Halfway Home

Casey Warrener
16 November, 2015

I’ve been sugar-free for a total of two weeks, and things are going surprisingly well. Ahead are the smug highs, frustrating lows, and shameful confessions of my sugar-free experience to date.

The Upside

  • It turns out that eating on a needs basis = higher productivity. Because I'm no longer procrasti-treating.
  • Consuming larger, more nutritious mains (rather than using minuscule meals as a way of justifying dessert).
  • For the most part, I've been sleeping soundly and thinking clearly.
  • Saving $$ I would've spent on snacks (then blowing it on tahini).
  • Drinking tonnes of water. During race week when wine was the drink du jour, I was on the bubbly waters. I've never been so hydrated.
  • Cooking much, much more. (I’ve shared notes on Cooked recipes I’ve tried in the past fortnight further along.)

The Downside

  • In the first three days I ate a whole jar of tahini. I kid you not.
  • Eating out is hard. You look like a weirdo checking the ingredients list of every nibble at your mate's place. And you feel ridiculously high-maintenance asking wait staff for a sugar-free reading of the menu. What a drag, man (is what you're sure everyone is thinking).
  • Booze is a grey area (does it count if sugar has turned into alcohol? Is fermented sugar fine?).
  • Those closest to me are acting like I've sucked the fun out of their lives, because I can't share in the enjoyment of bakery goods, gelato scoops, dipping sauces and general deliciousness. Basically, I’m at threat of becoming a social pariah.


  • I sent my boyfriend off with a carefully mapped out shopping list, yet he managed to come home with vanilla Greek yoghurt rather than the regular stuff. In a low (blood-sugar) moment, I downed a spoonful or two… or three. I thought to myself, it's probably not that bad, right? It's still Greek yoghurt – just with vanilla. WRONG. After the fact I looked at the nutrition label, and that creamy, pot-set sweetness has a whopping 25 grams of sugar per serve. Whoops. 
  • I may have had a couple of sips of bubbly (not water) along the way.

What I've Cooked

  • Dale Pinnock’s Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry. This was a little watery for my liking. I’d slash the amount of stock or simmer longer to reduce.
  • David Frenkiel’s Broccoli Salad with Pomegranate and Raisins. I tweaked this until it was near unrecognisable, but it tasted damn good. Instead of using yoghurt for the dressing I went with my beloved tahini, a dash of coconut nectar and a clove of garlic. I also lightly roasted the broccoli rather than going raw. And no raisins were added, so you can calm right down. And finally, I added a pile of pan-fried almond flakes to serve.
  • Dale Pinnock’s Baked Sweet Potatoes. I made a version of this recipe with a butter bean and pesto filling. It was a simple, delicious, comforting dish, which tricked my mind into feeling like I’d imbibed a creamy bowl of pasta (although there wasn’t a thread of spaghetti in it). This is a weeknight winner, for sure.

Finishing Line Goals

Over the next two weeks I’ll be cooking recipes from a broader selection of chefs, and trying out a no-sugar-added sweet dish. Because those cravings are starting to kick in, and I’m longing for more options. Check out the sugar-free dessert recipes below for some ‘naughty but nice’ inspiration.

Desserts, naturally

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