Each month I like to choose 1-2 habits to focus on for improving my health. For a very long time, ‘quitting sugar’ has been on my list, but for some reason I kept putting it off.
My main rationale was that I normally only have sugar once or twice a week. Surely I didn’t have a problem with it?
But there was something in my hesitance to give up the white stuff which made me curious. So in April I committed to quitting sugar for a month.
Before I share my experience lets have a look at some of the reasons why sugar has been getting such a bad rap lately…
Why is sugar so bad?
1. It gets stored as fat.
Regular table sugar (sucrose) is made from half fructose and half glucose. Most people in the ‘quitting’ sugar camp are focused on the negative effects of fructose. Basically the concern is that fructose can only be digested by a special pathway in the liver which stores the fructose directly as fat. Without giving us a chance to ‘burn’ it for energy first. Ouch.
2. It gets stored as fat.
Yes, repeating myself here! But you know the glucose that makes up the other half of table sugar? When it gets digested it goes into the blood stream and when the levels get high enough, insulin is released to help bring blood glucose (sugar) levels back to a safe range. Whenever insulin is around the glucose is getting stored as you guessed it… our old nemesis fat.
3. It feeds cancer cells.
I was really interested to learn last year that the only source of fuel that cancer cells use is glucose. Preliminary studies have shown that reducing the amount of glucose in the body reduces the incidence of cancer. For more on this see Potential Tactics for Defeating Cancer. It’s fascinating stuff.
So did I manage to quit sugar?
Actually no I didn’t make it through my month sugar-free.
There was one night when we had friends over. I’d asked them to bring dessert and was planning on sitting it out. But when the time came, it felt wrong to not at least taste the lovely apple pie. Which was delicious for the record.
It did surprise me because normally I’m happy to say no to the sweet treats in social settings.
But apart from that, I made it through the month.
How did it make me feel?
To be honest I didn’t really feel any different at the end of the month. But given my regular sugar intake it pretty minimal, I wasn’t surprised.
The only positive I did notice was that normally my weight does up after a weekend of sugary indulgence and returns to normal around Wednesday.
But during my sugar-free weeks I didn’t have any of these spikes.
What I learned
My experience confirmed my suspicion that sugar is a little like alcohol. Definitely not good for you in large quantities. And definitely good fun.
I also think that just as some (unlucky) people are prone to becoming alcoholics, there are some people who are more likely to suffer from sugar addiction.
And that just as there are people who can enjoy 1-2 glasses of wine a day in a healthy way, there are people who can treat sugar in a similar manner.
I feel like I’m not in the ‘sugar-holic’ class. Although wine is a whole other story for another day ;)
Why turmeric? As I mentioned in my post about anti-cancer foods, turmeric is a super powerful anti-inflammatory and has been shown to decrease tumour growth in lab tests.
A hot cup of something spicy and slightly sweet is just the thing to ward off sugar cravings. Or when you feel like a treat that isn’t going to way you down and may actually do some good!
makes: enough for about 12 cups
takes: 5 minutes
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons granulated stevia
1 tablespoon ground ginger (optional)
milk, to serve
1. Make the tea ‘mix’ by combining the cinnamon, turmeric, stevia and ginger (if using) in a jar or other airtight container. Keeps in the pantry for months.
2. To make your ‘tea’ place 1-2 teaspoons of the mix in a cup. Top with hot water and a splash of milk. Relax and enjoy!
dairy-free – use your favourite nut milk instead.
richer – instead of using boiling water use hot milk.
no stevia? – replace the stevia in the mix with sugar OR skip it and serve the tea with 1-2 teaspoons of honey stirred though after adding the milk.
fresh or dried stevia – skip the granulated stevia and add a few leaves to your cup when making the tea.
What about you?
Is sugar something you struggle with? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.