Week 2 of IQS is another “cutting down” rather than “cutting out” week, and is billed as Operating Eat Fat. The idea is that whenever we would eat sugar, eat protein and fat instead. This apparently will curb physical cravings, and take care of any mental or emotional need for a “treat”. This, to be honest, isn’t too difficult for me, as I’m quite happy to snack on nut butter, cheese and cherry tomatoes, cold meat, that sort of thing. The book refers to cravings for “treats” as part of sugar addiction. That I’m not so sure about (although I am more than willing to be proved wrong later on down the line). There must surely be a danger of simply substituting one kind of treat for another, particularly if you have a deeply emotional relationship to food. Ideally I want to get out of that “treat” mentality altogether.
On the subject of fats and particularly nut butter, now is the time to plug Pip & Nut:
I only discovered them relatively recently, but they are without a doubt the best nut butters I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten a lot in my life). There’s basically nothing added and they just taste perfectly, well, nutty. P&N also do some awesome flavours like maple crunchy peanut butter and honey cinnamon cashew butter, but neither of those are particularly suitable to eat when trying to cut down on sugar. Also, I could just go at the latter with a spoon and that would not end well.
I added some P&N almond butter to this smoothie from the IQS book:
The ingredients are Weetabix, unsweetened almond milk, almond butter and frozen raspberries (the recipe called for strawberries, but I had some raspberries to use up). It tastes exactly as you would think, based on the ingredients. In an absolutely ideal world it’d be sweetened up a bit, and the recipe did include an option to do that, but it was tasty enough as is, and adding unnecessary sweetness during this cutting down phase probably isn’t the best idea.
In the spirit of cutting down rather than cutting out, I’ve invested in some rice malt syrup, which the IQS book recommends as an alternative sweetener, to be used in moderation, once a bit of sweetness is reintroduced after the three week cutting out period.
This was the optional sweetener included in the above smoothie recipe. I’d read a fair few comments about this being pretty tasteless, but personally I think it’s quite delicious. It’s got a nice subtle, malty flavour, and is less tooth-dissolvingly sweet than something like maple syrup.
I’ve also been adapting some of my regular recipes to cut out sugar or to bulk them out to make them a bit more filling (with a view to reducing the need for dessert!). I make a simple katsu curry, for example, which uses a dessert spoon of sugar in the sauce (that’s between two people). A few days ago, I made it and just left out the sugar. To me, it tasted no different, and my husband (who has a sometimes annoyingly precise palate) said that if he hadn’t known I’d taken the sugar out, he wouldn’t have been able to taste the difference either. On the subject of curries, my go-to base for a curry sauce was onions and garam masala, fried in a little oil and then blitzed in the Nutribullet. I tried adding some cashew nuts at the frying stage and am frankly annoyed that I didn’t think of doing that a long time ago.
As well as adding the awesome taste of cashew nuts, this also thickens the eventual sauce really well.
With all these changes and tweaks, the real question is whether I’ve seen any benefits. A week is really too short a time to tell whether cutting down sugar is having a positive effect in terms of stabilizing my moods and emotions. The past week has been pretty good in that respect, and I do think I’ve been sleeping better, but that could of course be a coincidence. So, the experiment continues…