We saw some great friends at the weekend who are in the process of going refined sugar free. They had Sarah Wilson’s ubiquitous book, and as I flicked through it briefly I thought to myself ‘wow I seriously missed a trick here’! Believe it or not I started out as a food blogger back in 2010. Well I say blogger, I uploaded recipes so friends could access them easily. I didn’t start adding stories or photos for another eighteen months, and by the time I got serious about the blog in 2012 I was fully on the Paleo wagon, which is a diet that is grain free, commercial dairy free and refined sugar free. I carried on with the blog (Ren’s Recipes) for another year, but unfortunately back then my food was largely considered ahead of its time. Then I started writing Mummy Tries and decided to import all my recipes over and close the first blog down. If only I’d cracked on with it and produced the book Sarah Wilson had done, I might be a millionaire right now.
My journey to being sugar free began in 2007, after being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and being told categorically by two doctors that I would not naturally conceive. Never one to just accept something negative I did what I always do. Research research research baby!
A Life Changing book
It is not an exaggeration to say that the book ‘What to do when the doctor says it’s PCOS’ changed my life. This is an easy read, which for me means I am able to take the words onboard – there’s nothing worse than trying to understand a load of boring technical jargon. It explains what PCOS is and it’s intrinsic link to sugar. In a nutshell my body is insulin resistant and does not process sugar very well, because of this PCOS can often lead to type two diabetes in the long term.
On an immediate level PCOS can present a whole host of unpleasant symptoms – the most common being weight gain, acne, facial hair and infertility. The solution according to the book? A low GI diet which eliminates refined sugar and white carbs. It made perfect sense to me, and I started right away. Within two years I fell pregnant completely naturally and by accident. Being told I was basically infertile had to have some advantages, and not being careful was one of them because we didn’t think we had to be. You can imagine the sheer elation at proving the medical world wrong and having a baby without assistance. I then went on to have two more babies, and now eight years later, do not suffer from a single PCOS symptom.
The evils of sugar are in the press on a daily basis, so I won’t bore you with details of why you shouldn’t eat the stuff. Instead I’ve listed my top five easy wins for those starting their sugar free journey, or wanting to at least.
5 Easy wins when you start your sugar free journey
1. Back then I was working 11/12 hour days and grabbing food wherever I could from the work canteen, so I went back to basics and started cooking mostly from scratch. I’d batch cook at the weekend and take all my own food to work, which made a huge difference. Cooking from scratch sounds scary at first, but once a regular routine is established it becomes so easy. Nowadays I could not imagine life any other way.
2. I stopped eating carbs after 5pm, which had an immediate effect. I didn’t feel bloated after my dinner anymore and I was no longer ravenously hungry in the mornings.
3. I swapped out the sugar in baked goods for alternatives. At first I used agave nectar, because back then we were led to believe it was a diabetic safe sweetener. We now know otherwise, and I haven’t touched the stuff in years. Now I use either organic dried fruit, such as dates and apricots, or raw locally produced honey. Check out my pintrest board of healthy treats for inspiration.
4. Initially I swapped all white carbs for their wholegrain counterparts. Then as I mention above, in 2012 I started eating the Paleo way which eliminates grains altogether. I have now been following the GAPS Diet for almost a year. Check out my other blog Mummy Tries GAPS for more info.
5. I stopped drinking anything other than water on a day to day basis. The occasional juice treat is fine, but drinks can add a monumental amount of unnecessary sugar to your diet. Low cal alternatives are not better for us either, as they are usually laden with artificial sweeteners. Have a read here of a fab article about the popular zero cal sweetener stevia.
What are your views on the S Word? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section…