Hi, my name is Zoe and I reckon I’m a sugar addict.

So I became one of those people who quit the white stuff.

BOOOORING. Well, maybe.

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Rice, rice baby: Tandoori chicken with rice salad.

I’m not here to tell people how they should eat, or what they should eat. Because I have no dietary or nutritional qualifications, and also because I am a big believer in finding what works for you and going with that.

For a long time, I was trying to find what worked for me. But I now have to say that Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar program changed my life.

Huge statement! Massive! But I’ve been thinking back and, yep. Life changed.

I first found Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar eight-week plan a few years ago – probably before quitting sugar was really talked about in mainstream media.

I was just googling because at the time, my life was one big diet/binge and I really felt addicted to sugar. I had been calorie counting, doing a few other meal/exercise programs and just generally obsessing over food and exercise.

I stumbled across Sarah’s “experiment” of cutting down on processed and artificial sugar and decided to give it a go.

I felt amazing – well, after the initial “detox” period! Once I stopped eating the sweet stuff, I was happier, had more energy, didn’t crave food all the time and generally felt great.

But at that time I was still restricting calories and exercising excessively, so really, still dieting. Sugar crept back in to my life until it was an avalanche and I was again consumed by food and exercise. I was up and down physically and mentally but still knew I felt so much better eating whole foods.

Over the past few years, Sarah’s sugar-quitting adventure has spawned an eight-week program that gives a recipe and exercise plan, and structured advice and support on how to quit the sweet stuff.

I signed up at the start of last year and loved it so much that I’ve done every program since.

So how has it helped me?

I don’t count calories anymore! I don’t think about the numbers, and I don’t count how many days I’ve been sugar-free. I have food freedom, which for me means freedom of constant food thoughts, and not always thinking about food. I pretty much eat three meals a day, and in between I’m not hungry.

Also, I have ditched low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners. It wasn’t just sugar that I couldn’t get enough of. I would constantly chew chewing gum, and diet soft drink was also a vice. But no more! And as a result I eat more fat- full-cream milk, butter, avocado, nuts – think good fats. I eat cheese. I also eat bread, although I like to make my own, or I buy sourdough. Because who can live without bread and cheese!?

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Well-bread: Paleo veggie bread is one of the recipes I use most – it includes carrot and zucchini!

I do drink coffee, and I do drink alcohol, but I tend to stick to either vodka, soda and fresh lemon or lime, or dry wines.

I do still eat fruit, although I do try and stick to low-fructose fruit (eg berries, kiwi fruit) and generally eat it with some protein as part of a bigger meal. A big myth of quitting sugar is quitting fruit – not the case!

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Chia-p and cheerful: Raspberry chia pudding with yoghurt, chia jam and almonds.

I’ve learnt how to cook real food! I’m not a fan of saying “clean” eating, but eating real food, not processed, is what I prefer. For me, cutting out sugar is not a restrictive behaviour. I know what food restriction is like – I used to do it. Now, if someone brings out a cake for office morning tea, I’m happy to admire it but generally don’t want to eat it. I don’t have the desire for it.

I’ve made things I never thought I’d like- mushrooms on toast for brekky, and zucchini noodles (zoodles). And quitting sugar doesn’t mean you miss out on nourishing, hearty meals – curries, slow-cooked meats, lots of veggies, it’s all there. I still think I can be pretty lazy when it comes to cooking but I have gotten into a habit of cooking up on a weekend and having a freezer stash for times when I just CBF!

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Smoothie operator: Green smoothie bowl.

Some of my favourite meals/foods are:

I’ve also learnt about the healing properties of foods, like fermented foods kombucha and kefir, and bone broth. I even make some myself! And my latest obsession has been using gelatin to make gummy lollies!

I have become more aware about sustainability and food waste. This is definitely one I’m working on, but making mish-mash meals, throwing bits and pieces together, are things I had never really given much thought to. I do now!

I don’t make a lot of sweet things because I really only eat those sparingly. I mainly use rice malt syrup for sugar replacement. I don’t completely shy away from sugar, and I do sometimes eat snack junk foods (hey, I am human!). But I do try to avoid processed sugar where possible as it can affect me, and I can’t stomach a lot anyway!

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Berry delicious: raspberry ripple!

I don’t focus on the number on the scales. I’d say my weight has gone back to its default setting now, which is what can happen when you cut out the empty sugars. I have previously been quite below my average weight and a bit above it.

Another massive part of the program is the people involved. The people I have met through the eight-week program have been amazing. I didn’t use Instagram much before I joined the IQS community, but that has changed!  I have become friends with lots of other participants  and the program also has heaps of experts from all fields that answer questions and provide support.

While quitting sugar isn’t the only thing I have done to help my health, it’s definitely had a massively positive effect on my life. And while it hasn’t been a cure-all for all my health issues (still a work in progress!), the benefits have been so great that I see it as a lifestyle change more than anything.

As I said, I’m not here to ram the anti-sugar message down people’s throats. I’m happy for people to have their freakshakes and cronuts. But there are some definite benefits of even just reducing your sugar intake – check out one of I Quit Sugar’s latest articles for some more info.

This is not a sponsored post, but I am an ambassador for the program, and also an I Quit Sugar affiliate, which means I get a small commission for any sales that go through me. If you’re interested in the program or products, take a look here.

All photos in this post taken by yours truly.

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