I Quit Sugar for Life: My Interview with Sarah Wilson + a recipe!

wellbeing

I Quit Sugar for Life: My Interview with Sarah Wilson + a recipe!

wellbeing

I quit sugar for life

Sugar is the number one nutrition topic at the moment. While a lot of us nutrition geeks have been aware of it for a while, since the World Health Organisation published it’s recommendations that sugar consumption be halved it’s become so much of a news worthy issue that most of the general public are aware of it as well. 

I’ve previously blogged about my thoughts on sugar and while I don’t think any foods should be demonised, sugar is getting that bad rap for a good reason. With links to type 2 diabetes, obesity, autoimmune issues and hormonal imbalance, it makes sense that we should all assess our sugar intake. 

Sarah Wilson is an Australian health coach (she studied with IIN same as me), journalist and blogger passionate about sharing her experiences of minimising sugar in her diet, eating real food and supporting others to do the same. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and found that quitting sugar had a huge positive impact on her condition.

She wrote I Quit Sugar which includes an 8 week programme for getting off the sweet stuff alongside several recipes. On 8th May she will be realising her new book, I Quit Sugar for Life here in the UK which gives us even more recipes and tips for making a low sugar lifestyle work for you. I’ve been aware of Sarah’s work for a while, and after talking with one of my health coaching clients went and bought I Quit Sugar which is a brilliant book. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of I Quit Sugar for Life and I can confirm it’s even better, seriously some of the recipes in this are amazing!

Sarah’s been traveling the globe promoting her books and is currently in London. I had the opportunity to catch up with her over the phone as unfortunately I couldn’t travel down to meet her in person. She was on her way to the BBC, but we managed to have a great chat! 

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You’ve been doing a lot of travelling to promote your books I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar for Life, including visiting the US, Canada the UK and your home Australia. Have you noticed any differences in the attitudes of people in each country to the I Quit Sugar message?

The UK is well ahead of the US in terms of the media and the newspapers have been really supportive, maybe because they are looking for those big headlines! But generally people in the UK are more open to the message, the time is right here and the real food movement has exploded here over the last few years. London is probably the best place in the world right now for this kind of food. In the US people are a little more resistant to the message, maybe because they get so many different ‘diet’ messages all of the time. Australia is further ahead, but there has still been a big shift in the UK.

In I Quit Sugar for Life you are quite frank about your views on veganism, but you still give advice to any vegans looking to reduce their sugar intake. What do you feel are the issues with veganism?

I don’t think that the vegan diet is particularly healthy, especially for young women given the amount of grains and sugar that are consumed. However I’m fully behind anyone wanting to make changes to their diet, and we have to be thankful to veganism as that movement put a lot of issues on the table such as organic and sustainable farming and animal welfare. At the end of the day we can still eat a plant based diet, I do, vegetables are great!

You said in I Quit Sugar that before you ditched sugar you were eating what would usually be thought of as a healthy diet. A lot of my readers, myself included, consider ourselves to eat a healthy diet, but what ‘healthy’ foods should we be watching out for?

Definitely low fat products, when they remove the fat they generally end up adding in more sugar! Dried fruit and fruit juices should also be looked at. The package might say no added sugar, but then it contains loads of dried fruit or fruit juice instead. Agave is also a real one to watch because it’s 90% fructose (LAW: Fructose is the one to watch out for because of the way it is digested in the body). There is also a temptation to eat more when you believe them to be ‘healthy’ sugars. I was drinking my chai tea with honey, but not just a mug, a whole pot, and that ended up being several teaspoons of honey. Also things like banana bread, muffins and snack bars can be just too carb heavy for some people. The scary thing is that a lot of these kind of products are marketed directly to young women as things that should be consumed everyday, not even just as treats. 

If sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are out, which alternatives do you recommend?

I use a lot of rice syrup in my recipes, it’s great for replacing honey and maple syrup and is more glucose so you don’t get the same dump on your liver as you do from agave. It is a little hard to come by in the UK but you can get it online. I also use stevia which is good in things like biscuits, but not too much as it can have a liquorice taste. I sometimes use stevia along with a naturally sweet ingredient like coconut, coconut oil or sweet potato. 

You do say in your book that your dessert and ‘sweet’ recipes are to be seen as occasional treats and that you should experiment with slowly reducing the amount of sweetener in them as you go. How long does it take for your taste buds to start adjusting?

It takes about two weeks for people to start noticing the difference. For me even a whole apple is too sweet and sickly, I’ll just have a quarter of it. I used to have 4 or 5 serves of fruit a day, now I have 1 or 2. I know that the idea of not eating fruit for a while can be scary, but I just encourage people to experience it themselves and see what works for them as an individual. Foods like nuts and coconut products are naturally sweet anyway!

I know you love your green smoothies, just as I do. Which low sugar ingredients do you enjoy in your smoothies?

I always add some fat to my smoothies, it’s essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. I love avocados for adding creaminess, and coconut oil makes smoothies more luscious. Fat also makes smoothies more filling and if you are having them for a meal they should be! Chia seeds are also great too. Sometimes I add some good quality protein powder as well, really we should be eating protein at every meal. For fruit, I love adding 3 or 4 frozen strawberries or some kiwi, both of which are low fructose fruits.

Do you have a favourite recipe from I Quit Sugar for Life?

I love the cauliflower pizza base recipe and as far as what has gone down well on social media, the Paleo inside out bread is really popular!

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I love how passionate Sarah is about her message, but she doesn’t seem preachy or pushy about it. Her books are called I Quit Sugar, not You Must Quit Sugar after all! I’m also happy that the reduction in sugar message is highlighting the real issues of added sugar in packaged products, and is hopefully addressing some of the fat phobia that is till knocking around. I really hope that some of the brands constantly bringing out low calorie yet sugar packed nutrient devoid foods start to take notice, but ultimately that will only come when the demand from us, the consumer, changes too.

As I said I really do love I Quit Sugar for Life, and Sarah’s approach in general. The book includes info on lifestyle approaches like having a morning routine, how to reduce snacking, Ayuvedia, eating more greens, exercising less (love that bit) and of course some drool worthy recipes. Sarah also includes some guidance on creating fermented foods. Over all, this is a health and wellbeing book focused on whole foods. The low sugar message is part of that, but not the whole story, which reflects my philosophy on healthy living completely.

I also chatted with Sarah about my pregnancy and when I told her my current craving was strawberries, she suggested I give this recipe a try and share it with you all too!

Berry Omelette pdf page 1 of 2

Berry Omelette pdf page 2 of 2

I Quit Sugar is on sale now and I Quit Sugar for Life is available to pre order and on sale on the 8th May. Also check out Sarah and I Quit Sugar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you read I Quit Sugar? What do you think of Sarah’s message?

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36 Comments

  1. Adrienne

    What a coincidence – I’m having breakfast like that today! It’s really good with a pinch on cinnamon too. I hear you on the strawberry cravings – I’ve been going mad with strawberries and raspberries!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Strawberries are just so good right now, I bought a big box of them this morning!

      Reply
  2. Kezia

    Brilliant- especially Sarah views on honey, I have never tried rice syrup but will need to give it a go , but not sure I will ever wave goodbye to raw honey:) But i do thing breaking your sugar habit is one of the most benefical things you can do for your health so I love the I quit sugar message!

    Reply
    • Laura

      I quite like rice syrup, but personally will still use honey for some things!

      Reply
  3. Emma

    Interesting read. Of course I don’t agree with Sarah’s views on veganism but I do agree that many would benefit from reducing their sugar levels- even in their natural form. I know I can’t handle too much sweet stuff, even if it is fruit, but then there are others (like the 80-10-10 crowd) who thrive eating tons of fruit.
    When I had to quit all sugar and fruit to clear up a bout of candida I really learnt the importance of fat in keeping me satisfied.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I think it all comes down to the do what works for you and your body rule – it’s amazing how some things can work so well for some and not for others!

      Reply
  4. Tamzin

    I love all her books and I think she is a walking advertisement showing how fab you can look and feel by quitting sugar. I definitely need to cut it down and slowly I am reducing it but it creeps in very easily! Fab post!

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks Tam, you are definitely right about what a good advert she is for her approach!

      Reply
  5. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    Great interview! I haven’t read the book myself, but I always stand by my philosophy of do what works for you! I personally don’t have any problems with having maple syrup in my diet, so I will stick with that.
    But I do agree that sugar is a problem for many people.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Yep it’s definitely one of those things that is different for some people and even different at different times in their lives too. I also love the flavour of maple syrup way too much!

      Reply
  6. Sarahf

    I’d never have thought to put berries in my omelette! One to try in the future! I think it’s important to do what works for you, while keeping an open mind about things that have worked for other people. I’d definitely be interested in reading her book, even if I didn’t quit sugar altogether.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Yeah I think irrelevant if whether you were to quit sugar as she did, the books have some great recipes :-)

      Reply
  7. Lucy

    Sounds really interesting. I did quit sugar for several months last year, but I was still eating a lot of dried fruit, Nakd Bars, honey etc. I might order the book as it sounds like there are some good recipes.

    Reply
    • Laura

      The recipes are definitely worth it!

      Reply
  8. Anna @AnnaTheApple

    Sounds very interesting. I really agree that sugar is the problem area in the world of nutrition and health. I know it’s my main issue. I could eat sugary food all day long…cakes, sweets, chocolate, ice cream. You can have your savories, I want pudding! That being said, I don’t think we should have to quit it completely. Life for me is about balance and enjoyment. To be without sugar forever would make me a very sad girl. It’s just about moderation in my eyes. Maybe for some people they can’t do that as it just makes them want more, but for me I know I can limit the rubbish food and have it occasionally. The one thing I will not limit though are apples. She sounds lovely this lady, but seriously, who eats 1/4 of an apple?! What about the rest of it!?

    Reply
    • Laura

      Yeah, I think I covered that in my is sugar evil post, it’s what works for you as an individual, but ultimately it’s all about balance – says she who has been eating cake, sweets and ice cream a few times this week ;-) it also has to be about enjoyment. And the deal with the apple is weird, I’ve always thought that with recipes for half an apple, what happens to the rest?

      Reply
  9. Deepa

    I’ve seen her around and pegged her as a preachy type because of the big statement about quitting sugar. Her advice is good however, I don’t think I could ever quit sugar but knowing more about what can replace it for everyday food is good.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I definitely agree that even if the quitting sugar thing isn’t for you, it can still be useful to see what to replace some of it with – as always the temptation is to take things like that as writ, when it’s about using what works for you and your approach :-)

      Reply
  10. Rachael

    I am trying to balance my hormones at the moment and I think this book could really help! I’ve just pre-ordered it :) I do still agree that balance is the most important thing and I won’t necessarily follow all her advice, but I think it sounds like it has some very valid points in it, and some great recipes!!

    Reply
    • Laura

      That’s great Rachael! I think you have the perfect attitude here, use what works for you instead of worrying about following all advice :-)

      Reply
  11. AnnaA

    I’ve seen her website but i haven’t read the book. I would say to anyone with digestive problems to avoid rice syrup as it’s a FODMAP.

    Reply
    • AnnaA

      Oops got that wrong!

      Reply
      • Laura

        Yep I thought rice syrup was low FODMAPS, I was thinking that her recipes might be useful for people avoiding fructose as that seems to be the form of sugar she is most avoiding?

        Reply
  12. Ms.J

    My first instinct was to pass on by without saying anything, but I’m sure my “voice” is welcomed Laura ;) . This sounds fascinating yes. And frankly – in my opinion – extreme. With the world as it is today; fast paced and filled with sugary goodness, I think this kind of “restricting” (almost every kind of sugar at that!) can likely lead to feelings of deprivation. Its fantastic that it works for certain individuals..but I know that I would be very unhappy putting myself into such a lifestyle and setting myself up for a “ALL THE SUGAR attack”..I thrive on aiming to keep my view of healthy eating as uncomplicated as possible, with easily accessible ingredients.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks for your comment – most welcomed as always! I think I made my thoughts clear in my is sugar evil post, ultimately it is about what works for each of us as an individual. Personally I am the same in that restricting sugar too much would back fire for me, but then for others it could potentially help a lot of issues. I think the issue here is taking everything she has written as gospel, take the best and leave the rest I say!

      Reply
  13. Lauren

    I have just found your blog and I love it :)
    This is an interesting topic for me at the moment. I am realising that even though I eat very well, I think I consume a lot of natural sugars! I guess it is all about moderation and not having too much of anything :)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Could not agree more! Definitely all about moderation. Thanks for commenting, I’m so glad you enjoy the blog!

      Reply
  14. Pip {Cherries & Chisme}

    I completely second what Ms.J says above…
    I read this interview with mixed emotions this morning, and it’s been mulling on my mind all day. First, it panicked me (going back to my old self here) into omg I’m eating all the wrong things (i.e. fruit, honey…) and I’m going to turn into a whale. Anger at myself, panic at what TO eat, etc.
    Then I took a step back, and I remembered I am me – nobody else. I lead a balanced lifestyle, occasionally I indulge, as I feel it’s what works for me, and avoids me falling into any binging traps. It’s great that no sugar at all works for some people, but personally it’s the balance. I’d rather eat a banana than fear food again!
    It is also interesting, living here in Buenos Aires, it is SO difficult (and frustrating) to find things with zero sugar (yoghurt, milk, etc.). Yes, I could deny myself of them until I return to the UK but I don’t think I’d be a very nice person to be around (and then I would end up eating them ALL) so, for now, am taking it all with a pinch of salt (or sugar, ha.).
    But I do think (having read her website extensively today…) she puts a very balanced viewpoint across, without pressuring anyone or forcing her opinion on anyone, which is great.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I think the issue with stuff like this is that it is so easy to take what is written as gospel and not run it though ‘does this make sense to me, my body and my philosophy on health’ because there is always another new best way to eat that comes out and we’d drive ourselves crazy. Plus, as we’ve talked about before, there’s so much more to life than food – and it is also to be enjoyed (says she who has eaten cake and sweeties much of this week!) I like her message and her recipes, but I know that a complete restriction wouldn’t work for me. Glad you were able to take that step back and remember you are you!

      Reply
  15. Flo

    I got the eight week plan recently, went cold turkey on fructose two weeks back and feel more satisfied by my food than I have in months. No cravings, less food, no hunger, better sleep. My copy of I Quit Sugar for Life is in the post and I think I might make a long term commitment. Fifteen years ago I cut out sugar, wheat and dairy for a year with support and with life changing results but have found it difficult to stick to anything since (frustrating as I qualified in nutritional therapy six years ago!). The recipes and focus on good fats have made the process easy. And the avoidance of fructose has stopped my continual hunger and dodgy cravings in their tracks.

    Reply
  16. Alice

    She sounds lovely and this is quite good timing as my WIAW post includes me having a little rant / asking myself questions about the whole sugar thing!
    I just don’t get why sugar is suddenly the enemy when for years it was carbs, or fat or…. I understand that a lot of people eat too much sugar but to be honest I don’t think any fitness / healthy eating bloggers have much of a problem! I may be missing something really obvious here but I just don’t get it! It’s good for me to eat fruit, it’s good for me to have a little bit of dark chocolate, its good for me to have a little bit of red wine. Surely the links to type 2 diabetes and obesity are just relating to people being obese to the extent their weight is putting strain on their health – if they cut out sugar but ate the same amount of calories they would be in the same situation?

    These are all questions as I’m just looking for some more information about it all and in no way telling anyone their thoughts are wrong – just that I’m confused! I think your blogs on sugar are really interesting and this was a great interview… just I still have questions!

    Reply
  17. LilyLipstick

    Great interview! Her book is on my to-read list, I don’t want to completely quit sugar but it is interesting and worrying how a lot of foods which are marketed as healthy are actually full of sugar. I spent my student days living off of Special K and Mullerlight yogurts thinking I was eating a super healthy diet so its good that people are becoming more aware of the sugar contents of foods and that sugar comes in many forms, not just the white stuff we think of as being in cakes and biscuits. x

    Reply
  18. Maria @ runningcupcake

    I love brown rice syrup as a sweetener but I can’t seem to bake with it that easily. I agree that low fat things should be avoided, but I disagree that you can’t be a healthy vegan- of course some vegans eat too many carbs, but it is perfectly possible to have a healthy diet avoiding animal products.

    Reply
  19. Mary

    Over the past couple of years I’ve moved from checking out the number of calories in products to checking out the sugar, protein, carbs and fat instead. So that I can get more of an overview of what I am feeding my stomach. I tend to add fruit over sugar as toppings on my breakfast but if I don’t have fruit I find I crave something sweet later on in the morning. I’m pretty sure I would never quit sugar but I imagine the book is a very interesting read.

    Reply
  20. Petra Kravos

    This is the first time I came across I Quit Sugar and it sounds like something worth checking out. I follow Sarah on Twitter now and it would be interesting to see what she has to say.
    Some good tips from the interview! I have never heard of rice syrup before so I am going to see where I can buy it online and give it a try. I also haven’t tried stevia yet and would be interested in giving that a go as well.
    Thanks Laura for another useful article!

    Reply
  21. Terry @ Path to Simple

    I think if more people understood the health benefits of cutting sugar from their diet and how much better they would feel getting away from it we’d be much better off.

    I can tell when I’ve had too much sugar (which isn’t much) simply by how awful I feel shortly after consuming it.

    Great post!

    Reply

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