Why I’m Quitting Sugar
A couple weeks ago, I had a series of experiences that have changed my life forever. The first one happened like a lightning strike. One second I was fine and everything was normal, the next second I was stunned, confused, and unable to grasp what just happened.
I struggled to clear my head and understand what I had just heard. I went home after work and said gravely to my wife, “I heard something today that I’m struggling to make sense out of. I listened to an interview today, and if what I heard is true–and I’m still not sure what I believe just yet–it’s going to change everything for us. I’m going to have to listen to the interview again and try to make some sense out of it. I’m not ready to tell you about it just yet, but this could be big.”
The Day The Earth Stood Still
On Thursday, September 1st, I was at work and it was a normal day. No big deal. I flipped through my iPod to find a podcast to listen to. I found an episode of The People’s Pharmacy (a weekly radio program on NPR) that had a really intriguing title: “Why We Get Fat” (episode 823).
I probably eat healthier than the average person, but still, I can never seem to get rid of my belly fat. Sure, I can knuckle down with a low-fat diet for long enough to get my weight down, but keeping it off has always been the hard part. However, I’ve learned from my many mistakes and have gradually improved my eating habits over the years. The result is, I have a layer of fat over my belly, but with a loose-fitting shirt, you wouldn’t see it. I usually look relatively slim, overall, but I don’t consider myself at optimum health. So the title Why We Get Fat caught my attention, and I was compelled to listen to it.
Hosts Joe and Terry Graedon interviewed Garry Taubes (a science writer) to discuss his book, Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It. In one short interview, what Taubes said cracked open many paradigms about health and dieting that I grew up with and that are still widely promoted by health “experts”. Taubes aims with great precision (backed by solid science and many years of data and research from experts around the world) and shoots down paradigms such as:
- Low-fat diets are healthy and heart-smart.
- To lose weight you must take in fewer calories than you burn (calories in/calories out).
- Exercise helps you lose weight.
- High-fat diets are unsafe and cause heart disease.
- You get fat because you overeat.
- Low-sodium diets are necessary for good health.
- So-called “Low Carb” diets are unsafe and unhealthy.
- Sugar contains “empty calories” but is safe to eat.
For many years, all I ever heard was that the best way to lose weight and stay healthy was by adopting a low-fat diet and getting plenty of exercise. Now, Gary Taubes, during his interview, was stating that we’re being mislead and that the science shows that low-fat diets (which contains high amounts of carbohydrate, therefore, low-fat/high-carb diets) are actually causing heart-disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some forms of cancer, high blood pressure, and more.
This is the short version of the paradigm-shifting information contained in the interview with Gary Taubes on The People’s Pharmacy. Everything I believed about eating healthy and what causes us to get fat was suddenly thrown up in the air and I wasn’t sure where it was going to land. But the earthquake wasn’t over.
In the interview, an article Taubes wrote for the New York Times called Is Sugar Toxic? was mentioned. In the article, Gary mentions a lecture that can be found on YouTube called Sugar: The Bitter Truth that was presented by Robert Lustig. Naturally, I put watching this 90-minute video on my To-Do list.
A Little Critical Reasoning
Before I continue, I want to point out a few things about my sanity. I’m a very open-minded person. But I rarely accept information just because someone sounds convincing. I rely heavily on my own critical reasoning as well as logic backed by proven science. The reason I was so shaken by this interview was because the data that Taubes cited was from research and literature that went back many years and it seemed to be backed by science and many clinical trials as well as an abundance of pragmatic evidence.
I’m usually pretty good at punching holes in weak evidence, but I wasn’t able to easily do so with what Taubes claimed. At first listen, it seemed very solid, as far as I could discern. But even still, I decided to do some more research. So, later that night, I found myself browsing for podcast episodes that had Gary Taubes on as a guest to get a better sense of his “message”. I also looked for podcasts with Robert Lustig. I found the following:
- Freedom From Sugar (Robert Lustig, MD) from The Kathleen Show, July 17, 2011
- Gary Taubes Update With Preview Of ‘Why We Get Fat’ (Episode 401) from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, September 13, 2010
- Gary Taubes Responds To His Critics (Episode 439-Part 1) from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, January 27, 2011
- Gary Taubes Answers Listener Questions (Episode 439-Part 2) from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, January 28, 2011
(NOTE: At the end of this journal entry, there’s a link timeline in the order that I listened to, watched, or read each item.)
The next day, I listened, again to the Gary Taubes interview on The People’s Pharmacy, and I was paying very close attention. I could feel something changing inside me. Though I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the new information, I knew I couldn’t just ignore it. Next, I listened to the Robert Lustig interview on The Kathleen Show and the ground beneath my feet completely gave way! This was the one-two punch. I was blown away by the combination of Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig. From that moment on, I knew that I couldn’t ignore what I had learned.
Over the next few days, I listened to the Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat, interview on The People’s Pharmacy and the Robert Lustig, Freedom From Sugar, interview on The Kathleen Show again and again. I had begun discussing everything with my wife, Tammy. We started reading Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes.
On Sunday, September 4th, Tammy and I watched Robert Lustig’s 90-minute video presentation, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. This video was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Over the span of just a few days, my life had changed and I knew that Tammy and I were on a crash course with some serious life adjustments. We began talking about making changes but didn’t want to get carried away until we finished reading Why We Get Fat. Then we started making plans. I announced to Tammy that I was going to start a journal to track this process, but I decided, instead, to start a blog because I suspected that there were other people out there who might be thinking about giving up sugar and changing their diets and who might find solidarity in my journey. Plus, I saw the blog as a way to share the message that has changed my life…and quittingsugar.com was born.
Well, we’re still making plans but we’ve decided to get comprehensive bloodwork done. Until then, we’re not changing the way we’re eating. This will serve as a baseline and will represent our “before” health conditions. Also, since we’re adopting a low carbohydrate/high fat (LCHF) diet, we’re going to see a nutritionist to get an accurate picture of our body fat composition and just to get additional guidance.
A few days ago, Tammy and I each had visits with our doctors. I told my doctor that I wanted to stop taking my cholesterol medicine and of my intention to change my diet and attempt to manage my cholesterol myself. I requested a comprehensive blood workup. He was very supportive of my plans. Although, I didn’t specifically tell him how I was planning to change my diet, since some doctors aren’t up on the scientific and pragmatic support for LCHF diets. Perhaps I should have given him a chance, but if he didn’t approve, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Since my doctor visit, I’ve stopped taking my cholesterol medicine (with my doctor’s approval), my once-daily multivitamin and the vitamin D supplement that I had been taking. I want to get as clear a picture from my bloodwork as possible. I want the result to accurately reflect my present diet and state of health.
After I’ve been off all pills for two weeks, I’ll get my blood work done and that’s when the fat will hit the fan. So for now, I’m keeping myself busy listening to The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, which is a great podcast, and exploring other health-related podcasts. My wife and I just started reading Sugar Blues by William Dufty. I read it years ago and was pretty rattled by it, and for months I quit eating many forms of sugar. But I was younger and not nearly as interested in my health as I am now. Still, there are no guarantees. This is completely an experiment.
What You Can Expect From Me
I created this blog as a public journal and place to share my journey. I’m going to share what I’m doing, how I’m eating, new books, blogs, podcasts, videos and other information that I find interesting or motivational. I’m not only going to write about my successes, I’m also going to include what struggles I face along the way. I’m going to be in new territory and if this website is going to be helpful to anyone else, it must be rooted in complete honesty. That is my goal and what you can expect from me as I go forward in my journey.
I’m also going to include journal entries when I’m trying to figure things out, trying to understand new ideas or work out the logistics of establishing my new eating habits. This is going to be the place where I share it all.
So here it is…my story and how it all got started. If you follow my links and listen/watch/read all the material I encountered, I would love to hear from you. Please tell me your reaction to the material. Are you blown away like I was? Perhaps you’ve already quit sugar. How is it working out for you? I would love all the support I can get. I don’t expect that beating my addiction to sugar will be easy–quite the opposite. But now that I’ve been exposed to the “truth,” I can’t go back, so…wish me luck.
Link Timeline: (In the order that I encountered them)
- September 1, 2011: The interview that started it all, Why We Get Fat (Episode 823 with Gary Taubes) from The People’s Pharmacy, August 6, 2011.
- The next mind-blowing interview, Freedom From Sugar (Robert Lustig, MD) from The Kathleen Show, July 17, 2011.
- Started reading: Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes – Kindle version.
- Watched the eye-opening video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth presented by Dr. Robert Lustig.
- Listened to the following three podcasts: Gary Taubes Update With Preview Of ‘Why We Get Fat’ (Episode 401) from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, September 13, 2010.
- Gary Taubes Responds To His Critics (Episode 439-Part 1) from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, January 27, 2011.
- Gary Taubes Answers Listener Questions (Episode 439-Part 2) from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore, January 28, 2011.
- September 20, 2011: Started reading, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Revised Edition by Robert C. Atkins – Kindle version.