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8 sugar-free weeks (and still going!)

Posted Nov 28 2011 2:42pm

Hi friends!

As promised, here is a little recap of my sugar-free challenge (so far) - how it all started, how it went and how I am feeling now. These past eight weeks have really been just the beginning. I have no urge to go back to having sugar in my life, and as you're about to see I am doing quite well without it!

So, eight weeks a go I came across this book ( Click here for the book ). I bought it, and started reading it. As I was reading along, I realised how similar my situation was to that described by Sarah in her book. I didn't think I ate that much sugar, I hadn't been using refined sugars for a while, never ate any shop-bought cookies, cakes, sweets or other sugary treats. But I was eating a lot of fruit, a piece or two of dark (85%-99%) chocolate a few nights a week and I was baking with raw sugar, raw honey or maple syrup. Although this was probably still less than the average amount of sugar most people consume daily, I felt I could do better. I was eager to see how I would feel after eliminating all sugar out of my diet, including fruit.

A little background might help you to understand how easy it was for me to embark on this challenge. I am all or nothing kind of a girl and once I make a decision I tend to stick to it. I have also been told I can be (very) headstrong and I must admit this is probably true. On this occasion, however, I think it was actually helpful to have that determinative nature. After I read the book, I decided to quit sugar. There and then, and I didn't look back.

I felt the change already within the first two weeks of the challenge: I had more energy, I was full after a meal and I didn't crave sweet things to end a meal, I was less sluggish and less bloated and all in all felt much better. After the first two weeks I had got so used to my new eating habits that I didn't even think I was missing out on anything. I was eating a lot of fresh vegetables, drinking freshly made vegetable juices and herbal teas and supporting my daily energy intake with nuts and nut milk.

I had also started cutting down grains, but kept having quinoa a couple of times a week and also had a couple of lentil dishes here and there. Quinoa is a perfect protein for vegetarians and as it is more like a seed than a grain, it was an ideal inclusion in my diet. Cutting down grains whilst on sugar-free diet will certainly help, and will give you even a better result.

Towards the end of the challenge, I decided to cut off dairy as well. Now this may seem a little extreme to some people, but I can promise you it really made a huge difference. One week into dairy-freeness and my energy levels have gone through the roof. Perfect timing, as I will certainly need all the extra energy ahead of this week's move.  

Now what can I eat? Well, I have a glass of home-made almond milk in the morning (see below for the recipe) before my exercise. After my exercise I have a big brekkie that includes more protein, usually tofu or tempeh. I have a snack before lunch - Brazil nuts are my latest addiction, and I sip on fresh vegetable juice (celery, cucumber and ginger has been my recent favourite). There are endless vegetarian choices available for lunch, this cauliflower curry , black bean salad and these tartlets are just a few of my recent favourites. I tend to have a big breakfast and lunch and go lighter towards the evening. I often just have a salad for dinner and have another small snack of nuts or a glass of nut milk later in the evening. As for fats, I prefer to use virgin coconut oil for cooking, flaxseed oil in salads and in addition I eat 1/2 avocado and nuts daily.

Home-made almond milk is superbly easy to make:

1. Soak 1 cup (170g) of raw almonds (or you could use Brazil nuts) in plenty of water overnight. 
2. Drain the nuts and add in a blender with 3 cups (720ml) of fresh water.
3. Blend until smooth, then strain the milk through a sieve lined with muslin to get rid of all the pulp. Store in an air-tight jar/bottle in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (it will probably last longer, but I am always careful).
As for tips how to get started on the sugar-free path, I have to say it much depends on each person's situation. For me, going cold turkey worked just fine and I had no withdrawals or cravings. I suggest you first analyse your daily sugar intake and then decide what method is best for you. I've listed a few sugar-free recipes below to get you started.

Needless to say I have nothing negative to say about this experiment, and although I am not saying I'll never eat fruit or use raw honey again, I have no urge to go back just yet. I am also interested to see how dairy-freeness will support this diet even further, and restricting these elements from my diet is certainly making me come up with more creative recipes.

I hope I've been able to inspire some of you at least to consider going sugar-free. You may think you can't do it, but trust me, it's not that difficult! Once you stop feeding your sweet cravings, your taste buds will adjust and you won't miss a thing!

Here are a few sweet recipes you could try for a soft landing to sugar-free life. 

Grain-free, sugar-free breakfast muffins

Sugar-free coconut granola

Sugar-free rhubarb macaroon slice

Activated, spiced nuts

Grain-free, sugar-free zucchini mini cakes

Grain-free, sugar-free sweet parsnip bread

I would love to hear your feedback! Have you gone sugar-free? How are you feeling?
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