Sunday, November 13, 2016

Three Weeks Of No Sugar

11 items containing sugar that I found in my kitchen two weeks ago
I was going to wait until the month was up before posting any results but so many people have been asking and after three weeks I have a nice tidy result. So here's the update.

First the original blog post titled Poisoned by Sugar in which I recommended three videos about the effects of sugar in our lives and on our bodies. It was the single most successful blog post I've ever published with over 1,000 views in one day. This proves the point, as if we didn't already know, that people know that something is not right with the western diet, they are searching for answers, some of them are desperate, and the information we are getting is often heavily biased according to who's paying the big money.

I chose three videos that I liked and trusted. The first is a woman whose family gave up sugar for a year. It's an honest unpretentious account of what happened. The second is a Doctor and activist who is fighting at the highest levels of Government to get sugar recognised as a drug on a par with tobacco and alcohol. And the third is actually a series of six videos where Dr Jason Fung explains how too much sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes, a collective name for insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, heart disease, kidney failure, and probably eventually dementia.

If you are already pre-diabetic and have a fatty liver, which I probably do, Dr Fung assures us that you can reverse some of these conditions by giving up sugar, cutting down on carbs and intermittent fasting. I have been doing all this and will tell you more about it in a moment. First a few words about the reactions to the blog post.

Some people said, "That looks interesting, I'll take a look over the next week or so."

However, many people were positively incensed that I should recommend watching videos about a healthy diet. Interestingly, all these nay-sayers are intelligent educated people in real life but in this instance, without even watching one of the videos felt very strongly that they were all a load of rubbish, they would no more watch these videos than join the Flat Earth Society, and that it was very dangerous of me to suggest that anyone else watch them. Presumably because no one is intelligent enough to watch and make up their own minds. It was all a bit like trying to argue with a cult who shut out the modern world lest people be tempted by something that makes more sense than the lives they have lived for the past 50 years.

Others saw the word 'fast' in the phrase 'intermittent fasting' and, because they didn't watch the Fung videos, didn't understand that I wasn't promoting some sort of anorexia approach.

And finally, there were those who cannot condone any dietary choices, even giving up sugar and alcohol, without first discussing it with my doctor. They didn't like the fact that I had read all the symptoms of a fatty liver and, because I have every single one of them (from blood test results, how I felt, and visible signs), concluded that I probably do have fatty liver disease. And, because they also had not watched the videos, didn't understand that the best thing to do about is to make the dietary changes, lose weight asap, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and then check out the situation again with more blood tests. Because, unless you already have liver cirrhosis or cardiac arrest, every doctor is going to advise just that.

Here is what I did and what happened....

Down to 9 items this week. The ice-cream, Nutella, and cake is for DD
I expect we will throw out the jelly as DD has gone off it - too sweet
DD also gets chocolate for Shabbat but there's none left by Sunday
Astoundingly the gluten-free flour (for my nephew) is cornflour and sugar
No Sugar
I cut out almost all sugar. I did not eat cakes, sweets, biscuits, chocolate, most processed foods including yogurt, fruit juices (even 100% juice), ketchup, soft drinks, alcohol, honey, jam, or maple syrup. I looked at the ingredients of anything that came packaged in any way and rejected those items with sugar in any of its forms.

Exceptions: I chose the mayonnaise with the least sugar but when this jar is finished I am going to try making my own. I also kept the soup powder I use to add flavour to soups as the one teaspoon per litre of liquid is acceptable to me. (That is 1 tsp of soup powder, not 1 tsp of sugar.) I also kept the soy sauce as, even though the main ingredient is molasses, the tiny amount I use is negligible. Finally, I am also using up my mustard and next time will either buy the option in the supermarket with the least sugar or buy mustard powder to make my own.

This is what I eat: vegetables, fruit, cheese, eggs, fish, bread, rice and other grains, pasta, humus, olive oil, non-dairy milks (because I don't like milk), nuts and dried fruit, tea and coffee. (I also choose not to eat meat.) I have to confess that I've also been eating crisps occasionally which is not a good choice but it's my treat instead of anything sweet.

I have been drinking lots of lemon water with apple cider vinegar. I don't know if the apple cider vinegar has the magical qualities that are claimed for it but I've grown to like it and it must be better than too much tea and coffee, which I now drink only occasionally. Mostly I just drink water.

Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting can be anything from not eating in between meals, to following the 5:2 regime (where the 2 fasting days allow you to eat between 500 - 800 calories), to the one meal a day diet (OMAD), to not eating anything for 2, 3, 5, 7, 14, 21, 28, 30 or 40 days straight (drinking plenty of course).

Without even consulting my doctor, I decided not to eat in between meals. ;~p And I've never been a breakfast eater even as a child so I am in fact eating only two meals a day, lunch and supper. I'd like to say that my meals are low carb but many of them are not. I wanted to give up bread but sometimes a sandwich or toast is the easiest option. On the other hand, with two small meals a day, the carbs are automatically reduced by default.

So mainly by cutting out sugar, intermittent fasting, drinking plenty of water, and eating lots of vegetables, I have lost 10 lbs (about 4.5kg) in three weeks.

The fasting has been easy for me as my food addiction is similar to that of an alcoholic. It is impossible for me to eat something small to keep me going until the next meal without opening the floodgates and ending up bingeing on anything and everything. This happened a couple of times and my binges were all about bread and potatoes - no sugary foods.

In general I ended up not eating from about 7pm until 2pm the next day (19 hours). In reality this means not eating in the evening, which is the hardest part for me. In the morning I'm rushing off to work and busy without a break until lunchtime so I don't even think about food until then. I do sometimes have a tea of coffee in the morning with milk.

I feel less stiff, the pain I was getting in my knees when I climbed the stairs is gone (I live in a third floor walk-up), and I am less breathless when I reach my front door.

I intend to continue until the weight has gone and then check out the fatty liver situation to see if a more modified diet is needed to reverse it more.

If anyone has any questions please watch the videos before asking as all the answers I have are answered in them.


  1. Really happy to hear that this is going well and you are feeling more healthy.
    Not sure how you manage to go till 2 in the afternoon without eating - if I don't have time to eat in the morning, by one I feel pretty awful. On the other hand, if I have eaten a proper meal at supper time, I don't have a problem not eating in the evening, so I guess it is just a differece in our dietary biological clocks.
    Can I just suggest an edit - type 2 diabetes is not a "collective name for insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, heart disease, kidney failure, and probably eventually dementia". Insulin resistance is part of type 2 diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes can end up with fatty liver disease, heart disease, kidney failure, vascular issues, neuropathy, dementia etc.
    One question - what about exercise? I know that this is difficult as many types of exercise involve money and/or childcare. I was asking a friend who is pre-diabetic about the advice she was given, and while she is very strict about keeping down her sugar intake and ensuring her carbs are mainly complex, it was made very clear to her that daily exercise is hugely important and that it can't be a only a gentle stroll.
    Anyway, thanks a lot for the update, I have been wondering how it was going. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Gillian. I will leave this comment here so that people can see your more accurate definition of Type 2 diabetes. Re exercise, I don't have a car so I walk everywhere, and I live in a third floor walk up so I do get some exercise by default. Exercise and cutting out carbs are up my sleeve for when I stop losing weight or blood tests show that I need to do something more drastic.

  2. People can say what they want - and most of them will - but you lost 10 pounds!!! Some may argue with your methods but they cannot argue with concrete results. Kol Hakavod! Not only are you getting yourself healthy but you are also teaching your daughter that she doesn't need sweets to be happy. Keep you the great work and keep us posted on your progress.

  3. I'm interested in this post as chronic fatigue has left me eating way too much sugar. I keep saying I'm going to stop and this has motivated me greatly to find a way that works for me. I'm currently having to do a gluten challenge and eat gluten for the first time in 9 years to be tested for coeliac disease but this will be a great way of getting myself back on track once I'm eating gluten free again (although GF processed food has so much sugar it's ridiculous). Back to clean living for me. But first I'm sampling the forgotten delights of actual read bread and maybe a Danish or two.....

    1. Good luck with finding the right path for you and dealing with the chronic fatigue.

  4. Really great! I love your post.