Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: In Which I Say Goodbye to Sugar… Forever

May 23, 2015

If you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while, you’ll know that I:

a) have a major sweet tooth

b) have a lot of food allergies, both anaphylactic and digestive.

The list includes gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, legumes, and a random handful of fruits and vegetables, so in the ten years since I was was diagnosed, I’ve given up most processed foods and gotten awfully good at creative substitutions. As evidenced by coconut milk ice cream and pumpkin orange cake.

Despite these fairly drastic dietary changes, though, I haven’t been getting better. I still have chronic fatigue and pain and mysterious digestive symptoms which suggested something else was going on. Which is why I found a naturopath who specializes in dietary issues and had a new test done – the Carroll Food Intolerance Test. Unlike previous tests, which checked to see if my immune system was reacting to foods I was eating, this one checks to see whether my body makes the enzymes needed to break down those foods in the first place. The thinking is that, without the proper enzymes, these foods are essentially toxins. They cause inflammation in the digestive system, leading to “leaky gut.” With leaky gut, stuff gets into your blood stream that shouldn’t be there, causing the cascade of allergic reactions.

As it turns out, I was born without two critical enzymes. The first is for digesting dairy proteins, which is not too surprising, since my mom told me once that even as a baby, milk made me sick. The second was for… you guessed it… sugar.

*cue the sound of crying angels*

This is good news and bad news. On the good side:

1) We’ve identified a puzzle piece we didn’t have before

2) We’re only talking about refined sugars, from sugar cane, sugar beets, and corn. Honey, agave, maple, coconut, and fruit sugars are totally OK.

3) If I totally cut dairy and sugar from my diet, my body should heal to the point where I can start eating a lot of those other foods again, making life a whole lot easier.

4) Diabetes runs in my family, so yay for preventative medicine.

On the bad side, as I discovered when I read the labels all over again, nearly every packaged food remaining in my house contains refined sugar.

I wasn’t shocked by the chocolate or the, well, baking sugars (of course sugar contains sugar, just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups may contain nuts). But spice blends? Tortilla chips? Vegetable broth? For the love of all that’s holy, why would sugar be added to broth? Or BACON?

And here’s the kicker – because of the extensive list of allergens I’ve already been avoiding, there were very few packaged foods in my house to begin with. Can you imagine how much sugar is lurking in the pantries of the average, non-allergy-ridden household? I suddenly have a whole new appreciation for the recent documentary Fed Up.

Over the next couple of weeks, Tech Support and I will be donating, trashing, and otherwise purging the sugar from our house. I anticipate much grocery store and online research for alternatives – I cannot live without chocolate or dill-flavoured popcorn salt, which contains both dairy and sugar – and much wailing and gnashing of teeth as I discover more favourite foods that are suddenly off the menu.

But if the total annihilation of dietary dairy and sugar helps – if my health improves and I can start eating beans and pineapple and broccoli again – it will be worth it.


Has anyone else had to give up a beloved food or ingredient? Anyone else going sugar free? I would greatly appreciate recommendations for safe products, helpful websites, or other resources as I navigate this new food minefield – please share in the comments!



13 Comments on ‘Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: In Which I Say Goodbye to Sugar… Forever’

  1. I feel bad liking this post when it means so much loss for you! I know I used to take food enzymes, because I had trouble digesting some foods, but as I’ve aged, it has mattered less. The one food I can’t eat is beans. I also take probiotics and am doing so much better. If i had to give up sugar, I’d be singing, “I won’t last a day without you…” Big hugs, but yeah, if you feel better. Worth it. 🙁

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    1. It’s going to be a challenge. I keep remembering beloved foods and getting cranky over having to give them up. I hear it gets easier, though! Glad to hear you’re doing better!

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  2. A few years ago I was eating a few fruits and broth because everything hurt my stomach. Had the intolerance test too. I found out all dairy — whey, casein, goat — is off my list of foods. Plus a few others I am sensitive too but can have in limited amounts — bananas, asparagus, cranberries. Almonds are the only nuts I can’t eat raw. I presoak them or have without the skins. Still I wasn’t 100% so I cut our sugar and went on the Fast Metabolism Diet (Haylie Pomroy) using the cookbook to help make meals. I also lost weight, cleared up my skin, had more energy and feel 100% again.

    I use stevia, xylitol, raw honey and coconut sugar. I won’t touch agave as I believe it isn’t healthy or much better than corn syrup. Maple syrup can spike blood sugar levels too so I don’t use it either or brown rice syrup.

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    1. Clear skin and more energy would be amazing. More reasons to stick with it. Thanks for the tips on alternative sugars!

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  3. Oh, I am SO SORRY. Love Nugget, a.k.a. Kidlet Number Two, used to be allergic to cane sugar and a host of other things, and it was tough. Can you have almonds? Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is GREAT.

    Hang in there. Call me if you ever have urgent questions and I’ll try to help. HUGS!

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    1. No almonds right now, but they may be a food I’m able to get back. The possibility of getting foods back is how I motivate myself to stick with it!

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  4. Hello,

    I cannot have the combo of fruit and sugar according to the Carroll test. Is coconut sugar considered sugar in this context?


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    1. Hi Alex – coconut sugar is a recommended alternative to brown sugar. It’s really expensive but it tastes good!

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      1. Thanks for replying.
        So, coconut sugar is clasified as fruit, rather than sugar according to the Carroll test? And people who cannot have the fruit and sugar combo, can have fruit and coconut sugar together in the same meal?

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        1. That is more than I know, I’m afraid! I’d recommend checking with the naturopath who administered your test. Good luck.

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