Three things I’ve learnt from the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Programme

I signed up to the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Programme because I felt as though my sugar eating was out of control, and didn’t think I could get it under control on my own. I had tried to quit sugar without any support but always lapsed after a few days, and by lapsed I mean “binge ate a whole box of Thorntons chocolates and then beat myself up about it”. Having the structure of a programme was helpful, as was spending money on it. I was keen for the cash I’d parted to be an investment in my health, which meant that this time I took it much more seriously than those previous half-hearted attempts.

These are some things that I learnt:

1. It’s good to be forced out of your routine and try different things. Using the recipes provided in the meal plan expanded the repertoire of meals I feel confident preparing, and introduced me to foods and combinations I would not otherwise have thought of trying. It made me realise that I had been stuck in a food rut: eating the same things each week. I like my habits and routine, and the thought of having something other than my usual cereal and soya milk unnerved me a little bit. Now I have a much more creative approach to breakfast and eat a variety of different options throughout the week.

2. I don’t need sugar. This might seem like stating the obvious, but it can be difficult to remember when you’re in the midst of a craving. I don’t think I’d ever not given it to a craving before, so it was a good discovery that they do go away if you ignore them, and get less frequent if you can get into the habit of ignoring them.

3. But I do want sugar. I must admit that I have had a few lapses. I was tempted into buying a cone of icecream when I was hanging out with a group of friends for my birthday. Usually, I would feel really guilty after eating ice-cream and also not be able to stop. This time, I found that I was satisfied by a couple of scoops. I really really enjoyed the icecream but it wasn’t followed by the usual pang of guilt because I knew that I didn’t need sugar, hadn’t had it for a couple of weeks, and was equally able to not eat it for a few more. I will never give up sugar entirely because I want to have the occasional treat. But making it just an occasional treat has been much better for my headaches, my mental health and my enjoyment of it.

So while the programme hasn’t made me quit sugar, it’s made me feel much more in control of my eating. While I doubt I’ll ever be completely free of disordered eating, I’ve found that staying off the sugar is managing to break the cycle of binge eating and purging. For me, this programme has been much more about improving my mental rather than physical health. Even though I have actually put on weight, cooking healthy things from scratch has made me feel much more in control of my eating which is in turn making me feel much better about how I look. For this reason, I think paying for the 8 week programme has been a pretty wise investment, even if I haven’t used the meal plan much since about week five.

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3 thoughts on “Three things I’ve learnt from the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Programme

  1. Hey Kate

    Interesting to read how it went for you. Well done for sticking with it! I would agree with all this. Have never given up sugar completely for a period – but went through a drastic reduction a few years ago, which to this day I maintain. And then again about 6 months ago reduced further, to what is now very healthy. I think it’s good if you do continue to eat sugar, I don’t believe in banning anything – and def not in making anything taboo – partic. if you have a background of disordered eating – which I do too.

    I too learnt that I don’t need sugar – and if do I just have a couple of squares of dark choc in the eve – that seems to satisfy the craving. I know that Sarah Wilson is big on a spoonful of coconut oil for beating sugar cravings – did you try that? My thing was fizzy drinks – I used to drink a few litres a week, and now don’t drink that much in a whole year – and it doesn’t take any restraint.

    What type of sugars were you asked to cut down on? Did she include starchy carbs too or was it more about refined sugars, juices, and I remember you mentioning cutting down fruit for a while?

    Alex

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for commenting. I did try coconut oil for cravings, but it didn’t really work as much as I’d hoped. I found it was better to distract myself by calling a friend, going for a walk or run, or just getting up and moving around the office a bit – which suggests my cravings were just as much down to emotional reasons or boredom than any physical effect.

      I had already stopped drinking fruit juice and fizzy drinks a few years ago, when I first started to cut down on sugar. My biggest problem was the 3pm bar of chocolate or piece of cake that I thought I “needed” to get me through the afternoon. It was only difficult to give this up for the first few days and now I’ve found, like you, that it doesn’t take any restraint.

      I did have to cut down on starchy carbs – a lot of the recipes were paleo (think I had a rant to you about Cauliflower “rice”?) This was a big revelation because previously I had thought I needed to eat loads of carbs for energy and to keep myself full, but actually I didn’t. I eat a lot less pasta now!

      Kate

      • Interesting re. coconut oil. I need to give it a go just to see but does seem a bit odd to me. And it’s not the most appetising…

        Good observation re. what actually worked to ‘take away’ the craving – it’s amazing isn’t it how often we turn to sugar, or snacking, when we’re just bored. When I’m watching TV I find it difficult not to snack, but have got better at it – best cure for that is to watch less TV anyway! And now that I’ve finished Breaking Bad I hardly do…!

        I once did a 24 hour water fast. Not very long I know but very interesting experiment. Realised that it’s not that hard – did feel a bit light headed come late aft. but also learnt how much of my eating is because I’m bored…

        Yes it’s amazing how quickly the addictive or habitual aspect of it subsides.

        Haha oh yes the cauliflower rice! I may give it a go to see! I have heard the trick is to under-do the cauli 😉 Yes I used to believe that once upon a time too. It’s a massive debate in the nutrition world – but I certainly lean towards a paleo style of eating now. Good quality protein source with veg/fruit and a small amount of starchy carbs. Also – dif people thrive on dif levels of carbs – I think it’s pretty individual… And I have read too that women, for hormonal health, need a bit more than men. But most people can cut their carb intake quite significantly. I lost a lot of weight just by doing that without really trying. Haha yes I do love pasta too – but have had to get used to making it an occasional treat!

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