FAQ. No, that is not a creative spelling of an expletive that describes exactly how I feel when I remember I can’t have pizza… It’s Frequently Asked Questions time! Since I started I’ve been getting tons of questions from friends, family and people interested in cutting back on their own sugar intake. I haven’t spelled out much on the details of my challenge yet, because I jumped right in without overthinking things #justdoit. So here we go!
Are you insane?
Okay, so maybe this is my most FAQ to myself and yes I am a bit of a crazy cat lady, so there is a chance that I’m not right in the head. But – the older I get the more I am noticing the effects of what I eat on my health. Being diagnosed with PCOS was a big kick in the lady balls and I have also been waking up with stiff joints and constantly dealing with injuries at the gym. Despite warnings from other 30-somethings, I didn’t think it would happen to me. I’m a nutritionist, I know better!
Why give up sugar?
Sugar used to be a treat that only the very rich could afford in small quantities, now it has become a staple in nearly everyone’s diet. What effects has this massive influx of sugar had on our society?
In the short term sugar can cause: acne, mood swings, unrestful sleeps, fatigue and susceptibility to colds and flus. In the long term in can cause: cavities and dental disfigurement, depression, cystic acne, PCOS and infertility, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance and diabetes, and studies are even showing that it could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar causes inflammation (oh, hello stiff joints). Long term inflammation in our bodies can lead to: arthritis, asthma, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Sugar is not the only contributor to inflammation, but watching what we eat and drink can go a LONG way in reducing our inflammation and improving our health.
How can some innocent little white powder lead to so much evil in our bodies? Consider an egg which gives your body a variety of nutrients; choline, selenium, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, molybdenum, iodine, vitamin B5, protein, phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin A. Now consider white sugar, it has been refined and stripped of the vitamins and minerals that we need to process it properly. In order for our bodies to metabolize the stuff, it must take nutrients out of our body, meaning sugar can rob us from chromium, magnesium, and calcium (please keep this in mind with ALL refined foods – always choose whole foods first).
So which sounds like the healthier breakfast choice? Scrambled eggs or a bowl of Sugar Loops…I mean Fruit Loops?
I promise to give you more details about sugar metabolism throughout the year. For those of you that can’t wait please check out some of these resources:
Are you eating natural sugars?
As far as fruits – yes! Mother Nature made fruit in a perfect package, wrapped in fibre, so our bodies can eliminate the fructose safely without congesting our livers.
As far as maple syrup and honey, no, I am avoiding those for the year too, unfortunately. As delicious as they are, they contain fructose without fibre. Don’t get me wrong, there are many health benefits in maple syrup and honey, but for this year I can live without their sweet deliciousness.
Are you eating sugar alternatives?
For the most part I am cutting out anything sweet, including alternatives. Occasionally I will have some stevia or xylitol in my smoothies as my favourite protein powers are sweetened using those.
Are you drinking alcohol?
I wasn’t too sure when I started the no sugar year about drinking. Alcohol is very hard for our bodies to process, so for the most part I’m going to avoid alcohol. When I do indulge on special occasions (I’m only human), I will be sticking to drinks with minimal fructose levels, such as red wine and clear spirits mixed with water. Feel free to check out this link for a breakdown of the sugar levels in your favourite adult beverages: https://iquitsugar.com/faqs/can-i-drink-wine/
What does a typical week of meals look like for you?
Homemade, homemade, homemade! Food producers often hide sugar in processed food to make it more palatable, so although it’s a little more effort cooking from scratch, it is totally worth it!
Let’s take a look at my meal plan for next week:
My breakfasts depend on the day. Mornings that I go to the gym for a swim before work I typically have a bulletproof coffee at home and then a smoothie when I get to work. At home breakfasts vary from nuts-and-seeds homemade granola with almond milk or different kinds of eggs with veggies.I may or may not have an obsession with eggs as you may have noticed from my Instagram.
Lunches are always leftovers from the night before or sometimes leftovers turned into a salad.
|Roast beef, potatoes and veggies
||Veggie lasagna (with zucchini noodles)
||Homemade chicken soup and tuna wrap on a flax wrap (avocado instead of mayo)
||Chicken legs and a green salad
||Baked fish with green salad and sweet potato fries
||Burgers (no buns) with roasted zucchini/ peppers and onion.
||Out for supper to Plant Matters Kitchen
What is your goal weight at the end of the year?
I don’t have one. To me this year is about getting as healthy as possible. I have always struggled with my weight, so I do not want to put a number on it. I know weight loss will happen throughout the year so I’m considering that as a happy bonus!
I’ve had blood work done to show my “before.” I’ve measured my glucose and insulin, cardiovascular markers (cholesterol and triglycerides), as well as my inflammation markers. I also had some of my lady hormones measured so I can see how no sugar impacts my PCOS over the course of the year. I have definitely learned that I cannot rely on the scale to tell me how well I’m doing day in and day out!
How can I cut out sugar?
You know you best. Personally, I felt like I had to just cut sugar out entirely instead of just cutting back here and there – I definitely sound like an addict eh?? Programs like 21 Day Sugar Detox or I Quit Sugar are great places to start for those of you that are thinking ‘enough is enough’ and want to jump in with both feet.
For some people an all or nothing approach would be too stressful and counterproductive in the long run. For those people I would definitely recommend cutting back on things that are manageable. If the thought of giving up your box of timbits a day causes you anxiety, start somewhere else and work your way up to that.
The first thing I would suggest is to look at what you are drinking. Are you drinking sugar on a regular basis, in your coffee, lattes, pop, fruit juices, sports drinks, tea, etc? Start switching out these sugary drinks for water. You can add in lemons or other fruits to help you make the transition if you are water-adverse. Increasing your aqua intake will help you to start feeling awesome – after all we are mostly water!
“Through activities of daily living, the average person loses about 3- 4 liters (about 10-15 cups) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movement. What is lost must be replaced by the water/ fluid we drink and the food we eat.
We lose approximately 1-2 liters of water just from breathing. The evaporation of sweat from the skin accounts for 90% of our cooling ability.” – Dr. Batmanghelidj
The next place to start cutting sugar, if you are anything like me, is your snacks. What are you snacking on throughout the day or at night in front of the TV? Some great alternatives are nuts and fruits, chopped veggies with hummus, popcorn (from whole kernels not microwave popcorn). I’ve been having a cup of night time tea after dinner and this not only stops me from making trips to the kitchen, it helps me to relax before bedtime so I can get a sound sleep.
Please feel free to contact me for more tips and to sit down and discuss how sugar might be getting in the way of you achieving your inner awesome!
Yours in health,