Fully Sugar-Free & Low Carb 2 Years On

rmr-newsletter-picArticle printed in the Real Meal Revolution newsletter 25 Oct 2016.

18 Oct 2016

It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago today, I made a lifestyle change that .. well .. changed my life. I no longer make new year resolutions, I don’t need ‘health to do’ lists and no more birthday goal-setting. You see it’s my Banting anniversary and today I just want to look back on where this low carb journey has taken me.

For so much of my life, I tried to control my sugar consumption (chocolate-eating in particular) and, for the past decade, I’ve also been dealing with the grief of the sudden death of my partner and loss of other close family members soon after. Unable to continue my career, I stepped away from education and set up my own artisan chocolate company, turning a hobby into a business. I began by making, selling (and eating too many) hand-crafted, highly decorated Belgian chocolates. After building up a business as an artisan producer of fine chocolate as well as opening a luxury retreat on my property, one day I heard a radio interview with Sarah Wilson (from ‘I Quit Sugar’) and was reminded of the benefits of going sugar-free. I’d heard it before of course, but that day I decided to experiment by cutting out all added and hidden sugars for just one month. That was in 2012 and the effect was so profound that I spent the next year developing new chocolate products that were sweetened with a ‘healthier’ alternative to sucrose, building up a niche market amongst people with fructose-intolerance or who just wanted to avoid regular sugar. Then I discovered LCHF in Oct 2014 and did the first Beginner Banting course. And soon after, I did the Sugar Free Revolution course and excluded any form of artificial or alternative sweeteners from my diet. Hmm. What now? A chocolate-maker who ate neither chocolate nor any sugar substitutes.

Abstinence from all chocolate or any form of sweetener is the only thing that enables me to overcome my sugar addiction. Once I discovered LCHF, selling chocolate felt like a personal conflict of interest. As much as my friends tried to reassure me that my business served a small market and that consumers had the freedom of choice, I felt that my ethics were being challenged. I had been passionate about making chocolate, but now I was even more passionate about being low carb and fully sugar-free. So in 2015, I stopped making chocolate and this year (2016), I closed my company.

My first 18 months of being low carb involved a fair bit of tracking – keeping an accurate food diary using the Meal Tracker and a phone app (Easy Diet Diary) to keep my macros in check. This year, I also started tracking ketones (using meters to test both blood and breath), almost always keeping within the range of nutritional ketosis. Although I was initially concerned with achieving then maintaining my target weight, the longer I’ve been on the low carb journey, the more my focus has shifted away from weight loss and on to overall health and well-being.

There are many great things about my current health that I can put down to a low carb, ketogenic lifestyle. Rather than listing the positives, it’s perhaps easier to identify the things I no longer suffer with: food cravings, constant hunger, excess weight, gum disease, joint aches, low energy, depression. My first year of Banting was characterised by sheer excitement. Excitement over the discovery of a lifestyle that worked for me and so many other people, excitement reading and understanding the science behind low carb and ketogenic diets, excitement over the many people I could help by telling them (incessantly) about what I’d discovered. This year, I completed the course to become a Certified Banting Coach.

It’s taken this past Banting year for me to naturally settle into more regular intermittent fasting and to experiment with some longer fasts. My passion for taking food back to its origins has continued by growing some of my own vegetables, making fermented foods (sauerkraut, Kombucha tea and yoghurt) and, most recently, curing my own bacon. This past year, I have also returned to a high level of physical activity without really setting out to do so. I have returned to the sport I played throughout my adolescence (table tennis) and have also returned to the gym to do body-building. I now feel in better health and general condition – leaner and stronger – than I have for decades. I’ve discovered that muscle gain is absolutely possible on a low carb ketogenic diet (something that’s often questioned by Banting-skeptics) and that LCHF is a totally sustainable lifestyle for me.

My pet hate is food porn – particularly on low carb sites. My favourite saying in response to excited messages about low carb donuts, cup cakes or swiss rolls is to suggest that people apply the Duck Test: if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. I’m all for nutrient-dense real food. I want anything I eat to be highly nutritious and not something that will wake up my sweet-tooth.

Over the past year, I have continued my personal research into LCHF, forged new relationships with low carb professionals and advocates, and made friends with other passionate low carbers in Australia and around the world. I’ve begun work on getting this message out to the Deaf community, the cultural and linguistic minority with whom I’ve worked for more than 30 years. Over the past year, we’ve held the first of what I hope will be more community events to let deaf people know about LCHF, I’ve subtitled the entire Beginner Banting course of videos for RMR and I’m almost ready to re-launch my website as a blog. I have plans to develop more video material that is accessible to the deaf in their first language and have the support of deaf friends who, I hope, will become the future leaders in LCHF amongst their community.

I’m learning to plant the seed of interest amongst friends and strangers whilst respecting that everyone has their own journey. I’m less tolerant, however, of professionals I meet who continue to ignore the scientific basis for LCHF to reverse type 2 diabetes, resolve obesity and restore health in so many ways. I work as a professional interpreter for the deaf and am witness to the traditional advice given to deaf people by most doctors and dieticians who see diabetes as a chronic, degenerative disease whilst assisting deaf friends to reverse their diabetes and resolve obesity with LCHF. I am following with interest the battle by low carb advocates who are up against the status quo in health care and the vested interests of big business (including the food, medical and pharmaceutical industries).

I am still so thankful that I stumbled across the work of Prof Tim Noakes and the Real Meal Revolution while trawling the web for answers two years ago today.

Wishing you every success with your own journeys.