Week 4: Face the Demons

So this is the half way point of our little experiment.  Sarah says we need to face the demons, that doubt will creep in and you will start to question what you are doing.  Well, she was right.  This week we faced some demons.  For me this was in the form of craving huge slices of chocolate cake, a tonne of Russian fudge would have been great too!  Actually, I think I would have been happy with a handful of berries or a breakfast smoothie with banana and kiwi. But no fruit allowed either.

When planning for this week’s meals we had intended to try a whole bunch of new recipes but when it came down to it, it seemed to make more sense for us to face a tough week by keeping things simple.  So it was tried and true favourites with as much veg and leafy greens as possible.  This seemed to help – too full to crave anything.  Looks like this ties in with week 5’s IQS mantra.

Best breakfast this week was the pumpkin pie and quinoa porridge.  Best lunch – haloumi salad with walnuts.  Best dinner – a vege lasagne (my sister’s secret recipe)….. so good and the leftovers even yummier the next day for lunch.

Going back to the doubts creeping in.  I ended the week reading Dr Libby Weaver’s new book The Calorie Fallacy.  What a fabulous second opinion.  So much of her message matches Sarah’s experience.  I have read most of Dr Libby’s books and have found them most enlightening.  The Calorie Fallacy was a good reminder of some things I already know as well as a trigger to pursue other avenues to health and well-being.  In particular, the link between sugar and your liver.

Dr Libby's new book, The Calorie Fallacy
Dr Libby’s new book, The Calorie Fallacy

Week 5 of IQS is all about being creative, experimenting and detoxing.  The last week of feeling deprived before we can add a little sweetness back.  I am going to focus my week 5 on a liver detox.  I think I can live without fudge or chugging down a tin of condensed milk for 7 little days out of my life ♥

Week 3: Quit!

This week has certainly flown by filled with a lot of work stuff for me; a lot of work/illness recovery for my sister. It really is hard to think about eating right in amongst all the chaos of a busy life. But we do think it is still worth pursuing this experiment. It almost seems a little calm space in our current milieu, even if it does take a large portion of our weekend to plan it so. And, really, it should be so – taking the time to nourish ourselves should be a top priority, right?

My sister and nephews have really struggled with cold and flu nasties in the last couple of weeks and I am absolutely amazed that I have not succumbed so far to the lurgy. I am also motivated to exercise every day even just for 15 minutes of Tai Chi – unheard of before I started this.

Sarah mentions in her book that there will be some negative backlash from people around you. I guess stemming from feelings of guilt that you have taken on a challenge they know they should be tackling too? Well, I have found just the opposite. Family, friends, work colleagues have all been wholeheartedly supportive – well, at least to my face.

The lovely ladies I work with have encouraged me to join them in a pretty intense stair climb. We did this on Wednesday and I could only manage 3 laps to their 6 (they are younger and much fitter than I am). But I am so grateful for their encouragement and complete lack of judgement. Extremely motivating, thanks, ladies. Hoping to reach 4 laps this week coming.

And so the first real week of quitting sugar has been quite difficult. Basically, the idea is not to eat anything that contains more than 6g of sugar per 100g. Have you ever studied food labels? Well, if you have then you will have realised just how much extra sugar we consume everyday without knowing it. Every convenience food, every sauce, every dressing, every beverage contains sugar somewhere. And so, of course, does fruit. So we have survived the first of three weeks with no sugar including no fruit.

I have craved, I have pined even just for a segment of mandarin! Oh, and how I miss my berries. I eat a lot of berries. But I won. I made it to the end of Quit week with my commitment intact.

6 of Sarah’s Nine C’s of Goodness have definitely helped with the cravings: chia, cheese, chicken, cinnamon, coconut oil and coffee. Next week we plan to try out the other 3 C’s – cacao, chai and coconut water.

My favourite meal this week was a combination of two recipes from Sarah’s book – capsicum soup (page 136) and coconut curry meatballs (page 107). We served the meatballs in the soup and said no to the Finnish Scones. Scrumptious!

When I am complaining of feeling deprived, I have to stop for a moment, take a deep breath and put this little experiment into perspective. This is not a diet. I am not forcing myself to eat very little of foods I don’t even like according to a very prescribed formula that is supposed to fit all. But I suppose my body is going to have some withdrawals from the stuff it has been addicted to for so long. In the scheme of things, this withdrawal is really not so bad. And apparently it is only going to take this tiny little 8 weeks of my life to find my blank slate. And that, my friends, is a very happy thought indeed. A blank slate does not come along very often in life.

And so we plan for another week, it really is all about the planning. Huge thanks to Miss Marzipan for the printable weekly menu planner.

The essentials for planning - colour, beauty, inspiration and coffee
The essentials for planning – colour, beauty, inspiration and coffee

Week 2: Operation Eat Fat

Our mantra this week, according to Sarah, was “Replace sugar with Fat”.  Right, ok!?  I must admit to being pretty skeptical at this point.  Surely this is contrary all the healthy eating info out there?  You want me to eat lots of fat this week?  Really?

Apparently the science here is that wholesome, unprocessed fats and quality proteins such as eggs, cheese, nuts and coconuts will fill you up quickly and give you a satisfied feeling (you are not feeling deprived of the food comfort you crave).

Well, turns out it is true.  I experienced feeling full for the first time in ages for most of this week.  By Thursday I even skipped dinner, still full from lunch….. seriously.  I cannot remember skipping a meal voluntarily since high school.

An added bonus for me this week I have definitely trimmed down a few centimetres around the middle.  In 2 weeks.  And after a week concentrating on increasing my fat intake.  Go figure.

We cooked with butter and coconut oil.  We embraced animal fat and whole dairy, whole eggs and ate quite a lot of cheese and nuts.  Blissfully yummy really.

I wouldn’t say my sister and I feel completely different.  We still feel pretty tired in the mornings as well as being our usual exhausted selves after long days of work and family.  And it does take a lot of extra time and thinking to plan all these different meals.  But we do think there has been enough change to intrigue us as to the possibilities of continuing our experiment.

Intrigued.  That is where we are in this process.  Since embarking on this quitting sugar gig it seems everywhere we look is the “sugar is bad” message.

Did you catch Nigel Latta’s take on sugar last week on TV?  Apparently he has now thrown his weight behind the campaign to tax sugary drinks in NZ.  And since going sugar free himself he has lost 8kgs.

Friends, family and acquaintances around the world seem to be sharing their stories too  through the social media grapevine and the message is similar – overwhelming change in health after quitting sugar.

So, delicious recipes tried and enjoyed this week:

And one from Dr Libby’s Real Food Kitchen book (page 181) that we adapted:

beef, ginger and tamari stirfry
We can do trendy food pics too 🙂

Intrigued and enthused we head into week 3 simply entitled “Quit!”.  Guessing this week won’t be as much fun as replacing sugar with fat has been…..

Week 1: Start to cut back

So this first week has been one of easing into the whole “no more sugar” idea.

We spent last Sunday planning – rejigging the weekly shopping list and planning everyday’s meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). We also included a 6am wake-up to exercise for 20 minutes Monday to Thursday.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain. I live with my sister, her husband and my two precious nephews (aged 7 and 4).

All the adults work as well as run around after our “full-on and fabulous” little boys. They eat different meals from us and dinner is pretty early in the evening. The adults often feel the need to grab comfort snacks later in the evening! We either eat with them, everyone at the table for quality family time over a meal or sometimes we will eat later when they are in bed.

Anyway, suffice to say managing 5 people’s meals in this household requires some planning, especially when we are trying to break some old, bad habits.

So, step one was plan, plan and plan some more, right down to snacks. Sarah’s book really helped us here. This week we tried the Chia Puddings (page 80), the Coco-Nutty Granola (page 76) and the Potato Skins (page 152). All of these we will definitely use again – delicious, filling and comforting.

Coco-Nutty Granola
Coco-Nutty Granola

My favourite meal this week was my sister’s adaptation of a Dr Libby Weaver recipe from her book Real Food Kitchen – the roast vege salad (page 201). This is a great combination of kumara, carrot, capsicum, mushrooms, garlic, red onion, eggplant, zucchini and sausage meat all roasted in coconut oil with fresh thyme, flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper. When cooked toss through fresh baby spinach leafs, chopped up almonds and a little apple cider vinegar. Delicious! And that is what I’m having for lunch tomorrow. We have planned most dinners that way, with leftovers for lunch the next day.
When we looked at Sarah’s “rules” for week one we found that we were doing most of this already, or rather we knew we SHOULD be doing all this already. For us it was a week commitment to stay away from sugary, fizzy drinks, chocolates, lollies, baked goodies, as much processed food as possible and no high fructose fruit.

Discussing how we feel after this first week, nothing earth shattering to report. We definitely craved our comforts – mine being chocolate and ice cream, my sister’s being dried fruits and Coca Cola. But because we weren’t calorie counting or depriving ourselves we found there were other goodies to snack on. Cheese after dinner instead of dessert, lots of tea and popcorn are some examples.

It was tough getting up in the morning to workout even just to stumble down to the lounge, stick in a DVD, push play and jig around for a bit. However, we think on the whole we do feel better for it. So same again next week.

We have both struggled with feeling unwell this week but we are not sure we can put that down to detoxing? Being both of us quite hormonal at present and my sister with a streaming cold has meant we found it hard to figure out what was making us feel a bit blah.

Right, so week two begins. Our planning is complete, the shopping done. I’m about to head into the kitchen to try making a few snacks for the week ahead.

Our mantra this week is “replace sugar with fat”….. Let’s see how that turns out.

We quit sugar

My sister and I are tired of being tired, a little too round and just generally feeling unwell. Food has quite the psychological hold over us; we turn to it for comfort. We have tried every diet extreme over the years. Now in our mid-30s, our poor bodies are so confused from all the time of mixed messages….. And, well, it seems we are about to succumb to the next, great health and wellness message – Sugar is Poison!

Before you complain that that last sentence may smack slightly of jaded cynicism, I have genuinely been inspired by the Sugar is Poison message and believe we may just have stumbled onto something here. In particular, Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” books and website have inspired me to approach health and wellbeing in a gentle manner. And so we here we are on the threshold of our gentle experiment: if we follow Sarah’s 8 Week Sugar Detox programme, try her recipes and see how we go.

So, no scales, no measuring, no calorie counting, no major restrictions other than the phasing out of the sugar. We will check in once a week and let you know how it’s going.