I just finished my first full month of sugar detox and in that time, I lost almost 7 kilos and regulated my “bad mum moods” (as my kids call them). My skin cleared up, and my taste buds changed. Sugar, as it turns out, is some nasty shit.
This all started about a month ago when I failed a glucose test during a routine visit to see my doctor for my third pregnancy. A week later I failed the dreaded three-hour test and was given a blood sugar test kit, a new diet to stick to, and some insulin. The most logical thing to me seemed to be giving up sugar altogether, so I did.
When I first decided to give up the sweet stuff, I had no idea that it is in everything. Not only that, I didn’t even realise that I wasn’t reading food labels correctly and that what I thought was a “healthy” diet was actually a deadly one. For example, did you know that the average slice of bread has on average six teaspoons worth of sugar in it? Did you also know that it’s recommended an adult female should only eat between six to nine teaspoons of sugar in a day? Crazy.
For the first week, I had to work extra hard to consider everything I put in my mouth. I kept a notebook in my pocket in order to keep track of everything I ate including how much sugar and carbs that food included. I had to test my blood two hours after I ate a meal and I quickly learned how easy it is to flood your body with sugar.
When you consume sugar — in any form — your body turns that into energy and that unspent energy gets turned into fat. The problem? That side effects of consuming sugar can mean developing some terrifying problems that range from weight gain to diabetes to heart disease.
For years, we have been told that diets high in fats are deadly and terrible for our hearts, but as it turns out, sugar is the major culprit to declining health. In a recent report by the New Scientist, “National Obesity Forum, a UK body for health professionals involved in weight management, made headlines when it overhauled its advice, telling people to ditch calorie-counting, low-fat foods, and carbs in favour of fats.”
The one thing about giving up sugar that I was not prepared for and that more than 30 days into quitting I still struggle with, is the craving. After spending three decades not thinking of sugar as fun and good, having to give it up completely has come with an emotional cost. I genuinely miss cake. I miss cereal. I miss fruit. Yep, you read that right, when you give up sugar completely, you must also give up most fruits. Everywhere around me are examples of food that I cannot eat because of the sugar content: pasta, bread, milk, chocolate, oranges, and a freaking glass of wine. All of it is gone from my diet now.
By the time my child is born I have a 90 percent chance of not having diabetes any more thanks to the temporary shelf life of gestational diabetes. But I will have learned some valuable lessons in how I treat my body with food. I understand what portion control is since I am required to eat on a schedule punctuated by blood tests to make sure I’m not screwing up my health. I’ve learned that value of whole foods I prepare myself over the convenience of prepared foods purchased from the grocery store on a frantic work night when I’m just trying to get through a day.
I would not recommend that everyone ditch sugar to the extreme that I have, but I would definitely say that it worth looking closely at what you eat and how much sugar is in it. Make some healthy trades like maybe instead of that chocolate cake (that OMG, looks so fu*king delicious) try eating some poached eggs and tomato slices. You’d be surprised how satiated you’ll feel and how cheap and easy (and, yes a little fancy) that breakfast is to make.