Don’t be a Sugar-Plump Fairy — Why No Sugar doesn’t have to mean No Life.
I know, I know — there are few things in life more tedious that a nutritional convert — but bear with me. This is not a calorie-counting, life-ruining, joy-sucking type of suggestion. If you have read my post about How to Lose the Last 3 Kilos you will know I am not going to be winning a #fitspo award anytime soon. Life is short & food is awesome; but fructose my friend is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Yeah, Yeah, — I know the whole No Sugar thing has been around for a while. Sarah Wilson hasn’t stopped telling us how she quit sugar, David Gillespie has been calling the white stuff ‘Sweet Poison’ for ages and That Sugar Film was on general release in cinemas over 2 years ago. So- I am a little late to the party — So What? — Some kind of party this promises to be with no bleeding cake.
It was David (Gillespie) who finally persuaded me that my days of glazed donut holes and fairy bread were numbered. I read ‘The Sweet Poison Quit Plan’ in the bath all in one go (reading books that propose weight loss when you are naked make an impact; Fact). David lost 40k which meant I only had to work about 25% as hard as Dave did and I could remain on speaking terms with wine, carbs and cheese — oh joy!
If — like me — you are a late arrival to the party or never even expected to be on the guest list (No chocolate? No Haribo? No thank you!) then here is the skinny on what might be making you fat.
· Sugar: What’s the Problem?
The list is long and it’s not sexy. Sugar has officially broken our appetites (so we don’t know when to stop), it has messed with our triglycerides causing type 2 diabetes to run rife, and shot our cortisol right up making us more prone to disease. The health consequences of too much of the sweet stuff range from cancer growth to liver failure, from heart disease to dementia. If losing your waistline, along with your mind, wasn’t enough of a deterrent it also can cause premature ageing with a side of varicose veins.
· So? What’s the Solution?
Check the label — if it ends in -ose it’s a sugar. Sucrose, Dextrose, Glucose, Fructose. Just to confuse us it also answers to syrup, argave, fruit juice concentrate and 40 other sneaky little names Fructose is the one to look out for, this is the big bad wolf of the sweet world that can only be processed by the liver. The other -oses are OK in moderation.
· How much is too much?
The average person eats between 22–30 teaspoons of sugar a day, closer to 6 would be more in line with not dying of diabetes. In terms of the math, 1 tsp sugar is about 4 grams. We should be aiming for only choosing products with less that 3g of sugar per 100g or 100ml (3/4 teaspoon).
· What should I avoid?
Apart from the bleeding obvious (cakes, lollies, biscuits, buns etc.) there is lots of sugar lurking in other unsuspecting staples. Watch out for sushi, soy milk, tomato and BBQ sauce, tonic water, juice (so much), yogurts (so much), fruit, balsamic vinegar, store-bought pasta sauce (lots), granola, glazed meats, bagels and hoisin sauce. Beware also of ‘Sugar Free’ or ‘No Added Sugar’ — when a product doth protest too much it generally means its hiding something. Equally ‘Lite’ and ‘Fat Free’ translates to the-only-way-we-could-add-flavour-was-to-load-in-the-sugar.
What can I eat? Is there anything left?
Stick to home cooked ‘real’ food and lose the processed shit; Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, olive oil, cheese, avocados, pasta & other wholegrains. Snack on potato chips, nuts, toast with butter or popcorn. Spice up and add flavour to your food with Tabasco, hot English mustard, soy sauce, whole egg mayonnaise, fresh herbs, lime & lemon juice, cinnamon, chilli flakes. Drink sparkling water flavoured with lime, tea and coffee.
Can I drink alcohol?
Yes. Dry red and white wine retain minimal fructose in the fermentation process and beer is made from maltose which our bodies can digest just fine. Cocktails and spirits with sugary mixers should be relegated to occasional status. Bottoms Up!
Can I eat bread?
Yes. Carbs convert to simple blood sugar. Bread is fairly low in sugar (except raisin, banana and brioche). Stick to Sourdough (which is fermented which means its beneficial to blood sugar) and rye for best results.
What about chocolate?
Yes and No. You will have to break up with Kit Kats, Crunchie bars and the like but a few cubes of the hard core, cacao rich stuff (85%) is fine.
Is life over as I know it?
Not at all. Smugness aside, it can be downright liberating to find a diet that is not a diet. Not only have I lost weight (6kgs and counting) but my brain feels less foggy and I have also started, like a well-behaved toddler, sleeping through the night. For someone who regularly woke up 1–4 times a night this was a revelation.
I fell off the wagon week 3 when a can of lemonade seemed like a quick route to hydration. I legit lay in bed for 4 hours in a post-MDMA-rave-type coma with my heart beating out of my chest and a thirst that had yet to be quelled. Glucose has made an addict of many of us but it feels downright glorious once you break free. Thankfully your palate adjusts quite quickly and soon you will find sugary stuff so damn sweet it makes your teeth itch.
So — what are you waiting for? Go read ‘The Sweet Poison Quit Plan’ in the bath. Naked. Go on — I dare you.
For other tips on living a less-crap life check out Thin. Rich. Happy.
(Subscribe to my blog for a better life and to probs drop a dress size.)