After a good few weeks of deliberation and having crashed throughout the day and broken sleeping patterns I decided to take a bit of a stand and eliminate as much sugar as I can from my diet for a few weeks to see what impact it had on my symptoms.
Whilst it is a fact that any form of carbohydrates we consume end up being converted to glucose in the body, I was curious to see if my little chocolate daily addiction was causing my broken sleep and if my one cup of tea in the morning (with 1 sugar) and a coffee (with a splash of cream) was causing my afternoon crashes. Or is it that I am just tired from the work pattern that I regularly follow and maybe I just need a break!
In preparation for my “reducing” sugar experiment I decided to read – from cover to cover my I quit sugar for life book that I have had in my kitchen for around 2 years. I have done the odd recipe from it, but never really read how to progressively reduce sugar in the diet. In truth I am a healthy individual and I have recently been tracking my food to see where I’m getting all of my calories from. Without doing this – how does anyone know the breakdown of their diet? Quite simply they don’t, myself included.
The information out there is varying. I checked a couple of websites and some say 90g or less. Others say 5% of daily Kcal intake or around 30g – which is a huge difference. After tracking my food I am consuming an average of 37.5g per day varying from 14g up to 55g (6 days of data) So you can see I’m not on sugar overload.
In addition to preparing for this experiment I contacted a local Nutritionist – Cordelia Gohil and she very kindly took some body stats for me, as it would be good to have some form of measurement in body stats due to the reduction in sugar.
I was and still am quite determined to do this as a process so for the first stage I have cut out chocolate and having sugar in my tea. I would normally have some sort of chocolate most days. Not loads, but something and maybe 2 sometimes 3 cups of tea a day if I was feeling tired. In addition to this other sugars are present in foods that cannot be helped so its impossible to completely cut this from the diet, but we are all able to make small changes to reduce it and hopefully feel better.
So I’m around 10 days in now, and I’ve had no chocolate, and no sugar in my tea and no fruit (plenty of vegetables though – and I was eating banana and berries most days) . Im consciously tracking all of my food and seeing exactly where im getting my sugar from and its pretty interesting. Instead of chocolate I found some cacao recipes to make which I did last week but this week so far, not even cacao.
My sleep so far has been a little better but I wouldn’t say I have noticed a massive difference so far. Its funny how we always want to replace something that is missing. In my I quit sugar book it said that red wine is acceptable so I have had a small glass of this most evenings. I am leaning towards this being a reason that my sleep still isn’t 100% so in the coming week I will be reducing this too and seeing what impact cutting a small amount of alcohol will have on my sleep. Caffiene will def be the last thing I cut out, as my sleep is still not 100% some days I do reach for the it but I’m determined to have all of these things as something I can choose rather than a habit that I follow daily.
The most important fact about doing this experiment is to get organised and know what you will have to eat, and if you are eating on the run make sure your choices are as sensible as they can be. Choose nuts instead of chocolate etc…
Here are my top 5 tips to make a start to reduce sugar in your diet – if you think your having too much……
· Be food label savvy! If a product has less than 5g of sugar per 100g its low sugar. If it has more than 22g of sugar per 100g – its high!
· If sugar is one of the first 3 ingredients listed on a label its HIGH!
· Sugar is disguised into lots of other names – around 61 to be precise. If you see the three letters “ose” on the end its usually a sugar (fructose, dextrose, glucose, lactose, etc)
· Understand that even sugar found in honey, fruit, agave etc… is all still sugar. So really think about your “sugar swaps”
· TRACK YOUR FOOD! Know where you are getting your calories from.
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