It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of dieting; though you might lose a couple of pounds in the first couple of weeks or months, the vast majority of diets are basically just setting you up for failure. That feeling of failure usually leads to more dieting, and the cycle continues.
I’m more of a fan of clean eating – Whole foods, water, and physical fitness will get you a whole lot further than any fad diet in my opinion. Every ‘eating plan’ has their own version of what’s good for you and what isn’t, and as I’m sure you guessed by the title of this article, the I Quit Sugar plan by Sarah Wilson focuses on banning sugar from your life (at least initially, but we’ll get to that in just a little bit).
I read the book, I did some research, and now I’m going to give you my rundown and conclusions of the plan. As always, these are my own opinions and I strongly suggest that you do your own research and form your own opinions before committing to anything.
What It Is
I Quit Sugar isn’t a diet, per se; it’s a book written by Sarah Wilson documenting her lifestyle change. You see, Sarah was once a self-confessed sugar addict. She grew up eating fairly well (thanks to her parents who seemingly refused to pay attention to the low-fat movement), but once she was on her own and able to, the woman consumed ridiculous amounts of sugary goodness.
Eventually, Sarah began to develop mood disorders, sleeping issues, and even adrenal problems. Fast forward a little more and the poor girl was dealing with Grave’s disease – An autoimmune issue with your thyroid gland. Skip ahead come more, and she developed Hashimoto’s (another autoimmune thyroid problem).
Thinking that her poor diet was at least partially to blame, Sarah threw out all of her processed sweets and replaced them with healthier alternatives like honey and dark chocolate. Even with the switches though, she was still consuming more than 25 teaspoons of sugar per day.
25 teaspoons sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Thing is, you’re probably consuming more than that yourself. Anyway, in 2011 Sarah made a New Year’s resolution to break it off with sugar. The book explains her experiment, lays out how she did it in easy to follow sections, and even provides you with healthy, sugar-free recipes so that you’re not left wondering what you can and cannot eat (you’d be amazed by all of the places that’s sugar is hiding once you start looking for it).
How It Works
The book is laid out for you in a week by week format. Here’s how the eight weeks of anyone that tries out the I Quit Sugar plan will look:
Week One: Start To Cut Back
Since you’re probably consuming way more sugar than you realize, the first week of this program is all about cutting back. I like this idea because it lessens the likelihood of withdrawal (don’t think that you can withdraw from something as seemingly harmless as sugar? Think again). Sarah suggest eating popcorn instead of candy, putting avocado on your toast instead of jam, and reaching for herbal tea or soda water over sugary soft drinks.
She also suggests switching to diet soda and using artificial sweeteners if you’re addicted to soda or sugar in your coffee, but I’d try to steer clear of this. Just cut back gradually.
Week Two: Operation Eat Fat
The idea here is that you replace all that sugar you’re eating with good fats and proteins. Think eggs, cheese, coconuts, avocados, etc. The book gives a pretty good explanation on why fats are good for us (not horrible cholesterol raising mongrels like we’ve been led to believe), but if you’re not interested in buying the book, here’s a quick rundown: A study was done in the 50s and 60s of 22 countries by a man named Ancel Keys. He published his findings – that countries that ate high amounts of saturated fats had higher instances of heart disease and cholesterol issues. The FDA developed their guidelines (and produced the food pyramid that we all learned about in school) around these findings and here we are today.
Sounds legit. But here’s the thing – He only published the findings of seven of those 22 countries. Why? Who knows? What we do know is that the findings of the other 15 countries disproved his theory.
Fat fills us up. Sugar doesn’t. Eat more fat and feel satiated longer (the good fats, of course).
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Week Three: Quit!
This is the week you’re throwing sugar to the wayside. Since you’ve had two weeks to transition your diet, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Keep in mind that you’ll be walking away from as much sugar as possible, and that includes fruit, honey, granola, jam, and most condiments.
The book teaches you how to decipher how much sugar is in something, and recommends that you consume no more than the equivalent of 6-9 teaspoons.
Week Four: Face The Demons
Because you’ve now been eating sugar free (or at least as close to it as possible) for the last two weeks, there’s a good chance that you’ll be experiencing some headaches, moodiness and other withdrawal symptoms. Friends and family will likely start to comment on your lifestyle change, and you’ll probably end up having to convince yourself more than one time that all the pain is worth it.
Hang in there; you’re halfway through!
Week Five: Get Creative, Experiment… and Detox!
Your cravings for sugar might be pretty brutal by this point. You might even slip up and eat a cookie (or three). Don’t get discouraged. Tomorrow is a new day. Sarah explains how she learned to curb her sugary cravings and shows you what you can eat when a craving hits. It even gives you suggestions on how to deal with the detox period (which might be pretty brutal at this point).
Week Six: Add Some Sweetness Back In
This is where you can start to add some low-fructose foods back into your diet. Think of sweeter fruits and vegetables, stevia, and the like.
This isn’t a free pass to eat an entire cake, just to add small amounts of sweet back into your life.
Week Seven: Recovering From Lapses
Since you’ve added some sweetness back into your life, you might be a little more tempted to fall off the wagon. If you happen to slip up and demolish half a cake, get over it and move on.
The great thing about this book is that it gives you a ton of recipes to work with (there’s even one for making your own sugar free chocolate!), so you should easily be able to make something that will satisfy that that sweet tooth of yours.
Week Eight: Refining and Moving Forward
By now you should be completely over your sugar addiction. You should be able to have a little bit of sweetness here and there without wanting to demolish an entire chocolate bar. You should be in complete and total control of your eating habits.
Of course, the book goes into all of this in much greater detail and Sarah gives you a whole bunch of tips and tricks to get through those eight weeks as simply and painlessly as possible, but that’s the gist of it.
Is It Safe?
For you, sure! For the people that have to be around you? Well, I suppose that depends on how bad your sugar addiction is when you start out. If you’re planning to quit sugar and try this plan out, you might want to consider booking holidays at work for weeks four and five (and maybe send the kids out with your SO on vacation – It’s probably not going to be pretty).
Does It Work?
Remember all of those issues I told you Sarah was suffering from in the beginning? Well, she still suffers from anxiety and she still has to deal with the Hashimoto’s, but she says that she feels better overall. So. Keep in mind that this isn’t a cure-all type of diet (none of them are), but it could help you out when it comes to cutting back on sugar laden and processed foods.
That said, you’re going to have to do A LOT of prep and cooking. Just about everything that you by at the grocery store has sugar in it. Are the recipes there? Absolutely (and there are certainly more than enough to keep your taste buds from getting bored). The question is, how much time are you willing to spend on your new lifestyle change?
I think that the whole thing goes just a little bit too far. Does fruit have sugar in it? Yes, but it’s good for you. Do we consume too much sugar? Absolutely. But sheer will can go a lot further than you might think – You can cut back on the sugar and processed foods gradually all on your own. If you’ve tried and you can’t, you might want to try this book.
At the very least, it comes with a ton of really good sounding recipes so if you’ve been looking into healthier alternatives to the sugary treats you enjoy, the small investment is definitely worth it. If you’d like to purchase the book and take the sugar free plunge, click here. If you do decide to try out the program, please let us know how it went in the comments section below.
Have you tried I Quit Sugar or a similar program? What were your experiences? How bad was the detox period and how long did it last for?
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