My post on Why I Quit Sugar generated a lot of interest – so I decided to ask you for any questions you might have. Here I attempt to answer them all! My apologies, as this was longer than I thought!
Before I start, again I would like to point out; quitting fructose was something that worked for me. There are many “healthy” ways of eating – you have to understand what works for you and your body, family and lifestyle.
I really want to encourage everyone to think about how they feel right now. Do you feel healthy? You don’t have to accept your current state – you can feel better!
If you want to, you can change your diet, how you feel and ultimately your happiness!
Ok enough preaching – let’s get on with it!
You’ve said you don’t eat sugar, but your recipes must have sugar in them, surely? You’ve posted cake recipes…
The buzz term “quitting sugar” is a false one really, as it refers to cutting excess fructose from your diet.
In summary (and I will keep it brief!), there are three forms of simple sugars, which make up all types of sugar: glucose, fructose and galactose.
Fructose has been determined as the “bad” sugar. When we eat it, essentially our body doesn’t notice it and we can eat and eat (and eat) and we don’t feel full. Our bodies are designed to only eat a small amount of fructose, however today we eat way too much! It’s in everything!
There is a lot of useful information in the “Sweet Poison” book by David Gillespie, he explains in detail how our bodies use sugar and why fructose is “dangerous”. I won’t go into it here, but check it out if you would like to know more!
So back to the question – my recipes are fructose free (or low fructose, if there is fruit in them). They are still “sweet” to a degree, but my palate is used to foods that aren’t sickly sweet. So my sweet and your sweet are probably different – you follow?!
Did you really eat much sugar before you quit?
Well I didn’t think so, but when I actually worked it out I did! I looked like I had a healthy diet, but I had a lot of hidden sugar in the foods I ate. I sweetened things with honey and always looked for “low fat” alternatives in packaged foods.
It was very easy for me to eat a lot of sugar without thinking about it – a few lollies here or there, some chocolate etc. I couldn’t really say no to anything sweet…and I always craved it in the afternoons (that 3pm pick me up!). I found it difficult to stop at one chocolate biscuit – if we had sugary foods in the house I would eat them until they were gone!
Once you start reading labels you’ll be surprised at how much sugar is in the foods we buy. We are eating so much every day and not even realising it.
At what point did you think you had really gotten over it?
I was pretty happy after a couple of months. I didn’t really feel tempted to eat anything sweet like I used to. I remember I tried some store brought cake and found it too sickly, it didn’t taste like it used to!
What about your girls – will they eat sugar?
You have to be realistic. Naturally I can’t shield my girls from sugar forever. I understand there will be times when they go to a party or a sleepover and eat some lollies or chocolates and I’m ok with that. It just won’t happen at home. I’m hoping I will have installed enough good eating habits in them that they will understand that is a huge treat!
As parents we are responsible for determining our children’s taste preferences for life, so I want to be sure I am setting my girls up for a lifetime of healthiness.
So I’m not being mean or unfair for not letting them have a lolly…am I?
Apparently when you quit sugar you don’t eat fruit – is that true?
If you follow the “program” from I Quit Sugar, they recommend you don’t eat fruit for the first couple of months. This is just so your tastebuds adjust to eating food that isn’t as sweet, so you have the best chance of getting off the stuff!
I do eat fruit now, but not anywhere near as much as I used to! I generally stick to berries and half a banana or some mango in my breakfast smoothie….for no other reason than I like them!
Do you ever eat sugar (in the form of fructose now)?
Sometimes…as I say I do eat a bit of fruit. If I go somewhere and order a meal that has sundried tomatoes in it I don’t flip out or anything! It might sound odd, but I do also “test” myself sometimes. For example, at Easter I tried a mini chocolate egg…I didn’t like it at all!
I also do use dates in recipes from time to time – I just make sure I don’t go overboard with it. As I’m not addicted anymore, I’m happy to have fructose from foods like that every now and again. Either way, sweet stuff should be a treat!
Do you think quitting sugar is a bit extreme?
For me, no – as I couldn’t’ stop at one of anything sweet. I tried to reduce the amount I ate but that didn’t work – I always “failed”, in the sense that I would end up binging and then feel bad – then just go back to the same old habits. It wasn’t until I cut it out that I could actually turn my back on it…easily!
As with most things, I believe your diet is an extremely personal thing – not everyone can follow the same eating plan and feel great. No two people are going to have the same “allowances”. For example, as I mentioned I still eat fruit. If I do eat something with higher fructose I definitely don’t get upset at myself over it or anything.
There is a lot of scientific evidence to point out fructose is harmful, so I’m happy to avoid as much of it as I can.
What do you think about sugar alternatives? Such as coconut sugar, rice malt syrup etc
Firstly I mostly use rice malt syrup in my cooking. Occasionally I use dextrose as a straight substitute for sugar. I try not to cook too much with dextrose though, as I find once I start eating sweet things I do feel like them more often again! And often these goodies have low nutritional value if you are just swapping one sugar for another. I would rather fill up on higher nutrient foods (and prefer to eat “cakes” that have lots of healthy ingredients).
As I said I also use dates occasionally – but please understand they are high fructose (if you are avoiding it).
To go into more detail, here is a list of some common sugar substitutes and their composition:
As comparison – table sugar (white, brown, raw & rapadura) is 50% fructose, 50% glucose
* Honey/maple syrup: approx. 40% fructose
* Dates: around 70% fructose
* Agave: up to 90% fructose
* Coconut sugar/syrup: around 40% fructose
* Dextrose: 0% fructose, all glucose
* Rice malt syrup: 0% fructose – 52% soluble carbohydrates, 45% maltose and 3% glucose. This is made from fermented cooked rice. If you buy it, ensure it only has rice (and water) as the ingredients.
* Stevia: 0% fructose. This is plant based and super sweet. Personally I don’t like the taste so don’t use it.
A note on rice malt syrup (and arsenic levels):
There have been concerns raised in relation to the level of arsenic in rice malt syrup. Luckily for us, Australia has high standards in relation to same.
The brand I use (Pure Harvest) have their products independently tested and confirm their rice malt syrup has well below the detectable levels of arsenic in food. The Pure Harvest brand is certified organic, so there’s no arsenic from pesticides in the syrup.
How about sugar alternatives in relation to insulin resistance. Like how rice syrup affects your blood sugar levels compared to sugar (in relation to PCOS)?
This is a very good question. My answer is going to sound like one big disclaimer, but there is so much conflicting information on the topic it is very hard to decipher it all. I think the best way would be to measure how your body reacts and go from there!
But here is my detailed response:
For anyone who doesn’t know, PCOS results in increased insulin production by the body. It is therefore recommended anyone suffering from this should eat a diet that consist of foods that are slowly absorbed (i.e. a low glycaemic index).
From a glycaemic index (GI) point of view, I previously believed rice malt syrup had a low GI level (25). After some investigation – I have found information to the contrary. The Sydney University GI database has its GI at 98!
I believe the confusion arises as the components of rice malt syrup are 52% soluble carbohydrates, 45% maltose and 3% glucose. By the time rice malt syrup is broken down by the body, it is 100% glucose. However, as it is only 3% glucose and consists of soluble carbohydrates, it takes longer for the body to break it down (roughly 1.5 hours). Hence why some research states it to be “slow release” and others point fingers at it!
As there are these conflicting reports, I believe it would be best to see what works for you. See how using the rice malt makes you feel versus other sweetener’s – but in all cases go easy on it! When you try and quit sugar, often people use heaps of it as they are used to the sweetness of foods with fructose, so you just have to be careful!
Hopefully that helped clear up a few questions you had over my story. If you decide to quit, it really helps to have someone to support you along the way, so please feel free to ask me anything else.
Also, I have some handy tips for cutting down on your sugar intake, so if you haven’t already – sign up for my weekly newsletter to receive them!