health & fitness

On Quitting Sugar

quitting sugar

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Back in July, I decided to cut out processed/refined sugar from my diet. It was originally supposed to be a three-week long sugar smackdown but I decided to make it a lifestyle; permanent, albeit not very strict (in the sense that I have cheat days; I did eliminate all processed sugar the first three weeks).

By the way: I must mention as early as now that I never gave up beer. I did some research (on the internet lol) and found that most beers don’t have processed sugar. If anyone there has a reputable source saying otherwise, please let me know.

It’s been over two months since I said good-bye to muscovado sugar in my coffee and I can honestly say drastically cutting down on sugar is one of the best things I’ve done for my body. It was is torture, of course, what with my penchant for all things bad for me. I love chocolate, condensed milk omg, yogurt, ice cream, mung bean hopia, cakes, soy sauce, brownies… the list goes on. Admittedly, I’ve strayed the past couple of weeks and have been lazy and gone back to eating too much white rice. I’m hoping to re-calibrate next week and get back on track.

Aldo asked me via my Tumblr ask box to expound on this “diet” and what types of food I avoid. I thought I’d answer with a blog entry and I hope you find informative and helpful.

Why quit sugar

Because processed/refined sugar makes you fat. That’s my personal reason for quitting. If that’s not good enough for you, here are 146 reasons why sugar is bad for you.

Because eliminating sugar turns on the “fat burning mechanism”:

By eliminating sugar your body finally has an opportunity to utilize the fat it has stored for energy. When you consume a lot of sugar, the body rarely needs to tap into its fat cells for energy (there are exceptions to this, but not going to go into that). That’s because immediately consumed sugar provides the body with glucose or the fuel it needs to move, live, breath etc…. The problem is, we are eating WAY too much of it and the body can’t use it, so it stores it as fat for later. If you eliminate or reduce your sugar intake, or eat foods that have a very low glycemic load, your body has a chance to ignite this fat burning response.


Why quit sugar

Here’s a list of things I’ve cut out (exceptions: cheat days):

  • white/brown/muscovado sugar
  • sugar substitutes/artificial sweeteners
  • pastries
  • soy sauce
  • ketchup
  • dried fruit
  • white bread
  • white pasta
  • candy
  • gum
  • soda
  • vodka/rum (mostly because I mix this with soda), flavored liquor
  • fruit juice (unless it’s real juice aka you bought a mango and squeezed it yourself and didn’t add anything to it except maybe some water and a splash of milk)
  • milk tea unless it’s basic no-sugar milk tea
  • anything that lists sugar, fructose, glucose, corn syrup, aspartame etc as an ingredient

Plus the usual guys like chocolate, cake, ice cream, yogurt etc. Avoid anything packaged that says “sugar-free” because that probably contains artificial sweeteners and from what I’ve been told, you’re only supposed to be consuming that if you’re diabetic. Otherwise, your body can’t process it and it only turns into fat. So yes, throw out that box of Splenda.

Why quit sugar

  • fresh fruit
  • soy (preferably unsweetened or reduced sugar) or regular milk
  • powdered milk (NOT milk drinks like Bear Brand or Alaska)
  • brown/red rice; white rice sparingly (supposedly, heh)
  • vegetables
  • proteins (I <3 bacon and eggs)
  • cheese
  • whole wheat bread
  • cinnamon (to sweeten coffee)

(Like any sane person, I have cheat days. I will have some Yan-yan or cookies or flavored milk tea with pearls etc etc)

I remember the first week, I had a crazy craving for chocolate; I picked up a Mars bar and almost gave in to it… until I checked the nutrition facts. FIFTY-FOUR GRAMS of sugar, it said. I put it back and got green apples instead.

Giving up sugar is surprisingly easy (once you get used to it) and the cravings do go away. What’s tricky is avoiding it in non-sweet stuff. It’s really important to check labels. For example: I wanted pancakes the other night and almost picked up a box but decided I really didn’t want those ten grams of processed sugar. The same goes for Yakisoba or some corn/potato chips— these things aren’t necessarily sweet but they do contain sugar. I’m not saying avoid processed sugar at all costs but if you can, why not?

One of these days, I am going to do a serious three-week sugar detox and cut out all alcohol while at it. The fact that I think I can’t go without beer for 21 days means I really need to do it!

Do you think you can? Eliminate processed sugar for three weeks, I mean.

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  • Reply Jean October 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    This is too difficult even for me, who doesn’t have a sweet tooth. No pastries? Sad sad sad. I’m surprised, ketchup and soy sauce have high sugar pala. I’m gonna challenge myself and try this when I feel like I’m brave enough.

    No sugar and you’ve recently quit smoking, right? Parang ang hirap-hirap. I’m amazed.

    • Reply Helga October 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      Social smoking! Until I get my e-cigarette next week haha. I’ve had 3 or 4 cigarettes in the last 12 days.

  • Reply Liane October 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    This is too much :( I mean, I have cravings for things that are really sweet sometimes and I just munch on those little devils (cookies, lollies, pancakes, asian noodles, yadda yadda)! I seriously have my two thumbs up to you, lotsa motivation!

    • Reply Helga October 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      You can do it!!! Whenever I’m craving for something sweet, I eat some protein.

  • Reply Aldo October 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks Helga! I’ve been meaning to do a sugar detox for the longest time, and was curious to know what specific food items you avoid. Turns out, you abstain from pretty much all the evil carbs haha!

    I was really going to ask if you take your coffee black or use a non-sugar sweetener but you did mention it here (cinnamon). I think I can live with black coffee but not plain tea… so is honey also in your no-no list?

    I’ll definitely try this, one week at a time. Thanks for the informative entry!

    • Reply Helga October 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      I started out with unsweetened soy milk and some cinnamon with my coffee . After a while, I just used regular milk (soy or cow). I think raw honey is fine but I avoided it to re-calibrate my taste buds.

  • Reply Isabellmiao October 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    wow.. my doc asked me to take less sugar because i’m having some minor problems with my health. the first week i was like “no sugar no sugar no sugar” then after cutting all (almost) the sugar, i hit a crazy crave for chocolates.

    now i just eat normally but if possible, i’ll ask for less sugar or no sugar when i’m eating outside.

  • Reply Tracy October 8, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Yes I can :) A few years ago I started to not put sugar in my coffee… and then things just took their way. It’s amazing how much food (heinz baked beans, sauces etc) contain sugar – I think sugar is the worst thing for your body so I try to eat very less. Of course I have those cheat days too, like today I ate a bunch of Toblerone mmmm :)

    • Reply Helga October 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      OMG last weekend, I had so much ensaymada (bread with sugar and butter and cheese!). So good but not doing that again!

  • Reply Stefhamae October 8, 2011 at 2:10 am

    This is too difficult for me but I’m trying it, with a few exceptions. I’m also planning to not go trick or treating this Halloween (I’m 21 but I still go for free chocolates. LOLOLOL.).

    Thanks for this list, Helga! Will try to avoid most of the stuff. I won’t even dare avoiding all these at once cos I know I’ll just fail.

    Good luck on your sugar detox!

    • Reply Helga October 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Start with the little things, like skipping the sugar in your coffee and cutting down on liquid calories (soda, bottled/canned juice etc)! Ketchup and soy sauce, too :(

  • Reply Noelle De Guzman October 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

    It’s exactly because our bodies can’t process Splenda that we excrete it (in urine, feces) and don’t store it as fat. Can I see the article that says it’s bad for you? I use it a lot. D:

  • Reply jennybeam October 8, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I can’t. I tried and failed the 1st day. But I’m going to try again.

    Thanks for this post!

    • Reply Helga October 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Keep trying! Whenever I start craving for something sweet, I eat some protein :D

  • Reply Nikki October 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    This is really inspiring! I tried to do it before but I remember failing really hard, it’s part not knowing exactly what to avoid and part not being able to resist cake. :( Thank you for listing the food that we should avoid. Must try this again!

  • Reply Ashley October 9, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Oh boy. Good luck! Maybe strength be with you.

  • Reply 2012 Goals and Projects | DITZ-REVOLUTION.NET - Helga Weber's Personal Blog January 3, 2012 at 7:07 am

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