Thursday, 4 September 2014

Ditching refined sugar

I've never been on a real diet. Not since I was a kid and my Ma decided I needed a 6 week sugar and yeast detox. Cue a long drawn out 6 weeks of living off avocado on oat cakes and eating a pot of plain yogurt at the school lunch tables whilst longingly watching the rest of the kids tuck into jam roly-poly with custard. Oh the trials and tribulations of a 9 year old's life!

About 6 weeks before my wedding I read Lauren Brimley's blog 'Eating Whole' about ditching sugar for some reason something twigged in my mind and I decided just like that to give it a go. I know that I eat far too much sugar. It's my biggest vice, hands down. (yes my ma might have been bang on about that, all those years ago!) I wanted to prove to myself that I could live without it, if I really wanted to!  

When I got home that evening, Ben practically laughed in my face when I told him my decision. Little bit of perspective for you there - this is how much I love my puddings and treats!! But that response pretty much cemented the plan in my head, now I had to prove to both of us I could do it! So I am super pleased to report that I gave up refined sugar for 6 weeks. And I am incredibly surprised at how easy I found it!

The beauty is that you can still have sweet things...honey, fresh fruit, dried fruit, milk, natural maple syrup etc etc. These are the things that made this change in diet even vaguely feasible for me! Cutting out sweet things completely was never going I work long term, I have a sweeeet tooth! But this was sustainable. Eschewing my morning toast and jam for yoghurt and honey, I switched out my mid afternoon chocolate bar for dried or fresh fruit and went cold turkey on evening desserts. The nearest things to a sweet snack I now have is a spoonful of peanut butter! Yum!

This brings me nicely on to some of the bigger challenges I faced on this change in eating habits - hidden sugars!! They are EVERYWHERE!! And it's not until you start reading the fine print that you discover them. Finding a peanut butter with no added sugar is like the hunt for red October! And so many times I've ordered an iced coffee out only to find they've laced it heavily with sugar. Grrr! Sugar lurks in the most unlikely of places and until now it was easy to be oblivious...ketchup (isn't that just squashed up tomatoes?!), crisps (pretty much restricted to ready salted here), bread, ready meals, etc etc. And even dried fruits, cranberries, banana chips and coconut flakes, they are all proving to be super tricky to find without added sugar. That's nuts!!

I am also surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the challenge. This was completely unexpected! I never ever thought I could actually stick to a diet, let alone enjoy one. Turns out I just need rules. If I say to myself I'm going to 'eat healthier' I have no qualms about a little afternoon treat to get me through the day. But if I say no sugar, full stop, then I simply find an alternative that's natural and go with that. I practically ate my own weight in dates over those 6 weeks. I don't want I see another dried date for 6 months!!! I've also overdosed on dried mango and I think I'm about to meet the end of my relationship with Nakd bars (mostly dates and cashews mashed together!).

Plus it worked! Doing this and cutting down drastically on alcohol (plus a super streshful month in the lead up to the wedding day!) definitely leaned up my body a teensy little. Nothing drastic, just a subtle effect, in all the right places (sort of!). So, after three weeks of gluttony and indulgence over the wedding and honeymoon I'm back on the wagon. I've modified it a little to make it manageable for me - I simply get the weekends off now. Bonus!

To briefly mention the photos accompanying this post - I did NOT want to use pictures of all the sweet and yummy things I currently choosing not to eat, talk about torture! So instead I dug out these sugar free pizza pics. :) We had a pizza party with my folks last week when we experimented with our new wood fired outdoor pizza oven. Yep, you did hear that right! We now wood fire our own pizzas dontchaknow. We're fancy like that. ;) Slightly blurry pics I'm afraid, wasn't planning on sharing them here, but they were too yummy not to! :) 

Big shout out to Joanna for such a creative wedding pressie, the pizzas are rustic, woody and delicious! Plus there's nothing more fun that choosing your own pizza toppings. I'm definitely a delicate zucchini Romano pizza kind-a girl, every time! Whereas Ben always opts for a punchy anchovy and caper laden Napolitano. Now we just need to work on our Italian accents! What's your favourite pizza topping combo?!

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