I quit sugar: and caved

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while because nobody wants to write about their failures. But it wouldn’t be fair to pretend. The truth is I caved. And it’s a repeat offence.

It all started the Friday before last when I just couldn’t get sweet things out of my mind. I was so fed up with still longing hungrily after every piece of cake and chocolate I saw. I held off all weekend but on Monday I couldn’t take it any more. It wasn’t even a snap decision. I knew exactly what I wanted. Chocolate covered Oreos. If I was going to break the fast then I was going to make it worthwhile. I searched four supermarkets before I found them. And when I got home I ate them and it was amazing. And then the next day I finished the packet. And opened a packet of Haribo that was floating around the house. Afterall, I’d broken it so what did it matter?

It all left a funny aftertaste and I felt a bit sick directly afterwards but other than that it was as if the three weeks without sugar had never happened. But I wasn’t quite ready to go back to the old ways just yet. After a talking to from my little sister who promised to make me a cheesecake at Easter if I didn’t eat any more sugar, I resolved to go back to my sugar-free misery. I did, however, start to introduce fruit. I’d always intended to around this time and it was a good compromise. But I’ve stuck to low sugar fruits like kiwi and berries and only once a day.

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This is the cheesecake I gave up. The first she ever made and the best I ever tasted.

I really wish I could say the story ends here and that I’m back on track and the cheesecake is in sight. But I was in a crap on Tuesday and managed to get hold of another bag of Haribo, and then ate a chocolate bunny for breakfast yesterday. There was no justification for it this time. Only that I am just not getting the results I had hoped for and I’m losing sight of why I’m doing this. I’m not any skinnier, I’m not happier and I’m sleeping worse now then ever before. But the very fact I resorted to sugar when feeling low is evidence that I need to power through.

But evidently it’s not going to be a smooth journey. And it’s going to continue long after lent is over and Easter has been celebrated. I’ll have good days and bad days but hopefully the number of good will eventually outweigh the number of bad. My aim is to not beat myself up about it. To not through in the towel when I eat one, two or even three chocolate bars (so easily done), but to pick myself up and say: “Okay, that happened. Let’s try again.”

So once again I am picking myself back off the floor where I am lying feeling sorry for myself with stomach ache/trapped wind because of the Haribo and I am trying again. Will I slip up again before Easter? I honestly don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised either way. For now I am going to take it a day at a time and see where I end up.

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I would also like to write as a postscript to my little sister that I apologise for not being a better role model over this; for moaning and whining to you, and giving up. I hope that reading this though, you’ll know that it’s okay not to be perfect. In fact, it’s completely normal. And we both know you’re going to make me that cheesecake anyway. xx

I quit sugar: two weeks in

It’s been two weeks without sugar now and it’s slowly starting to get easier but I’m not even going to pretend that I wouldn’t mind devouring a giant bar of chocolate right now.

I’m won’t be dramatic and say the first week was hell but it was certainly, challenging. I went cold turkey where I probably should have weened myself off slowly, but if I could cut down my sugar intake in moderations like that then I wouldn’t have a problem in the first place, right? As a result I got all the withdrawal symptoms.

First came the mood swings. Being all out of routine I had difficulty telling when I was hungry. This resulted in me coming home from work one evening absolutely foul and almost in tears because I just couldn’t work out what to cook for dinner. I eventually cobbled together what ended up being a very yummy plate of food and within ten minutes felt like a normal human being again. Moral of the story: always have an emergency rice cake to hand for when times get bad.

Next came the headaches and dizziness. This was slightly more alarming but thankfully I was aware of this potential side effect and so didn’t think I was suddenly dying. I drank a lot of water to compensate for the lack of sugar in my system and it soon passed after a day or so.

Then came the cravings. I had been feeling quite chuffed at the lack of cravings in the first few days but when they hit they hit HARD. I found myself staring hungrily at people eating fruit, scrolling through Facebook became torture what with all the Tasty video channels I’ve subscribed to, and I even caught myself eyeing up the box of sugar cubes next to the coffee machine in the staff kitchen.

Those were the most notable symptoms but all through that first week I felt like a really dull version of myself but I waited it out and I’m starting to come through to the other side. For example, I walked past a fruit market yesterday and didn’t start drooling. I’m getting better at knowing when to stop eating and am definitely not snacking as much.

That’s not to say I’ve been perfect. I accidentally ate some dates at a Tapas bar and didn’t even realise what I had done until the next day. I also got caught out eating a bag of crisps and checked the label half way through to learn that sugar was the third ingredient on the list. But I’m refusing to get my knickers in a twist about it. I can feel in myself that it hasn’t completely undone all the hard work so far.

The same goes for eating out. I got in quite a tizz in the first week when I was invited out for pizza because what about all the hidden sugars? But then I decided the whole point of giving up sugar is so that my life becomes less dictated to by food. If I pass up social opportunities because of the odd bit of sugar here and there, I’m still being controlled by what I eat. So I have been out to eat more in this second week. I probably haven’t made the best food choices each time but I’ve avoided drinking cocktails, refused tomato and BBQ sauce (which is a BIG deal for those who know me) and ignored the jam-filled sugar-coated pastries when out for breakfast; these are all big steps for me and I do feel rather liberated for it. I’m looking forward to seeing how the next couple of weeks go.

Why I quit sugar

I’m addicted to sugar.

Even mid-way through stuffing a chocolate bar in my face, I’m worrying about when and what my next fix will be. I crave sweetness the moment I finish a meal and when I finally satisfy the yelling in my brain telling me to eat literally anything containing the white stuff, I get a sugar spike for ten wonderful minutes before an epic crash that leads me feeling so lethargic I’m almost falling asleep at my desk for the rest of the afternoon.

But perhaps worse still is my compulsion to comfort eat. The moment anything in life seems to go remotely off-track I reach for something sweet, and momentarily feel my entire body sigh with relief as I gorge on whatever I can get hold of. Recent achievements include eating a whole swiss roll in one night and the time I ate a packet of sweet popcorn and bag of chocolate raisins in one sitting. Of course the comfort doesn’t last. I’m left at the end of a binging session feeling sick and even more miserable when the sugar low kicks in. And while I try and keep the house empty of chocolate and sweets, I find myself desperately searching for other fixes; I’ve been known to chain eat handfuls of cornflakes for half an hour, or spoon jam from the jar if I’m desperate.

Why am I disclosing this gross information? Having recently failed to make modest cutbacks in my sugar intake I’ve decided it’s time to go a bit more extreme. I am using Lent to quit sugar. Cliché I know. But Lent provides the perfect amount of time to break a habit. And that is what I want to do: I want to break the addiction and reset my body.

I’ve done a lot of research over the last few weeks in preparation and one of the best resources I’ve come across so far is I Quit Sugar, by Sarah Wilson. This is an 8 week plan to going sugar free and in comparison to many diet books I have read it is incredibly down to earth and practical. As Lent is six weeks I will be skipping the first two weeks of the plan in which Sarah recommends initially just cutting back on your sugar intake. I’ve thought about this a lot and know that when it comes to sugar I can’t just cut back. Sarah explains in her book why many people have this problem. It is all to do with fructose. It is the only food that we don’t have a stop button to. The reason for it is in the cavemen days we would rarely come across sweet things, when we did find something like a berry bush, we would gorge ourselves on it as much as we could and immediately store the sugar as fat ready for when we needed it. Our bodies still do that but today sugar is so readily available that we no longer NEED to gorge but we still do.

And because fructose is the addictive stuff I’ve also decided to cut out fruit. This has alarmed many of those I’ve told so far but it is just a temporary decision while I break my habit. I want to be able to eat a meal and feel satisfied with it in itself. I know that if I allow myself a piece of fruit afterwards, or whenever I have a sweet craving, I am not going to break that habit of hankering after sugar. I will at the end of the plan, slowly begin to reintroduce it if I feel ready, just as Sarah’s book recommends.

I will very much be listening to my body throughout the next few weeks to monitor how it responds. My body has been telling me for a while that it’s not happy but I was either not sure what it wanted or was ignoring it. I’m hoping cutting out the sugar will rectify several complaints I’ve been having and make me more in tune with my body. In particular I’ll be focusing on:

  • Quality of sleep
  • Afternoon slump
  • Stress and anxiety level
  • Body image

This is partly why I am blogging about this. I want to monitor my progress as I go along so that I have a reminder of how I felt before the programme and how quitting sugar made me feel. Because I will inevitably slip up. But the trick is to not beat myself up for those relapses but acknowledge them and move on. Blogging about it also means I have some form of accountability and hopefully support. Because I am going to need it.

What’s your relationship with sugar? Leave me a comment.

 

Resources so far:

I Quit Sugar, Sarah Wilson

5 Weeks to Sugar Free, Davina McCall

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-things-worth-knowing-sugar-detox

But I’m on the look out for more info. so leave your recommendations below!