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Thursday, June 20, 2013

12 months on

It’s been 12 months since my last post and I’m not sure if anyone is even still there, prepared to listen to my ramblings.

But I need to write this down. A type of therapy if you will.

I’ve continued, with reasonable success to keep sugar to a minimum in my diet. For myself, I still believe in the basis that sugar is addictive and should be avoided. However, I enjoy fruit every day and I also treat myself to sugar laden goodies when the occasion calls for it.

In my work as a Personal Trainer I don’t recommend the sugar free diet to my clients. If they specifically ask about it, I explain the success I have had with it, point them in the direction of the resources I have and suggest they decipher if it is right for them. 

In general, since embarking on the I Quit Sugar program, life has been blissful.  I feel healthier, more balanced and proud of what I eat (most of the time… trust me there are still undignified moments of gluttony).
But, and here comes the need for therapy, I am concerned that I have tipped the scales. I came across the term recently:  orthorexia nervosa – the excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.  I feel to an extent I fall into this category.

The sheer existence of “unhealthy” food in a room makes me feel uncomfortable. I recently stayed at a motel and went to enjoy a buffet breakfast with my family – Danishes, delicious breads and various condiments, sweet cereals, fruit juices, hot chocolates, pancakes…  I was almost frozen to my seat with the fear of battling through the mine field of sugar, fat and calories. I bee-lined (numerous times) to the juicer and eventually, guiltily, enjoyed some Bircher muesli and a slice of sourdough toast.

If my children attend parties or events where sweets and treats are easily accessible, I firstly do my best to move them out of sight and reach of my kids. And then (when my attempts have been frugal and to be honest embarrassing), I sit full of anxiety, discomfort and a fair bit of contempt unfairly towards the host.

It’s the impact that I am having on my children that scares me the most. When I hear my 4 year daughter say “oh that’s naughty” at the sight of someone drinking Coke, I’m caught somewhere between proud and concerned.
When my 6 year old son literally gorges himself on junk food at a friends’ house, because he rarely sees the sight of it at his own, it makes me ashamed and afraid (for him or me, I’m still not sure).

As a self-confessed control freak, I’m drawing the conclusion that because I’ve always found it so difficult to control my eating, I’m attempting (as they say, to live through your children) to control my children’s eating. And I’m sure that can’t end well.

So I’ve decided, and still with angst and uncertainty, that one day a week in this house will be “open pantry day.” (Ok, I’ll be honest, I started with the notion that we will have “Party Day”, but I have reined that in).
I’ll fill the pantry with treats and give the kids the opportunity to help themselves to anything at any time.


Any time.

(heart racing).

I purchased some of the treats today in preparation for my I-can-be mum-with-yummy-food-once-a-week debut.

Smarties. (Family size pack – right, I’ll split that into cups and this pack will do us for a few weeks). Pringles. (Are these made in Australia? Corn oil?, is that the came as high fructose corn syrup. Oh god they have maltodextrose in them).
Snakes. (Natural ones. Shit, open pantry will have to be closed pantry well before bed time, how will I get that off their teeth?).

Thoughts went on –

Maybe I should bake everything, at least then I know what goes in. No that defeats the purpose.

I’ll make the rule that we always go for a nice long walk on open pantry day. Hello – guilt! Stop with the rules! Control freak!

I can’t do it this weekend – they baby sitter is coming. They’ll be high on sugar.

Crap I can’t do it the next day either. They’re off to grandmas in the afternoon. Double sugar hit.

You can do this Naomi! Let go…..

Heart. Racing.

Needless to say the trip to the supermarket was filled with a fair bit of anxiety. I nearly didn’t want to handover my loyalty card to the checkout attendant for fear of my name being linked with purchasing these items. I envisioned alarm bells going off at head office – “woooap woooap customer 997584 has just made an uncharacteristic purchase. Flag stolen card.”

Anyway, so this weekend – Saturday or Sunday (the debate in my mind continues... maybe Friday night?...) - will be Open Pantry Day at my house.  I could be a nervous wreck, or I could be on a massive sugar high myself (and if so probably attempting to run off the calories and the guilt at some ludicrous hour).

I’m bracing myself to go with the sugar highs, go with the surge of gluttony from my children (overarching this is the hope that they will learn to be responsible around food….. has this theory every been founded?), smile as smarties get inhaled before lunch time and trust that for 6 other days of the week my kids eat pretty well.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sugar Free Love for Mums

As a mum, mothers-group catch ups are essential for sanity. In essence I guess, their  purpose is to introduce the youngins to other youngins to develop their little youngin social skills.

However, these catch ups soon become pretty important to the mums (and maybe the dads) too. They provide a regular opportunity to whinge and whine (or maybe brag, if you must) about your little ones' recent frustrating behaviors and then of course, round off the conversation with a grimacing face and the often used phrase: "oh but I DO love them.....". 

I've always loved my weekly catch up with my mothers group. On top of the casual form of counseling, I relish the opportunity for us to share a delicious mid morning snack of cake, slice or biscuits.

Going sugar-free kind of wholloped that in the butt.

When I told my fellow mums I was going sugar free, the plates on offer (and I'm ever so grateful for them supporting me) soon changed from caramel slice and Anzac biscuits to plain old cheese and crackers.

I attempted a number of sugar free muffins (going against my grain and rather than follow a recipe I just let my creative juices flow....). It was a pretty dismal outcome. A half-muffin left on the side of the plate kind of outcome.

So when Sarah Wilson (and folks that have been following me on here, know that she has been my catalyst for diet change) released her I Quit Sugar Recipe E-book I couldn't hit the pre-order button quick enough.

So today it was my turn to host mother's group... I flipped through the pages of my book (sorry Mother earth, I'm a touchy-feely person and had to print it out) and decided that the Almond Butter Bark would surely impress. Impress it did. For me firstly. It's a one-bowl kind of creation. It's a 25 minute kind of creation. It involves nearly no cooking, no cooling, no cutting. Mix, melt, freeze and snap. 

And here's the result:

I'm pretty sure it impressed my guests as well (either that, or they were just glad it wasn't another one of my muffin creations). The whole plate of "bark" cleared pretty quickly, so that has to be a good thing.

Later the same afternoon, feeling a little chilly, exhausted (TGIF), and proud of my morning's achievement, I decided to treat myself to another one of Sarah's Recipes. This time the Chocolate Peanut Butter Hot Cocoa. 

Hot chocolate without sugar? Get out! GET IN! My Lord, this is the ultimate smother-me-in-love kind of hot chocolate. It's thick and luscious. It's divine. It was a "kids-don't-bother-mum-I'm-in-my-own-world" kind of cup

It takes some prep work (especially because I prepared my own almond and coconut milk) but it's worth the wait. It does have some dried ginger root in there, which provided an unexpected but warming taste. Next time I might try it with out, as chewing my way through a hot choc felt a bit wrong. In any case, I'll be mixing this up again when I need a pick me up.

Can't wait to try a few other recipes from the e-book collection. It's good bye cheese and crackers for a while !

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sleepiness, sickness and celebations

Hi there - you haven't heard from me in while. Because things in my sugarfree land have been going relatively swimmingly. And as much as I love to talk about myself, I'm sure there's only so many times I can write that I'm feeling fab and going sugarfree has changed my life.

But this post is about falling of the wagon.

This post highlights the reality of sugar addiction.

As I said, I've been feeling fab and confident that I had my sugar addiction pretty much licked, for choice of a better term.

But two weeks ago I started planning for my son's 5th birthday. I arranged these fabulous (easy peasy, but cute and decorative) choc dipped marshmellows on sticks. I also planned chocolate spoons sprinkled with various sweet jewels. I made a heavenly rich chocolate slice. I thought I'd be able to cope handing such treats out to the guests and keep myself in control.I thought I'd be able to keep myself dignified and cool.

But I didn't. Not by a long shot. 

There was spoon licking, taste testing and leftover gorging galore. I had allowed myself permission to celebrate my son's birthday, but that permission stretched for the remainder of the week, smack bang into my daughter's 3rd birthday. Where equally decadent treats were to be had. And oh how I had them.

In amongst this I was hit with a strange bug that zapped all my energy and left me feeling sorry for myself. 

As I write this post I have a belly full of left over marshmellows.

I've flicked that switch on in my mind that says "oh just a little bit won't hurt". The same way that a gambling addict might say - "just a few dollars won't stretch the budget", or an alcoholic who says "I could have just one drink" or a reformed smoker that declaring to "just smoke when I drink."

Being addicted to sugar is real. 

I'm weak when I'm tired, sick or celebrating. Individually I'm strong enough to sail past each of these obstacles. I've proven that in the past. But as I have learned over this past week, bundle them altogether and I'm in strife.

So, I've written this post as a reminder to myself that I'm no super hero against the clutches of sugar. I've also written as a little warning to anyone who is an addict like me - that's it's just like any other addiction. It's easy to fall and it's easy to fall fast. Lastly, I've written this a bit of a contract to myself. To forgive myself for and allow myself to move on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mealtimes with Master 5

Ok, so my diet feels in check (all bar a little overeating on activated nuts and rice cakes). I feel healthy. I feel freaking fantastic really. I can control myself around temptation (Easter was an entirely different experience this year: who knew you could really enjoy just one or two eggs?).

Now I have a bigger challenge on my hands. The diet of my almost-5 year old son (in my mind I am hearing those dom dom  drums of gloom... you?)

I want you to read these and tell me honestly, am I being a neurotic mother?

Master almost-5 started off eating really well - anything we gave him really. But somewhere between 6 and 9 months (while darling husband and I were high-fiving ourselves for getting that element of parenting right), he became a fussy eater (dom dom). 

Now his diet consists of Weetbix (but if I let him have sugar laden Just Right it'd be less of a struggle), grain bread (he'd rather white), cheese on some days (I haven't worked out the formula as to which days he does and which days he doesn't), chicken nuggets, chips and fish fingers (he is almost 5 after all). He'll eat some noodles from out big stir fry cook up (but lordy help me if they are contaminated with the sauce or a shred of bok choy). He'll eat my homemade pita bread pizzas (Hawaiian only), but all the while will be asking when can we have pizzas "from the shop". 

I have managed to convince him that peas, carrots and corn will give him the superpowers of big muscles, seeing in the dark and running fast, so with a lot of help he'll eat them too (but I think given that he still can't lift or run as fast as a car, and apparently he can "see in the dark anyway", my days are numbered.)

He is a good fruit eater.

He won't eat pasta (except one that has since been taken off our weekly menu because it is  high in fat and sugar) and the only red meat I can get him to eat is in the form of a pastie from one particular local shop. So if one more person tells me to lace his spaghetti bolognese with zucchini I'm likely to strangle them with fettuccine.

I've tried all the tricks: making funny faces with the food on the plate, offering foods 15 times over, growing and involving him in our own vegie garden, had him look through recipe books to choose what he'd like, involve him in the cooking, and sending him to bed without dinner (this is our current tactic). It has all, apparently, been in vein. 

He has no problem eating unhealthy foods - packet potato chips, fish and chips-chips, lollies, biscuits and chocolate. He'll gorge on this kind of food. On two occasions he has eaten so much then ran around with typical boyish energy, then vomitted. So naturally, when he is around these type of foods I watch him like a hawk warning him to "not eat too much", "slow down", "maybe that will do...." (This is where the neurotic mother appears). 

I bet this little girl eats her dinner.
Meanest Indian
Attribution 2.0 Generic
(CC BY 2.0)

I am wondering (as I do with my parents' influence on my eating) if I am too strict with the unhealthy foods. By withholding the aforementioned unhealthy foods am I encouraging him to take a hunter-gather approach and stockpile (internally) when he gets the opportunity?  I see other parents freely handing out lollipops and processed foods to their youngsters who then seem to be able to eat half and walk away. 

I just want my son to try a variety of foods (I'd be happy for him to at least try - rather than screw his nose up the minute he sees it!). I want him to balance the good with the bad. I want him to know when he has had enough. I want to send him to bed knowing he has eaten. 

I don't want him to get to his 30's and still believe he doesn't like salmon, lamb, stir fried beef, rice, capsicum, cauliflower, pumpkin, potatoes or spinach....

Any advice (other than the bolognese suggestion?!), or should I just relax and let it happen by example?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sugarfree: easy as ABC.

People tend to think giving up sugar borders on the almost impossible (Truth be told some days it feels like that to me too). Some seem to thing it's fad kind of thing, or a detox if you like. It gets placed in the same category of the soup diet maybe.  It's no fad. It's detox but it lasts a lifetime. And here's my A-Z on keeping it possible.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A: Almonds. Keep Activated almonds in your handbag/car/office drawer for on-the-go nibbling. Almond spread on rice cakes for a three o'clock hunger buster. And almond milk is a protein rich addition to smoothies. (I'd suggest making your own - supermarket varieties of almond milk contain inulin which spikes blood sugar levels the same way sugar does).

B: Breakfast. We all know that starting the day with breakfast is important.  But don't go thinking that flakes that turn you in to a bright red K are suitable. Make it a sugar free meal. I consider this my number 1 factor  in staying "clean". Because I have a completely sugar free breakfast, I don't set off those little alarm bells in my appetite screaming for more fructose.

C: Coconut. Shredded coconut or coconut flakes are great on oats and yoghurt (be careful when buying shredded coconut/coconut flakes etc - many contain added sugar. Look for organic/preservative free). Coconut milk (homemade is easy) is great smoothies. Coconut oil is the best option for cooking. And as a bit of a sweet treat drink every now and then - coconut water.

D: Drink. It's an age old remedy, but often if you think you're hungry, you could be thirsty. Have a glass of water.

E: Experiment. Unfortunately quitting sugar means ditching a lot of your common pantry items. But it's a great way to start experimenting with new foods and flavours. I'm a stickler for following a recipe, but since quitting sugar I've played around a lot more in the kitchen. I've had some failures, but I've had some good wins too!

F: FAT! Yep, I said it. (However, permission not granted for a trip to the golden arches for a burger: buns and sauces are sugar-laden). Stop being scared of fats. We've been trying low fat foods for years and no-one is getting any healthier from it. Go back to full fat yoghurts, full cream milk and snack on a bit of cheese. Eat good fats from avocados, nuts and coconut oil. Your body will tell you when you've had enough.

G: Green tea. The benefits of green tea are huge. Check them out. I tend to drink it just before I have lunch. It stops me picking at the food I am preparing and apparently can lower the GI of the food you eat. So why not?  (FACT ALERT: -  green tea should not be made with boiling water. If, in the past you've found green tea too bitter, allow your water to cool for 10 minutes or so before steeping).

H: Health Food Shop. Make a visit to your health food shop. They stock a lot of products suitable for the sugar quitter. But beware - just because it's in a health food shop doesn't always mean it's healthy! Be sure to read the labels.

I:"I" It's all about you. Don't try to convert people to your sugar free lifestyle. Rather, think about (and maybe talk about) how go this change has been for you. "I used to be addicted to sugar"; "I am so much calmer now"; "I am finding it really quite easy."; "I feel so much healthier". Soon, others might want to be the "I" too. 

J: Juicing. I know it can be a pain - chopping up all those vegetables, slurpping down a drink that you can barely handle, only to then have a stack of bits and pieces to wash up. But done a few times a week it's a great way to add some vegetables to your diet. Find yourself some juice recipes that you like (ginger and mint can make the nastiest of juices tasty!) and slurp away. (Resist temptation to juice fruit - it removes any of the good nutrients and just leaves you with the sugar...)

K: Kale. I've only recently jumped on board the kale train. This nutritious vegetable is fabulous with a bit of oil and sea salt and roasted in the oven for 10 mins... the result crispy kale chips to snack on any time of the day!

L: Labels - get to know how to look for sugar and all of its sneaky little alternate names. Check for how much sugar is in a product. I don't eat anything over 6g of sugar per 100g.  And I pretty much avoid artificial sweeteners.

M: Menu. Planning on eating out? Many restaurants now have their menus available online. Have a geezer sometime before you go, so you can carefully choose what you are going to eat. Be aware of sauces, marinades and chutneys - they are usually huge sugar hits.  

I have to add another M: Make Your Own. A fabulous way to avoid sugar is to make your own. Most of our processed and packaged foods contain sugar and salt to act as a preservative... so invest in some good cookbooks (or experiment!) to help you make your own of just about anything. Sauces, milks, muesli bars, muffins, dressings etc etc can all be made sugar free.

N: Nuts. Perfect snack-anywhere food. As mentioned above, my nut of choice is activated almonds, but I'm not against the occasional cashew or pistachio. I also like to put hazelnut meal or toasted walnuts on porridge and yoghurt. 

O: Organic foods. Going sugar free steers you onto a path of unprocessed foods. While you are avoiding sugar, you may as well avoid all the nasty chemicals that are sprayed over our fresh foods too. Use farmers markets, health food shops or grow your own.

P: Pears. In my first 8 weeks of being off sugar I banished fruit altogether (which was easy because I wasn't a big fruit eater any way). Now that I don't have any other sweetness in my diet, a low fructose piece of fruit (such as the humble pear) is a delicious treat. I have these straight up, diced up with yoghurt or grilled. PPPPerfect!

Q: Quality Foods. Get away from the supermarket and into some quaint quality food suppliers. Often smaller producers don't need to add loads of sugar to preserve their goods, so you can stumble across some really lovely foods that are much lower in sugar than their mass produced cousins.

R: Research. I've had times when my will power for sugarfreeness has waned. But knowing what I know now about sugar, it's addictive qualities and what it can do to my body, makes it really hard to back pedal on the idea. Do your research about sugar, sugar alternatives and suitable recipes and you'll stay on track.

S: Soda Water. As a reformed Pepsi/Pepsi max addict (although I didn't think I was that addicted until I tried to give it up), a soda water is now my drink of choice when I feel like something a bit zippy. And in desperate times, I'll add a splash of cordial.

T: Tea... Herbal teas are awesome. Enough said.

U: Understand why you are quitting sugar. It makes it so much easier to stick to if you understand the basics of what is wrong with sugar and how you personally react. I know that sugar in my diet makes me moody. It makes me undignified around food and sends me on a rollercoaster of pantry hunting.

V: Vegetables. Bit of a no brainer really... eat loads of them.

W: Water. Drink water. It cleans out your system, keeps you hydrated, helps with hunger... 

X: Xylitol. Ok this one only makes it in here because there wasn't any other options for "X". Xylitol is an artificial sweetener with a question mark over it's head for safety and addictive characteristics (which most artificial sweeteners do). However, in desperate times I have grabbed a chocolate bar sweetened with Xylitol. But I'd keep these very few and far between. Suggestions welcome for another X idea, so I can scrap Xylitol from my list. 

Y: Yoghurt. Yoghurt is a fabulous snack. And if you choose a full fat natural variety (of course no sugar) you'll find you don't need as much as you may have had otherwise. Experiment with flavouring it yourself with cinnamon, coconut flakes, berries or nuts.

Z: zzzzz. Get plenty of sleep. It makes it much easier to make good food choices when you're on top of your game.

Now I know my ABC's, next time won't you sugarfree with me?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm hungry, it must be Autumn

I've had a rough couple of weeks on the sugar free train. I've stayed fairly controlled, but it's been hard yards. At first I thought it was because my husband had returned home and whilst I was high-fiving myself for keeping the chocolates in the pantry unopened, was I also seeking rewards for my efforts?

I wouldn't say I have been craving sugary food, I've just wanted to eat everything in site. Sugar filled or otherwise. From early in the morning, right up until before bed, I've been anxious and ravenous. 

It got me thinking back to my yoga going days and my instructor, who was very focused on what happened to our bodies, our energy and our appetites as the seasons changed. So I did some googling to see if I could let myself off the hook for all my late night binging. It turns out cravings when the seasons change is fairly common. It's believed to be our body's way of communicating the need for different nutrients.

Bcmom Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Chinese dietetics believe that our body's internal processes follow the external changes of the season and that we need to design our eating habits and food choices around the seasons.

We've just come out of Summer, where according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, I've been right on target by eating spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, yoghurt, lemon and green tea (other things they suggest for the Summer diet are rabbit, wheat beer, mussels, endive hearts, apple, melons, oranges, pineapples and pears.). These are all cooling foods that disperse heat and build up fluids.

As we move into Autumn our energy decreases. During this time we need to support our bodies with warm foods such as oats, millet, corn, rice, carrots, leeks, radishes, cauliflower, beef and lamb. Garlic, cinnamon, chilli, onions, and ginger are also beneficial during this time for stimulating circulation to help us handle the cooler weather. 

Now in all honesty, I can't say I have been craving a bowl full of rice. But I guess it's likely that I have been seeking out foods to stimulate my circulation. 

So to cope with the current climate of my body wanting more food than usual (I didn't think this was possible) I've had a big Autumn cook up today. To carry me healthily though the week I now have some lovely seedy gluten free bread, some braised Autumn Vegetables (with those warming foods - ginger, garlic, onions) and a zucchini and almond loaf (with cinnamon and nutmeg).

Even the smells in the house made me feel warm and happy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Solo sugarfree success

After 2 and a half weeks away, my husband is back in the country. It's fair to say I've missed him. So have the kids.

The days without him here were busy, as always. The nights were somewhat lonely. No one to chat to about the events of the day. Or no one to share the silence with. I knew food would make good company in his absence. And I'm going to be honest, I did eat more food than I needed to. Emotional eating is such a be-atch.

But.... the numerous boxes of chocolates (and I think there's a bag of marshmallows) in the top of the pantry remained untouched. In fact I didn't even consider opening them. Instead I found other ways to sweeten my solo time:

  • I got my girly on. I'm not really a girly-girl when it comes to beauty treatments. But one evening I kept myself out of the pantry by soaking my feet in warm water and bicarb (great for softening the skin) then lathering them in coconut oil and wrapping them in glad wrap. Following some much needed exfoliation, I painted my toenails - (pink of course!). All the while I had a face mask on, and watched The Sound of Music. Can it get any girlier? 

  • I made a delicious sugarfree thick shake (a number of times). A few scoops of sugarfree icecream from Lee Holmes' Supercharged Foods, mixed with some milk, a tablespoon of cacao powder and poured over a couple of ice cubes. It was a divinely decadent!! 

For sugarquitters - this chocolate sugarfree thickshake is heaven!

  • I sold stuff on ebay! There ain't much sweeter than making money and decluttering!

  • I'm bringin' berries back. Some sugar quitters put the veto on fruit altogether, but I subscribe to the idea that if fruit is the only source you get your fructose from, then one or two serves per day is ideal. I opt for blue berries because they are lower in fructose than other fruits such as apples. And well, they're just berry yummy! I love them with natural organic yoghurt.
Berries & Natural Yoghurt = Berry Yummy! Pardon kids bowl. Little bowl, makes portion seem big ;)

  • I did, ashamedly, purchase a sugar free (sweetened with Stevia) chocolate bar on a couple of occasions.  Whilst the ingredients seems to check out ok, I think it still sets up a an emotional pathway - that when lonely, (bored or tired...) chocolate is a quick fix. The great thing about this sort of bar though is that it didn't leave me hankering for more and for me to buy 2-3 chocolate bars over the course of 2 1/2 loooong weeks is a minor miracle. 
I am still a bit apprehensive about these "sugarfree" products.
So there you have it - I am a sugrafree woman. Hear me roar.