My story

Hi, I’m Anne, author of Totally Sugar Free.

For most of my life, I ate the standard North American diet, including lots of treats to satisfy my sweet tooth. As children growing up in rural British Columbia, Canada, my sister and I would ride 5 hilly miles on our bikes to our little country store, lured by Twizzlers and M & Ms.

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That’s me looking longingly at the cake – it’s a sugar addict’s dream!

As a teenager, I learned how to bake, turning out cookies and cakes for my family (and eating plenty of them myself, including the raw batter).

At boarding school, the corner store was closer — just across the road — and it was more than happy to cater to a captive crowd of adolescents craving Snickers and toffee and cookies and Mars bars.

I ate them all, plus the stodgy desserts at the school: pancakes smothered in raspberry jam, sweet fruit crumbles, treacle tart, plus ice cream four times a week.  I developed horrendous, confidence-crushing acne, but nobody, including me, made the connection between my skin and how I ate.

I was lucky, though, because slenderness seems to run in my family. When my sisters and I are stressed, our appetites shut down. I had always been a string bean, and I stayed naturally slender throughout my 20s.

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Still skinny…

In my 30s, though, things changed. I still suffered from breakouts, and suddenly, it seemed, I was 20 pounds overweight as well.

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Starting to get a bit pudgy!

“Let’s not ever get overweight,” said my new husband, trying to be tactful, but it was too late. Throughout my thirties, I was puffy, tired, anxious, and a slave to sugar cravings. I tried running and eating a “healthy” diet (low fat and lots of whole grains), but nothing changed.

I developed borderline high blood pressure, and, when I became pregnant with our son, gestational diabetes. And after he was born, I couldn’t seem to shake the baby weight — I was now carrying extra 40 pounds.

Dressing in black didn’t hide the “baby weight” (and the baby was now 3 years old)

Eventually, I stumbled on low-carb  Paleo (“caveman”) eating. For me, this was a game-changer. I lost weight without hunger, my blood pressure normalized, and I was full of energy.

But despite my new, healthier diet, I still craved sweets and binged on them a few times a month — honey, maple syrup, “real” sugar — whatever was around. There was always a way to rationalize it, and “just one” was always a lie.

My binges were usually in secret, and once I started eating the sweet temptation of the day, it was hard to stop. The next day, I’d experience puffiness, acne breakouts, fatigue, and shame over my lack of self-control.

My dear mother, who died in 2010, struggled with alcoholism from my teen years onward. In the tiniest way, my sugar addiction helped me glimpse a fraction of the demons she had battled. I’m hugely grateful that my addiction is only to sugar.

In 2015, I tried the Whole 30 program, which prohibits all added sweeteners. I felt healthy and in control, and saw positive changes in my skin and general health. The only problem was, it lasts for just 30 days, and on Day 31, there I was, right back on the sugar train.

For most of 2016, I tried avoiding sugar for all except a few “treat” meals each month. This sort of worked, because whenever I felt deprived, I could look forward to my next cheat meal. I came to realize, though, that the only problem with cheat meals is that your cravings are constantly being re-triggered. So, you never stop feeling deprived, and you never stop craving.

Finally, over Christmas 2016, a houseguest cancelled and I had an unexpected stretch of deliciously empty days, with time and space to think deeply. I realized I was tired of being controlled by sugar cravings, tired of constantly doing something I regretted, tired of feeling puffy and having breakouts.

“What if I gave up all added sweeteners — not just sugar — for an entire year?” I thought. Would that even be possible? Was I strong enough to do it? I decided the only way to find out was to go for it.

Initially I wrote about it on my other site, Kickass Aging, but as time passed, there was so much interest in my sugar-free-ness that I decided it warranted a separate site. And so, Totally Sugar Free was born.

By giving up all added sweeteners, I want to shine a light on how embedded sugar is in our culture, conquer my own personal addiction, and most importantly, inspire you to give up sugar too.

On Totally Sugar Free, I’ll feature

  • Delicious sugar-free recipes
  • Information on the health effects of sugar
  • Tips and strategies for breaking free of sugar
  • Your success stories
  • Answers to your questions

So, keep in touch in the comments or via the contact page and let me know what you’d like to see!

PS – about me:

  • I live in northern British Columbia, Canada
  • I’m passionate about Paleo diets, low-carb diets, fitness and health in general, and of course, avoiding sugar
  • I’m married to the inspiring and supportive Andrew Watkinson, who has also accomplished amazing things and turned his own health around
  • I’m a proud mom to Sam Watkinson