This is a guest post from one of my close friends Anna. In January she completed Mentor Me Off Sugar with grit, grace and a stubborn determination that saw her through to success. I was least to say, incredibly proud of her.
You’re probably thinking of course my friend is going to say nice things about Mentor Me Off Sugar, but truth be told I was nervous about Anna going on the programme – out of everyone, she really would tell it how it is. This write up was for her blog and readers and was published last month. I’ve cut some bits out to shorten it for HSH, however you can read the full version at www.bloggedbyanna.com.
Anna’s success is proof that the nuts and bolts of the programme work – if you stick to the meal plan and stay on track, your taste buds will change. More importantly she is a shining inspiration for all of you reading that you can successfully complete a sugar detox, be happy, and still live a (somewhat) normal life for 6 weeks. You just need to commit, accept there is no perfection and try. Anna even made it through a month of birthday celebrations without any cake (to the point I actually started to feel guilty it was because of me!).
Over to Anna..
I recently embarked on a 6 week sugar detox programme. Crazy? Brave? Health freak? You might be thinking them all and I certainly had them thrown at me when I started out. But I’m now an evangelical sugar preacher; so my friends, family and colleagues better be ready to hear more!
Firstly, I do need to point out that the programme, Mentor Me Off Sugar, was run by one of my best friends, so it may seem I’m just doing her a favour by writing this review. But I’m not. And here’s why.
I always considered myself to be healthy and have done a couple of low carb diets before, which often meant low sugar. I’ve therefore already looked into food that naturally has high-sugar content (beetroot in your salad and orange juice for breakfast may be the culprits that mean you’re not losing weight), or processed food which has an unnecessary amount of added sugar (bread, tomato sauce, cereal… the list goes on). But I still couldn’t resist a nice bit of cake with a cup of coffee when they were brought into the office and suffered terrible energy slumps afterwards.
Now, if somebody offers me a cake, I’m just “not fussed”.
I honestly didn’t think this would be the outcome – I thought it’d be a great detox after Christmas and that I wouldn’t be able to wait to scoff some Reeses Peanut Butter cups (my favourite, just to point out) once I was done. This hasn’t happened yet.
So I’ll tell you about the programme and see if you think you could do it.
It is 6 weeks of no refined sugar at all, and 3 weeks within the 6 of no fruit. The idea is that by not having anything sweet at all, your tastebuds kind of re-programme themselves to not expect anything sweet. And by the end of the programme, you appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit again.
Alongside the detox challenge, there are weekly guides on sugar and emotional eating to build your knowledge, but most importantly, to keep you going. We filled out various workbooks based on that week’s focus (e.g. facing fears or changing habits), which helped me understand what I was going through and reflect on my progress. Although I like to say I have strong will-power, this information and the workbooks were vital for me to get me through the 6 weeks, as I believe you need to understand why you’re doing something to finish a challenge properly.
Habits also formed part of the emotional side of things. Sugar and sweet foods are comforting – think back to baking scones with your gran or receiving treats whenever you were good as a kid. This varies from person to person and obviously some are more extreme than others, but the ‘emotional’ side of eating that I could relate to was the very simple feeling of boredom. So I’ve been using Laura’s idea to assess whether I’m really hungry, or just bored. If I’m sat at work and could fancy a cup of tea and chocolate bar, I ask myself “could I eat a tin of tuna right now?” Because if I was really hungry, tuna would suffice.
The best bit about the programme is Laura. Laura being there for me was a huge part of the 6 week process, as it’s so hard to do a detox like this alone. Also, the other people on programme were there for support, so having both them and Laura meant I had accountability. I told them when I got through my birthday without a cake and felt great when I got a virtual round of applause. If I had had a bad moment, I’m sure I would’ve confessed to the group in the same way. We shared articles we’d found online with each other and commented on the latest video Laura had posted, knowing that we were learning together.
As this is a long old post, below are my main take-aways from the programme:
- My own aim throughout the programme was to have control over whether I want the cake or not. I don’t want to give up cake forever, but I now no longer have a sugar cube man on my shoulder telling me to eat the cake, rather than concentrate on my work.
- I listened to my body throughout the whole process – and afterwards once I had my first dose of sugar. I now know sugar makes me feel very sleepy and my skin isn’t a fan too. Towards the end of the 6 weeks, I was waking naturally before my alarm clock!
- New food! I’ve embraced whole milk and have a new-found snack friend in the form of nuts. Ryan [Anna's bf!] had to work around the programme as he cooks our main meals and he said coconut oil for cooking is the best thing to come out the programme. I think I’m going to have to become a food blogger to show you the amazing food I’ve discovered.
- My birthday fell over the 6 weeks but I was perfectly happy to have a cheese and red wine evening, rather than a cake and chocolate couple of hours. I will admit I slipped up once during my birthday by having sambuca. It was kind of forced upon me…[Laura here - not by me!]
- Speaking of alcohol, this was the only hard part for me. Really, I shouldn’t have been drinking as much as I did as my body was going through a bit of a detox. Except it was my birthday (for a month, as you may have recently read). Dry wine is OK on the programme, but I can’t drink a lot as, let’s say, it doesn’t sit well in my stomach. So my usually binge-style drink is spirits. But mixers generally are full of sugar. I therefore drank vodka and soda for 6 weeks, and it was little boring towards the end. Now I’m out of the programme, I can have ‘diet’ versions. Apart from making me worry about ingesting chemicals, the programme has also taught me that artificially sweetened drinks count towards the re-programming of your tastebuds. So it’s better to avoid them still if I don’t want to crave more sweetness. Perhaps my answer to this dilemma could be to just drink it straight on the rocks?
If a detox like this isn’t your thing, I’d advise you to read up on sugar anyway on Laura’s blog, as there are a few things about the little grains that you won’t expect or realise.
I do hope that this will be a life-long lesson for my eating habits, rather than just my stubbornness to get through the 6 weeks. But so far, I’m happy I’ve gone from someone who asked for “2 shugs” in my tea to someone who can, 80’s drug-style, “just say no”.
If you’re ready to start saying no to sugar then join the next Mentor Me Off Sugar programmes which are kicking off on the 12th May 2014. There are various levels of support available to suit your willpower needs with a brand new face to face course running in London (Maida Vale area). The early bird prices end on the 27th April so don’t miss out on them.
Anna’s just recently written up on how she feels 2 months after the programme end so have a read if you want to know where she’s currently at.Any comments for Anna or thoughts on her journey? Does it bear similarities to yours in any way?