“My name is Cecilie and I am a sugar addict.” You wouldn’t know it. In fact, neither did I. Until recently, I thought I was quite healthy. You wouldn’t catch me chowing down on cookies, cakes or pint-sized tubs of ice cream, or sweet-tasting processed foods—most of my meals are homecooked. But then my addiction to the white stuff became pretty clear when I met Sarah Wilson, the author of I Quit Sugar. I had one vice though—dark chocolate. Yes, even Schwarzenegger would have trouble wrestling a bar of 70 per cent cocoa out of my hands. However, I soon learned that my sugar addiction ran deeper than that when I signed up for Sarah’s I Quit Sugar course.
Sarah Wilson’s book I Quit Sugar has been on the best-selling list since it launched in January 2012. What started out as an experiment for a column she was writing for a newspaper, turned into a mini revolution. Like me, she wasn’t an obvious sugar addict, but after ditching sugary items such as chocolate, fruit and cereal bars, and after avoiding sugar for two weeks, Sarah said that she saw immediate changes in her skin, and energy and wellness levels. So at the end of her experiment she decided to continue. She has not looked back since. She went on to produce a successful blog and then launched her findings in the I Quit Sugar book in Australia, which is due to hit the US in April.
The I Quit Sugar plan is based on the fact that it takes between 21 to 66 days to break a habit, so Sarah designed an eight-week programme where you gently wean yourself off the sweet stuff. So, with a feature to write, I put down my sugar-filled cereal bar and ordered her e-book.
The book seemed bullet proof—there was no room for excuses. I was given a weekly shopping list, a meal plan and if I got stuck I could log onto the forum where I could ask the I Quit Sugar team for help.
I soon realised that I had to ditch a lot more than my dark chocolate bar, but I was sure that this would be one New Year Resolution I could stick to… However, as I’d already started my cereal bar I thought, “What’s one more day?,” so I decided to start fresh the following morning… It was then that the cold hard facts hit home.
For breakfast I decided to blend a green smoothie—that had to be healthy, surely. Well, it was, but that sweet green apple had to go. The result was something that resembled pond water. Healthy, no doubt, but it was also bitter and bland. Still feeling hopeful I left for work, just making a note that I would skip the smoothies until my tastebuds had gotten over the shock. Then mid-morning, further pleasantries ensued—I was hit with a ravaging headache. And this, I read, was normal and could last anywhere between two days to a few weeks.
Reading up on my symptoms, I discovered that the four pieces of fruit I used to chow down each day, equalled about 15 teaspoons of sugar. But what was even more shocking was when I read that The American Heart Foundation suggests that women should eat no more than six teaspoons of sugars in a day and men, nine. The e-book revealed that with just half a banana and an apple, I had already hit six teapoons. I soon realised that my endless snacking on fruits and fruit juice has kept me on a constant sugar-high.
My body was now going into detox shock. Going cold turkey was going to be tougher than I thought. However, I was determined to break the habit, so I followed Sarah’s advice of snacking on nuts, haloumi cheese and full-fat natural yogurt, as well as my new-found favourite—toasted coconut flakes.
I was encouraged to eat more full-fat products too. The reason for this was simple. According to Sarah: “When the fat is taken out of a product they replace it with sugar to make up for the flavour. Not only are low-fat dairy products higher in sugar, but they are also overly processed.” So I could still have my morning latte, I just had to switch my skinny latte for a delicious full-fat one. Yes, this plan was definitely beginning to grow on me.
When I got the first few days out of the way, I really started to notice some changes. My need to rush to the store for a 4pm chocolate fix had gone, as with the introduction of full-fat products I no longer had that empty bloated feeling. In fact, I felt satiated and full. I didn’t miss the taste of mangoes or pineapples and even those vegetable smoothies started to get more palatable. And when the programme gave me the green light to reintroduce fruits and sweeteners, I didn’t bother as I didn’t have the yearning for a sweet fix any more.
I also spotted other changes—as well as feeling an increase in energy, my concentration levels had increased. I even started noticing some weight loss. When I ask Sarah if we should never touch sugar again she says: “Studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. But cocaine is a lot easier to avoid than sugar. We are a realistic bunch at I Quit Sugar, we know there will be times in your life where there is birthday cake or champagne and we wouldn’t expect you to say no forever. It’s about picking and choosing your sugar moments.”
Unlike other New Year diet resolutions that can seem impossible, the I Quit Sugar plan is achievable. It is about a lifestyle change, feeding your body what it needs, not what your mind craves. Fruit is a now a treat; it’s not something I overdose on anymore. And as I no longer have that sweet tooth, I have even summoned up the courage to walk away from that dark chocolate.
So if you want to feel better, look better and have endless energy, ditch the sugar. I promise you will not miss it. It is an addiction. ■
For more information, purchase an e-book or a recipe book, visit www.iquitsugar.com
CRUNCHY NUT CHEESECAKE
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes
■ 750g cream cheese, at room temperature
■ 2 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream
■ 3 tablespoons coconut cream
■ 1/2 cup rice malt syrup, or to taste
■ 1 egg
■ Dash of vanilla powder
■ Small handful of pistachios, or toasted
coconut flakes, to serve
■ 1 cup shelled pistachios or hazelnuts
■ 1 cup shredded or dessicated coconut
■ 1 cup almond meal, or other nut meal, or LSA
■ 120g unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 160ºC / 325°F and line the sides and base of a 23cm spring-form tin with baking paper. To make the cheesecake base, grind the nuts in a food processor until semi-fine. Add the coconut, almond meal and butter and rub with your fingers to make a dough. The more you rub, the more you’ll release the oils in the nuts and achieve the right consistency. Add more butter if required. Press into the tin, covering the base and sides to an even thickness. Bake for 5–8 minutes until it starts to turn golden. Remove and cool.
Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, coconut cream, syrup, egg and vanilla powder in a large bowl. Don’t over-mix, and try to keep the aeration to a minimum while stirring. Spoon into the cooled base and bake for 20–30 minutes or until the mixture pulls away from the base a little and the centre is custard-like. Refrigerate for at least
2 hours before serving.