I tried quitting sugar. It sucked.
Part of my goal with my blog is to share my health experiences with you so that you can learn from my mistakes… without making the mistakes yourself! So here is my mistake with quitting sugar: When I first began a healing grain-free diet called the GAPS diet, my ulcerative colitis symptoms disappeared. Eager to support my body’s healing process (I really only had good intentions), I jumped on the “anti-candida diet” bandwagon (I explain below why this is a bad idea). So here I was on a limited grain free diet, and I decided also to take out honey and fruits. This sounds like an extreme choice, but many candida diets and “blood sugar control” diets actually recommend this intense carb and sugar limitation.
Well, that lasted about two weeks. Things started to slide downhill… quickly. I felt like a rock: I was so fatigued that a walk around the block left me exhausted. I was an emotional wreck and I literally couldn’t handle spilled milk. And then there were the dizzy spells. Every time I stood up or tried to walk up the stairs, my head went spinning and my vision blurred. Now I know this is because my sugar limitation had left my adrenals helpless. Interestingly, it is the adrenals job to constrict blood vessels when standing to prevent this dizziness. But adrenals need sugar to function.
When I began loading up my body with starchy veggies like winter squash, lots of raw honey, and ripe fruit, these debilitating symptoms disappeared in a couple of days. I had learned my lesson: my body needs sugar. But I didn’t know WHY.
Why Your Body Needs Sugar
I was ecstatic nearly to the point of tears when I first read Kate’s and Cassie’s book, I Didn’t Quit Sugar. I finally understand the numerous important roles this demonized nutrient played in my health. I deeply respect Kate’s and Cassie’s no-nonsense, no-dogma philosophy about nutrition. It is truly refreshing.
For the past generations, saturated fats were thoroughly vilified falsely blamed for issues like heart disease. Now we know that extreme low fat diets are detrimental to health. This pattern is repeating with the low-carb and sugar-free fad. But our bodies need carbs. And sugar.
After taking the plunge into a very low-carb or sugar-free diet, many folks experience amazing weight loss and increased energy. Unfortunately, these are actually symptoms of disregulation in the body.
Anti-dogma health renegade Matt Stone also states that depriving your body of sugar is going to mean long-term consequences. He explains in his book Diet Recovery:
Risks of a Sugar-Free Diet
Why I Didn’t Quit Sugar goes in-depth to explain the roles of sugar in our body. Here are a few condensed points from the book regarding the consequences of eliminating healthy sources of glucose from the diet:
Elevated levels of stress hormones, which exhausts the adrenals and taxes the body
Impaired thyroid function by lowering T3 production (as a result of increased levels of adrenaline and lack of glycogen in the liver)
Lowered metabolism and weight gain due to impaired thyroid
Weakened digestion and nutrient malabsorption
Systemic candida overgrowth. That’s right–the very thing you are trying to starve out with a sugar-free diet will actually get worse (read why here). The real solution is to correct digestion, heal the gut, and improve metabolism… and you need sugar in your diet to accomplish those things.