Having discovered first hand the difference that cutting sugar out of her diet had on her health, Sarah Wilson wanted to spread the word and founded I Quit Sugar, an online wellness programme and series of books that have helped people around the world to completely quit or reduce their sugar intake. Sarah has recently released her third book, I Quit Sugar: Simplicious, and has shared her top tips on going sugar-free with HELLO! Online.
Why do you think it's so important for us to quit sugar or at least reduce our intake?
We simply don't need sugar in our diets. Glucose is needed for energy, but our bodies can get that from eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit and fats. What we don't need is fructose, the harmful half of sugar. Fructose has been shown to cause appetite dis-regulation and hormonal havoc, leading to a large number of modern metabolic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer's and ADHD.
Sarah Wilson has shared her top tips for giving up sugar
What are some of the benefits you can expect to see when quitting sugar?
There are countless benefits to quitting sugar! Firstly, you will notice a change in your mood once you remove sugar as a high-sugar diet can lead to crankiness, anxiety and depression due to rapid rises in adrenalin level. Sugar is known for giving a quick burst of energy before sending your blood sugar levels crashing often leaving you feeling lethargic and irritable, so changes in energy levels are noticed.
Sugar also weakens the immune system against viruses and infectious diseases, so by removing sugar you'll be able to ward off illnesses more easily. Perhaps the most visible and immediate change (within two weeks) is less pimples and wrinkles. Weight loss also occurs in 76 per cent of cases of people who do our 8-Week Programme.
How long do you think it takes to feel the benefits of quitting sugar?
To feel the benefits, it can take as little as two weeks. However, to re-regulate the appetite hormones that sugar disrupts, takes eight weeks. This is something that I studied at length before formulating the 8-Week Programme. It's based on science appropriate to addictions, both physical and emotional.
What are your top tips for anyone who is quitting sugar?
Firstly, take eight weeks. It's a tough habit to break so I advise pacing yourself.
Secondly, this very trick is the key to making my sugar-quitting programme work: eat fat and protein. Once we take out sugar, the best thing you can do is replace it with fat and some protein. I'm talking wholesome, unprocessed fats and quality protein, such as eggs, cheese, nuts and coconuts. The science shows that fat and protein re-regulates appetite hormones wonderfully so that we can get back to three meals a day, no snacking.
Sarah's third book, I Quit Sugar: Simplicious, is out now
What are your favourite sugar substitutes?
Rice malt syrup is fermented brown rice and water, and tastes like (with the same consistency) as honey. While all added sugars (even rice malt syrup) should be limited, the fact that RMS is fructose-free means it's not as addictive or as bad for your liver as fructose is. Plus, you don't need a lot of it to sweeten a recipe. At I Quit Sugar our recipes work to less than half a teaspoon of sugar per serve. Any recipe.
What is your favourite sugar-free recipe?
At the moment, my No-Mato Sauce. Tomato sauce can contain quite a bit of sugar. I make a nutritionally "oomphed" version with beetroot, carrot and olives which tastes identical to pizza.
What are your favourite sugar-free snacks?
My three-ingredient chocolate is my go to: coconut oil, raw cacao, a sprinkle of sea salt, turmeric and/or cinnamon. It can be easily pimped with berries, coconut or a little rice malt syrup.
Sarah recommends adding healthy fats to the diet
What is the ethos of your newest book, Simplicious?
The ethos for Simplicious is about bringing things back to basics, simply and deliciously. The book is rooted in the 'simplicious flow', a modern cycle that shows you how to buy in bulk, freeze and preserve, and use leftovers. It is about shopping, cooking and eating like we did the days before sugar-laced processed food hit our shelves. Simplicious is the ultimate cooking guide for those who want sugar out of their lives and are ready to embrace the health-giving, planet-saving simpliciousness of real food, without the waste.
You've been spending some time in the UK lately, where are your favourite healthy eating spots?
Good quality British pubs are some of the best places on the planet to eat. Nose-to-tail quality meats, in-season greens and root vegetables and straight-forward sauces. With a glass of wine! (We allow a glass of wine each night on the 8-Week Programme.)
Here in London I love Duck Soup, Flat Iron, Honey & Co, Hereford Road, and Borough Market.