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How this sugar-free life started
If you had told me three years ago that by 2017 I would be eating a completely sugar free diet I would have likely spat out my triple chocolate brownie in utter disbelief.
Three years ago my health was not a priority in my life.
I thought if I ate a reasonable diet, exercised had treats in moderation all would be good.
We, as a family, ate what I thought was a healthy diet. Meat and veg, very little potatoes, pasta occasionally and sweet treats only on the weekend.
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Unless there was a cheesecake in the fridge, then, every day until it was gone. You can’t let those things sit for too long, they go bad and that’s wasteful. I am not one for waste.
Each year would see me gain another kilo and I was feeling my age.
Constant hot flushes left me feeling depleted, sleep was intermittent and exhaustion was a constant companion.
One day I happened to catch something on the T.V. about David Gillespie and his book ‘Sweet Poison’ and my interest piqued.
I bought the book. After reading that I devoured Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar”. It all made so much sense and her recipes certainly looked tasty.
A Grain-Free Diet Too
There was something else.
Somewhere in my reading, I learned about processed grains and their negative impact on our diet and health.
Eating grains spikes our insulin as surely as a piece of my favourite brownie.
It was clear grains such as wheat, barley, rice and all their derivatives would have to go as well if I was to gain my health back.
When I settle my mind to something I generally do it.
My only concern about going sugar-free and grain-free was how long I would be able to stick with it. I was so addicted to sugar I doubted I could forgo my Saturday brownie forever.
I woke up one morning that same week and said to myself “today’s the day”.
And so the grain-free, sugar-free journey began.
My first port of call was our local wholefoods shop where I bought up large. This would be the food that would be replacing the sugar and grains.
Flour was possibly the hardest to go without. I had always made my own bread so there was plenty of experimenting with bread made from seed or nut flours.
I make everything from scratch so packaged foods that contain ridiculous quantities of sugar were a breeze to eliminate. Cutting out my daily apple and stone fruit was a little harder but I took the hit. Every available opportunity there was I was trying to replicate our diet pre sugar-free, grain free. And I achieved it to a certain extent. Little did I know I was setting myself up for a fall.
After the initial few days of feeling very sorry for myself, the fog cleared.
Weeks later I had lost a little weight, had energy to burn, the hot flushes disappeared and I was sleeping better. Winning!
The Journey Into Ketosis
Nearly a year down the track and I had a revelation after reading a little about Ketosis and how good people felt when they cut carbs to very low levels and increased the fat they were eating.
I had fooled myself into believing that we were eating a low carb diet. We bought a glucose meter and I started recording what we ate in My Fitness Pal.
It was enlightening.
We had unwittingly increased our carb intake to compensate for the loss of sugar and grains.
What I failed to realise was this was a completely different lifestyle we had chosen, not the same lifestyle done differently. The foods we used to eat needed to stay in the past.
Life without sugar needed to be a complete reconstruct.
We felt a lot better than we had but in my usual way of pushing my way through life, I wanted more.
We made the decision to try living in Ketosis.
The hardest but most necessary part of this next step was recording what we ate in My Fitness Pal. Once I learned portion control and the foods to keep away from I was able to stop recording everything we ate.
If one of us got off track I would record what we ate for a little while to see what was causing the problem.
Peter initially had trouble with his cholesterol but we were able to fix that by cutting out saturated animal fats and replacing them with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocado.
We ate nuts, seeds, a little dairy, lots of vegetables, moderate amounts of meat and sparing amounts of berries. Dark chocolate was our treat. I used stevia and xylitol to sweeten things but we found our palates no longer enjoyed overly sweet foods so I used it sparingly.
After suffering from hypoglycemia for a short while I started feeling awesome. Sleeping well, full of energy, no menopause symptoms at all, clear brain function, clear skin and a body that was the shape I had strived for all of my carb addicted life.
A year or so on
We still live a low carb life although cycle in and out of ketosis depending on how we feel. It doesn’t feel like a chore, it is comfortable and easy. I haven’t had a cold since forever.
We don’t preach about our lifestyle. Many are curious but few judge just as we don’t judge them. In most situations, there are choices we can make without giving offense.
I from time to time assess and readjust. My portions may start to creep up in size or I find myself eating just a few too many nuts or pinching a mouthful here and there of Lulu’s sweet stuff.
I am always making changes. Introducing food such as homemade kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and nut butter. Each new addition adds to our variety and enriches our experience.
With each passing year as more people make similar changes, healthier food choices are appearing in supermarkets and restaurants making healthy lifestyle choices easier and less time-consuming.
Update – 2020
It is now a further 3 years on.
We no longer live in ketosis but still choose a fairly low carb diet.
Processed sugars very occassionally make an appearance in the occassional treat.
Fruits high in sugar are still no longer part of our lives and neither are grains or there products such as bread, pasta rice.
Due to illness Peter was in a position where extremely low carb was not beneficial which led me to look into more of a plant based diet. We now eat as many veggie meals as we can with the occassional meat meal inbetween.
I now find that if I deviate too much my stomach is the first to let me know. My system is no longer able to cope with rich sugar ladened, grain rich foods and I would rather eat simply and sleep well than suffer all night.
I have put a little of the weight back on but am okay with that. The hot flushes and mood swings have not returned which suggests I am managing to keep the carbs fairly low.
I hope sharing my sugar free story has perhaps inspired you to make some changes in you own diet. If you have any questions or you want to share your own story let us know in the comments.