4 Years After I Quit Sugar: What I’ve Learned So Far
The last 4-years have buzzed by so quickly that I feel as if I’ve just sat in a Delorean, programmed in August 2015, and hit the gas pedal — waiting for the flux capacitor to kick in.
My present day is so vastly different than my life even 4-years ago.
4-years ago, I started aggressive medical treatment for Lyme disease — a bacterial infection (borrelia burgdorferi) that you can catch from a tick bite. The infection literally took me out of the-game-of-life in 2006, and I waited 5 crazy-long years to get a diagnosis for the illness that was robbing me of my independence; by 2011, I was desperate to get my life back.
Just after my diagnosis, I started to see the most wonderful Lyme literate doctor, in 2011. I had to leave my country, Canada, to get treatment. (long story short, Canadian doctors are not allowed to treat Lyme disease cases longer than 30-days with antibiotic therapy.)
Since, I had severe symptoms from chronic lyme disease, and couldn’t function on my own, I knew, instinctually, that 30-days of treatment was NOT going to help me get my life back. So…I had no choice but to seek treatment in the United States. And, despite the incredible financial hardship (well…medical debt disaster, really) and massive amount of travel time, I’m grateful that I did.
I went from being completely dependent on my husband and mother to now almost completely recovered. I’m able to physically workout 5-days a week (I love, love, love my Tracy Anderson workouts!), and I recently started to leave my house alone; I even drove our car, yesterday. I feel totally triumphant, ecstatic, and grateful.
But, before my treatment even started, I was told that I would have to live completely sugar-free, including fruit-free. And, if I wasn’t willing to do that, then my doctor was not willing to start treatment.
You see, eating sugar and taking copious amounts of antibiotics, long-term, do not mix; you can end up with some pretty scary side-effects — and, I say, no thank you!
Hearing that I would have to live an extreme sugar-free life didn’t really scare me at all, even though I was a cake-for-dinner kind of girl. I used to use sugar to help me stay awake, but I was about to find out that living sugar-free was WAY better for my energy level and my ability to feel stronger.
Four years prior to quitting sugar for Lyme treatment, I went gluten-free because I became really allergic to it when I contracted the bacteria. So, I had already experienced a radical change in my diet. Quitting sugar was just another new skill to learn, and I felt confident and determined to live sugar-free without feeling deprived. Mind you, I was willing to do anything to recover, and my intention was really powerful.
*** Update: I remained on antibiotic treatment, and supported my recovery with holistic practices like IV vitamins, and a completely sugar-free/gluten-free diet (even fruit-free) for 2 1/2 years. I successfully stopped treatment in December of 2013. It’s now August 2015, a year and a half after stopping medical treatment, and I’m still improving to this day. Once I stopped treatment, I went back to eating fruit — thank God! — but I’m still living added sugar-free. The first fruit I had in January of 2014 was a mango…and it was glorious! I decided to remain as a Level 3.5 sugar-freer (to learn more about the levels of sugar-free living click here) because my body feels so much better living sugar-free: more energy, more strength, no gut pain, great skin, and a better mood. ***
I’ve learned a massive amount over the last 4-years on how to quit sugar. And, here is a list that hopefully will help you to quit sugar, or reduce it in your life:
#1. Start off with a clear intention:
From the words of, Wayne Dyer, ‘our intention creates our reality’. When you’re about to invite a radical change into your life, or a new habit, you need to start with a powerful and clear intention. What do you want from a sugar free diet? Do you want to feel more empowered? Do you want to reinvent your health? Do you want to support your body through medical treatment? Do you want to feel strong and more energized? In essence, what is the number #1 reason that you want to make this change? You’ll need to use that reason or intention to support you during your weakest moments. Write it down on paper, and stick it everywhere in your house. Remind yourself that you are changing your diet for a meaningful reason.
#2 Discover the best sugar substitutes:
Artificial sweeteners aren’t your friends, and they’re not an optimal substitution for sugar. They’re made of highly processed chemicals that you’re body just doesn’t need. I recommend, instead, alcohol-free vanilla liquid stevia; one that doesn’t contain any erythritol or unnatural additives. I use it to bake with and to make sweet treats without using sugar. Here is a link to my favorite stevia product: click here.
#3 Create your own sugar free diet plan:
Making a clear plan always makes things so much easier. Write down all of the foods that you like, which happen to be sugar-free. Plan out your dinners: choose a protein (animal based or plant-based), choose a green veggie, choice another vegetable (except potatoes or corn (some classify corn as a grain, FYI)), and choose a hardy grain, legume, or bean like quinoa, brown basmati rice, millet, black beans, chickpeas or mushrooms. Make your meals simple! And, plan them out, so that you’re ready and prepared.
#4 Snag incredible sugar free recipes:
You know…you don’t have to give up chocolate when you living sugar-free. I have a huge amount of absolutely sugar-free dessert recipes that I know you’ll love, like sugar-free hot chocolate, chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, vanilla chia pudding, or chocolate chia pudding, waffles, too! Check out my recipe bank on this website.
#5 Watch your energy rise:
When you start to quit sugar, it’s true that your energy level will decrease, initially, for the first 6-7 days. But, after that, your energy level will rise, again, and it will become way more consistent. Usually, sugary foods make us ride an energy roller coaster. But, when you quit sugar, you’re no longer on that ride. Personally, I work out all the time, and my energy level doesn’t rely on sugar. My sugar-free coaching clients always say that their energy levels become really consistent while living sugar-free.
#6 Lose weight fast:
Without even restricting calories, when you start the quit sugar, your weight will naturally drop. I lost about 20 lbs; I’m now the weight I was in high school. I like that I don’t have to worry about how much food I’m eating. I don’t like counting calories, and that practice is so tedious! I just want to enjoy my food, and if I want a third helping…well, I’m going to have it.
#7 Learn from someone who is living it:
Learning how to quit sugar from an expert will help you to get busy loving your sugar free life, rather than failing and feeling miserable. If you’re interested in learning about my sugar-free coaching program, Sweet Liberation: 30 Days to Kick Sugar to the Curb, click here.
#8 Feel empowered:
It’s wonderful to feel that you’re changing your health for the better. You’re doing something for yourself and by yourself. You can take your power back, and be the one to revolutionize your health. If you don’t have a chronic illness, health does not need to be enhanced under the supervision of a medical doctor…you have the power to do it yourself, simply by making a choice about which foods to put in your body.
9# Stand-up to your naysayers:
We are surrounded by sugar. In fact, 80% of the food in grocery stores contains added sugar. So, naturally, sugar invades pretty much every meal, in most households. And, when you make the decision to reduce your sugar intake, or quit sugar all together, people will question you, and they will try to persuade you not to give up sugar. Quitting sugar is so out-of-the-box that it stirs-up some pretty passionate opinions from some people. If you run into unsupportive people that constantly put cookies and brownies in front of you, or try to guilt you into eating something sugary, just because they’re not willing to quit sugar themselves, I say…stand-up to them with gentleness. You don’t have to fight it out; you just have to make your opinion heard. Remember…it’s your body, and you can do whatever you want with it.
#10 Eat at restaurants, you’re allowed!
I don’t think I have ever had an issue going to a restaurant, even though I live sugar-free and gluten-free. There is always something. Order mineral water with lime; get a breast of chicken with some veggies; go out and socialize…you’re allowed!
#11 Read your labels, Sugar is everywhere!
So, 80% of manufactured food contains added sugar. That means that you’ll have to read all of your labels! You’ll be surprised. I even had a sugar-free coaching client discover sugar in her store-bought hummus! Crazy, right? Who needs sugar in hummus? Really.
#12 Become a sherpa:
Bring food with you where ever you go. Grab your backpack and make sure that you have Mary’s Crackers and hummus, babaganush, or guacamole. Carry nuts, fruit (if you’re under a Level 4 sugar-free lifestyle), sugar-free energy bars, a sandwich wrap, or pack dinner from the night before. Essentially, you always want to have food on you because living sugar-free makes you extra hungry.
#13 Don’t live without sweetness, just live without sugar:
You don’t have to give up baked goods or sweets; you just need to get sweets made of stevia instead of sugar. Look in my recipe bank for a bunch of ideas. There are so many options!
#14 Raise a toast to sugar-free bevies:
Living sugar-free doesn’t mean that you have to drink water all the time. How boring! Nope…you can still have sugar-free lemonade, lime aide, iced tea, hot chocolate, coconut water, tea, or coffee. Oh, and there’s mineral water to make fizzy drinks. Look in my recipe bank for beverage recipes.
#15 Keep traveling:
When you travel — and, YES, you can easily travel while living sugar-free — make sure that you bring some key products with you: Mary’s Crackers, Ezekiel bread, Food for Life brown rice tortillas, sugar-free Little Stream bread (if you’re Canadian), rice crackers, Beanfield’s bean chips (my fav!!). Make sure that you have some favorite, yet portable, sugar-free food with you. Once you arrive in your destination, look for restaurants that serve protein and veggies (which is so easy to find). And, hit the grocery store for sugar-free snacks to eat with the provisions you brought with you.
#16 Empower others:
You’ll learn so much while living sugar-free. But, don’t try to push your new-found way of eating on anyone else. Wait until friends and family ask you questions, and start to get curious. Then, teach them what you know. Being preachy about how you eat and live is not cool or attractive. Be gentle with yourself and others. This doesn’t mean that you’ll let anyone run you over, or convince you that your way of eating is wrong. No…stand up for yourself in a gentle way. We all have a right to eat and live the way that we want to. Live and let live, right?
#17 Support chronic illness recovery:
Unfortunately, most people will experience a serious illness at some point in their life. Living sugar-free is an excellent way to support the body through treatment, because sugar is very inflammatory. We cannot see internal inflammation within the body, but we can feel it. We might feel that our gut is sore or bloated, and we might get loose stool: IBS is an inflammatory condition. Sore joints are also a sign of internal inflammation. Internal inflammation is very stressful for the body, and stress hinders the ability for the body to heal or remain healthy. Living sugar-free is a powerful way to relieve the body of stress caused by internal inflammation.
#18 Get educated:
There is a great deal of science that supports living sugar-free. I highly recommend the book, Fat Chance, by Dr. Robert Lustig. This resource presents all of the data on why living sugar-free is great for the body. Click here to get a copy from Amazon.