#12 My Man Quits Sugar: Our Review of the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Program

Note: This is a review of the June 2014 program. For a review of the January 2015 program, click here.

Our review of the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Program includes what we believe are the best parts of the program, areas where it could improve, my husband’s thoughts on participating in it as a male, and also our tips for people thinking of registering for the upcoming program starting in September. Here goes!

The great things about IQS8WP:

    • Obviously, having a meal plan is fantastic, particularly one that utilises leftovers from dinner for lunch the following day. Although we shuffled meals around and substituted them with other sugar-free meals, it was a relief not to have to think about what to cook.
    • Social media is a brainwave! The program encouraged participants to photograph their meals and tag #IQS8WP on Instagram. This aspect of the program was a lot of fun, and a wonderful motivator to put some effort into meal presentation. It gave me a sense of accountability, and also a sense of pride in what I was eating. It was also a lovely opportunity to ‘meet’ other people doing the program.
    • I learnt a bunch of excellent tips and tricks throughout the program, from pureeing pumpkin and sweet potato for all manner of dishes, to storing herbs correctly (my coriander says thank-you), to shredding and freezing meat.
    • A number of the dishes have made it into our regular dinner rotation, which is quite an achievement on the part of IQS. See some photos of our favourite ‘greatest hits’ meals below. I also acquired some new ways to incorporate more vegies into our meals, such as by adding cauliflower rice to a rice dish. We also have a renewed passion for breakfast! πŸ˜€
    • My husband said the program opened his eyes to new ingredients, like rice malt syrup. Although I had been using it in cooking for some time, he had always looked at it dubiously and bypassed it for the honey. Not anymore.

“Areas for improvement” πŸ˜‰

I’m serious when I say these are areas for improvement, rather than ‘bad’ things about the IQS8WP, because I get the sense that each new round of the program is bigger and better than the one preceding it, as the team become more skilled, learn from mistakes, and seek feedback from participants. I was hoping they would do an evaluation, and they did, in the form of a short survey. Yay!

Packages for couples and families:

Most importantly, we really believe the IQS8WP needs to consider developing ‘packages’, for couples and families. We paid $150 for one individual membership, and then adapted the recipes for the whole family. I considered paying $300 for the both of us, and I’m glad I didn’t; because we would have just received two identical, individual memberships. It did get tricky trying to double and triple portions (especially when cooking large pieces of meat), and I would have preferred to spend slightly more to buy a couples or family pack (say, $200); than try to adapt the meals from an individual membership. I got the impression there were others in the same situation.

Making IQS accessible for people on low incomes:

I have written before about how eating healthy food at its most affordable, requires three things – capital, time and space. It would be lovely to see a truly low budget option for this program. One that costs less in registration, and also features very cheap ingredients, is not heavy on time and does not require the participant to buy in bulk (which requires capital) or have lots of freezer storage space. Families on low incomes are less likely to have access to these three things. While it is great we are seeing a ‘health revolution’, I am concerned that it’s not accessible to those on lower incomes; who are also the ones who experience complex health issues and may benefit the most.

Thoughts from my man, about men and the IQS8WP:

In a nutshell, my husband said that he thought the IQS8WP was aimed at women; and that most men who participated in the program would have done so because their partners had taken them along for the ride or supported them through it (as I did). He didn’t think there would be many who would sign up of their own accord.

This led us to a conversation about how IQS could encourage men to sign up on their own, without changing the nature of the program, and without losing female participants. He said something which I thought was very interesting: “Most men I know would be more likely to do the Paleo diet, than the IQS program.” What!? But that’s about cutting even more out – refined sugar, dairy, gluten, grains (including rice) and legumes. Why would they prefer to do that? He explained that he thought it was because of, yes, the association with cavemen, but also because it was positively focused on becoming fit and healthy, rather than ‘quitting’ something, even though people ‘quit’ much more on the Paleo lifestyle. He thought it was simply about perspective and marketing, and the perception that IQS could be about self-deprivation, rather than self-nourishment.

He suggested that one way forward might be for the program to look at creating a ‘man-food’ menu, in addition to the regular program menu. Such a menu might include recipes for the sugar-free BBQ, and sugar-free footy snacks. He wanted less white bean soup and quinoa, and more ‘fun’ and simple food: a re-imagined hot dog or burger; pizza; crispy pork belly. More emphasis on the toasties and less on the carrot cake whips. A make-your-own-bbq-sauce (I think he has managed to weasle in a reference to BBQ sauce into every post in this series). Advice for going sugar-free at popular takeaway restaurants. I recall that one of his biggest criticisms during the program was the suggestion by the IQS team to burn incense as a way of curbing intense sugar-cravings: “I’m not going to burn bloody incense! I’ll just eat cheese.”

In addition to wanting to help him improve his health, I encouraged my husband to do this program so he could join me on my own journey towards healthier eating – so I wasn’t always the ‘nagging wife and mum’ trying to cut out sugar. From what I have seen, this has been the case for many women with families, who are keen to improve their lifestyles but are struggling to get ‘buy-in’ from the men in their households, and therefore, also their children. I do not think that IQS needs to shift its focus away from women, but perhaps complementing this with some additional strategies to engage men would support this shift to occur in families as well.

Considering joining the IQS 8 Week Program? Our tips:

  • Invest in the IQS Slow-Cooker eBook. We found it incredibly useful when substituting meals from the program that we either didn’t want or didn’t want to fight with our three-year-old to eat. It’s a great book with lots of recipes, which we are continuing to use beyond the program.
  • Cheese! In those early weeks with no fructose or sweeteners, when we were missing dessert or an after-dinner snack, we would eat cheese and crackers. Later, we found we didn’t need it anymore, but it was very satiating in those early transitional stages.
  • For those nights when you JUST CAN’T DO IT, don’t give in – just return to a sugar-free family favourite meal. For us, it was Carbonara, which we make with eggs and parmesan, rather than cream. One day we were all sick, and I couldn’t bear to cook whatever was on the meal plan that night. My husband took over, and made Carbonara. Not as healthy as the meal plan, but still sugar-free, and kept our souls intact.
  • Join Instagram, and get into the social media side of it. It makes the journey much more interesting and fun!

The Greatest Hits:

The very last post in this series will not be for a while. In November I will write the final post, as a follow-up on how we are going, three months after finishing the program. But in the meantime, I will still be posting recipes and writing about lots of other things, including my man’s home-cooking adventures. So please stay in touch!

View #13: Five Months on from the IQS8WP.
View all posts in the My Man Quits Sugar series.

2 Comments

  1. mmmarzipan says:

    This is a fabulous post!!! Love the thorough, honest input… you thought of things I hadn’t thought of… the freezer space issue for one. Where we are everyone lives in apartments (there is not a single house where we are on the edge of Stockholm harbour)… and hardly anyone I know has a separate freezer. Impossible for me to store large quantities of food, as much as I’d like to. So glad to have met you during the 8WP! Best wishes! xx

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