The Impact of Sugar

So for those unaware of my story, about a year ago I attempted to reduce sugars from my diet.  Great right?  Not so much.  I took on board advice from sources such as Dr Libby Weaver’s ‘Sweet food Story’ and Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ as well as other reference material I could find.  Awesome, all set – real food and healthy fats in, processed foods and sugars out.  How great I will feel, how much energy I will have and as a bonus some excess kgs might magically disappear too.

Now, I can’t fault the advice or my source material but after a few weeks, I felt lousy : bloated, heavy, tired and I was gaining weight.  In following well intentioned advice, I had massively upped my dairy intake.  So after allergy testing, I confirmed that I was dairy intolerant (both lactose and dairy proteins).  So, going dairy free is a whole other story but skip forward to last week.  I was at a particularly low point, after being run down with a sinus infection, not exercising, comfort eating for at least a fortnight I decided enough was enough, let’s go back to that sugar issue.

So, this time my primary influence was ‘The Sugar Impact Diet’  by JJ Virgin.  Now, doing anything with the word diet in it goes against my core values but I have to remind myself that this is a word that has been soiled by the weight loss industry.  I did have to take the book with a pinch of salt, it is written for the weight loss market or certainly edited for publishing with a heavy emphasis on ‘losing 10lb in 2 weeks’.  If you can look past that, it’s well written, well thought out and doesn’t suggest anything ludicrous.

There are several main concepts: The types of sugars and their impact on the body’s systems; the timing of meals; eating and the composition/proportions of the food types at every meal.  The first of these is covered in very readable text and divides food groups into high, medium and low impact sugars.  Then the timing of meals follows 3 main meals, no snacking (unless you find you need to keep that mid afternoon one in there), water 30 mins before eating and an hour after.  The advice is to keep 12 hours between your evening meal and breakfast, no food in-between but water before you go to bed.  It involves being alcohol free and close to gluten free.  The proportions are 1/4 plate lean protein, 1/4 plate healthy fats, about 3/8 non starchy vegetables, 1/8 gluten free high fibre carbohydratess and low glycemic index fruit.

That might seem quite simplified but it’s actually some pretty simple principles, not unfamiliar strategies to anyone reading quality authors with similar aims.  So the ‘diet’ is a week on no high impact sugars, a week on all low impact sugars and then a week reintroducing the medium sugar impact stuff.  That’s it, stay in cycle 1 till you can get there without being hungry.  Not until you get used to being hungry but until you’ve got the balance of food groups right, that is to say assuming like me you had to reign back the carbs that you replaced them with enough of the other groups.

So how’d I go? Great, I was feeling better after 2 days.  I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t craving sugars by midweek.  My bloating went, my energy was up, my skin felt really good and I lost 3kg in a week.  I know enough to know that’s water weight but still I feel really charged.  So much so, that I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do!  So I’ll stay in cycle 1 for another week but don’t feel the need to drop anymore.

So, I thought I’d heard all there was to hear about sugar but this shone some new light on areas I was struggling with.  Especially taking this journey dairy free.  So I find myself recommending it, have a sugar detox for a few weeks and see what you learn about yourself and your relationship with sugar.  But always go with common sense, these are never a one size fits all, your body will tell you if it’s wrong and if you’re not sure ask your doctor.