I QUIT SUGAR TOO (an experiment in going fructose-free and eating whole)

While traveling in Australia recently, I received a message from a friend in Stockholm. The gist of it was that she’d done Sarah Wilson‘s I Quit Sugar program (otherwise known as IQS), that she was working full-time, heavily pregnant with baby #3, had babies #1 and #2 to take care of and yet had more energy than ever before… as a result of quitting sugar! Now, I understand that this is anecdotal evidence, but my curiosity was piqued. In fact, the whole thing sounded positively crazy to me… not just the concept of quitting sugar (fructose) entirely, but the incredible claims my friend was making too. She sent me a link to a blog post she’d written (aptly entitled “I Quit Sugar”) and it struck me as a call to action of sorts. Refined sugar-free I have done, Oprah’s One-week Vegan Challenge was a breeze, I have had a little success with gluten-free baking experiments, I have completely detoxed off of caffeine at various stages in my life (such as during my pregnancies), but I have never considered cutting out fructose completely (after all, isn’t fruit good for us?) nor cooking every single meal from scratch (sauces/dressings/condiments included).

Who is Sarah Wilson? (for those of you who don’t know)

I will let Wikepedia answer that question for me ;), but briefly, amongst other things, she’s a blogger, journalist, qualified health coach, program host (her first television presenter role was as the host for MasterChef Australia, Series 1, in fact!), autoimmune disease sufferer and the author of I Quit Sugar, “the bestselling Australian non-fiction title of 2013, selling over 100,000 copies and kick-starting a lifestyle revolution Down Under.”

So why quit sugar?

Well, aside from hopefully having more energy (and no energy slumps during the day), there are several claims that some scientists/researchers and, subsequently, Sarah Wilson and the IQS team have made that might provide a little motivation…

The claims (and links) on the science page of the I Quit Sugar site include the following points:

Saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease. Sugar does.
Sugar increases your risk of heart disease
Sugar ages the body and causes wrinkles
Sugar increases your risk of diabetes
It’s more addictive than cocaine
The white stuff makes you fat
Pancreatic cancer uses sugar as fuel

And what is Sarah Wilson’s definition of “sugar” (and “quit”)?

“On the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program we recommend you cut out ALL sugar, including fruit (fresh, dried and juiced), from weeks 2-6 to give yourself a chance to break the sugar addiction and allow your body to recalibrate. After this period, you are encouraged to reintroduce some low-fructose fruit and see how your body handles it.

The thing to know: fruit contains a lot fructose. Sure, whole fruit contains vitamins, minerals and fibre, which slow the absorption of the sugar, but fructose is fructose.

The other thing to know: we are designed to metabolise the amount of sugar contained in two small pieces of fruit a day. If fruit is your only source of fructose in a day, then two pieces of fruit is fantastic. But if you are also having other sources of added sugar/fructose such as a few squares of chocolate, breads or sauces then you might want to consider upping your vegetable intake instead (indeed, this is our approach on The Program). Most vegetables are more nutrient-dense than fruit anyway.

Dried fruit and juice are to be eliminated for good, however. When the fibre and water is removed from fruit, you’re left with a bundle of condensed sugar.

A glass of fruit juice contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar.

Which is the same amount contained in a glass of Coke. And it makes zero difference whether the juice has been freshly squeezed or has come from a carton. Same deal with dried fruit… it’s 50-70 per cent sugar.”

– See more at: http://iquitsugar.com/resource-sheets/am-i-allowed-to-eat-fruit/#sthash.l02jH4tc.dpuf

So, I read all of that (and a bunch of other IQS-related stuff) and wondered…

… could I quit sugar too?

Would it afford me the same amazing results as my friend achieved? Would it turn me into a sweets-obsessed lunatic or an anti-social, housebound recluse who spends her days obsessing over her limited dietary options?

Only one way to find out!

Just before we left Australia, I spotted Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar for Life on sale at a special discounted price, liked the look of it, grabbed a copy and packed it in my suitcase. I returned to Sweden, after having indulged on all that the Fringe Festival food trucks in Adelaide had to offer, keen to embark upon this new sugar-free adventure.

Over the next few weeks I hope to share the details* of that journey here, including meal plans, meal plan templates/shopping lists, recipes, Instagram pics (fresh from my fledgling Instagram account) and hopefully a whole lot of inspiration!

To be honest, I don’t see myself staying completely sugar-free in the longterm, but for now it’s a case of so far, so good 🙂

Here’s a brief rundown of what I consider to be the pros and cons at this point:


Eating no processed food
Cupboards, fridge and freezer all stocked with healthy food
Eating LOADS of veggies and nutrient dense food
Consuming foods with minimal gluten
Cooking all meals from scratch with healthy, organic ingredients
Being aware of every ingredient we use in preparing meals
The opportunity to get super-organised in the kitchen/plan meals/go to the supermarket knowing exactly what we want/need to buy and sticking with it
Seeing my kids enjoy some of the food too
Experimenting and tweaking recipes (making some of the “meaty” ones vegetarian-friendly)
Trying new things
Increased mindfulness and awareness around food and how it really makes me feel


All the prep and from scratch cooking means cleaning up too
Not being able to easily come by some “specialty” ingredients (Hello, rice malt syrup? You’re harder to find than Nemo here in Stockholm!)
Not having enough time in the day to cook, experiment, etc., more!
The fact that dairy and meat feature prominently in many of the recipes (and I prefer to eat veggie, use vegan milk at home ordinarily, etc.)
Going to the cinema on a rare date night to celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary and candy is off-limits… wah-wah :'(!


The lack of clarity around supplement usage (ie., a comprehensive outline of effects, who should/shouldn’t take them, possible complications, etc.). This subject really is a whole other post, but for now, let’s just say I had a nasty experience with Chromium (which appears on the suggested shopping list for the 8-week program) after taking just 1 capsule and the paramedics (yes, freakin’ paramedics!) said the toxicologist (yes, freakin’ toxicologist) they spoke to said this was not the first instance of an adverse reaction that has been reported!

I don’t want to harp on about this, but felt obliged to share my experience on this point at least briefly and to urge anyone considering undertaking this (or indeed any health-related) program to consider seeking medical advice from a qualified professional before taking any supplements for the first time.

… And on a brighter note…


Being able to get a hold of some rice malt syrup
Experimenting with sugar-free baking
Getting better organised and faster in the kitchen
Tweaking more recipes and coming up with my own original ones
Seeing the results of this experiment

I Quit Sugar for Life - PRINT

*The contents of this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. What I share via this blog is anecdotal, even if the topics I write about may be health-related.

**Update January 2016: this post contains an affiliate link to the book discussed. I recommend it only as I have found it both inspirational and beneficial to my own health journey.


Click here to check out what I have been eating each day during this IQS process (plus other stuff!)

41 thoughts on “I QUIT SUGAR TOO (an experiment in going fructose-free and eating whole)

  1. I am interested to see how eliminating fructose goes for you. I am a big believer in many of the facts that you listed. Our bodies just weren’t designed for the amount of sugar we ingest. Sugar/carbs are a very hard habit to break because these substances are (as you noted) addictive. Good luck on your journey! 🙂

    • Thank you so much! One of the things I have become aware of is how much “hidden sugar” there is in processed food. When I bake from scratch in a traditional way (with sugar), at least I am aware of what is going into what I produce and have control over other things (such as providence, whether something is organic, etc). There is just so much sugar where there doesn’t “need” to be… and it’s hard to be mindful of what you don’t know exists. I think that, more than anything, this is an exercise in mindfulness for me. 🙂 Thanks again! xx

  2. You are courageous. It’s hard to know what to do especially with recommendations coming from other sources that we should eat 7 servings of fruit plus vegies a day. Wishing you happy experimentation.

    • Thanks so much! You know what? I was actually really nervous about doing this! When I was debating whether or not to do this, I was posting in a fitness group on Facebook about IQS and realised I was eating cookies at the same time! Haha! Now that’s hooked for you! Can definitely eat all the veggies I want on this program and, eventually, fruit too. Strawberries are already ok. Would hate following any program where veg and fruit were cut out completely. And as I prefer veggie food, certain programs/diets out there are really unappealing to me (Atkins, for example!). In fact, I hate diets full stop, really. But eating whole and cooking from scratch appeals to me. Thanks so much for the kind wishes 🙂 x

      • I lived in a sugar mill town when I was growing up. The irony is that we had very little sugar in our diet. My parents avoided sugar most of the time. When I arrived in New Zealand to go to boarding school, I couldn’t believe how sweet all the food was. I felt quite ill.

  3. I’m a sugar addict through and through- Going without it sounds like an impossible feat. I seriously respect anyone who has the willpower to follow through, especially in the long term. It would certainly be a good idea for me to at least take these suggestions as inspiration to cut back or take breaks. Even I’ll admit I can get a bit out of control with the dessert routine!

    • Me too, Hannah (or, I have been, in any case). For me this is definitely a matter of mindfulness over willpower (which is a good thing… as I find heightened awareness more motivating than guilt or restriction, for sure 🙂 ) I went out to dinner last night and really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful restaurant. I drank mineral water and said no to dessert for probably the first time in my life. I was very “grounded” in my body… and realised, when I let myself think about it, that I really didn’t “feel” like dessert. So strange! Did some sugar-free baking today… tried a tiny bit of what I made, and it was enough. Go figure! 🙂

  4. Good luck with your IQS challenge, I recently contributed a piece on alternative, nutritious and natural sweeteners to replace sucrose and fructose with the magazine “Green Lifestyle”. I will be posting it up when it is published 🙂

  5. It will be interesting to read how you get on. There’s been a lot of publicity about quitting sugar and this book in the UK. I gave up sugar and anything sugar based quite a while ago now, I might have the odd bit of fruit now but that’s all, and I have completely changed my tasted and choices. I always used to be a ‘sweet’ person but now I’m definitely ‘savoury’ and I don’t even want anything sweet, it’s all too much now, for my tastes, and more so for my brain!! Good luck x

    • Hi Elaine! Wow! You sound like the perfect example of what Sarah Wilson talks about in terms of “recalibration”. I was joking in Australia with two of my chef relatives that I could eat dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner (which really has been true… I would often have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, then a small bowl of another type of cereal as “dessert”!). What I have noticed now is that sweet, dessert-y things are less appealing. I am not sure if that will remain, but it certainly is interesting for someone like me who has always been a sweet tooth! Thanks for sharing your experience and the kind wishes!!! xx

      • I know exactly what you mean, I used to forgo the meal and just eat the dessert!! I can’t believe that now I can’t even eat a date, it’s just too sweet!!! your tastes really do change. But for me, it’s also what it does to your brain; when you haven’t been eating sugar for a while, if you then eat some, you will find that all sense leaves your mind and you will suddenly just be on the hunt for FOOOOODDDD!!! Whatever food you can find. It’s a whole chemical reaction..I like more control than that! X

      • Wow! That sounds like an amazing transformation! We went to an event the other night where they were serving non-alcoholic sparkling “wine”. I didn’t drink any, but decided just to taste the tiniest amount on the tip of my tongue… I got nothing but sugar! I really don’t know how I’ll do with this long-term, as I really do love baking so much (and some things are just not replaceable/adaptable), but for now I am enjoying this process 🙂 Oh, and I like control too 😉 x

  6. How exciting for you to be quitting sugar. I’m always interested in how others are managing their diets since I’m concentrating so much on mine. When I’m off of Optifast and back on real food, I don’t think giving up refined sugar or processes foods will be difficult at all, but I don’t think I could give up fruit. I love apples and tomatoes way too much.

    I love your list of what you’re loving! Those are all things that will keep you healthy and on track! 🙂

    • All the best to you on your journey! I think eating what truly makes you happy and feel the best you can- whatever that is- is ok… so if apples and tomatoes are favourites, go for it, I reckon! 🙂
      And I think you are right about where to place focus 🙂
      Thank you! 🙂 x

  7. Uhm, I think I will be giving chromium a miss 😉 but other than that this really sounds quite interesting. I like ideas that challenge our ingrained beliefs. I cannot remember the last time I used white sugar in anything. Which has become even easier now I have discovered stevia. But to stop eating fruit… interesting!

    • Lol! I will DEFINITELY be giving chromium a miss! 😉
      I love the challenge of this experiment too. Very cool that you’ve not used white sugar in a long time! Stevia is new territory to me, as is rice malt syrup. I am still at a stage in all of this where the use of any sweetener is discouraged. Really funny how my palate is adapting. Had a tiny bit of my son’s leftover satay sauce from a Thai takeaway (a good one) today and it was very sweet to me.

    • I was just having a conversation about moderation, etc online with a bunch of mums in a health/fitness group. Someone congratulated me on doing this program and said that she hadn’t been able to stick with it just now and I responded that I am am not doing it religiously either, even though I am finding it rather enjoyable (and wouldn’t do it if I didn’t… I hate “diets”… and I love eating too much!). If any sense of guilt or deprivation starts creeping in, I will reevaluate whether I want to do this or not… as I really want balance in my life… and for this process to be a kindness to myself, not a punishment. And I still want to bake! 🙂
      Being healthy for me is also about feeling good emotionally… and having good self-esteem. Don’t want to beat myself up for eating or doing anything that isn’t part of this (or any other) plan… and equally wouldn’t want to make anyone else feel bad for any lifestyle choices they are making. I am doing as Sarah Wilson suggests and treating this as an experiment and not a “life sentence”… lol! 😀 Hope all is great with you xx

  8. I’ve been on almost no sugar since the beginning of 2014 but I do have a fruit once every couple of days and once in a while a sweet made using jaggery (unrefined cane sugar). If only rice malt syrup was available in Bangalore, India – it would be so much easier! Good luck with the program. Totally get your “what i’m loving” and “what i don’t love so much” lists.. Feel the same! 🙂

  9. Miss Marzipan,
    This collection of all that you love is exciting. The visuals are fantastic. This ongoing presentation of recipes, information and fun works so well. Congratulations Miss. M, you have a winner blog here. I will follow you from this day forward. Thank you.
    Rob K.

  10. Pingback: DIY CHOCOLATE BUNNY BUTTON DECORATIONS, IQS-STYLE (and my 15 seconds of Instafame) | Miss Marzipan

  11. Funnily enough, it’s not so much me, but my little guy I am worried about. He eats loads of fruit, plus maple syrup…few processed foods, but still! This world we live in is full of sugary snacks no matter where he goes…..I do NOT plan to take either of us sugar-free right now, but this does remind me to keep it all in check!

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