The impact of one simple change of getting sugar out of my diet

The impact of one simple change of getting sugar out of my diet

In 2011, I watched my partner lose a few kilos – initially 2kgs, ultimately about 10kgs.

For a man in his late 40s, he had a six-pack! I was a happy woman 🙂 Anyway, all he did was make one change to what he ate – just one – and the weight seemingly just melted off him. He had signed up for one of those gym challenges. He was most inspired by what the dietitian had to say. In particular, a book she referenced, Sweet Poison, by David Gillespie.

The one change he made to what he ate was to cut out all added sugar from his diet. Nothing else!

Inspired by his weight loss and body transformation, a few months later, I decided to give it a go. I committed to giving sugar the flick. I wasn’t a big sugar junkie, but I was someone who had a little bit regularly. Well, the day I decided to start my sugar-free eating, was the day I realized that the little amount I’d been drip-feeding myself all that time, had made me into a sugar addict! 

Yikes! The first meal I went without the sugar treat to finish off my meal was the moment I knew what it was like to be hooked to a substance – hook, line, and sinker. This legal substance had a total hold on me. It was like my mind, taste buds, and body were all in cahoots screaming, “oh no, you’re not finished yet. You know you want it; it’s just over there. Go get it!”. It was such a vivid visceral experience – fascinating but tough. 

Sugar is nature's sweet poison

I managed to refrain from giving in to the sirens’ calls for a fix of ‘sweet poison’ that meal.

But I realized that to succeed at getting sugar out of my system and my diet, not just for one meal but for many to come, was going to be an exercise in living consciously. To succeed in that, I was going to have to draw on  all my training as a psychologist. 

Mindfulness was the primary tool of choice for me. I knew that if I didn’t react to the experience, and could just mentally step back from it, then it would pass – just as the classic saying goes, “this too shall pass”. By this stage, I had been a mindfulness practitioner for nearly 5 years, and had been running mindfulness groups for nearly 3 years. However, this was going to be my first application of mindfulness to a physical change I was choosing to make in my life.

Well, the first two weeks were quite the challenge, like walking up a steep mountain that just never seems to end! I was going through sugar withdrawal symptoms for an ‘addiction’ that I didn’t know I had just a little while earlier.

Those withdrawal symptoms from sugar seemed super intense AND relentless! I was committed so I stayed the distance, and as I did, I observed the waves – more like tsunamis in those first two weeks – of cravings rising up in my mind and body, with every lunch and dinner. 

Once I got through those first two weeks, it was as if I turned a corner. Going into the second two weeks, I noticed a subtle but distinct change in the cravings. They were there, most definitely, but not as intense nor as long-lasting. I continued. And I was encouraged because the scales had begun to change.

After four weeks, I could honestly say that I was no longer hooked. I still had cravings at the end of my meals, but it was more like a little toddler wanting some attention – totally manageable.

I acknowledged those cravings, and then they’d go away. By the end of that first month, applying my focused mindfulness training, the cravings would sometimes be gone in just a few breaths. Whilst I have not been 100% sugar-free in the 10 years since, I have drastically cut back on my sugar intake.

There’s about 10kg less of me now than when I embarked on culling the sweet poison from my diet. Whilst not all 10kgs were to do with sugar (see below), I’m certain that like compound interest on financial investments, there will be compound interest benefits to my health as a result of that one change. And mindfulness helped make that change happen.

Note: I dropped 5kg due to sugar. The other 5kg have come off going plant-based (ie vegan since 2018), and I now train differently at the gym doing more HIIT. Once again, mindfulness played a role in making these changes happen 🙂


If you want to develop a mindfulness practice you can contact me to get started: 

Phone 0410 264 224 | patrea@positivepsychologystrategies.com.au

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