Alas, I have done it, I’ve signed up and I am on the road to quitting sugar – hopefully. After much deliberating, thinking, pondering and questioning of the idea, two weeks ago I bit the bullet and signed up. It was actually my mum’s idea. She wanted to give herself a goal to get going with and I had been interested in doing the I Quit Sugar Eight Week Programme for a while. I have the book, I have read all about it and I normally try to follow it in everyday life. However, this time was different. I was committing, I was actually going to say no to treats, and desserts out with friends and sunday baking and studying chocolate. I was going to say no to fruit for a few weeks and all of a sudden the reality hit in. I was a little bit scared, and a whole lot of excited for the journey. So mum and I signed up together to the eight week programme – opting for the omnivore plan, because as my family put it ‘they were not giving up meat as well as sugar’ and I was happy to adapt the recipes to vegetarian ones. I did deliberate purchasing the separate vegetarian plan, but in the end student budgeting kicked in and I could not justify it.
I started receiving emails telling me what I would be eating and what I would need to cook. I introduced myself on the forums – these are selling point of the 8 Week Programme. They are a full time, 24 hour support network made up of experts, IQS team members and all participants in the programme. The forums have great recipe topics about substitutions or places to ask questions if you are unsure. But they also contain general support on how to deal with cravings, what kind of exercise you should be doing and more. If you have any kind of question in relation to the programme, there will be a place in the forum to ask it. I, personally, loved reading everyone’s stories and reasons why they (and sometimes their families) had started on this journey – they were very inspiring.
One thing I loved about the programme straight off, what that if you did not like the look of a recipe you were more than welcome to change it to something you were happier with. As I consider myself a pro at healthy breakfasts already, I did this in the mornings this week and for some lunches when left overs when to other members of the family. While there is a plan provided, and food scheduled for each day, it is no struggle at all to move or substitute meals to fit into your schedule.
The first Sunday cook up was pretty easy – just a whole lot of Quinoa. Being a good IQS participant I put some in my freezer, and also prepped some vegetables in advance. I then followed the meal plan for the rest of the week. The meals had a lot of variety, but given the time of year they were all loosely based on salads and involved lots of leafy greens and greens in general. I definitely felt like I upped my vegetable intake, from just week one. Here is a sample of some of the things we cooked: Spinach Ricotta Open Sandwiches, Detox Veggie Mix Up, Berry Omelette and my personal favourite the deconstructed sushi bowl.
Feedback on the meals (from two teenage boys) was pretty good. They liked most things, didn’t complain too much about the extra vegetables and seemed to like the flavourings on the meat – which is what I call a win. I enjoyed most of the meals. Personally, the portion sizings for breakfast were smaller than I am used to and I felt hungry most days. I normally eat a big breakfast then decrease the size of my meals throughout the day, so in the coming weeks I might follow this and do some breakfast ad-ons to keep me going. But the recipes themselves were easy and took no time at all to prepare – which was great!
How I Feel: I was surprised at how quickly the first sugar cravings came on – like almost on day two. I don’t think I felt worse physically (i.e. no headaches or anything) but mentally I definitely felt like I wanted something sweet. To combat this, particularly in the evenings, I would often just eat a spoonful of peanut butter (no added sugar or salt of course) straight from the jar maybe an hour after dinner. Sarah does recommend having a teaspoon of coconut oil, but I don’t think I am quite ready for that yet! My peanut butter was just enough to help me feel like I wasn’t missing out on something sweet. I’m hoping the sugar cravings will go away soon, but realistically I know I have a long way to go on that front.
Verdict: Week one was good. I enjoyed the meals, not the cravings. I will be sad to say goodbye to fruit and am a bit scared about going completely cold turkey, but this is what I signed up for, so I will do my best. Stay tuned here and on instagram for more updates!