Today marks the beginning of my second week of keeping my intake of sugar, in particular fructose, to an absolute minimum. I thought I’d reflect on how first week went and share with you what I found particularly hard and easy about the first week of the challenge, what I’ve been eating, and also the questions I’ve been asked.
What I Found Hard
I knew from my reading around the subject that I was unlikely to find the first week of the challenge particuarly hard in terms of avoiding sugar or sweet things. Most people can go a week or so without the need for a chocolate bar or a can of coke, it just takes a little bit of will power. I’d also read that it would be unlikely that this would be the week that I’d struggle with cravings or withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, and I think that’s been mostly right. Over the last seven days, I’ve had infrequent and low level pangs for sugary treats but nothing more. I did suffer from a bit of a headache, but I’m putting that down to lack of water, something that I’m pretty bad at – keep hydrated Vicky!! So, in short, no… I didn’t really struggle with cravings.
What I did find hard was the unexpected. Things I couldn’t really control. Such as being offered bananas at a BBQ, twice this week! These are my favourite part of a BBQ, they’re so naturally sweet and delicious with lemon juice that it took a lot of power to say no. It also took some will power to not eat the after eight chocolate which was delivered with our bill on Saturday night after our meal out. But the biggest thing, was being offered a glass of prosecco and not really thinking before saying ‘yes’ to the offer – I did say yes, and I did thoroughly enjoy it, but it probably was the most sugar I’d consumed in the week. Had I been expecting the question, I might have either taken my own drink (a dry red or white wine, or beer) or have asked for a glass of water. I won’t beat myself up about that at all as it was a small and infrequent glass!
I did also find it a little hard and somewhat strange, to sit down with my best friend and to natter away in a cafe, with a drink in hand but without the slice of cake. It was really weird. Which just shows me how much of my sugar problem is driven out of habit.
What I Found Surprisingly Easy
This week, I’ve been surprised at how easy it’s been for me to not want a chocolate bar or patisserie. I actually thought it would be a lot harder to walk past a cafe or chocolate stand without having to close my eyes. I’m also really surprised at how my parents have taken to my challenge, as soon as I told them why I was trying to quit sugar for eight weeks, they completely understood my reasons. For me, it’s a matter of wanting to free myself from cravings, rather than proving to them that I can give something up.
I’m not one for food label scrutinising, honestly, I’m really not – but I have been looking at the backs of packaging this week to understand how much added sugar is in what I’m eating. I’ve been particularly surprised at how low added sugar is, in the items I would normally pick up – which has made me quite relieved that I’ve not been kidding myself in terms of my day-to-day meals for dinner. I also found it easy to chose low added sugar sandwiches and snacks for our picnic over the weekend, choosing to stick to an egg and watercress sandwich (1.4g of sugar per 172g pack), mini pork-pie, carrot sticks and humus, and a pot of green olives.
What I’ve Been Eating
The main thing that I’ve done differently this past week, is that I’ve been eating more good fats. Sarah Wilson from I Quit Sugar suggests increasing your intake of good fats (such as avocado, coconut oil, meat fats, and cheese such as goats cheese) for the first couple of weeks to help decrease the strength of cravings. Therefore, I’ve been eating the following delicious things:
- Eggs and bacon for weekend breakfasts and week-days when we have time
- Half an avocado filled with tahini and pumpkin seeds
- Cashews and almonds roasted with either: cinnamon, all spice, olive oil and salt; or tamari, salt and chilli flakes.
Questions I’ve Been Asked
I’ve been asked a couple of questions this week about the challenge, namely the following:
Can You Eat Fruit?
For the first 5-6 weeks of the challenge, I won’t be eating fruit because the fruits that I enjoy the most, such as bananas, are high in naturally occurring fructose. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, the latter is the baddie which goes straight to our liver and gets stored as fat. It’s also the part of sugar which is highly addictive and which makes us eat more than what we actually need. Therefore, as recommended within the I Quit Sugar challenge, I’m not eating fruit for 5 to 6 weeks, to give myself the best chance of weaning myself off addictive foods and to stop my cravings. After that time, I’ll then chose to eat low fructose foods, such as blueberries and grapefruits.
What about Alcohol?
Alcohol has a very low proportion of residual sugars following the fermentation process. The fructose within the grapes in wine gets turned into alcohol and therefore the proportion of the bad stuff is very low, particularly in dry wines such as a merlot or pinot noir. I will be avoiding white wine and fizz, as these will inherently have more sugar. But, one thing that is in my favour is that I don’t associate wine or alcohol as satisfying my sugar cravings, therefore I won’t be actively seeking it out as such.