How Quitting Sugar Changed My Life

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You hear people talk about getting older and how your body starts to fall apart, like it’s inevitable. For me, the falling apart really started when I had my daughter at age 36. I put on a whopping 65 pounds during my pregnancy. Though I took care myself otherwise and felt pretty decent during those 9 months, the aftermath was another thing. Lack of sleep, body deprived of nutrients, and hormones out of whack was a recipe for disaster. I spend the next 3 years never feeling great, struggling with fatigue, carrying around an extra 5-15 pounds, and constantly battling the nagging notion that I felt down. I felt more irrational and a little more emotionally volatile than ever before. My medical tests said I was healthy, but I just didn’t feel good.

So, right after Christmas when my mom suggested that I read the book The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity and do the diet with her for 90 days, I figured what the heck? What do I possibly have to lose at this point? I can’t feel much worse than I do now. This diet sounds strict and hard to follow, but it’s not easy feeling this way, either.

I won’t go into all the details about the diet itself, but the main premise that the diet focuses on is building up the health of your digestive system, since all your health originates in your gut. You cut out foods that take a toll on your digestive system, like wheat and sugar, and eat whole foods and foods that promote healthy digestion, like fermented foods. You can read more about it here: About Body Ecology

The kicker for me was giving up sugar! I have the worst sweet tooth in the world. I crave sugar like nobody’s business. But reading through the book and seeing some of the symptoms sugar addiction can cause in our bodies, I realized that I was definitely addicted to sugar, and it might be the reason for many of the negative symptoms I was experiencing that I mentioned above.

I’ve made dietary changes a few times over my life, and have found several things that work, so long as you are ready to commit to them and follow through. However, that commitment is often tested, so you have to have support in place to help you through the weak moments. My motivation for this round was simple: I wasn’t focused on losing weight, looking a certain way, or being a certain size, I was only focused on how I would feel. I read somewhere that focusing on how you feel provides much stronger motivation to stick with a dietary change than focusing on how you look or how much you weigh. I found that to be very true in starting out this journey.

So, how did I feel?

I’m not going to lie, the first few days, I felt like I was detoxing off drugs! (Or so I would imagine, having no actual experience there.) I had a headache, craved sugar like my life depended on it, and even came home from work and went to bed early. But then, on the third day, I felt glorious! I felt like I had enough energy to conquer the world! My sugar cravings decreased so dramatically that when I would cheat and have a taste of something sweet, I often found it too rich to finish. This was a true first for me! What’s more, without sugar in the mix, I found that my cravings for all foods diminished. I could eat a meal to satisfy my body’s nutritional needs and stop eating easily as soon as I started to feel satisfied, rather than constantly giving in to some craving or always still feeling a little “hungry.”

Over the next month or so my energy level had waves of good and just ok. So, I watched some of the podcasts in Body Ecology’s free 30-Day Detox Challenge to get other ideas of things I could do to boost my health along with the diet. One in particular that resonated with me, was the use of the supplement Taurine (I used this particular brand) for its potential to increase the energy level and help regulate calm moods.

Into the second month of the diet, I found myself feeling consistently energetic and good! My moods completely stabilized, to the point that I was no longer feeling the huge emotional waves and nagging bouts of sadness. I felt very even keeled and level headed. The fog had truly lifted. On top of that, I lost 15 pounds without using any portion control, counting any calories, or even exercising very religiously. (Although, I do have to say, when I’ve worked exercise into the mix, it has always made me feel even better.)

So what now?

It’s hard to make a permanent lifestyle of a diet that cuts out sugar, wheat, and dairy. But, because of the great results I’ve seen, I’ve put a lot of effort into incorporating these changes into my lifestyle as consistently as I’m able. Here are some of the tools I’ve found to help make this a lasting change:

  • Know that it’s ok to cheat sometimes. If you’re going to a party, you can have a piece of cake. Just observe how that cake makes you drag and feel not quite your best, and remember that so you don’t make a regular habit of it. If you’re really just struggling with temptation, ask yourself how eating this thing will make you feel afterward, really think through that, and try to find a healthy alternative. If you slip up, just get back to doing what makes you feel best right away.
  • Speaking of healthy alternatives, the one product I couldn’t have made it through this diet without is Stevia. (It comes in many forms, liquid, powder, or tablets for hot drinks, but this is my favorite every day version.) Unlike sugar, Stevia won’t raise your glycemic index. It is calorie free, and it is not an artificial sweetener. It comes from the Stevia plant, which is naturally much sweeter than sugar. So, I find that I use much less of it. Stevia works perfectly for curbing sugar cravings without any of the adverse side effects of sugary foods or artificial sweeteners. I carry it in my purse at all times so that I can have a “sweet” iced tea anytime a sugar craving hits. (Another similar product that I like for baking is Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, which you can use like sugar in measured quantity.)
  • When you’re used to eating bad on the go, or even just eating like you always have, finding and preparing healthy foods can be a real challenge. You will also likely find that eating whole, organic foods can get really expensive, really fast, if you’re not careful. I’ve tempered both challenges by finding go-to foods that I can find easily, keep on hand, and afford. This process will likely involve trial and error for you. The first few weeks involve a lot of label reading and maybe going through the grocery stores or restaurants with fresh eyes. Looking the options over like you’ve never seen them before, so you can see what options might fit the new lifestyle. A great resource Body Ecology makes for recipes is the Body Ecology Living Cookbook (free with Kindle Unlimited, which you can try free for 30 days with this link).
  • Have an accountability buddy. For me, this was my mom since we decided to do the diet together. My husband was interested in the diet, too, though not fully willing to commit, so he was able to offer support and help with the aspects of the diet he was interested in. He helped shop for more fruits and vegetables and was willing to join me in eating healthier dinners. Your buddy can help talk the cookies out of your hand when you’re feeling weak, but more importantly, can help you navigate the nuances of a completely new diet. My mom and I exchange recipe ideas, let each other know anytime we find a new product that meshes well with the diet, pick up necessities for each other at the specialty stores, and encourage each other to try new things, like fermenting foods. Having someone to do the diet with has really kept me going, and reinforced my belief in what I’m doing, as we’ve seen the same results.

Quitting sugar has been a game changer for me. I feel better turning 40 than I have in the several years leading up to it. If you’re struggling with not feeling your best, I encourage to you to do some research and see if making some of these changes might work for you! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

feeling victorious

Author: Rachelle

Rachelle Dodson is a 40something mom & lawyer. She lives in Lexington, Ky with her daughter Delanie and dog Bentley.

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