(home made sugar free granola with Greek yoghurt* and rhubarb and a green smoothie)
In Mid July 2011 I gave up sugar. Specifically fructose. Why? Well not for weight reasons, and not for anti cancer reasons, although I have read that cancer feeds on sugar. Really it was for I Wish I Could Stop Falling Asleep At My Desk In the Afternoon reasons. And I have found that giving up sugar is not one of those annoying life changes where you only feel marginally better, or a diet change where it takes months and months to kick in. No not at all. I found within literally days that I felt so much better.
This is how I got there.
First, I have been reading Sarah Wilson's blog for a while. If you don't know it go there now. It is informative, and inspiring, in a world where the word 'inspiring' is overused. She gave up sugar for medical reasons, and is about to issue an e-book on her journey.
Second, I became very tired of the sugar highs and lows I was getting from my sugary cereal with fruit juice breakfast, little bun or muffin at morning tea, more juice at lunch time and then chocolate and more in the afternoon and then maybe a chocolate biscuit after dinner. Or ice-cream. Or, on weekends, lots of ANZAC biscuit mixture on a Sunday afternoon. The sweet things are not great but the real culprit is fructose. Read here about David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison, and his take on sugar.
Third, I thought how much I would love to have the same level of energy throughout the day. So I made a plan. Did some more reading. Thought a bit more. The real challenge is breakfast because it is so sugar dependent. So I knew I had to find something for breakfast which is quick and sugar free.
Fourth, I made my cereal, based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. It is very easy. Turn oven onto 180, spread two cups of oats over a lined baking sheet. Get two cups of raw nuts and pulse in a food processor until you have half crushed and almost powdery but with some large nutty chunks. Put them on the tray too, along with a cup of sunflower seeds. You can also add coconut (but note it will be brown within about 10 minutes so you will need to take it out first), pumpkin seeds, or really any other seed which can be roasted. No fried fruit (this is a fructose heavy as fruit juice). Put in the oven for about half an hour turning regularly until the oats and nuts are all toasty and light brown.
Fifth, I found pretty quickly that I got sick of coconut water for breakfast. I didn't realise how much I relied on the quenching nature of fruit juice. I really needed that in morning. Then I found Kimberley Snyder's glowing green smoothie. I love this so much. And she is such a relentlessly 'up' person that I feel just that little bit more perky every time I read her blog. This drink gives me a complete energy boost until lunchtime and it really doesn't even taste very vegetable-y. Try it - you will not regret it.
(looks like a science experiment...)
Do I miss chocolate? Yes oh yes. And I am still seriously considering excluding chocolate from my list of sugary foods. However, on the few instances I have lapsed, I find I get a sugar rush from a tiny bit of cake or biscuit and after my mouth feels weird and sugary. I have filled the hole with sugar free chocolate which is surprisingly nice. I am not going all crazy about this. If I want a piece of cake I will have one. However the removal of my staple endless fruit juices and sweet lollies has made such a difference to how I feel that I don't think I will ever be able to go back.
And to be clear, this is not deprivation territory. You can still have coffee (lactose is okay), beer (maltose is okay), wine (not sure what sugar is in there but it is apparently okay) and fruit (but whole only maximum two pieces a day).
Go on y'all. Give it a try.
* beware of low fat yoghurt - it is loaded with sugar. I love this Greek yoghurt which is available in all supermarkets - almost no sugar and just like the yoghurt you get in Istanbul which is where I first fell in love with yoghurt for breakfast.