I Quit Sugar Program: let’s start

Welcome! Welcome! And Happy 2012 to you. I reckon it’s going to be a ripper. And a great time to shed the stuff that holds us back. Like sugar. (The astrologists agree, apparently).

will murai 1 I Quit Sugar Program: let's start
Image by Will Murai

For the next eight weeks I’m going to “hold your hand” through the process of quitting sugar. It is a bit of a process and it took me months of research and guinea pig antics to find the safest, most effective, gentlest, most permanent and enjoyable (yes!!) method.

I overeat. I’m food obsessed. I was a starch addict. I have an auto-immune disease which means I have problems with hypoglycemia.

Ergo, I get your fear and resistance and I know all the little tuggings going on right now in your being.

But know this: this process works. And it’s worth doing. Even if just for eight weeks. To see what happens.

This is our mantra: to see what happens. We’re experimenting.

This is how it’s going to work:

* You read the book. I suggest reading the whole lot. Then refreshing week-to-week as you go through the process. No drama if you’re just getting around to reading it. You can follow the 8-week program in your own way.

* Every Monday I’ll do a post that updates you with some extra tips, provides comfort and answers to a bunch of your questions. Because you will have some!

* You need to post your questions below (and I answer them the following Monday). Of course, other quitters might answer them in the comments forum in the meantime.

* I’ll also haul in a few nutritionists and experts to answer some of the questions and comments. I’ll introduce them in advance.

* In week 6 I’ll be running a webinar where I’ll be able to answer further queries live. I’ll be posting dates/times down the track.

* Finally, the comments section below is where all the activity will take place. Be sure to tick the “update me on follow-up comments” box so you can stay up to date on answers, ideas, threads. You’ll be astounded by how much help and comfort is out there.

One request: lets’ try to keep comments to questions, feedback and advice!

A couple of questions I get asked a lot:

“I’m stalling because I feel like ‘I’m missing out’ by quitting sugar”

I reckon this is at the absolute emotional core of all of us. It’s really weird. Even contemplating a day without chocolate or a muffin leaves us with a foreboding dread. It’s a deep dread. A mucky dread. A dread that’s hard to name and it makes us shitty if we try to face it. But it kind of whispers to us, “if not a sweet treat, then what?”. What have you got to lift you? To comfort you? To look forward to?

Back in January last year, I felt emotionally unanchored by the idea of going without sugar. And sad. I truly felt like something was being ripped from me, like being left orphaned – which is rather dramatic, I know, but it’s what is going on for many of us.

Sugary treats (fruit juice, sultanas, cakes etc) have been dangled in front of us since we could chew. They served as emotional salves and bribes and cocoonings. Often by our mothers. Sugar is associated deeply with attachment and belonging. Not just because it’s chemically addictive and completely integral to any social situation, but because of the ingrained, dark and messy psychic ties.

There is nothing else I can say to this other than: be brutal. Being brutally aware that this is what the dread, the ‘missing out’ feeling is about helps, I find. It gives this whole 8-week “experiment” a sturdy sense of purpose: let’s see if I can face this irrational need to be comforted by my mother/sugar. And find my own sense of anchoredness and comfort.

“Why did you quit?”

The idea was planted before me by way of a Sunday Life column idea. I always try out every idea I write about, so before I interviewed David Gillespie (author of Sweet Poison), I went two weeks without sugar. I started, it felt good, I kept going.

But really, this was simply one of several “prompts”. I’d been told by countless specialists and nutritionists to get off sugar for my AI disease. But the resistance, the excuses stopped me. But the prompts kept coming.

And I think this is a really good thing to look out for: the “universe” (apologies for using this kind of language) will direct you to something when it’s your time to act.

I would really advise anyone who decides to quit sugar to reflect on the prompts they’ve had – perhaps you’ve had three emails about the evils of sugar pop up in your email recently, or you watched a kid go mental from too many Christmas lollies and it scarred you or…?. Again, it makes the “experiment” seem to have a very directed, secure purpose.

“I’ve tried quitting before and I’m scared that this time will fail, too”

Fair fear. There’s nothing worse than groundhog day-ish failure. But I’m guessing in the past might have been:

a) doing it to lose weight or because “it’s the New Year and Goddammit I have to stick to a resolution”. Or some such rigid dictate.

Instead, I suggest this time you do this to feel better. It’s an instant reward. It’s immediately achievable. Goals set too far out (weightloss takes weeks to kick in) or that are too rigid are not appealing and stick-able.

b) applying too much self-discipline. The thing is self-discipline is like a muscle. Yes, it gets stronger with use. But it has its limits – it can fatigue and burn out. Countless studies show that we have limited reserves of motivation. It’s why we collapse on the couch and eat icecream after a day of pushing ourselves.

So, instead, I suggest – in fact, it’s another mantra we’re going to stick to – don’t push yourself with this. Be gentle. And give yourself a lot of non-sugar treats, so the muscle doesn’t wear out.

Some extra reading:

Each week I’ll post a few little reads that will further solidify your conviction (more purpose fuel to the experiment fire!).

* A study by Leiden University in the Netherlands showed eating sugar made people look older.

Even when other factors affecting appearance were accounted for, such as actual age, smoking and a history of sunbathing. Overall, there was a five-month hike in perceived age for every 0.18 gram increase in glucose per litre of blood.

 * The world is catching on to the dangers of sugar: Denmark has slapped on a sugar tax.

Denmark first slapped a fat tax on saturated fats. Now lawmakers plan to hit sugar Denmark will levy an extra six Danish Kroner ($1.05) on every kilogram of chocolate from January 1.

“Before the tax was only on candy, but now it will be on everything else that includes sugar,” complained one manufacturer. “If you eat cucumbers in brine, that has sugar in it and will be taxed.”

Um, I kinda say, FAIR ENOUGH!!

Over to you now! Post your questions and fears and comments and feedback below!!!


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