Have you ever been in the process of giving up sugar?
I have fond memories of helping my mother bake. I would sit at her side and help mix the ingredients, and even share the empty icing bowl with my brothers as most children do.
We always had cold sugary pop in the fridge and a sweet treat for after dinner. So looking back, it’s not a surprise when I say that many members of my family now have Type 2 Diabetes. This is a nature vs. nurture issue that means I’m a lot more likely to develop diabetes myself. What makes this even worse since I suffer from PCOS, which affects the way my body processes sugars.
Once I was diagnosed with PCOS, and my doctor knew of my history, I was put on a Low GI Diet. I had to not only limit the amount of sugar going into my system but think about slowing down the sugar that does enter my system. Sticky rice and white bread have been left behind. Since fruit juice floods my body with sugar, I had to leave that behind too. So many surprising things were limited or cut out of my diet.
I had to completely change my eating habits, and while this was very easy in some areas, I couldn’t have predicted just how much my body had gotten used to sugar after years of having so much in my food and drink.
So here, in complete honesty, is my experience with giving up sugar:
I wasn’t prepared for the headaches. At first, I just thought it was a normal headache that I’ve had time and time again, but this didn’t really go away after regular paracetamol. Sleep would help for a while, but the nagging was still there. It was starting to get difficult to concentrate at points. I thought maybe I was dehydrated, so I drank more water during the day. This lasted for a few weeks, with headaches coming and going.
Sugar is a useful fuel if you burn several thousand calories a day, so your body has evolved to crave it. Whenever you eat a sugary treat, your system is flooded with endorphins, which make you feel good. If this stream of endorphins is restricted, you will crave them. Maybe a little at first, after a particularly hard day. It can be ever so tempting to have that chocolate bar or to bake something. The cravings and the headaches would often go hand in hand – the longer you went without sugar, the more headaches you would have.
Between the headaches and the food cravings, you feel run down. Your body has gotten used to having instant energy and now that energy is harder to get. This is the time when your body starts to break down fats instead. It takes time, but the longer this goes on, the easier it is for your body to release all that stored energy. Your body will still need sugars but focus on natural sugars. Even a blended smoothie is too much processing – Just eat the fruit instead.
I’m about 6 months into having a lower sugar diet, and I’ve lost about 2 sizes. I feel like I can get a lot more done because I’m not having to eat more sugar to stop myself crashing in the middle of the day. The pain I went through at the beginning is worth it, because even though you need it in moderation, sugar is an addiction. It’s one I’m happy I’ve kicked.
So, this is my experience with giving up sugar, what is yours? Share yours in the comments below!
By Amy M.