Until the age of 45, Netta had always eaten "normally"... that is, 3 meals a day, sometimes a snack or two, and treats. She was a self-identified sweet tooth. Not a day went by without her eating chocolate, cookies, or some kind of sweet dessert. And she didn't have a problem with that. She was lucky in that she didn't have a weight problem. But weight isn't the only sign of health. From her early thirties, Netta had been suffering from very slow digestion, with bloating and pain, as well as infertility issues, depression, anxiety, mood swings, achy joints, and signs of a fatty liver. In July 2015, after months of resisting the idea, Netta tried the unthinkable: she cut out sugar, sweeteners, and flour for a period of two weeks - no more!
But after only a few days she started feeling so much more energetic! Within a few weeks, her extra weight and cravings disappeared, as well as her cellulite, PMS, and frequent headaches. She had better concentration and mental clarity, better digestion, less joint stiffness, less swelling (no more inflammation), clearer, more glowing skin, and her moods stabilized.
Intermittent fasting came naturally as a result of appetite correction a few months after she cut sugar. Now she eats once or twice a day, is never bothered with cravings or the need to snack, and enjoys her food like never before.
Netta now enjoys a more healthy relationship with food because she sees it as a delicious and fun way to nourish herself, not as a calculation of macros and calories. She also has better self-esteem (because she feels and looks so great!). And it's been almost 7 years!
Netta also learned how to make her own probiotic (fermented) foods and drinks as a delicious way to look after her gut health. She makes her own yogurt, kefir, kombucha and lacto-fermented sauerkraut and kimchi.
Netta has an online private community (the After Sugar Club), a website, a YouTube channel, and a podcast called Life After Sugar. In her community, Netta gives personal guidance based on her 7 years of living happily sugar-free. She teaches small but powerful mindset shifts to make your intermittent fasting lifestyle easy, natural, and sustainable so that you can feel healthier with more energy and confidence... and less sugar!
In this episode, we break down how to make the transition to living sugar-free, how intermittent fasting plays a key role in long-term success, and just how important it is to find community when starting and maintaining your sugar-free journey.
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Welcome to the Sugar Solved podcast where we're demystifying health one gram of sugar at a time. From eliminating excess sugar to cutting back on carbs, diving into keto, or becoming a devout vegan, today's diet landscape can give you a sugar crash just thinking about it. Sugar Solve is here to demystify all the nutrition and health trends you're bombarded with on a daily basis, bringing you unbiased insight, research and real world experiences from experts in the field of medicine, nutrition, health and wellness. You'll gain knowledge and clarity around the biggest trends in health and nutrition and leave each week feeling empowered to make informed decisions in your own life to optimize your diet and personal wellness for longevity, long lasting energy immunity, improved focus and performance that will leave you feeling better day in and day out. The truth won't be sugar coated here. Welcome back to the Sugar Salt podcast. Today we'll be speaking with Neta Gorman, who is the founder and CEO of Life After Sugar and the Apter Sugar Podcast. She is going to dive into her experience of going completely sugar free and how intermittent fasting has really helped her health in so many ways, and how she used her personal experience to launch her own membership community to rally everyone to start going sugar free. Hi, Nana. Welcome to the Sugar Salt podcast. Can you give our listeners a little bit of background about yourself?
Yeah, Hi Thank you for having me, Rebecca. My name is Nita. You can hear that. I'm originally from the U.K., but I've actually been living in French speaking Quebec in Canada for the last 30 something years. And I teach English here. I have no background in anything to do with nutrition or science or health or anything like that. As I said, I'm an English teacher, and my story is that about seven years ago, in the summer of 2015, I'd been suffering really, really badly with really bad digestion for, oh, like 15 years or so. I was in my mid forties at the time. And I just was going to the bathroom like once a week. I'll spare you the details, but I was looking for anything to help make my digestion better, and I tried everything that the doctors had told me more fiber and it was just making things worse. And I was taking laxatives and making things worse. And in the end, I consulted a nutritional therapist in the States. We met up on Skype in the days where that was quite rare. And one of the things that she said to me was, How about for two weeks only trying to cut sugar, flour and sweetness, and to see whether that's going to help with other things that she also suggested, but to see if that would help my digestion. And I said, no, no, thank you, you're crazy. I mean, I could not see the connection between sugar and my digestion. And there was no way that I was going to stop eating sugar and chocolate. Just no way. So I said, no, and I resisted it for weeks, if not months. And the upshot was that nothing changed. Nothing got better. I carried on suffering until I said to myself, you know, get over yourself and give it a try. So I did. In the end, at the end of that summer, 2015, end of July, when I got home because I was away for the summer, I said, I'll give it a try for two weeks. Long story short, first week, you know, I had what they call detox symptoms for just a couple of days. But still, you know, I was out for the count for a couple of days.
And then the second week, I started feeling so much better, so much more energy, and so much more regular at the bathroom and and other things. Like, I wasn't getting the headaches I used to get and I. Was. Sort of jumping out of bed with my joints, feeling a. Lot less achy. And my spare tire was melting away. And this was just in the second week. And then I thought, I'll just carry on for just one more. Week. Even though it's a bit weird not. To eat sugar or. Sweet foods. And I carried on for another. Week and another week and. Another week. And basically, it's been almost seven years and I haven't looked back.
Wow. Yeah, it's hard when you if that's been your habits and your lifestyle for so long, you know, finding out that, hey, if you cut these out, you may find relief. But of course, we never want to really agree to that or do that because it's those are the foods that we love and stuff. So that's a big change.
Totally, totally. You know, and I didn't do it primarily for my weight because I've never really been that much overweight. I had about, I would say, £15 of. Extra baby. Weight because I'd had my child quite late in life. And honestly, it just melted away. I was amazed.
So what was your diet normally like? What did it really consist of and what were those first steps like? What did you start removing first? Was your and was your whole family involved? You know, sometimes it's hard when you're doing it alone. And let's say you're the one who's responsible for cooking meals and everything for everyone know. How did you take that into account?
Well, first. Of all, they didn't have the digestion problems that I did. So I didn't see why they would be eating or making the changes that I was. It wasn't their problem. Even though, yes, I am responsible for buying the food in my family and cooking the food. So I've been with my husband for 21 years. We have a 14 year old daughter and so I didn't for 1/2 expect them to change anything in their diet. I was just concentrating on my own well-being. And so basically I stopped. Because I thought it was going to. Be really. Transient. And just. For two weeks I did exactly what the. Nutritional therapist suggested and I cut all added sugars, even natural sugars, all sweet tasting foods, sweetness and flowers or refined grains. For. Those two weeks, which meant. That I. Had to completely change my. Breakfast and. Lunch and dinner to a lesser degree. But my breakfast was the biggest change because whereas I was. Always used. To eating toast. Or cereal or. Some sort of, I don't know. Pastry or. Something as part of my breakfast. Now that was literally off the table, and I was eating eggs and vegetables from my breakfast, which I found really weird. I was used to eating yogurt, like plain yogurt with stuff in it for my. Breakfast, but the. Stuff in it in the yogurt also had to. Change because I. Was used to putting maple syrup and jam and fruit. And so it required of me quite a lot of open-mindedness to change, especially to change my breakfast.
Did you start relying on sugar free alternative like stevia erythritol any of those? When you like that, say you have your cup of coffee and you need something, sweeten it. Did you switch that out with any of these sugar free alternatives?
No. I was already used to drinking coffee with no. Sweet additives. So that wasn't an issue for me. And because the nutritional therapist had said to me for my gut health and my digestion to keep away from those types of sweeteners, I did. And quite frankly, ever since. I've been. Sugar free the last seven years, I've never even tasted them or wanted to taste them. So it was really no loss on my part.
And usually when you go for when you start making those changes and it becomes that consistent lifestyle choice of a completely different diet, your taste buds change and then things that you wouldn't normally consider sweet end up being kind of sweet to you and your your entire just mouth and how you perceive so many things change.
Absolutely. And I would say I think I read somewhere that it only takes two weeks for your taste buds to regenerate. But you're right, you know, my tastes completely changed. And I consider that I was like the world's number one sweet tooth. People used to make. Desserts. When they knew I was coming over. They'd make extra or an. Extra two or. Three types of dessert just for me and my what I find the most amazing is not that I don't. Eat sugar. Anymore. There's plenty of us that don't eat sugar. What I still find amazing after all these. Years is that. I don't like the taste of sweetness. Anymore. And that my taste has gone 180 degrees from it can never be sweet enough for Neta. To. Take that sweet stuff away from me. It tastes. Awful. It's amazing.
I know that you're also a pretty big proponent on intermittent fasting, so can you tell me how that's worked into your lifestyle now?
Yeah, well, I have to be honest with you, I never heard the expression intermittent fasting until about two or three years ago. And what I found when I cut sugar, flour and. All these foods. That had been spiking my blood sugar and spiking my insulin, what I found was that over time I was just not feeling hungry as. Often. So whereas I'd been eating three, four or five, six times a day and always feeling like I was starving and I had to eat. Now. Over the. Weeks where I. Wasn't eating these sugary and starchy foods, it got to. A point where I got to lunch time and I was like. Ugh, I don't want to eat. Or, you know, got to so-called snack time. And I was like, Oh, I don't want my snack anymore. And I thought, What's going on? And then of course, I started reading up on it. And then way, way after that, again, a couple of years after I came. Across Jim. Steven's books and Jason fans books about fasting, and. I thought, Oh, well. It's got a name, and I've been doing it for the last four or five years, and I didn't even know it was. A thing. And so it wasn't like I learned about fasting and then I read up about it, and then I started doing it. It was the other way around. It's like intermittent fasting found me.
And those foods, those changes. So when you have, like a higher protein or higher fats, like they're more satisfying. You're not spiking your blood sugar with carb heavy foods. And have you ever worn a CGM, a continuous glucose monitor to see the different levels of your glucose levels or monitor them in any way?
Yes, I have, actually. And I mean, I'm not supposed to have one of those things because I'm certainly not diabetic, never have been and certainly am not now. But a friend of mine lent me hers. I don't if I'm allowed to say that publicly. Keep her anonymous. And yes, it was I had it on me. For. A month. One of those things. You sort of punch into your upper arm. And I took my readings for a whole month and it was the most boring. Month for the readings ever because. My blood sugar level doesn't do. Anything. So I know in the States we don't and in Canada we don't have the same values. But here in Canada, you know, you're considered to be in the norm around five. Ish, anywhere. Between. Four and six. And for me, I was in the fours and sometimes in the. Threes, which is considered hypo. Although I was feeling perfectly fine because of. Course the the. Limits that they. Give for normal. Blood sugar readings is got nothing to do with someone. Who doesn't eat the foods that spike your blood sugar. And when I did. Eat. Oh, it probably went up to something around five. Which is supposed. To be. Normal for. Most people for fasting, blood. Sugar. So basically it was very, very. Small, you know, dips. And bumps, but certainly no spikes.
So did you make any changes also like during all these changes to your diet, did you make any fitness changes or like how did all this affect your sleep? Like, were you did you find like more clarity and focus? Were you able to sleep better? How did your fitness routine change to.
All right. So for the sleep, I've always been a good sleeper, but now it's like my sleep regimen now is I go to bed when I'm tired, which I sort of have to force myself to go to bed at around 11. And I go to. Bed. I sleep. And then the next morning at. Six. 630, I wake. Up. And that's. The extent. Of. That. I just go to bed and sleep all night, you know, it's wonderful. And I wake up refreshed and I never wake up during the night. And as for my fitness routine, it consists of going up and down stairs with baskets of laundry. And. Walking around the grocery store, and that's pretty much it. I'm pretty. Lazy and I sit in. Front of the computer way too many hours because, you know, I was teaching online when COVID hit and I started my online business as well just before COVID. So I'm sitting down more than I should be, but that has absolutely no. Bearing on my weight.
Yeah, they always say that nutrition is always the most important thing, and once you can kind of nail that, I mean, the fitness is just kind of there for like the extra just for good cardiovascular health and just longevity in general. But it definitely isn't. It doesn't necessarily have to be the tool for like weight loss or anything like that, right?
Well, it's certainly true for me. And, you know, I'm the first to raise my hand to say that I should be moving around. More. But for my mental health and my physical suppleness more than my weight for sure.
Now, I also see that you're really into fermented foods and drinks, and obviously that probiotics and probiotics play such a large role in our gut health and just maintaining that healthy microbiome. So if you could explain to us, you know, what are fermented foods? You know, how can people start including these in our diet? Why are they so important?
Yes. Well, you know, as I said at the beginning, it was because I had all this. These. Troubles with my digestion that. I. Got into fermented foods. Now, my brother had been making them for years, and I thought he was completely weird. And then all of a sudden I come to see him with my tail between my legs and said, Can you teach me how to make them? And the first thing is I started to make. Yoghurt. And I use a metaphysic yogurt culture, which metaphysic just means that it ferments at room temperature so you don't have to bother with heating the milk and using a yogurt maker. It's called a village culture. This massive phallic culture that I use, which is heirloom which. Means you can reuse it. I just mixed that with some cream, 10% cream. And leave it at. Room temperature to ferment for 24 hours. And then I have yogurt. That's it. It takes me 10 seconds, and I make my own kombucha, which most people, I think, ferment for like ten days or two weeks. So I let mine ferment for like four weeks. Otherwise, it tastes too sweet for me. So there's no residual sugar or very, very little because, you know, kombucha is made with. Tea that is sweetened. With. Sugar. People freak out when they realize that I drink kombucha and they're like, but not you said your sugar free. And I'm like, Yeah, but I don't eat the. Sugar, the good. Bacteria, the sugar for me. There's none left when it becomes kombucha. So when you understand the fermenting. Process, you know that. Any type of sugar. Be it actual sugar for the. Kombucha. Or the lactose in milk or cream or. The carbs in vegetables that you ferment, that all goes way, way down with fermentation. And I only started fermenting. The. Kombucha and the yogurt and the milk kefir and my kimchi and sauerkraut and fermented veggies. I only started doing all that because of my digestion, and in the end I realized, oh, well, it's also reducing all the types of sugars as well.
Yeah. And sometimes it could just be scary to start doing it at home to like doing your first fermentation or something because people are scared they're going to mess it up. You know, sometimes, yeah, there are mishaps and it gets moldy or something like that. The conditions aren't right, but making these things yourself is definitely the more affordable options because sometimes when you walk into the grocery store, I mean you be spending like $8 on a small thing of like kimchi or something, and a lot of people get turned off that way.
Yeah, absolutely. Yes. I mean, it's got a learning curve to it, just like anything else. And, you know, because I'm a teacher and I teach languages, I just liken it to learning a language. You know, you're not very good at the beginning. You'll make. Mistakes. But then gradually, if you keep on practicing, you'll get fluent at making fermented foods and drinks.
So you're so comfortable with this new lifestyle, but how do you manage different social occasions and going out to eat or dealing with family members and a lot of people? Obviously, it's not an easy lifestyle to maintain in the general public. You know, a lot of people would be like, wow, you're crazy that you cut out all the sugar, all these carbs. So what do you tell people and how do you navigate social situations?
Well, luckily for me, you know, this all started in my mid forties and I'm 52 now and you know, at my age I'm less concerned with what other people think of me or say to me I've got enough sort of self confidence just because of my age, I guess, to kind of turn it around and to make it into a positive thing. So to tell you, if people come up to me and say, Well, why do you do this? And I'm like, Well, look how great I feel. And look at my smile. Look how great I look. With all due. Modesty, this. Is why I do it, because I just feel so great. And before, you know, I used to be bloated and have cramps and be constipated for days on end, you know, I don't want to go back there. And so people who. Love me, my family and and even I would venture to say, you know, my and my friends, obviously, but also my colleagues at my college where I teach, they don't want me to feel. Awful. They're quite happy when I tell them how great I feel. And that sort of stares the conversation. Away. From, Oh, you're so weird why you're not eating this food and why are. You, you. Know, preventing yourself from having fun in life. It stares everything away from those kinds of I guess in psychology, they call that projection to my reality, which is I'm doing it because I feel great. And more than. That. I believe I deserve to feel great. We can't really argue with that.
Yeah, definitely. Now, I'm curious, can you walk us through a typical day of, like, eating for you? So, you know, from waking up to going to bed, what does your typical day look like?
All right. So I'm at a point where I'm a pretty intuitive eater. Slash faster. So I don't have, like, a set routine. So some mornings. I. Will just have some coffee. And if I'm doing a clean fast, then it would be black coffee. But otherwise, if I'm eating something along with my coffee and I'll put cream in it and then I'll eat my yogurt that I was telling you about and I'll put in some nuts or some nut butter and I put in. Some. Maybe some. Black cocoa or a little bit. Of cocoa powder, or I'll put in some a few berries if I feel like it or if I have any in the house. And I'll eat. That for breakfast. With my family. Otherwise I'll just sit with them and have my coffee, my black coffee. If I'm not hungry in the morning, then I'll eat whenever I am hungry like this morning. So now it's almost 12:30 p.m. my time. Still not hungry, still haven't eaten and I'll eat whenever I do get hungry. Sometimes it can be, you know, right after our call. Sometimes it can be 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. whenever I don't have a set routine. And I'm very good now at listening to my hunger. Because well, because I don't get hungry. When I start thinking about, oh, it would be nice to eat something. That. Is about how pressing it. Gets as a hunger. Signal. And that's when I eat. So I can usually it's. To a good. Protein, an omnivore. So I'll have. Either meat or fish or seafood very. Often. Meat. We have some local meat in our freezer as well. Some. Some venison, some lamb and. Vegetables with either butter or some kind of a cream. Based sauce that I like to. Make. And that will be my meal. And I tell you, I can eat. A. Good amount of. Food and again. It doesn't affect my weight at. All.
Wow, that's great that you've come so in tune with your body and you really know what it needs. That's great. Yeah. Yeah. Now I know that you are the owner or the founder of the After Sugar Club and Life After Sugar, so I would love to learn more about your community.
All right. Well, this is something that's very dear to my heart, because obviously, when this all started, when I started living sugar free, I had no intention. Of. Teaching it to anyone because I thought it was only going to last for two weeks. But as time went on and people started asking me, you know, now how do you do it? How can you. Live. Day in, day out being sugar free? And, you know, it can be a struggle for a lot of people. And I've lived the ups and downs myself over the last seven years. And because I'm a teacher, I sort of started to kind of. Build. Online videos and exercises and things like that. And teaching about how to live sugar free. So I turned this into a website, the after Sugar Club, it's after Sugar Club Dotcom. I turned it into a membership, a monthly private community. Called the After Sugar Club that people. Can sign up for. And we meet up twice a month on Zoom and I sort of walk them through the. Different. Stages that they're at. And we have a lovely, friendly community and I made my podcast as well, Life After Sugar, just over a year ago and beginning of 2021. And that took off. I think I'm up to 130 something thousand downloads. So it's hitting. A lot of nerves. It's becoming more and more popular for the message that I have about life after sugar, which is. It. Makes your intermittent fasting lifestyle a heck of a lot easier. I would say 99% of people who come to the after Sugar Club are also intermittent fasters. Who. Realize that sugar is stopping them from living an easy and natural intermittent fasting lifestyle. And they come to me to say, How do I like sugar? Is that the last frontier? How do I live not just without sugar, but. Joyfully without sugar? And so that is my message is it's not just a sugar free life. The operative word is free, and it's a joyful. And easy sugar free life.
Yeah. And it's always so much easier to go on these journeys when you have the community and the support behind it, because you can just relate to each other and learn from each other. It's great.
Yes, absolutely. And you know, people are quite happy to learn from someone like me who's actually been living a sugar free life for seven years. You know, there's no degree in that. And as I said right at the beginning, I don't have any credentials in nutrition, but I am a smart consumer and I've got a lot of experience in living my sugar free life, and that is worth a lot to a lot of people.
Yeah, because you can see that it's doable and it is a real person can actually do it. It's not someone telling you go sugar free and cut it out, but it's someone who has that lived experience, which is great.
Now, if there's one take home point that you want our listeners to come away with, what would that be?
I would say to start. Thinking. About what. Certain foods mean to. You. Because if cutting sugar were just a question of stopping eating that substance, including flour, sugar and flour in the same basket, then everyone would be doing it. But why do people struggle so much, including myself? At the. Beginning. It's because we have this emotional connection to the foods that contain sugar and. Flour. And, you know, I don't claim that that emotional connection. Is something that will just disappear. That it's actually something that we talk about mostly in the After Sugar. Club, because. That's the main the heart of the matter. Is. Our emotional relationship with sugar and letting go of. That. More than. Eat this, not that. So over and. Above the actual. Food, it's what. I am all about. What I help people. Do is to let go. Gradually, let go of that emotional connection we have with sugar so that we can become emotionally connected with the things that actually. Do us good. Because people who come to see me, sugar is not doing them any good. It's doing them more. Harm than good. And I think we need to. Redefine what food is. And I. Don't think sugar is. Food.
I agree. That's fantastic. And I know our listeners are going to want to connect with you and get involved with your community. So if you can let them know where they can find you and your podcast, all the links.
Okay, so my website is. Off. To Sugar Club Dotcom and there's different videos on there about what to eat. What foods. Don't contain sugar, what foods to look out. For in the grocery store, what the deal. Is with fermented. Foods. And there's also my own. The podcast episodes are there, but the Life After Sugar podcast, you can look it up in any podcast player and you'll find it. And so you can listen to that. A new episode drops every Sunday for that. I think I'm up to episode 72 and you can also find me on Facebook Life After Sugar. You can find me on Instagram at my Life After Sugar and on YouTube, The Life After Sugar YouTube Channel and the After Sugar Club. You can get there by clicking on the green button. Join the club on my website after sugar club dot com.
Awesome. We will have all that in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming on. Neda, you were great and I loved learning about your experience. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the Sugar Solved podcast. As always, if you like what you hear. Share it with a friend. Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and tune in next week for another episode of the Sugar Solved podcast, where we demystify health and nutrition. One gram of sugar at a time.