With soaring levels of “bad” cholesterol, Phil decided it was time to quit sugar and take back control of his health. Over one year on and he says he’s in the best shape of his life. Here’s how he did it.
Phil Andrews, 70, had long been dealing with high cholesterol and poor dietary habits. But it was just over a year ago that the retired accountant got his annual blood test, the findings of which sent him springing into action.
“My cholesterol levels were 6.6, and though high cholesterol wasn’t exactly a new issue for me, I didn’t like that number,” Phil said. “I was told that heart disease was just around the corner if I continued as I had been living for years.”
Phil had a history of overindulging on the sweet stuff – from chocolates and ice cream to his favourite mint slices, he made a habit of frequently snacking in front of the TV. And he’s not the only one – on average we’re eating up to 17 teaspoons of added sugars a day, with research from the CSIRO revealing we’re consuming 5 serves of unnecessary snack foods a day, along with studies showing that every hour of television time makes us 18% more likely to snack on confectionery. One of the big consequences of consuming added sugars and trans fats in excess is, of course, high LDL cholesterol – this is the “bad” kind. Contrary to popular belief that animal fat alone is to blame, sugar happens to be a major contributor which often flies under the radar, with studies showing this stuff causes our livers to produce higher levels of bad cholesterol, along with raising our triglyceride levels – these are the fats stored in our blood which increase our risk for heart disease.
Phil knows this well – and it’s why he made a drastic lifestyle change after advice from his doctor.
“It was my GP who first recommended I stop eating all the junk food, and he didn’t mince his words about the trouble I was in,” Phil said.
“That was a bit of a shock for me that pushed me into doing something, but the trouble was, I’m an all or nothing kind of guy when it comes to junk food. I can’t stop at just one bit of chocolate, so I had to cut it all out.”
Phil was used to starting his mornings with fried bacon and store-bought muffins – a rather particular palate – so transforming his entire meal plan proved challenging. While he aimed to decrease animal fats like bacon and butter, he still enjoyed yoghurt – and it’s worth noting that fat isn’t always the enemy. Yoghurt, like many other sources of healthy fats, are not only safe for your cholesterol levels, but they may even increase your “good” cholesterol, along with providing satiety and digestive benefits. Research shows that the probiotic content of yoghurt could be responsible for its LDL-lowering properties – just make sure you opt for the plain, sugar-free varieties! Check out our myth-busting article on cholesterol HERE to read all about some of the common misconceptions that continue to crop up.
Over a year on, Phil has maintained his added sugar-free lifestyle – but it didn’t come without its challenges. Like many who quit sugar, Phil had to wade through a host of distressing side effects.
“It was pretty rough going for a week, I could hardly stay awake,” he said, “And the irritability is probably the thing my wife was most fed up with, I was very snappy and short with everyone around me, and it made me realise how much I relied on junk food to make me feel better.”
Irritability is a common side effect that comes with ditching the sweet stuff – and it’s not the only symptom. There are a number of mental and physical signs that your body is adjusting to the change, not limited to the following:
- Mood swings
- Intense cravings
- Aches and pains
But after climbing over the hill of withdrawal symptoms and sticking to a minimally-processed, added-sugar free diet, Phil started to notice a significant difference in his levels of LDL cholesterol.
“I was looking at having to go on medication to control my cholesterol levels at the time, which I wasn’t keen on,” he said. “But my latest blood test has put me of the danger zone.”
The retiree found that he had a lot more energy for his daily activities and wasn’t struggling as much with indigestion – and he’s not the only one. Ditching sugar can lead to a range of benefits, from improving gut health to brain health. You might find you experience some of the following:
- Greater mental clarity
- Better skin and hair health
- Reduced risk for heart, liver and kidney disease
- Improved mental health
- Regular bowel movements
- Weight loss
- Improved lymphatic flow
Phil is one of the many individuals who came out on the other side of quitting sugar with a host of fringe benefits – but there was one in particular that surprised him.
“I noticed my clothes were fitting a lot baggier on me and when I checked the scales, sure enough I was a lot lighter,” he said. “A year and 2 months after changing my diet, I’m down 9 kilos.”
Phil’s advice to others struggling with sugar addiction and the host of maladies that come with it is to take the plunge.
“Just start, take the first step. If you mess up, start again and again until it sticks.”
Keen to quit sugar and reap the benefits like Phil has? Whether you’re looking to improve your physical or mental health, lose weight or combat a stubborn sugar addiction, we’re here to help. It can be intimidating facing down our habits alone, but you don’t have to do it on your own – with a team of experts and fellow quitting-sugar warriors rallying around you, you’ll have all the tools and techniques you could need at your disposal on the 8-Week Program.
When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
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