutting it into small pieces to try break the sugar molecules down and eventually ate a small piece to end up on my bathroom floor crying. I’d scrutinise nutritional labels scoffing at a product with anything labeled by I Quit Sugar as a sugar bomb (sultanas, mango, honey etc), went shopping armed with a calculator so I could work out the number of teaspoons in food and would inconvenience dinner plans with my boring ‘obsessive’ (labeled by friends) requests about where was best to cater for my sugar free diet.
Life got boring. Obsessive. Controlling. Rigid and restrictive. Everything that I did not want when I paid the $150 to live the next 8 weeks of my life.
What’s living, having a clear head, feeling free and energetic when you scrutinise food, fear a majority of fruit and are taught various tricks like managing a naturally occurring sugar craving with a tablespoon of coconut oil? How is one happier when they are consciously justifying eating 1/3 of a (‘sugar bomb’) banana in their smoothie, burning essential oil to manage a sugar craving and being reassured that the sugar in your toothpaste is ‘ok’?
Am I missing something? I really, really don’t believe so.
Anyone with a diet mentality needs to avoid this program because it IS a diet. It’s based on restriction, rigidities and rules which essentially is what makes up the fall pit of EVERY diet (which never work because we have all been on/off MANY for these very reasons). You’re not taught to eat from a place of permission, moderation or compassion around food which after all is HOW dieters essentially WANT to learn to eat and connect with their food. And apparently we as complex human beings who have managed to get ourselves to space, create planes and explore the depths of the ocean are apparently not intelligent enough to manage the biological craving that sugar ‘has’ on us…pfft. I call BS here.
This program is about playing to the hard and fast rules of avoiding, fearing and scrutinising food and often nutritious food at that (fruit- naturally occurring sugars). A recipe for disaster if you ask me and certainly not how our seemingly healthy generation of grand parents learned to appreciate food and nourish their bodies”. Sarah, Singapore.
So as you read I didn’t feel inspired. I didn’t feel free. It didn’t feel organic and I certainly didn’t feel like my health was in order (words taken directly from the landing page and video content- see here). I didn’t get clear skin and I didn’t get a clear head. While it was delicious, it wasn’t worth the unsatisfying taste it left on my life.
To conclude the line I love the most in this video here is that quitting sugar doesn’t ‘need to be difficult’. And that it doesn’t. Part two of this will address reasons why quitting sugar does not need to be difficult and importantly I’m going to walk you through a way to quit sugar that will make you feel Free, organic, inspired, like your health is in order and will give you a clear head. And it’s easy.
Like what you read? Please share this article around with your friends because this whole sugar free movement is getting nothing short of dangerous and full of unhealthy eating behaviours.
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