Intelligent Biped is a forum for discussing ideas, issues and solutions with a focus on our inherent human characteristics of cleverness and kindness. This forum is called "intelligent biped" because I believe kindness and cleverness to be interdependent at a biological level. Simply put, bipedal animals can't have big brains without fundamental kindness and nurturing. This forum will share and discuss issues, ideas and solutions that use and enhance our inherent cleverness and kindness amongst the chaos of everyday life.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Sugar Free Family Challenge

At the end of August 2014, at the suggestion of my husband, our family embarked on an experiment:  Could we go without sugar for a year?
The rules of the project are simple:
  • No bought sugar or sugar-derived products (we could use up what we had in our pantry)
  • No artificial sweeteners (see description of common sweeteners for more information)
  • No "sugar by another name" - dextrose, maltodexrin, fructose, corn syrup, etc
  • We have excluded Agave and Maple Syrup
  • Allowed:
    • Honey (in moderation)
    • Stevia
    • Naturally occurring sugars in fruits and starchy foods
Also, we are not bothered by fat, dairy or gluten.  Other people may be, for very good reasons that suit them, but in our challenge we are focussing on sugar.

Clearly, these rules have an element of arbitrariness to them.  There was no particular health need that we were striving to fix, so our choices may not be wise for someone reducing/eliminating sugar because, for example, they have diabetes.  We are happy to eat high sugar fruit, whereas a diabetic may have issues with this.

Basically, our rules have been shaped by our goals, which are:
  • To break our bodies' addiction to simple sugars
  • To improve the quality and quantity of nutrition in our diet (so we were happy to increase the fruit content as this improves our overall nutrition)
  • To change our "sweet" habits
We're two thirds of the way through our year now and what have we learned?
  • We were definitely addicted to sugar - we went through a detox period, which was not pretty!
  • Once we had detoxed (after maybe a fortnight), if we lapsed (perhaps one or two occasions for the adults, more frequently for the kids!) then we felt AWFUL! 
  • Weight fell off us, particularly the adults.  My husband and I have both dropped clothing sizes.
  • Once you get into the habit of it, it's very easy to maintain and you don't even feel like you are on a "diet".  I think of it more of a decision, than a diet.
  • We naturally and without effort ate smaller portions at meal times.  Previously we had been in the habit of eating two (or even three) helpings of dinner.  Now, without effort, we are very happy and satisfied after one helping.
  • Our children have learned to read labels on food packaging and have learned that ingredients can have many names.
  • By cutting out sugar, we have refocused our diet on whole foods and much less pre-prepared foods.
Links to more information are available (and will be added to over time) on the useful links page.

Where to from here?  I will post in detail in later blogs more of what we have learned on this journey.  At the end of the year, we will probably continue with a changed attitude for the rest of our lives.  I will certainly continue sugar free - I feel so much better for it! - but it will be my family's choice as to how they continue after August.

.... and, yes, we will still have chocolate on Easter Sunday - but it will be in moderation and be something totally delicious to savour ....

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