#13 My Man Quits Sugar: Five Months on from the IQS8WP

In my previous post in this series, I mentioned that I would write a final My Man Quits Sugar post to follow-up on how we were going three months after completing the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Program. I had fully intended to write one at three months… but then, you know… life. Anyhow, five months on I’m finally providing an update, on how we have been since finishing the program in August; and why I’m signing up to do the program again in a few weeks.

When we finished the program back in August, I expected that over time my husband and I might lapse into some of our old ways. Surprisingly, we’ve gone the other way – we have become more comfortable living a low-fructose lifestyle, thanks in part to our ‘fructose overdose’, which reminded us what sugar does to our bodies. Although we are not paleo, we have accidentally but significantly reduced our consumption of refined carbohydrates, because we no longer enjoy the bloated feeling of eating a massive pile of spaghetti several times a week. We do still eat pasta, rice, oats, sourdough breads and other grains; just less frequently and in smaller amounts. I often supplement pasta with zoodles, or rice with cauliflower rice, to bump up the vegetables. We don’t use vegetable/seed oils. We have a greater emphasis on gut health too, incorporating more fermented and probiotic foods into our diet.

But we’re not obsessively rigid about food ‘rules’. I wrote recently about how I eat what I want, when I want, and that quitting sugar allowed me to experience food freedom, not an eating disorder. I wrote this particularly in response to the negativity and judgement I experienced both from people in my life and through mainstream social media. It is this that has been the main challenge for me over these last months: the relentless judgment for going against the norm, which by nature of its defensiveness, tends to be offensive. Another week, another negative fluff piece, usually by the Murdoch press and written by someone who hasn’t put much effort into researching the facts. Mostly I ignore them, often I can laugh at them, and sometimes I find them offensive and upsetting – because it’s hard not to when these articles often discuss the apparent self-hatred that is causing myself, and others, to ‘deprive’ ourselves. The truth is, I just enjoy eating delicious food that makes me feel good – including sweet treats without the sugar.

But enough of their negativity. For the first time in six years, I am completely off anti-depressant medication – and I feel okay. Let me be clear: quitting sugar was not a magic cure for my mental health issues. But for me, experiencing improved physical health also improved my mental health, and set up the framework by which the thought of coming off the medication didn’t terrify me, where it had previously. I keep coming across studies, such as this one, linking good gut health – something I’ve worked hard on – to reduced anxiety, and I wonder whether this has had an impact. The truth is that it’s probably a combination of factors, including that in my final few months of my twenties, I feel like I’m becoming more comfortable with myself. This blog has been a big part of that. I am also putting in a LOT of preventative work to manage my mental health issues: I meditate frequently and try to maintain a positive mindset, sense of self and response to others. I’m not against anti-depressants at all – they worked very well for me for those years. I know that if I need them, they will work for me again. In the meantime, I’m still getting used to feeling ALL the emotions, after years of having them lightly wrapped in cotton wool. Embarrassingly, these days I’m a pro at the happy-cry.

Physically, aside from end-of-2014 weariness, I maintained the consistency in energy levels that I experienced after the program. I used to take a lot of Ibuprofen and Paracetamol to manage sinus issues, but now hardly ever do, because the pain – the inflammation – is not often there (except for those dry, windy Canberra days!).

In December, I organised a picnic for Canberrans who have completed the IQS8WP, to meet each other, discuss sugar-free living, and share some fructose-free food. I had a lovely time meeting the ladies who gave up part of their weekend to come along. We’ve also set up a Facebook group, for anyone in Canberra who has completed the program, either online or through the book. If that includes you, come join in!

And my man? It wouldn’t be a My Man Quits Sugar post without an interview. Read the pre-program interview, and the post-program interview first if you like, and now, five months on:

How do you feel about sugar now?
I’m not that keen on it. I can tolerate small amounts – such as in sauce at a mate’s BBQ. But if I have more than that I feel like rubbish. On the rare occasion that I go out for dinner, or if I’m out socially, I might still want dessert, but know that I won’t feel good afterwards. I used to sit on the couch with a box of biscuits in my lap, and I never do that now. So on the whole, I prefer to steer away from it.

How are you physically feeling now?
I think I just feel how I’m supposed to feel – fine. My heart feels lighter. I’ve lost about 20 kilograms. 6kg during the program, and 14kg since then. Quitting sugar made it easier to lose weight. I feel happier.

You talked a lot during the program about missing BBQ sauce and Coke. Is there anything that you still miss?
I haven’t had a coke since we tried one during the program [I didn’t realise this until I asked! Wow!]. I used to drink Coke Zero every single day, but now I just don’t want it. I’ve also gotten used to BBQ sauce we buy [sweetened with stevia]. Sometimes I miss the flavour of honey actually, but we just haven’t bought any. I’ve also cut down on alcohol a fair bit, which feels better for me physically and mentally.

πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ I’m a bit proud.

So… If it’s worked so well, why the hell am I doing it again!?

I’ve signed up to the January program for a few reasons. Firstly, my Mum is doing it too! πŸ˜€ It will be fun, and we plan on doing our Sunday cook-ups together. But I’m also doing the program again because I want to access the delicious-looking Summer recipes, and to have the support of a two-month meal plan. A sign for me that life is starting to spiral out of control is when I no longer have the time to plan meals ahead for the family, and life got pretty chaotic towards the end of 2014. We slogged through, but I don’t enjoy feeling overwhelmed by the busy-ness of life, especially work life. I feel nervous about 2015 because I will also be adding study to the mix. I recently came across this article about the disease of being busy, and it resonated. Strongly. I suppose you could say that my New Year’s Resolution is to be less busy. Such big words… So little time… πŸ˜‰

Staying sugar-free post IQS8WP

I’ve continued to enjoy my fair share of sugar-free sweets:

Of course, we’ve also enjoyed plenty of healthy, savoury meals!

View all posts in the My Man Quits Sugar series.

11 Comments

  1. kamillej2014 says:

    Ditto to so much you’ve said. I found quitting sugar extremely hard but once its done and you can taste real food again, its easy to stay off. I have noticed huge improvements in several areas of my life, which I also owe to exercising with intensity and avoiding gluten and alcohol. But the sugar quitting and all the negativity – man! People just feel threatened I think. They cant seriously be deluding themselves that there isn’t a problem; rates of obesity are over 60% for adults and climbing. Go the fructose free life!

    • Erin says:

      Thanks Kamille! πŸ™‚ That’s wonderful that you’ve noticed big improvements too. Yes I agree that the negativity definitely comes from feeling threatened; most likely because they feel judged. I just have to remind myself that I’ve been there too, so I can understand how they feel! It’s exciting to see that in spite of the negativity, especially in the mainstream media, more and more people are opting for real food anyway.

  2. I am so glad to hear of your results, your hubby’s results and the fact that you are doing the next round! So happy for you that you are no longer requiring medication. I was on numerous meds many years ago (depression anxiety disorder being the primary reason) and although I believe that some people will require them for the rest of their lives in order to manage a condition, I had a sneaking suspicion that I personally would be able to overcome my struggles without meds. If I ever need them again, I will not be too proud to seek professional support, but it has been a long time since I have needed them. I wish you all the very best, lovely!!! ❀

    • Erin says:

      Thanks Marisa, that’s very kind of you! I did try a couple of times over the years to come off the medication, and was a total mess – so obviously something (probably many things!) clicked into place in 2014 to make it a viable option. That’s wonderful that you have found a way without them too! I suppose we never know what life is going to throw at us, so it is reassuring to know there is the support there if we ever need it. xx

  3. Sarah says:

    A lovely post Erin, it’s so nice to hear that you are feeling so much better off sugar. So much resonated with me, especially your comment about approaching your 30’s. I feel I truly did not know myself or was myself until I hit 30. And now I couldn’t be happier 😊

    • Erin says:

      Thank-you Sarah! That’s a lovely comment. Yes I can’t wait for my thirties… I feel like I’ve been waiting for them since I was about 15 πŸ˜‰

  4. theeasyhealthyway says:

    Another great post, you have a lovely writing style. That is great to hear you and your husband have done and still are doing really well, getting off of your needs is a huge achievement, well done. Eating real food changes your life in so many ways it can be difficult putting it into words sometimes.

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