{Reading Right Now} I Quit Sugar

April 28, 2014

saladHello from vacation! I suppose blogging on vacation is looked down upon because, well, it’s vacation. But the truth is, life is so crazy during the everyday normal weeks that I love having a little extra time to sit down and blog. If I could have one extra day every week devoted to blogging (recipe development, writing, brain storming) uninterrupted I would be a very happy camper. So here I am, blogging from Austin, sitting by the pool. You can count on a full recap soon!

Before we left for vacation I downloaded the book I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson on my Kindle. Looking back, this may have been a strange choice for vacation reading, since vacation is all about indulging, but I have been hearing great things about this book and couldn’t wait to dig in.

I should preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I have never done well with sugar. I find that although some people do well with “just one piece of chocolate or one slice of cake” I am not that girl. I have always found it easier to stay away from sweets entirely than to consume sweets with moderation. Eating just a little something sweet causes me to want, well, more and more sweet things. It’s a horrible spiral. Anyone relate?

I found while reading Sarah’s book that I was nodding my head in agreement again and again. The premise is this: our bodies weren’t designed to eat very much sugar at all; in fact, our ancestors didn’t have sugar easily available so they had no “stop” mechanism when it came to eating sugar. If they found berries or honey, they ate as much as possible to store up until the next time they found something sweet, which might be weeks or months. In fact, it wasn’t until the last few decades that sugar became so readily available. Our grandparents generation treated sugar as a very special, very rare treat.

I can’t speak to the science of all of this, but it does certainly make sense to me. Joe’s grandpa told a story to Joe growing up about how he and his 8 other siblings would split a single candy bar between them on the rare occasion they actually had a candy bar to eat, which didn’t happen often. And, personally speaking, my inability to stop with just one cookie or one piece of chocolate frankly freaks me out a bit. It truly seems like a bit of an addiction. 

Sarah’s book goes beyond just eliminating sweets in their more obvious forms, like table sugar, desserts and sweetened drinks. In her 8-week program, she suggests cutting out fruit for the first handful of weeks and all sweetened condiments, too, so our bodies can recalibrate. Once you’ve gotten further along in the program, she re-introduces some fruit, just one to two servings a day. Instead of eating sugary foods, she suggests replacing that sugar with good fats, like whole milk diary and yogurt and cheeses.

I’m curious to hear if anyone else has read the book and has committed to the 8-week program, or doing it in a scaled-back way? While on vacation we’ve been eating a lot of savory foods (breakfast tacos, barbecue, seafood and very few snacks) and have only had one sweet treat the entire time we’ve been here. Honestly, the ice cream I ate yesterday made me feel horrible, something I was hyper-aware of after reading I Quit Sugar. Seeing how great I feel these last couple days makes me think that giving a scaled-back, non-militant version of the quitting sugar program a try. Sarah even addresses the need for “a little something sweet” at the end of a meal, citing that it’s more of an emotional connection and need rather than a real, physical one. 

How do you feel about sugar? Since I’ve never been very good at moderation with sweet treats, it makes me super curious if there are actual people on this planet who can eating sweets in moderation on a regular basis without feeling like they need more.


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  • Reply Lauren Santay April 28, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I’m the same way with sugar, especially chocolate. Sometimes I know I better not even start because I won’t stop. I’ve been seeing a lot about this book lately, it’s on my to read list.

  • Reply TheBalancedLife April 28, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for sharing a bit about it! I’m not a BIG sugar person but I definitely think that I eat more than I intend to from hidden sources. I think my husband and I would both benefit from this. Also – jealous that you’re blogging by the pool! xo

  • Reply Margaret Joyce April 29, 2014 at 2:09 am

    I definitely have a mild sugar addiction, and I have gone through phases of giving up desserts or all added sugar completely. I have ultimately decided that a little sugar brings me so much delight that it’s worth the semi-addiction. That said, I am sure there will come another point down the road where I revisit the issue. I will say that I have found not all sugars to be the same. Whereas I am powerless around baked goods and ice cream, dark chocolate in its basic form is not something I am tempted to overeat, so I do keep that around for when the craving strikes. I gave up fruit when I tried paleo, and I was really unhappy. In the end, I decided it just wasn’t worth it.

    But I love to hear about other perspectives and encourage you to give it a go for your own knowledge!

  • Reply Sarah Crosby April 29, 2014 at 4:44 am

    I am addicted to sugar. I seriously can’t just have one sweet thing – I always go back for more. Abel and I are doing (a modified version) whole30 for the month of May. I am excited to see what cutting it out completely for a whole month does to me. I am slightly nervous but excited all the same. I have been dairy free for 6 month due to my son’s milk protein allergy and I honestly don’t crave milk or cheese anymore – hoping I won’t crave sugar by the end of May!

  • Reply Sarah Kuiper April 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I know I have a sugar addiction. I literally can’t say no if it is in front of me. I’ve considered (and tried) going cold turkey on added sugars a few times, but I’m not sure if I could ever cut out fruit and milk. I may pick up a copy of this book, it sounds super interesting!

  • Reply Liza DeYounge April 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    My husband and I tried the Maximized Living “Advanced Plan” for a few weeks, which eliminates all sugars – even fruit, like you mentioned in Sarah’s book. It was VERY difficult, and we experienced withdrawl symptoms…headaches, etc….for the first week or so, which made us want to quit altogether. It was also a much larger investment on the grocery-buying end. BUT, in the end, it was great. By the end of our stint, we weren’t craving sugar, really at all, and our appetite for veggies and meat increased significantly. When we finished our few weeks of the Advanced Plan, the sugary things we DID eat made us feel horrible. It really re-calibrated our bodies AND tastes… Unfortunately, incorporating sugars again ended up spiraling and we gradually went back to some of our old sugary ways. It’s tough to stay strong in such a sugar-saturated culture! Overall, we are MUCH more mindful, in general, of our sugar intake, so if nothing else, it helped to educate us and make us more aware!

  • Reply Jana Antil April 29, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    This was such a good post Madison, and I can relate to your thoughts in so many ways. I have actually been doing a bit of a sugar detox lately for health purposes and I 100% know without a doubt that my body is very sensitive to sugar. Almost immediately after having ice cream or something sweet, a headache begins along with a lethargic mind and shaky hands. It also makes me want to have more and more sugar with each bite.

    This doesn’t stop me from ever indulging, but it has opened my eyes to how I approach sugar. I indulge less frequently and watch my portion sizes. I love sweets too much to give them up, but I also want to feel my best as well. I think I am going to have to read that book!

  • Reply Jinai April 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Hey Madison! This post reminds me of Meg Fee’s series on quitting sugar. It’s a really interesting set of posts that I think you’d enjoy: http://www.megfee.com/2013/05/02/why-i-try-to-avoid-sugar-as-much-as-i-can-part-one/. Personally, I definitely don’t take a militant approach to not eating sugar. However, I have tried to replace eating sugar over the past year with eating full fat foods and I feel SO much better! The full fat dairy and yogurt make me feel so much more full and satisfied, and I don’t have the agitated sugar highs anymore.

  • Reply Brindi B April 29, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I have this on my to-read-soon list! I keep hearing good things and am always looking for ways to cut out/quit sugar even more than I already do. Every January my church goes on a 31-day fast and I always give up sugar. And I feel absolutely amazing. I’ve been doing it every January for the past 5 years and I truly don’t crave sugar very much. (Except in the form of ice cream and 85% or darker chocolate.) I always drink my coffee black and can’t even stomach my once favorite Caramel Macchiato. I used to have a sweet tooth until I started this fast, and now I find even regular peanut butter is way too sweet for me. Now I can easily say no to dessert or sweets, only indulging if it’s an absolute favorite (homemade only). Plus, it helps that my husband never craves sweets. He has no sweet tooth whatsoever. It’s truly amazing how your tastes change when you omit or severely limit foods. I’ve never been a cake, pastry, or cookie person, but ice cream is an occasional weakness! Also, I noticed my face breaks out when I have too much sugar.

    I say definitely give some type of sugar fast a try!

  • Reply Nikki April 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

    As a dietitian, I’d like to throw my opinion out there. I am able to eat sweet in moderation. My general rule for myself is 250 empty calories per day, which for me are usually sweet calories- dessert, soda, coffee drink, etc. And I’m able to stick to that everyday. However, I must say, it’s probably taken me a couple years to really get it down. When counseling clients, though I tell them, they know themselves the best. Some need just a little to get by everyday and others have to keep it completely out of the house. Added sugars are not good for you, but can be eaten in moderation if you eat pretty healthy. And added sugars are different than natural sugars. I never recommend avoiding fruit. They are an important part of your diet and contain a different sugar than the added sugars. Hope this provides you valuable information! http://www.thedietitiandiaries.com

  • Reply Kristin May 1, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Sugar addiction, indeed! It’s all or nothing around here. I try to limit during the day so I can have something sweet at night without feeling like I’ve blown my whole day. I want to read this, but books like this often make me feel like a failure, because I know I eat a lot of sugar and I don’t have a whole lot of desire to give it up completely.

  • Reply Laura May 2, 2014 at 4:06 am

    I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this book on the blogosphere. There have been periods where I have completely cut out, or drastically reduced, refined sugar from my diet for other health reasons (ie., not for losing weight or eating “better”) and the auxiliary benefits are awesome, because I totally have an addictive reaction to it. The hardest thing is that sugar is inherently a social food ingredient, and it makes many celebratory situations challenging, when you don’t want to and/or are choosing not to eat sugar. Cocktails, ice cream, birthday cake, a shared plate of cookies, sympathy chocolate, etc. etc. That’s the aspect I’m working on currently.

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