March 24, 2014

why I didn't quit sugar

Are you thinking about quitting sugar? Its negative effect on our health is at the forefront of the media these days. But, I’ll admit it: I eat sugar. No, not every day and not in copious amount. But, I haven’t quit sugar. And, actually, I don’t plan on it.

In our modern society, quitting foods has become quite the trend. First we quit fat, then we got scared and swore off carbs while proclaiming, ‘Evil bread! Bad pasta!’

Not long after, it seemed like everyone started experimenting with gluten-free or dairy-free. Even schools are becoming nut and egg-free.

Most recently, the sugar-quitting wave hit.

Now, let me state a few things on the front end:

+ I understand that some, if not many, diet restrictions are due to food allergies, medical conditions or ethical beliefs. I totally respect that. Hey, I’ve recently had to avoid gluten and dairy in an effort to heal my Leaky Gut.

+ I also understand that sugar increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, weight gain, and diabetes, along with other nasty side-effects.

+ I further understand that some people suffer from sugar addiction, binge-eating disorders and other sugar-related conditions, and quitting sugar is a necessary means of healing.

But, I want to focus on something different from medical conditions and ethics. I want to share my story and why I didn’t quit sugar.

During my early teens, I had a healthy relationship with food. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and can’t remember associating negative emotions with food. When I developed my eating disorder; however, my thoughts and beliefs around food became completely distorted. I feared fat. I avoided carbs. I shunned sugar. But in all of my willpower, I was going crazy.

The more I denied myself sugar, the more I obsessed about it. 

As soon as sugar became forbidden, it’s exactly what I craved. I became obsessed with baking blogs, dessert cookbooks and the grocery’s candy aisle. I even started baking for other people, getting mild satisfaction from watching them eat what I was craving.

Because I deemed sugar as badmy All-Or-Nothing thinking reared its ugly head.

If one bite of a sweet treat passed my lips, I deemed myself a failure.

So what did I do next? I threw in the towel and binged on the white stuff. Of course, I was then flooded with guilt and anxiety. And to lessen these unwanted emotions, I’d swear off sugar again. I promised myself, This is my last bite. Tomorrow I’ll be good. Tomorrow I won’t ever eat sugar again. 

This became an all-too-familiar cycle that led me to believe that I could not be trusted around sugar. I loved the stuff and yet I hated it at the same time.

One thing was clear, I desperately needed to repair my relationship with food.

I learned to fuel my body with enough energy and nutrients so that I was not as susceptible to cravings. I also set boundaries around my sugar consumption. For example, grabbing an ice cream out with friends during the day rather than scooping a bowl-full from the freezer at night by myself. Is it just me, or is it wayyy to easy to eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting?!

Over time, my cravings subsided because I was allowing myself to eat sugar. I told myself that I could have sugar whenever I wanted. I could eat it everyday if I felt like it.

This freedom felt scary at first. But to my surprise, I didn’t even want sugar everyday. When I truly believed that I could have another cupcake tomorrow, the one tonight wasn’t as tempting. I even found myself forgetting about the bar of chocolate in the pantry or the cookies on the staff room table.

I can’t even remember the last time I binged. And that, my friend, is an amazing reality.

There have been times that I’ve thought about joining Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement. But, then I have an honest heart-to-heart with myself and dig deeper to the motives behind my decision.


If I quit sugar, the eating disorder wins.

In order for me to stay healthy, I can’t quit sugar.

Now, this doesn’t mean I eat sugar everyday. It doesn’t mean I have a secret stash of chocolate in my cupboard. It sure doesn’t mean I use sugar to cope with my emotions.

What it does mean is this: I give myself permission to listen to my body and honor its desires above all else. 

To honor it above some stupid self-imposed rules. To honor it above my fear. To honor it above what the media tells me I should be doing.

Most of the time, I prefer to satisfy my sweet tooth with fresh fruit or these healthy treats. But ya know what? On my birthday, you can bet I’ll be eating my favorite red velvet cake. . . without guilt or fear!

Question: Have you ever tried quitting sugar? I’d love for you to share your experience below in the comments!

Lots of love,





Image: Pixabay 

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  1. fayanndsouza@gmail.com'Fay

    Sarah! thanks for writing this. Sometimes I feel overly bombarded with the ‘no sugar’ talk and it leads to me feeling like I’m not eating well enough, or having too much sugar. ‘Listen to your truth’ applies here, for sure.
    I’d love to hear more about this! xx

  2. coreyandjo@gmail.com'Jo :: The Luminous Kitchen

    Hey Sarah Kate I so hear you on this one.
    We as a society are always looking for that quantum leap, that magic pill, the latest secret to weight loss and unimaginable health, but there is no quantum leap, no magic pill –
    nothing outside of us that can make us well and healthy it comes from leaning in and listening to what our magnificent bodies are actually screaming out for… real food, in its natural form, not too much.

    You’re right we demonize certain foods thinking that by cutting them out we will magically transform. I come from a family of 5 women and you can imagine how there was always a new diet to try or a new way of eating that was going to make us look our best yet.. never mind being healthy.. so we cut out fat and gleefully ate anything fat free (hello fat free lollies wtf?) then we cottoned onto Atkins and in came the fat out went the carbs and these are just 2 of the things we followed over the years but when I shifted my focus from what can I cut out to what can I add in everything changed for me.
    I started looking for ways to get more goodness in and my body started to normalize. Now I focus on nourishment and that includes lots of plant based real food. I shun labels when it comes to diet because I love the freedom that comes with eating what my body needs now that I have learnt to listen to it and I don’t want rules to adhere to that are surefire ways to feel deflated, down on yourself and uurrrggg when you don’t stick to them .
    You know the most awesome thing about eating what your body wants and not what your mind tells you? – I ca’t remember the last time I actually craved anything. ( besides coffee thats different – damn you caffeine) Yes white sugar is not awesome, there are some rad alternatives – and on that note I’m off to make myself a smoothie with a yummy fresh date to sweeten things up 🙂

    1. Sarah Kate Anderson Post author

      Jo, thank you so much for your heartfelt comment! When did all these food rules come in?! When we dictate what our body needs from a rigid set of rules, we create disharmony and body dissatisfaction. Yet, when we start honoring our hunger and fullness, we create a peace and acceptaince within ourselves. I am totally loving your blog and what you stand for. We must collaborate one day! Save some smoothie for me. 🙂

  3. melina@thehappinesscollective.com.au'Melina

    Great post! I have given up sugar..been “addicted” again…given up…I have come to a happy medium..and I now my limits of when to stop and how much sugar is too much to get addicted again..ha ha..its a balancing act and life is to be enjoyed!

  4. kathrynhgregory@hotmail.com'Kathryn

    Great post Sarah Kate! I had the same experience with sugar, the more I told myself ‘no it’s bad, evil, fattening, dangerous the more I wanted sugar!’ I agree so much better to have a little of what you love than go cold turkey. Homemade raw chocolate (with macadamias) is always in my freezer & I treat myself to one imported bar of Cadburys UK chocolate a week. Sometimes that sits in the fridge uneaten for ages but it’s there when I feel like it. I’ll put my hand up & say I LOVE chocolate & I’m happy to have it in moderation without the mind games 🙂 xx


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