I signed up to the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Programme because I felt as though my sugar eating was out of control, and didn’t think I could get it under control on my own. I had tried to quit sugar without any support but always lapsed after a few days, and by lapsed I mean “binge ate a whole box of Thorntons chocolates and then beat myself up about it”.
Having the structure of a programme was helpful, as was spending money on it. I was keen for the cash I’d parted to be an investment in my health, which meant that this time I took it much more seriously than those previous half-hearted attempts.
These are some things that I learnt:
1. It’s good to be forced out of your routine and try different things. Using the recipes provided in the meal plan expanded the repertoire of meals I feel confident preparing, and introduced me to foods and combinations I would not otherwise have thought of trying. It made me realise that I had been stuck in a food rut: eating the same things each week. I like my habits and routine, and the thought of having something other than my usual cereal and soya milk unnerved me a little bit. Now I have a much more creative approach to breakfast and eat a variety of different options throughout the week.
2. I don’t need sugar. This might seem like stating the obvious, but it can be difficult to remember when you’re in the midst of a craving. I don’t think I’d ever not given it to a craving before, so it was a good discovery that they do go away if you ignore them, and get less frequent if you can get into the habit of ignoring them.
3. But I do want sugar. I must admit that I have had a few lapses. I was tempted into buying a cone of icecream when I was hanging out with a group of friends for my birthday. Usually, I would feel really guilty after eating ice-cream and also not be able to stop. This time, I found that I was satisfied by a couple of scoops. I really really enjoyed the icecream but it wasn’t followed by the usual pang of guilt because I knew that I didn’t need sugar, hadn’t had it for a couple of weeks, and was equally able to not eat it for a few more. I will never give up sugar entirely because I want to have the occasional treat. But making it just an occasional treat has been much better for my headaches, my mental health and my enjoyment of it.
So while the programme hasn’t made me quit sugar, it’s made me feel much more in control of my eating. While I doubt I’ll ever be completely free of disordered eating, I’ve found that staying off the sugar is managing to break the cycle of binge eating and purging. For me, this programme has been much more about improving my mental rather than physical health. Even though I have actually put on weight, cooking healthy things from scratch has made me feel much more in control of my eating which is in turn making me feel much better about how I look. For this reason, I think paying for the 8 week programme has been a pretty wise investment, even if I haven’t used the meal plan much since about week five.