Aug 8, 2012

Sugar Addict: The Update

by Michelle Douglas

Remember back in June when I said I was giving up sugar (specifically fructose) FOR TWO WHOLE MONTHS? Well, as promised, here’s my update.

My experiment began on the 11th of June, and it began well. The first three weeks were, frankly, a bit of a breeze. Mainly, I suspect, because I don’t actually eat a lot of sugar through the week, but I also didn’t feel deprived. I made sure of that. :-) One of my all-time favourite foods is fresh bread—rustic wholemeal, laden multigrain, light-as-air white, sourdough, rye, I’ll take them all—slathered in real butter. So, I gave up sugar-laden cereals, I gave up jam and honey, biscuits and cakes were shunned, but I didn’t give up bread. What’s more I threw out the margarine and bought real butter. Yum!

The tradition in my household is dessert on Sunday nights. Let me tell you, the moment a lemon self-saucing pudding emerges from the oven all gold and steam and smelling divine, it’s a beautiful sight. I always figured it’d be the weekends that would give me the trouble. Cheese and biscuits were substituted for sweet desserts instead. And, yes, they proved a worthy substitute. However, because two of us couldn’t eat an entire Camembert and Edam in one sitting, cheese and biscuits somehow became an after dinner treat two nights a week.

Did I lose weight in this first month?

Snort! What do you think? I was eating my own weight in bread and butter, and cheese and crackers—oh, and did I mention the Saturday morning bacon and eggs?

Ah, but did I gain weight?


I repeat, NO! And weirdly my uncomfortably tight jeans weren’t quite so tight.

The DH’s birthday fell in week 4 of my experiment. I cooked a devil’s food chocolate cake. I gifted him chocolate. I was only going to partake of the chocolate cake, and only on the evening of his birthday—one slice. Except, during the course of the afternoon I ate a few chocolates. Weeelll… And a couple of hours later I got the shakes. Weird, huh? I had my planned piece of chocolate cake that evening, though, to no ill effects. Umm…and I had a piece of chocolate cake the next night too. It was really, really yummy.

In the week following my DH’s birthday (still week 4) I had a girls’ day with my mother, sister and niece. We had lunch at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I piously avoided the sweet and sour Chinese sauces. I turned my head away from the dessert table with a commendable resolution. That evening while soaking in the tub and congratulating myself on my strength of character I suddenly realised I’d had a shandy at lunch (one of our girls’ day traditions). I’d drunk half a schooner glass full of lemonade—do you know how much fructose is in soft drink! My smugness gurgled down the drainpipe with the bath water.

I spent the next seven days craving something sweet. I wanted chocolate, doughnuts, jelly babies, shortbread creams, cinnamon teacake, caramel syrup, violet crumbles and marshmallows. Food ads on TV were murder. I resisted, though not always with good grace I fear. I don’t know if the cravings were caused from the sugar I’d consumed the previous week or due to hormones or simply the fact that I’d hit the halfway mark in my experiment.

The cravings eased off and at the end of week 6 I cooked a fructose-free cinnamon teacake. It was pretty damn yummy, and well received by the DH (who wasn’t taking part in my experiment). He said it tasted like real cake, not a cake substitute. I found it very filling.

The cravings remained at bay for the remainder of my two months. On the weekend just gone, my sister-in-law came to stay—two blocks of chocolate were consumed but I didn’t have a single square. And, truly, I wasn’t even particularly tempted.

So, the overall results?

The cravings have stopped. That said I do still have the odd fleeting thought that a Golden Rough or a glazed doughnut could be nice. Having limited all things sweet hasn’t made me completely uninterested in all things sweet (I did suspect that claim in the Sweet Poison Quit Plan would prove false). However, I do feel full for longer after a meal now and I no longer go searching the fridge or the pantry for something to eat an hour or two after I’ve last eaten.

On the weight front, I've lost a kilogram—even given the fact I’m eating bread and butter and bacon and eggs and cheese and crackers (and just in case you’re worried, I am eating loads of veggies too). Plus I’ve rarely exercised these past two months where previously I’d been managing a 40-minute walk 3 times a week (hey, it’s been cold and wet and winter).
I no longer get the weak, shaky feeling I often used to get in the afternoons in my pre-sugar days. Plus, my concentration span seems to have increased (go figure).

However, I doubt replacing the sugar in my diet with saturated fat is a smart long-term strategy. :-) In the future I won’t be avoiding sugar with the diligence of the last two months, but I’ll work on saving the Tim Tams and doughnuts for very occasional treats.

And just to test my willpower, go ahead and tell me what your favourite party food is. :-) I want to find out if it gets my saliva glands hitting overdrive.


  1. WTG on the willpower, Michelle!! And I think you're right. The more you have the more you want. For me that doesn't go for sweets.
    I like the taste of chocolate and such, just could live without them and never miss it. But I do love cheese and pate and really really spicy food. I love butter. I love wine. Let me say, I rarely have cheese, pate or butter. =)
    My mother is a sweet freak. I laugh when she tells me how she only has a bit of cake or a handful of lollies or a small bowl of icecream or a row of chocolate - but that's every day! lol Still she's thin and probably more fit than I am!

  2. Robbie, I love the taste of sweet things and I love cheese and all things savoury too. The problem is if you cut out all sugar and all saturated fat, as far as I can see there's nothing much worth eating. LOL.

    Sigh. I understand your mother completely! I do believe that my idea of "moderation" and a dietician's idea of "moderation" are vastly different. :-)

  3. Well done, Michelle! And now that you're aware of how it effects you, maybe you'll be inclined to monitor in a casual way and you'll know if you need to even take another "sugar" break.

    The thing I find annoying is how the food manufacturers put sugars into things that really don't need it! I read the ingredients of everything I buy because of my corn/maize problem and there's sneaky little sugar-additives everywhere. Like frozen chips, the ones you bake on the oven tray. Potato and sunflower oil, yep, but dextrose or sucrose or glucose - how do they get a look in!

  4. Michelle, thanks so much for reporting back on how you're going! I've been doing something similar although not quite as disciplined as you. I definitely find that if I do give in and eat something sugary, the cravings intensify for the next few days. Also like you, the longer I go without, the less I actually want it. And the results of your weight loss (or stability) shows that there is something to all this. That food pyramid we were all taught back at school is wrong. There's definitely no one right answer that works for everyone, but trying new ways to be healthier is always a good idea, I think!

  5. Oh, Sharon, I hear you loud and clear on how much sugar seems to go into foods you wouldn't even consider. Do you know how much sugar is in tinned soup? I was shocked. Pasta sauces were off the list too. And I couldn't believe there was 2 tsp of sugar in a Tbsp serve of BBQ sauce! We're not even going to mention yoghurt.

    I'm going to continue to monitor how sugar effects me. Will be interesting when I do finally indulge (perhaps dessert at the awards dinner at the RWAust conference). ;-)

  6. Oh, Emmie, so you get cravings after just a little bit of sugar too? That's interesting to know. I'm actually a bit reluctant to eat anything sugary now that I feel like I've "broken the addiction" so to speak. I definitely feel healthier for having given sugar a wide berth these last two months. Good luck with your healthy eating plan!

  7. I love sugar, so am very impressed by your journey Michelle! I also love cheese and savoury foods too - I love all delicious things, basically :) About the one thing I find easy (or easier) to say no to is chocolate.

    I'm with you and Sharon on those sneaky sugars! I've just started making my own bread - and discovered that store-bought bread has lots of sugar in it! I'd had no idea. So will stick to my preservative free/sugar free home made bread. I'll call that my effort towards consuming less sugar :)

    Did you need to give up fruit, too? I eat tonnes of fruit, but I know it's high in natural sugars :(

  8. You love sugar but can say no to chocolate? Wow, Leah! Still, I'm finding it's true that the longer I stay away from sugar, the less inclined I am to want it. I thought it was an exaggeration to say you could become addicted to sugar, but maybe there's something in it after all.

    Oh, and those sneaky sugars -- yep they make me mad!

    Nope, I didn't need to give up fruit. In his book Gillespie recommends limiting it to 2 pieces a day (and only fresh fruit not dried). The fibre in the fruit works somewhat to protect against the sugar.

  9. Michelle, what willpower! I'm impressed you lasted the whole 2 months so well.

    Laughing here as my brekkie lately has been all fructose! A couple of sweet, juicy local navel oranges. Yum.

    As for sweet treat faves, how about choc caramel slice or that old standby - chocolate crackles? My weakness though is the dip platter. Put me where I can graze on nibblies and I just keep grazing. So hard to resist!

  10. Michelle, you're doing great. I like most food, but love fruit and chocolate. At least living where we do, miles from shops, I don't jump in the car and go for choc bars eveery timethe urge takes me - which is often.

  11. Annie, I will have you know that your navel oranges also contain fibre, and eating the whole fruit is far better than drinking OJ (which contains as much pure fructose as soft drink!)., I'll pass on the choc-caramel slice (say what!) and the choc crackles...but you better shift over because I'm definitely going to partake of that dip platter. :-)

  12. Sue, when the dessert gods put fruit and chocolate together, they really did hit the jackpot, didn't they? (Fruit and chocolate always reminds me of Rach's book At The Billionaire's Beck and Call).

    However, it's crunchy, cheesy corn chips that I have a hankering for today.

  13. Michelle, this post is fascinating! I've never been at all interested in bread, cheese, butter, etc, but I do love a bit of sugar.

    Funny you should mention that scene in At The Billionaire's Beck and Call - I was thinking of it too. In fact I often manage to sneak in a food scene. In What Happens In Charleston... the heroine loved making desserts, so of course they had to be eaten. Together.

    Do you think people can guess my sweet tooth from the books?:)

  14. Rach, I'm absolutely certain of it. ;-)