Beyond Sugar

It is coming up to a year now since I decided to give up sugar. At the time I wrote a blog about my experiences which was really popular so I thought today I would write another, to let you all know how I am getting on.

But there is another reason I want to write this blog today, and that is to touch in on the destruction sugar has on our lives.

This is one of our 21st Century cultural taboos. It’s taken me about six months to step up and put my thoughts down, in the main because it’s not widely talked about and seems pretty controversial.

But it was a conversation that I had with someone a few weeks ago that has spurred me on, so here I go.

The person I was chatting with was struggling because so many of her friends and family were dying of cancer. She was listing them out to me, and I could feel the pain and distress she was carrying having to say goodbye to all these loved ones, ahead of their time.

She looked in my eyes and asked “I don’t understand it, why can’t they find a cure for cancer?”

All I could do in that moment was seal my lips. I just couldn’t get the words out. It feels so scandalous to reply and say, “they have, they just aren’t telling us. The ‘cure’ for cancer, or rather the prevention for cancer is to stop eating sugar”.

The evidence is out there, but it’s buried, and it’s not common knowledge. It feels so controversial to type this here in this blog. But from all my research it all leads to the same conclusion.

We are significantly more at risk of having cancer if we have a high sugar diet…

…and most people on a western diet have a high sugar diet…

…because sugar is put in EVERYTHING.

Why?

Because we are addicted to it, and we buy more of those things with sugar in.

Yet culturally we are way off the mark with this one. We have charity events where we gather together to eat lots of cake, laden with sugar in the drive to raise money for cancer research. When someone hands me an invitation to a Marie Curie coffee morning they are met with a perplexed look on my face. I see it as bonkers as inviting me to a smoking session to raise money to find a way to prevent lung cancer. Usually I politely hand the invitation straight back. The ‘bah humbug’ in me prevails.

Photo credit: Kurtis Garbutt

My Resistance

I remember my resistance to giving up sugar well. It began when I watched a film called ‘That Film About Sugar’. The trailer really spoke to me when an elderly lady said something along the lines of ‘life with sugar is good, but life is really great on the other side’.

The film was in a documentary following the same thread as Alan Moore’s ‘Super Size Me’, that exposed the truth behind McDonalds food. What made ‘That Film About Sugar’ even more captivating was that it was about the types of foods which I ate regularly.

This Sugar chap is Australian, fit and healthy and has a good diet. He spends several months eating foods which fall into the ‘diet food’ category; zero fat yogurts, breakfast bars and the like. He has a team of people round him, medical experts recording his vitals though the period of time.

It’s astonishing to see the change in him as the film progresses. He has low energy, sleeps a lot, his health deteriorates significantly and he is told he is on the road to getting very poorly indeed.

That film stuck with me, but I resisted. I knew I needed to give sugar up, but I didn’t ‘want’ to. I managed to give up grain OK, on and off and then permanently, but I didn’t even try to give up sugar.

Then everything changed last January.

I had a cancer scare. I found a lump and was sent for tests, and in that week where I was waiting for my appointment I was in a spiral of anxiousness. I know millions of people will have been in exactly the same situation at some stage in their life, and I tried to console myself that the chances are everything would be OK, but I was beside myself with worry.

My appointment came though and I waited. Whilst I waited I thought to myself, “I want to take some control back here. I don’t want to be in a system of appointments and waiting. What can I do myself?”

I remembered Jason’s research a few years back into the link between sugar and cancer, and so I decided “I am going to give it up”.

Then a voice in my head replied really loudly “I won’t be able to have cake again. I can’t live with that. I would rather eat cake”.

Let me repeat those words…

“I would rather die than never eat cake again”.

Madness! I couldn’t believe I had even thought that. Then I realised it wasn’t me saying that. It was something else. It was what I call ‘the voice of sugar’.

It was the sugar addiction.

So that was it. I was not going to let that voice beat me.

So I gave up sugar.

I went through a grieving process thinking of all the delicious things I wouldn’t be able to have any more.

The next two months as I withdrew were really tough, and you can read more about it in my blog ‘Cracking the Cane’.

But I am on the other side now. Once those two months were over everything became easy. Really easy.

So I wanted to share today what it is like on the other side.

 

 

Benefits On The Other Side

The No. 1 benefit is that I don’t have food cravings any more. I used to be one of those people who wouldn’t think twice about popping down to the shop to get in a tasty treat or two.

No.2 is that I don’t think about food all the time now. In fact I don’t think about food much at all. I can drive past petrol stations and not need to pull in for a snack. I can leave the house without thinking when is my next meal and whether I need to take something to eat with me to tide me over until I get back home.

No. 3 is that I am eating a lot less now. I only need to eat two meals a day and a snack or two.

No 4. is perhaps the biggest benefit of all. I have tons more energy. If I am tired I know it is because I haven’t had enough sleep, or I have done too much. It isn’t because I am in a sugar dip. So as long as I have slept well in the night, I don’t feel tired at all through the bed until bedtime.

No. 5. is a really lovely bonus, but it wasn’t my driving force, and that is that I have lost two stones in weight. So I feel much better in myself, and more importantly my poorly back isn’t so sore, as it has a lot less to carry around.

 

Finding Motivation

So, how did I find the motivation to maintain a sugar free diet?

Well that was really easy, because I was clear of sugar I didn’t have that voice of addiction inside me. So I just didn’t think about it!

It’s not about the risk of cancer for me anymore. That was the trigger back in January this year, but it wasn’t my driving motivator through the year. It is about how I am feeling right now. That is what I am most interested in.

If I do have sugar now, which is really rare, I feel ill. It gives me tummy ache, and a headache. I had some pic-and-mix at the cinema a while back, and I sat through the whole film with indigestion. So there is no point having sugar any more, as I don’t want to feel like that in 30 minutes time, which makes it a really easy choice to abstain.

 

 

Making Lifestyle Changes

Another question I get asked is what changes did I need to make to my daily routine. What does “a day in a life without sugar” look like?

Well, I cook all my own meals from scratch, but I was largely doing that anyway as I am grain free (which is another blog for another time).

When I do fancy a cake I need to bake it myself, and only put a tiny amount of honey or fruit in. I have a stock of five or six recipes that I can knock up in about 20 minutes, giving me cake in less than an hour including cooking time.

So ‘convenience’ food is out of the window, but that is OK as I don’t eat so much any more anyway, so generally don’t need to get food on the go.

I do still get a tiny bit sad, just for a nano second when I see all the delicious puddings in the dessert counter at our local carvery, but it’s over in a flash and only for a brief fleeting moment.

I have had to do quite a bit of therapeutic work to let go of sugar around my family attachments to sugar when I was a child.

I had to rest an awful lot in the first two months. The research told me it would take 21 days for the sugar to leave my body but I felt the effects for more than double that.

I also eat a lot more fruit now, but the low sugar fruits. I have a little list in my purse to remind me which to buy and not to buy. Apples are off the list along with pears and grapes. Strawberries and blueberries are fine along with fruits I never even thought of buying before which I really enjoy now including figs and star fruit. I still have a good 15 or so fruits I can choose from.

 

Sweet Lies

This leads me onto the final question I wanted to cover off today. Why is this knowledge about sugar not mainstream?

Surely if it was that bad for us, we would all know about it, right?

Well no.

Sugar is big business, and major players in the sugar industry have joined together for well over a century to generate research and deliver a mass PR campaign to make us think otherwise. It’s been really successful.

So successful that there has never been a long-term study on the cumulative effects of eating sugar for a prolonged period of time, for example 20 years. There has been a similar study in eating fats, funded by… wait for it… the sugar industry. But it would take a major government funded programme to be undertaken over many decades in order to ‘prove’ the health effects of sugar.

In the 1960’s there was a study undertaken linking sugar to cancer. It was never published until very recently. The study, called PROJECT 259 was sponsored by the sugar industry, but they pulled the plug on it due to significant findings that would hinder their commercial interests. The suppression of PROJECT 259 is ethically concerning because at the time the study was being conducted, the sugar industry blamed high-fat foods for many health concerns.

Only now, in the last year or so, is research beginning to be published linking sugar and cancer together. Here is a link to the coverage of one study, published in the Independent just two months ago on the 16th October 2017.

It’s interesting that even with these, and other similar studies recently completed even Cancer Research isn’t stepping up and announcing the direct link like in a recent blog from spring this year ‘Sugar and cancer and what you need to know”. In the blog it states “cutting out sugar doesn’t help treat cancer, and sugar doesn’t directly cause cancer”. Yet the author Emma goes on to say: “So the take home message is that although banishing sugar won’t stop cancer in its tracks, we can all reduce our risk of getting cancer by making healthy choices, and lowering the amount of added sugar in our diets is a good way to help maintain a healthy body weight.”

So there are some pretty confusing messages out there, and when there is confusion, it gives us a reason not to make the changes deep down we know we want to take in our lives…

… and it’s not just the risk of cancer. Consumption of sugar can lead to a whole range of other illnesses including diabetes, heart disease, strokes, dementia and even Alzheimers disease.

We only need to look at what impact sugar has on our teeth, in a really short space of time, to put two and two together and surmise that if that is the short term impact it has on our teeth, then goodness knows what the long term impact is on the rest of our body.

I grew up as a child believing that cereal with sugar on was a good breakfast. I chomped my way through biscuit bars in the day time and ate sugary yogurts as snacks. Then when I got home I would have a cake or two, as my Dad was a baker and so there was always shop leftovers to devour. I had a sugary childhood and this was completely normal for me. I didn’t even question it when I went into adulthood and left home. It was only over the years as it caught up with me that I began to look into the impact of my food choices. I have tried most diets going, and almost all of them have led me to believe that sugary low fat food is fine to eat in moderation.

Yet sugar is addictive. More addictive than cocaine it seems. Addict a rat over the course of months to intravenous boluses of cocaine, as the French researcher Serge Ahmed has reported, and then offer it the choice of a sweet solution of its daily cocaine fix, the rat will switch over to the sweets within two days.

By the early twentieth century, sugar had assimilated itself info all aspects of our eating experience – consumed during breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Nutritional authorities were already suggesting what appeared to be obvious, that this increased consumption was a product of at least a kind of addiction. A century later still, sugar has become an ingredient unavoidable in prepared and packaged foods, and not just in the obvious sweet foods. From the 1980’s onward manufacturers of products have advertised these foods as uniquely healthy because they are low in saturated fat, gluten free and no MSG, and often hide the sugar ingredient behind fifty plus different names given to the fructose-glucose sugar.

Along the way sugar and sweets have become synonymous with love and affection, the primary contribution to our celebrations of holidays and accomplishments, both major and minor. For the majority of parents, sugar and sweets have become the tools which are wielded to reward children’s accomplishments, to demonstrate love and pride in them, to motivate them, to entice them. Sweets have become the currency of childhood and parenting. It starts young, and it has a tight hold on us for the rest of our lives, if we let it.

Now I could go on and on here, but I want to move on to how giving up sugar has helped others. So for those of you who are really interested in the research and science side of things, I will point you to a fantastic book I have just finished reading “The Case Against Sugar” by Gary Taubes. It’s a great and eye-opening read.

Photo credit: Ian Standard

 

The Power of Community

One of the fascinating aspects of my journey is how other people in my life have shown interested and followed suit.

Here is a snippit from Laura who is on our Born Free programme. In the beginning part of this shamanic course we encourage members to look at an aspect of their life that they would like to change. Laura chose sugar, and here is what she says about her experience of letting go of her sugar addiction which had wound itself around her whole existence like a tight vice.

“My life has changed rather dramatically but whether that is because of the diet I’m not sure, but actually when I think about the reasons I had this addiction for so long and how I used sugar and grain, perhaps there is. Well, of course there is, dammit!

My whole adult life has been a serious of yoyoing with all the things I was using to hide my pain and fear. That would be sugar first as a child, then alcohol all through my twenties and thirties ( gave up that for 10years then it got me again!) and now alcohol free for a year, coffee free for 9 months or so and sugar and grain free for 3 months. Grains have been an addiction all my life too, with loaves of bread being eaten all at once to push down difficult emotions.

So 3 months in, I have been in touch with my 3-4 year old self and acknowledging whatever happened then. I don’t know what this is consciously, so just work on trusting any guidance that comes my way. Emotions have come up to the surface big time, lots of anger and sadness along with moments of pure joy. The ability to recognise that I have finally got this beast in me under control gives me much to be proud of.

It has also raised the importance of self care and I have finally realised that in order to fulfill my purpose and really be me, I need to let someone else now care for Mum. I am totally physically and emotionally exhausted. This is not an easy decision for a control freak to make, but it’s well overdue! Letting go and surrendering to not being in control of everything generally has also raised it’s head and I am responding to that. Including allowing my partner to have the space and time he needs on his own.

Physically, I am back to the lithe teenager I once was and am now planning to work on my core strength with Pilates and yoga.

So, huge amounts have shifted since making the decision to do this and following it through with action and massive support in Nature and from my guides.

Every transition and shedding of an old skin has its pain and challenge but also its ability to allow unfurling into the future person that we are destined to be”. Laura

 

The depth of Laura’s sharing gives a glimpse into the process which can unravel through giving up one of the worlds most addictive substances. An incredible journey.

Thank you Laura for these inspiring words, and congratulations!

 

Photo credit: Marco Verch

Letting Go

Would I go back now?

No

It’s not because I am worried about the links between cancer and sugar any more.

I wouldn’t eat it now because it makes me feel ill straight away, and I don’t want it to have a hold on me again like it did. I love the freedom a sugar free life gives me.

I watch the glazed eyes when I speak about this, probably because I am sounding evangelical. But giving up sugar has been the most revolutionary thing for me with my diet and I have tried all the diets going pretty much.

In my journey giving up sugar, I have come to a realization about civilization.

I have long had a calling to find a simpler and more natural way to live with the Earth. The more I focus on my health the more I realise and uncover about how things which culture tells us are OK, are in fact not OK for me. These are all symptoms of being born into a ‘civilized world’. To name a few more, all of which I could easily write a blog on each are mercury fillings which were in my teeth, eating grain, and wearing orthotics in my shoes.

On my spiritual path I have spent so many years working on the mind and spirit, but putting my body to one side. Now I am focusing on my body, so much more is falling into place. If my body isn’t right it’s a really loud signal that things in general aren’t right. So if I focus on my body, it serves as a wonderful guide.

It is leading me to a much more natural way of being.

 

 

Footnote

Here are a couple of links you might enjoy which I have added here because of the comments which have come up below:

For information on the ‘how’ I gave up sugar, go to my earlier blog this year Cracking the Cane.

A great person to follow for a zero sugar, zero grain diet is Mark Sissons. You can subscribe to his free blog “Marks Daily Apple” and he has some great books out there too. The one I recommend as a first read is Primal Blueprint.

 

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Very interesting blog Nicola. Cancer is a complex issue.. and it feels right that our dependency on sugar in society certainly needs to be looked at more closely. Like anything else the more we talk about it the less taboo it becomes 🙂

  2. Very interesting! I have been detoxing for 6 weeks and haven’t had sugar in that time…
    my body definatley feels better but my brain occasionally says “I want something sweet”
    I’d love know more about your cake recipes!!! x

    • Six weeks is amazing Jane, well done! I have a few favourite cake recipes which are firm favourites, but I hold back on baking them all the time as I only eat them! There is a great book called Paleogrubs which is online, and that has a supplement of 30 cakes which are yummy!

  3. Funny as was having a night and reflecting how sugar has a hold on me. Emotionally as a child it was my way out of pain. I have wanted to let go of this emotional attachment. Lately I have been having lots of physical symptoms, sweating and pains in my body. I was thinking last night need to make serious changes then your email has just come this morning. thank you for the insight very helpful love Bobby x

    • What a synchronicity Bobby. I know I had to do quite a bit around my emotional attachment with sugar though the process. So pleased this email landed at the right time 🙂

  4. Hi Nicola,
    You’re sugar story has reminded me I need to pay some attention to my diet (again!). I gave up sugar ages ago as my body doesn’t do well on it and it makes me feel disconnected and spacey but it can quietly sneak back in easily. I know I should cut down on grains again too but breakfast in the winter is hard without porridge!! I will try and find an alternative as I am still in limbo in my life and i’m sure a bit of conscious eating wouldn’t go amiss in getting more clarity. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Jess

    • Thank you Jess for your comment 🙂 Mark Sissons has a porridge alternative which uses ground almonds – I recon you could find it online. I know what you mean about sugar quietly sneaking back in. I have to be super careful with honey. 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing
    I’ve been sugar free for a keast 3years and love the challenge of creating sugar free cakes chocolate etc.
    it really is mind expanding because it does draw you back to nature and how we are connected.
    Recently I have become grain free, but funnily find this more challenging ? And have become hungrier. I’d love you to write about the grains
    Thanks Nicola x

    • Oh OK Carmel – I will do! Interestingly I found going grain free alot easier than going sugar free. I love to read that it draws you back to nature and how we are connected 🙂

  6. This is inspiring to read, Nicola, and encourages me to go on purifying my diet. I feel so much better when I don’t eat meat, sugar, dairy products, and other noxious foods, but then I slip back in again. I guess it’s a direction of travel for me, rather than a goal accomplished. At least for now!

    • I sense you are right Mary. It has been a long journey for me over many years to get to this place, and I am sure I will have more dietary changes in the future too. I eat alot of meat and dairy as I follow the Paleo diet which really suits me – free range of course though which does make shopping rather restrictive!

  7. Can you give me any indication of where to look for advice on alternatives, such as good books or websites, when trying to go sugar free? There is so much info about and it is so confusing!

    • Hi Alys, Mark Sissons. Jason and I swear by him. He has a book called The Primal Blueprint which is a great starting point. He also has a free newsletter called Marks Daily Apple which you can sign up to online. There are also a number of cook books by him too. He covers sugar, grain and legume free.
      🙂

  8. This is a compelling article thank you. I made the decision to give up sugar last year and managed for about 9 months. I started to make water kefir this year and I am sure this is what started me on the slippery slope again. So I will start again soon and am hopeful as having done it, I know I can do it again. What I learned in the process, is just because I am told something is good for me (kefir) doesn’t mean it is good for me.

    • Hi Carole, I am the same as you – just give me a little bit of sugar and I am hooked back in again. I have been making herbal medicines this past year, but I have omitted sugar from all of them – which gives may of them a rather pungent taste to say the least. But I know as soon as I start to add honey or sugar its a slippery slope!

  9. There’s definitely a lot of evidence that cutting down on sugar consumption, especially refined sugars, can be better for your health, but the paper you refer to doesn’t say what you imply. It looks at how glucose in the body relates to cancer cell activation. As glucose is one of the end products of eating any sugar, refined or otherwise (or any other carbohydrate), this only suggests that it’s blood sugar levels overall that are important, not that specific sugars are inherently related to cancer. Though star fruit are definitely interesting as they do seem to have an unusual effect on glucose concentrations in the body!

    • Hi Paul, you have highlighted the confusion out there brilliantly. It was only when reading the Case Against Sugar that I understand why there is so much confusion.

  10. Hi Nicola, thanks for sharing your experience giving up sugar. I completely agree with your comments and have reduced sugar considerably over the last year and a half. My initial reasons were weight based as having tried every diet and failed over 30 years I thought that trying to avoid sugar might work – well it worked and the weight melted away along with my appetite. Food cravings disappeared and I could suddenly take or leave food that before I would have no control around. Of course I then had to push it and thought that maybe I could have a little sugar now and then (every addicts downfall!) sure enough I started devouring cakes and biscuits and thinking about food almost constantly. All the tiredness and brain fog came back so I began reducing sugar again a week ago and all my cravings have reduced. I will always have to control my sugar intake but I believe the benefits far outweigh the momentary regret at turning down a slice of cake.

    • Wow, such parallels with your story Suzanne, thank you for sharing. I also found I can’t give sugar an inch – its ZERO sugar (I am an all or nothing kind of girl when it comes to addiction !)

      • Hi I have found this article and subsequent comments fascinating .. Can I just ask Nicola and anyone reading this about alcohol… Does ZERO sugar also mean zero booze? I love wine… And I know this has sugar in it.. Any low/no sugar alternatives…? In hope!! Jo

        • Hmmmm, I don’t know Jo I am afraid. I don’t drink alcohol so I didn’t look into this. What I would think though, is to give up everything that will hold you in to a sugar addiction for a couple of months, until its completely out of your system, and then introduce things. You will know if they are good or bad for you based on how you feel. For example, I started to introduce honey back in to my diet in the summer, and felt myself getting over dependant on it, so cut it out again and make sure I go some weeks without it. A good person to go to for advice is Mark Sissons. He has so much stuff online for free about the paleo diet – which I follow – which is low sugar/ no sugar. I hope that helps? Thank you for your kind words about this blog and all the comments folk have left 🙂

          • Not sure about sugar in the wine, I drink organic red wine V. Occasionally Merlot
            Besides the sugar they put “disinfectant “ in the wine to stop it going mouldy ?

  11. Everything sounds so familiar in every part of your journey, especially the freedom from cravings and not thinking about food all the time. I hadn’t realised how much I did this until I stopped the sugar and grains.
    When I did my Herbal training 13 years ago, the link between cancer and sugar was flagged up then and has concerned me since about how blatantly this is ignored by conventional medicine. Every little thing we do to raise this awareness will have an impact.
    Brilliant blog, Nicola, thank you.??

    • Oh thank you Laura 🙂 it seems like the biggest cover up to me. Some people look at me as though I am mad when I talk about it. Thank ou again for such a deep contribution – so lovely to have your story in this blog too Laura 🙂

  12. Wow, this has utterly intrigued me. I realise my skin suffers when l eat sugar, l get itchy and hyper reactive. Am going to try!
    Thank you for sharing

  13. Nicola,
    You are spot on with sugar, our western society is totally addicted to sugar, I believe it is responsible for so many conditions in the body. The food industry as a whole should be ashamed, how they can sleep at night knowing the rubbish they are hiding in our food is beyond me. I gave up sugar about a year ago, right at the time I started cycling everyday purely for my health and all I can say is I am a different person. I no longer crave sweet food, in fact at a recent meal cooked by good friends of ours I was asked if I would try a slice of the homemade chocolate cake, I felt bad as Sue had spent ages in the kitchen so I gave it a go, I put a spoonful in my mouth and I just could not swallow it, I mean I physically could not get it down, my whole body was pushing against it. Would I go back to sugar, never ever in a million years. Kindest wishes, Dean

    • Wow Dean this is great to hear your story! it looks like we gave up around the same time. I find your comment really inspirational – well done us!! I haven’t tried a normal piece of cake but I get I would get a similar reaction now.

  14. Hi Nicola, thank you for your blog on sugar. I found it to feel very supportive and that I’m not the only one out there following a non mainstream diet.
    I have Parkinson’s which I believe was caused in me by mercury poisoning from my fillings. I have had the fillings replaced but of course the damage was done and it will be deeply buried in my brain, nervous system, bones, other organs and is very difficult to remove. I have tried and made myself very unwell.
    Anyway because of this I have been on a sugar free, alcohol free, dairy free and gluten free (not grain free but low on grains) diet for a few years to give my body the very best chance of recovery. I strongly believe that if you give the body what it needs for good health it can recover and heal.
    I feel that most people don’t get what I’m doing and it can feel very lonely, although I do have a wonderful naturopath.
    So again thank you for your words Nicola.
    What do you know of xylitol and stevia?

    • Hello Linda, it is really good to hear a little of your story. Thank you for sharing. I too came to the realisation that mercury fillings were bad for me and I had mine removed a few years ago. The dentist just didn’t get why – she thought it was for cosmetic reasons. It is going to be the topic of a future blog. So I am really interested in reading about your story and experience with mercury fillings. We share the same beliefs – if we listen to our body it is the sure road to recovery. I hear your loneliness – although in The Way of the Buzzard community I don’t sense you are alone – given the number of comments on this blog it looks like there are many of us that are challenging the thinking behind mainstream Western diets. Lovely to be connected in this way Linda 🙂

      • Thanks for your reply Nicola.
        I know mercury is a whole, other massive topic but I just felt I should say that if anyone was considering having their mercury fillings removed, that it is so important to find a mercury free dentist. One who has a filtration system installed and who protects you and themselves from further mercury poisoning, who understands the dangers of mercury. Like you experienced, most dentists have been taught that it is safe.
        Good to know you are there doing such good work Nicola.

        • I agree Linda, I went into it blindly and I was really lucky with my dentist, but I have heard other stories of it not going well.

          I forgot to answer your question about sweetness. In the book The Case Against Sugar which I referenced in my blog, the author Gary Taubes talks about sweetener – so this is where I get my views from as I haven’t done any research into it myself. He mentioned how the sugar industry threw a lot of money into research when sweetness first came out to dis-credit them – they saw them as a threat to their sugar sales. So, my advice to people who want to look at sweetness as an alternative is to do your own research into the health risks, and check the source of your research. From readings Gary’s book I don’t think they are so bad at all, and are a good alternative if you still want sweet food. For me though, I wanted to remove my reliance on needing sweet food, so I didn’t even think about using them. How that helps?

  15. Great blog Nicola! I am so familiar with the addiction to sugar: giving up for a little bit and just one tiny taste of it takes you back to square 1. I love most grains and legumes and particularly lentils. I read your blog this morning before heading to work and whilst queueing in traffic (this sounds ridiculous), I was crying over the idea of never eating cake again or alas worse, pizza or lentils. I find it hilarious and tragic at the same time. ‘Tragicomic’ as they say in Italy. I had a cancer scare too in the Summer and I temporarily gave up all sorts (not lentils) because my body demanded attention and it got it for a few weeks. Having done a bit of research myself, I believe in the connection sugar has with all sorts of diseases not just cancer. I cut back lots of refined sugar including dried fruit and ate tonnes of pears and grapes to make up for the forbidden world of cake, but the cake came back and the pears were put aside. So once again I find myself in what I can only describe as a horrible battle with sugar and especially with Christmas round the corner. I haven’t even tried giving up sweet fresh fruit yet, let alone grains. I look forward to see whether I’ll ever land on the phase ‘I don’t think about food all the time’, which is something I learnt with your blog. I haven’t been that serious about giving up sugar even as I write this I find it difficult to believe it will be possible to win this battle for me, I feel a little defeated and not strong.
    I find our present situation with imposed emotional sugar state very sad and mostly stressful. I feel positive, however, that a new collective consciousness is much needed about this subject, I find there is much denial about sugar being bad for you out there. So I am in pure awe of your strength Nicola and I’m aware of the hard journey you endured, which makes your achievement even more amazing.
    As someone else commented here if we start talking about it it’s a step forward even if we, ourselves, don’t always manage it that well at least we’re thinking about it so it’s great to know that there are brave people like yourself who talk about these things.
    Much love to you and your great work!

    • Oh what lovely things you have said here Enza, thank you! You know I don’t feel brave, and in fact now I have forgotten how hard it was. I see my journey to giving up sugar starting a long time ago to prepare me for removing such an emotional crutch, and I had to get various aspects of my life sorted first. A great person who has been with me on my journey is Mark Sissons in America (he doesn’t know me by the way – I just follow his work). His teachings have really helped me see a different path, and he has lots of inspirational stuff on his website. He says, if you are going to get it wrong, its ok to get it wrong with lentils! and potato! He is really against grain. So that could be something you might find helpful. Good luck my friend, and keep me posted 🙂

      • You’re welcome Nicola, I really hear and almost ‘feel’ every word you write. So I’ll look up Mark Sissons and his teachings because I am beginning to think this may be the way forward for me too to break free, but it’s difficult to imagine a sugar free Enza as it is now. How will I stand the struggle? I ask myself.
        When I read about your emotional attachment to sugar it got me thinking that as an Italian child grain might have had an emotional attachment to my upbringing because even if food was made mostly from scratch, pasta and legumes were our main day to day food. When I moved here I didn’t eat pasta and legumes anymore from day one so after a while, sugar was probably just a sort of natural upgrade (or downgrade depending on the approach we take here) because it was so cheaply available. A doughnut, for example, is not that different from a large amount of pasta in terms of how it breaks down into our bodies possibly.
        One last thing I want to say is that it’s nice to have this space to talk about these things, it’s encouraging because it makes me feel less isolated when I think about my nutrition difficulties. So thanks again for talking about your experiences and sharing your knowledge.

  16. Read this after eating A LOT of chocolate today! I dont normally go for chocolate but I had such a craving yesterday i bought a big bit and not its all gone…
    This has given me lots of motivation to think seriously before i go on such binges and ill be doing my best to avoid it from now on!!
    Thank you Nicola!!

  17. I just got round to reading this. Congratulations. I had real problems with binge eating sugary things from childhood until I found my spiritual path in my late twenties/early thirties. Establishing a relationship with nature helped me see where those foods were coming from (sugar and chocolate aren’t British and often come from exploitative labour) and how I was under the power of the people manufacturing them and I’ve now come to despise anything in smily all so alluring wrappers. Yes I also hate the way cake and biscuits are the norm at both pagan and non-pagan gatherings. I occasionally have a biscuit, one sweet, or a taste of cake but no more. I do eat all fruits including apples and pears but try to stick to local and seasonal ones where possible. My substitute for sugary sweets is a cup of tea with half a lemon (admittedly also not British…) with a spoonful of local honey.

  18. Fascinating to read about everyone’s issues around sugar. My husband just brought me up a toffee penny out of the quality street tin as I was reading this!!… There are so many things that are incredibly unhealthy about living in the 21st century. I was on a healing course a few years back and the topic of diet and cancer was raised…but anyone who has worked in the healing field for sometime will also be aware, there is a much bigger picture when it comes to ‘triggering’ cancer in the human body. Mindset and emotions have a huge impact on the physiology of the body. Diet obviously has an impact on health ,but if you eat all the ‘right ‘ foods but constantly worry and don’t do things that bring joy to your life… You can still get very unwell and pop your cloggs far too young.
    I try and eat all my food with joy! I’m quite lucky in that my body is really good at processing so called ‘unhealthy’ food and turning it into the appropriate fuel my body needs. But as I am a perimenopausal woman now, I am more aware of my changing body’s needs. Whilst I applaud all of you who have found it necessary in your life to give up sugar, that is not my path. ( however I do reserve the right to change my mind at any moment)Heroin addiction has been rife in our family, I only wish those family members were more addicted to sugar!
    Kicking any ‘habit’ is challenging and kicking the sugar one sounds like it has been quite the journey. Thank you for sharing, I have enjoyed reading.

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