Why Quitting Sugar Changed My Life

Written by Samantha Sutherland

I've been a yo-yo dieter my whole life: Size 10 to size 16 to size 12 to size 16 to size 12 to size 16. (See how I never got back down to size ten after about age 16?) I was never hugely overweight, but I was never comfortable in my body.

And I thought about food ALL THE TIME!

What would I eat, and when, and would anyone notice, and could I slip some more chocolate in the daily menu, and was there a new crash diet that could take the weight off and then keep it off while I gorged on chocolate? (There never was one, and I tried a lot.)

I've spent more than my fair share of afternoons at work watching the clock, having an internal battle (always a battle!) about whether to go and get sweets, and how many, and how could I hide my sweet eating from my colleagues (or husband, or friend, or sister... the battle didn't always take place at work). I was mean to myself about my lack of willpower, and my ugly fat body*. Whatever my size, I was unhappy with it.

Then, I stumbled across the quitting sugar revolution.

I wasn't sleeping, so I went to a naturopath who suggested cutting carbs, including sugar, for a couple of weeks. She had looked at the detail of my diet and where I was struggling. (While I hid my chocolate consumption from everyone around me, I knew that if I was paying a naturopath to help me, I had to assume she wasn't judging and give her the cold, hard candy truth.)

That was very hard. I tried 6 times before I managed to do it. The cravings got too strong, the internal negotiator knew me too well and I crumbled. Usually with quite some gusto.

Once, I made it to 3 weeks, then thought I'd be OK to have some chocolate for my birthday dinner. I was OK with it that night, but then the next night I wanted chocolate again. And the next. And the next.

My 5th attempt lasted a month, and Easter saw the end to that. I realized it was time to give up after I ate so much chocolate that I was sick. Twice. (Think: two packets of chocolate cookies and a liter of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the evening, following a big bag of mixed sweets during the afternoon at work.) that I was sick. This was part of my annual, two week, post-Easter, a-lot-of-chocolate-every-day binge.

So I decided it was time to break free, and I quit!

All sugars, in all their forms. No processed sugars, no natural sugars, no sweeteners, not even any fruit. I went extreme, for about two months. After that, I slowly started adding a bit of fruit in, and it took about 5 months before I added in any fructose-free sweeteners (like stevia, or rice malt syrup).

The effect?

Freedom! In a way that I had never experienced before, and could never have imagined.

  • I stopped thinking about food all the time, and now I can stand at a party next to a bowl of sweets and not touch one, and not be mean to myself, and still hold a conversation. That is success in my book.
  • My daily internal negotiations stopped.
  • My daily internal diatribes stopped! I'm not mean to myself about food anymore.
  • I stopped eating in secret.
  • I no longer see eyes filled with loathing, silently watching and judging my lack of willpower when I eat something other than a piece of lettuce.
  • The freedom gave me the ability to start thinking about food in a positive way, so now I look for nutrients, and healthy fats, and nourishment.

I haven't felt free from food and its vice-tight grip on all my thoughts and emotions before. Ever! I can remember feeling fat at age 5, and eating in secret from not long after that.

I can honestly say giving up sugar has changed my life, and given me a mental freedom and clarity that I had never before experienced.

In case you're wondering, I also lost weight. I've settled now at size 10 without really doing anything else.

Five year old me, and now me both say, "Try it! You have everything to gain."

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