Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolution Schmesolution

Have you made a New Years Resolution? 


I think there is a danger to committing to start something on a particular day of the year. A particular day of the year that will come around again in 12 months time. You resolve to do/change/stop something today, you may lapse within a week and then you resolve to try again next year.

Even Quit (...Smoking Victoria) suggests holding off from quitting the fags until mid January. They say that quitting on New Years Day is one of the hardest times to do so because of the events that surround the season and that if one fails they will lack motivation to try again. They emphasise the importance of planning how to make the change, how to manage with cravings and how to cope with lapses.

Likewise I advise against having an "end date" for your resolution.

Working in the fitness industry, I see a lot of people aiming to lose weight for a particular occasion. I once had a client who said to me "I'm getting married in 6 months and I DON'T want to look like this." I nodded my head politely and told her I would help, but in my mind  (as harsh as it sounds) I was thinking  you shouldn't want to look like this at all. She was unhealthy and unfit. Her wedding shouldn't have been the catalyst for her losing weight. Her quality of life should be. And as it happened she dropped a few kilograms for the wedding and within weeks it was back on.

So if quitting sugar is on your agenda for 2012. Go for it! (I can't recommend it highly enough). But don't quit it today.  Instead, just start thinking about doing it. Start looking in your pantry at the things that you may need to eliminate. Start thinking about the times that you will find the most challenging and how you might handle them. Start investing in some cookbooks, recipes or seeking out some helpful websites that suggest alternative foods. And then when you feel ready, start.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

I was cured for Christmas

At Christmas tables all around the world many a folk, lean back, maybe unbutton their strides, rub their bloated bellies and exclaim how full they are. In the past that has been me too - but I was always lying. 

I very rarely get that feeling of fullness, of extreme over-indulgence. It's possible that after years of conditioning myself, I'd successfully reached a point where I could always eat  "just a little bit more". And a little bit more. Usually after Christmas lunch, I continue picking at the nibblies still on the table, I have another cup of punch, I contemplate opening the box of chocolates that "Santa" gave me.

But Christmas 2011 was different. After our delightful and traditional Christmas lunch I was genuinely full. Even erring on the side of nauseous. 

I'd relaxed, maybe a little too much, on the sugar free stakes. As I mentioned in my previous post I intended to allow in some sugar filled treats for the festive season. I avoided (easily) soft drinks and sauces, but couldn't hold back when the plum pudding and struesel cake came out. And that is what I paid for. I was bloated, I felt ill. I was craving some herbal tea to settle it all down.

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And that's the point of difference. That is how I know I was cured for Christmas, because rather than going on to crave desserts, lollies and fizzy drinks, it was my sugar free foods that I longed for. I was craving my lunch time salads, chia seeds and coconut oil.  It's ironic that these have become my comfort foods. 

So, in sugar-free terms, I wasn't great at Christmas. But I wasn't nearly as bad as I have been in the past. But I've left it behind. It was Christmas. It was indulgent. It was abundant. And I have a healthy 2012 to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A sugar quitters Christmas

So it's Christmas time. And what do we all associate with Christmas? Aside from the presents and the delight of children's wondrous eyes, the day season is usually filled with lollies, puddings, desserts, dressings, sweet drinks, champagne.... the list goes on. It's a sugar quitters worst nightmare.

My family and I have hired a house down the coast and will enjoy Christmas Day together, plus a few extra days to relax and enjoy each others company. We've divvied up the culinary tasks, so two thirds of what will be served up will be out of my control. And I'm cool with that. In fact I can't even deem my third of the foods sugar free because I don't want to be the Grinch who stole the sugar filled Christmas, so the foods I will be taking will be just the same as another other year - a Raspberry Streusel Cake, some marshmellow imitation  puddings, soft drinks and ciders, a pasta salad drenched in thousand island and mayo dressing and bonbons filled with Lindt choccies.

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So how am I planning to navigate through this sugar filled Christmas maze? It's a question I've been asking myself for a few weeks now. But I'm settled with it. I'm not going to let it freak me out. There will be an abundance of food. Very little of it will be sugar free. However,  I have gone without sugar (or significantly reduced my sugar intake) now for 9 weeks. I've noticed huge changes in my emotional response to things, I'm feeling cleaner, I've lost 3kgs and any sugary foods that I have had hasn't been as enjoyable as it seemed in the past. I feel strong enough to be able to enjoy some sugar filled foods, accept that the days following will be an onslaught of cravings, and be prepared to move on.

I've got a mental list of a few things that I will not touch (eg: soft drink, but I have packed some soda water and Bickford's lime cordial as my treat) and a few things that I'm looking forward to indulging in (aforementioned Lindt balls). 

I've also got myself a copy of Lee Holmes' SuperCharged Foods wrapped up and ready to be opened Christmas morning, as my inspiration for keeping on getting back on the sugar free track. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wholesome foods Pt 2: coconut oil

Last post I talked about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. Whilst that makes it's way to my salad every lunch time, there's something that's new to my palate that pops up at almost every meal: Coconut Oil! I'd never tried (in fact, never even heard of) this little pot of wonder until a few weeks ago.

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Coconut makes an appearance in many forms in my diet now. So much so, I am beginning to understand why in Sanskrit the coconut palm (kalpa vriksha) means "tree which gives all that is necessary for living".

I sprinkle coconut flakes* on my yoghurt, shredded coconut* on my oats, I treat myself to coconut water once or twice a week and I use coconut oil for everything from buttering my toast, roasting my vegetables, coating my fish and even moisturising my face.

(*Organic if possible and check ingredients for sugar - I've found many that are loaded with additional sugar.)

The coconut oil is the oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts. It's true it has a high level of saturated fat. But it's a naturally occurring fat, not a trans fat. It's actually been suggested that due to the medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil may assist in losing weight. These MCFA's are easily digested, go directly to your liver for energy conversion (rather than being stored as fat) and can stimulate the body's metabolism. My online mentor (unbeknowns to her) Sarah Wilson talks more about coconut oil  here.

Aside from the magic of helping with weight loss, coconut oil has a stack of other benefits:
  • Coconut oil is a rich source of fibre, vitamins and minerals
  • It boosts energy
  • It's an antioxidant, therefore boosts the immune system
  • Aids digestion (beneficial for Crohn's and IBS sufferers) 
  • Can provide relief from yeast infections
  • Great moisturiser (time saver... I moisturise, whilst spreading it on my toast!)
  • Helps alleviate skin conditions such as eczema  
  • Conditions hair/controls dandruff
  • Supports and regulate thyroid function (my thyroid is a lazy underactive sort)
  • Helps reduce sign of aging (whoop whoop)
  • Lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Helps regulate blood sugars
  • Put on cuts and wounds to prevent infection
  • Relieves symptoms of urinary tract infections
  • Helps in absorption of calcium and magnesium = stronger bones!
My brand of choice thus far is NuiLife Coconut Oil. It's unrefined (meaning it hasn't undergone any processing, bleaching or deoderising and so it still contains the favourable fatty acid balance - which is the big health benefit of the stuff in the first place). Yep it tastes like coconut, but it's delicious on some multigrain sourdough, it tastes like coconut ice straight up, but when I've cooked with it, the flavour isn't overpowering. 

So here's to the tree that gives all that is necessary for living!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Wholesome foods Pt 1: Apple Cider Vinegar

    Substantially reducing the amount of sugar in my diet has given me more time and motivation to try new foods. Not to mention my tastebuds seem on high alert and things that may have tasted bland or bitter in the past, now taste KaBoom!

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    Having less sugar does of course make me feel much healthier. But the foods that I am replacing sugar with, also feel much kinder to my body. They're foods that pop up a lot amongst naturopaths and those interested in more wholesome food choices. And these foods really do feel much more wholesome. Certainly, much better than the packaged up stuff we're being engulfed with on our TV's, in our newspapers and on larger than life billboards.  

    Apple Cider Vinegar - although not new to my eating repertoire - is one such food. ACV is made by fermenting apple cider.  During the fermentation process the sugar is broken down by bacteria and yeast into alcohol and then into vinegar. Sounds delicious doesn't it? Well it's not. Not on it's own anyway....

    The benefits of ACV are huge. Home Remedies Web lists the following as some of the positives of adding a little ACV to your diet: 
    • Reduce sinus infections and sore throats
    • Balance high cholesterol
    • Cure skin conditions such as acne
    • Protect against food poisoning
    • Fight allergies in both humans and animals
    • Prevent muscle fatigue after exercise
    • Strengthen the immune system
    • Increase stamina
    • Increase metabolism which promotes weight loss
    • Improve digestion and cure constipation
    • Alleviate symptoms of arthritis and gout
    • Prevents bladder stones and urinary tract infections
    My father in law swigs a little ACV each day. How on earth, I'll never know. My husband and I try to gargle it with the onset of a sore throat. It starts off ok, but the after taste renders you with  tourette type spasms.

    However, served over a garden salad the taste of ACV is somewhat sweet and refreshing (It's a bit like vanilla essence - oh so bad on it's own, but oh so tasty in a cake). I add a tablespoon or so to my lunch time salad each day and love it!

    There's also a recipe on the bottle (I just use Cornwells at the moment, but there is a huge variety of organic brands available too) for a Ginger, Chilli and Cider Chicken which I'll give a whirl one night soon. 

    With all the benefits above, it's worth experimenting with, wouldn't you say?

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Healthy Holidays

    Well, I'm back from my mini break and overall I would call it a sugar free success. I'll admit, it wasn't easy. The combination of being somewhere different, exposed to new foods, having plenty of time on my hands and the freedom of being away from my little ones, made temptation pretty strong. But I did not cave.

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     I can't guarantee however, that it was an entirely sugar free weekend - my friends and I enjoyed some delectable almond dumplings (not a dessert) on my final night there. If those dumplings didn't have sugar in them, then I must get hold of the recipe and dine on them for every meal for the rest of my being. 

    Aside from the Indian, here's how I got by:
    • At the airport, where I'd normally pass my time waiting at the gate with a hot chocolate and a muffin, I opted for a lemongrass and ginger tea. The sense of freedom and rebellion still gripped me and I added a mini-tube of Pringles to my order. The privilege cost me $8.00 and the Pringles weren't that great. I'll just stick with tea next time.
    • On the plane, I used gulps of water to shut up that devilish voice that reminds me I'm tens of thousands of metres above civilisation and I should eat. It should be noted that my neighbouring passenger order a can of Coke and I loathed him instantly.
    • I came clean about sugarfreeness to my hosts. I wasn't going to, in fear it might put undue pressure on them to clean out their pantry and rethink their potential meals plans. But thankfully for me they aren't that organised and I had fair say in what we ate each evening, so I'm glad that I spilled my sugarfree beans. They did however, also enjoy a glass of Coke over dinner. Thankfully I'm in love with them, so I didn't have cause to loathe them as much as my plane-man. (I also justified it to myself that if I had any coke, I'd likely be likely to be zipping around like fly avoid the swatter for 24 hours).
    • Being honest about my sugarfree state also came in handy when, after the aforementioned Indian meal, I halfheartedly suggested we get ice cream. Knowing my new found stance on sugar, they took it as a no-heartedly suggestion and laughed it off.  I was both pleased and disappointed.  
    • I was left to my own devices for breakfasts and lunches. Not wanting to overflow their pantry with leftover sugarfree goodies I generally used what they had in stock. Rye bread toasted with swiss cheese (Who knew swiss cheese was so sweet!) was my breakfast stable and lunch was almost a replica but untoasted and with the addition of turkey.
    • There was one day, sun was shining, I was wandering amongst trendy cafes and outdoor markets. It was mid afternoon and I hadn't eaten since breakfast. I was severely craving a milkshake. It was a close call. I grabbed myself a spinach and feta roll for lunch and then went to a swimsuit store and tried on bikinis. Funnily enough, all cravings for milkshake soon dissipated.
    My only other close call was the plane ride home. My ears were killing me, thanks to the flu I'm now in the midst of (and wondering if the change in diet, lack of usual salad and vegies and/or possible sugar intake is to blame?) and a sweet little lass (maybe 8 years old?) next to me offered me a chewy (collective "awww"). I was so tempted since she taken the time to offer. But I politely declined, but was appreciative all the same. 

    This week I move into week 8.

    This week I move into the rest of my life.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Flying the sugar free coop

    Tomorrow, I'm lucky enough to be heading away, child-free, for a few days to visit a friend interstate. 

    Of course, I'm looking forward to it.

    But I'm also a wee bit terrified

    I'll be flying the coop of my sugar free safety net.

    For the last 7 weeks I've been able to keep on the straight and narrow by surrounding myself with foods that I "can" eat. I've been able to whip to the health food store or the supermarket when I feel like experimenting with something new. I've had all my "craving busters" right within reach.

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    For the next 4 days, my pantry,  my shops, my teapot (!!!) and my sugar free comfort zone will all be out of my reach. And the challenges will be aplenty.  Think shopping, road trips, markets and trendy sidewalk cafes. You can almost smell the culinary delights right? (Or I am just in holiday mode?) I'll have to survive this sugarfree journey with much wider, more pliable boundaries.

    When holidaying, "grab-and-gobble" foods are rife. Normally on my little getaways (yes, I have a loving husband who affords me these little trips fairly regularly) I start with a chai latte or a hot chocolate at the airport, I'll have a bag of lollies in my handbag to keep me company,  I'll browse and more than likely choose a bar or something from the in-flight menu and I'll arrive with an air of enthusiasm for a cafe lunch and a side of soft drink. I'll always encourage some evening chocolate fix and I'll welcome a bowl of muesli, fresh fruit and yoghurt the following morning.

    Somehow I have to manage the next four days (11 meals + various snacks) on as little sugar as possible. Without seeming rude, difficult or unsocial.  

    I don't quite have a plan, except the possibility of stocking my only bag with coconut oil, rice cakes, almond spread, oats, cocao nibs and a variety of herbal teas. I guess I can only do my best - seek out sugar free options wherever possible and forgive myself if there's moments when I have to lapse purely due to circumstances.

    Hopefully, when I return I'll have a bucket load of tips on how to enjoy sweet travel sugar free.

    Bon voyage!

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Addicted to addictions

    A few weeks ago, our local paper reported about a man who was caught "exposing" himself to women in public. As the matter went to court, it unfolded that this individual was in the midst of dealing with a gambling addiction. For some bizarre reason, restraining himself from gambling had apparently resulted in the emergence of another form of addiction.

    I can't wrap my head around that particular man's actions, however, a few weeks ago I did notice that I had a very apparent need to shop. Like most females, I love to shop. But on 1.25 wage and 2 young children it's a desire I need to keep under control. But on this particular weekend I really struggled. I left the house, told my husband I'd be back and just hit the shops. I wandered around fairly aimlessly, but desperate to buy something. I didn't care what I bought, I just know I wanted to shop! I was conscious of the fact that as I was breaking my addiction to sugar, I was seeking out something else to fill the void.

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    I don't want to lose you at this point, but Dr. Phil (please, stay with me...), has the most concise list that I could find of steps to take when breaking an addiction. Check them out here. One of those steps acknowledges that people do tend to replace bad habits with new ones.

    He explains that when you take something away - something that makes you feel comfortable, pain free and happy (for me, this has been sugar) you're pretty much left hanging with whatever made you take on that addiction in the first place (eg: stress, boredom, low self esteem...). It's important to replace the addiction with something else that shifts the way you deal with stressful situations. He suggests relaxation, breathing techniques and the like. Funnily enough, he doesn't mention shopping. Bugger.

    For me, with two children scooting around my heels the only breathing I do is 3 deep breaths before I bust up a an argument over one green crayon. But the process of making a cup of tea or preparing my food lovingly (and I've been very vigilant with the children about giving me time to enjoy my meals) is a form of relaxation.

    This sugar free journey is certainly clearing some fog away, and making me learn a hell of a lot about myself and how I respond to things. I know now to be aware when other potential addictions start rearing their heads.

    However, I did hit the shops again on the weekend and bought a pair of skinny jeans in one size smaller than usual - now how sweet is that!

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Super slow and sugar free

    Sometime ago I read about an Slow-Food Dinner event happening in my local town of Ballarat. It sounded like a chic and swanky event and so sparked my interest in the notion of "slow-food".

    Slow food, as the name suggests is the opposite of fast food. It is embracing that good food takes time to grow, nurture and prepare. The slow food movement strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages the farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic to the local Eco-system. You can read more about it here 

    Until now, my interest in slow food hasn't progressed any further than the desire to attend that event (which I didn't). However, as a result of giving up sugar, I realise that I have quite organically moved into a semi-slow-food kind of lifestyle.

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    For breakfast, I no longer grab a cereal box, I cook my oats on the stove, adding spices and nuts for flavour.

    For lunch, I usually prepare a salad of fresh vegetables (usually organic and from Aussie Farmers Direct, who deliver seasonal produce from local growers). Today, I had garlic mushrooms on mutligrain sourdough (also from the folks at Aussie Farmers Direct).

    For dinner, instead of opting for meals that use prepackaged sauces, I am experimenting at creating flavours using herbs, juices (eg lemon) and oils. 

    Last night I spent in excess of an hour peeling almonds that had been soaking overnight, in order to create my own almond milk.

    My snacks are no longer the grab and gobble varieties. I have to spread almond paste on my rice cakes, or toast my multigrain sourdough before smearing it with coconut oil (BTW - delish!). 

    I admit I am a long way from the "kill it, cook it, eat it" way of life. But I am certainly stepping away from the prepared, preserved and prepackaged foods we've all grown accustomed to over the last century.  

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Shaking the sugar shackles

    Who would ever associate the word "freedom" with a diet? I'd usually toss around the words like restriction, control and agony. 

    I've embarked on week 4 and I feel fabulous. I feel a sense of freedom. As per my last post, I've been faced with my fair share of temptation over the last 3 weeks. But I really feel like the sugar shackles are starting to break.

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    Last night for instance, at my debut kinder meeting, a few plates of food were brought out after the formalities (trying to elect Presidents and treasurers among already insanely busy parents is bound to drive us all to needing some sugar hit! I'm surprised they didn't pop a few corks... hmm note to self for next committee meeting, which I am now a part of... couldn't hide).

    Anyway, from my quick glance I could see that on offer there were some brownies (seriously these brownie things are hunting me down), some slice and some biscuits. I think. I stuck to my avoid eye contact rule. You know, I wasn't even marginally tempted. In fact, I looked at the options on offer for a brief moment and couldn't even imagine what they tasted like. How bizarre. But it's almost as if my relative memory of the taste of sugar is starting to fade.

    Today, I voluntarily - VOLUNTARILY -  took my children to the sweet Cake Bakeshop  (As per last post I was anticipating a trip there soon with my sister in law. But today - no outside pressure, I just wanted to treat my adorable cherubs to a classy morning tea.) I brought them each one of Jennifer's delightful little cupcakes (Red Velvet for Miss 2 and Choc Strawberry for Master 4) and shouted myself a pot T2 Choc Chip Chai tea.

    In Sarah's ebook she refers to her addiction to sugar as "uncool and undignified". Today, sipping on tea, I felt extremely dignified.

    Sarah also encourages "I Quit Sugarers" to find other forms of sweetness. Now, I've been in that Cake shop before but have never really sat back and soaked up the fabulous atmosphere that Jennifer has created. No, no. I'm usually too busy devouring a cookies and cream cupcake, sipping (sculling) my chai latte and trying to convince myself to say no to a macaroon chaser.

    Today I delighted in the decor, flipped through Frankie magazine and reminded myself how much I love my children (who BTW were hip and shouldering one another to have the next sip of my tea.)

    Sweet, sweet days. Without a cupcake crumb in site.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Seriously, more sugar?!

    Trying to quit sugar as a mum of young children is like trying to convince an alcoholic to give up the grog while standing in a pub. Or a gambler at a race track. A kleptomaniac in an unmanned department store. 

    As a mum of two young children at home, I feel more exposed to temptation than ever before.

    I know I should be trying to quit the sugar from my kids' diet too, but in all honesty I don't know how wholeheartedly I support that idea (don't give kids fruit...?!?) and to be honest, it would be just way too hard. I'm opting for leading by example.
     With a pat myself on the back kind of attitude, I've reflected over some of the sticky (excuse the pun) situations I have been in over the past 3 weeks:
    • Breakfast time - although I am slowly and subtly progressing the kids onto Weetbix (continuously considered by experts as one of the best breakfast cereals going around), I still put a tad (about 1/8 tsp) on their Weetbix for them. More often than not, they don't finish their whole serving. I have to consciously tell myself not to lick their spoon, or finish their leftovers.
    • The kids eat a lot of fruit - fresh and dried. When making their morning tea or lunch, it's a challenge to not just pop a sultana or two in my mouth. (Sultana's hey? - I know I live on the edge - but fair dinkum, you give up on all sweetness and all of a sudden a container of sultanas will smell as sweet as a lolly shop).
    • I often whip whip the kids up a smoothie for afternoon tea - I make them up with any sort of fruit, berries, milk and flavoured yoghurt. I haven't even licked the drips from the yoghurt container. (I just tried them on my new version - milk, coconut oil and cacao. They were not impressed. I was in heaven.)
    • Then the social side of mothering is an occupational hazard when trying to quit sugar: as mentioned in my last post at my mum's group last week my fellow mum served up a plate of brownies and biscuits. I did not yield. Go me.
    • I've got a loose play date scheduled with my sister in law and my delightful little niece. She wants me to meet me the chic little Cake Bakeshop.  That'll be fab. Talk about putting my willpower to the test! (Lucky our girls playing together is all the sweetness I need!)
    • Today I took the kids to a music class. It's run by volunteers at a little church and after all the singing and dancing they provide us with morning tea. On offer for the parents today was chocolate biscuits and little cakes with jam and whipped cream. (I'm actually not even sure if they were little cakes - I didn't make eye contact with those little suckers long enough to decipher exactly what they were, but I could tell they certainly were not sugar free!)
    • Ditto at the music class - they provide tea, coffee and milo. I just can't grasp the idea of a black tea no without sugar so I unashamedly took my peppermint tea bag and asked them to make it up for me.
    • Sauce! Kids being kids have sauce on a lot of meals. Often whatever they have left over I pick at. A big dollop of sauce puts the kibosh on that plan!  (If I don't lose weight cutting out the sugar, I'm bound to lose weight as a result of less picking at their meals).
    The idea that I can avoid temptation under such constant sugary conditions really is a positive thing. 

    What doesn't kill us makes us stronger after all! 

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Sugarfree focus

    In my last post, I promised some discussion on the emotional changes I have experienced over the past fortnight. It sounds dramatic I guess, but when food, in particular sugar, holds such a prevalence in  your life, there's going to be some emotional upheaval when quitting it.

    Here's the thing. I am missing sugar. I'm mourning for it. I see people eating delicious foods and I'm jealous. I'm almost dreaming of soft drink.I go to the cupboard for a snack and feel disappointed that I can't chomp into some dried apricots, or pour myself a bowl of cereal. I hate anyone drinking Pepsi and chai lattes. 

    But they are all very very brief moments. Brief moments.

    In general, I'm feeling empowered. I feel incredibly in control of my foods. Foods are not controlling me. I think about what I eat, I think about why I am eating it.

    I feel less anxious. A lot less anxious. With food as my master I was constantly seeking out my next "hit". Food is much less of a focus. So I'm free to focus on other things. Myself, household chores, the kids...

    I'm a better mum. In so many ways.  I feel like I have so much more patience for the kids. My addiction to sugar was creating a hidden agenda and hence putting strain on the relationship with my children. I'd be anxious to get to the supermarket or cafe - so I could buy myself some sort of sugary treat. I'd be anxious to get Master 4 and Miss 2 occupied so I could eat said sugar treat. If a supermarket or cafe trip was inconvenient, I'd be anxious to bake something, and baking with two little ones creates a whole lot of anxiousness in itself, especially for a wee-bit-of-a control freak like myself.

    I'm a better mum because I am setting a better example. At our mothers group earlier this week, my fellow mum and host for the morning baked brownies (are you friggen kidding me?!? She knows I'm off sugar, so I can only presume she was trying to boycott me. Top stuff.). My kids are renowned for being stationed permanently at the kids morning tea table and then sniffing around the "mums" morning tea plate. My kids didn't pester me for a brownie once. I can presume that because they hadn't seen me eating, it didn't set of their little "I want some too" alarm bells. 

    (On a side note, I can't even begin to tell you how hard it was to stop myself from having a deliciously decadent chocolatey brownie. I literally turned on a little voice in my head that said "do not make eye contact with the brownie"!!)

    I'd be lying if I said this has been all smooth sailing. In fact, part way through week 3 I feel like this is a fairly monumental time. The novelty of quitting sugar has worn off, the new sugar free foods are starting to become boring. Now it's just me. And 5 weeks ahead. But those tough times are again, just moments. Just tough little moments. 

    Over all, I will continue to feel empowered. In control. Relaxed. Proud. Healthy.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Sugarfree savings

    Today I entered week 3 of my sugarfree journey. I'm feeling proud, I'm feeling fresh and I'm feeling confident that this is the right thing for me. I'm also feeling about half a kilo lighter - booyeh!

    Over this past week I've had two "lapses" but as I outlined in my first post - I scheduled a couple of these each week: chocolate with my DH on Friday night and dessert at my parents' on Monday. 

    While these sweet treats aren't tasting quite as good as they used to (strange hey?, You'd think they'd be heaven!), I'm enjoying the taste of so many other foods. I think sugar overload has either been killing my tastebuds or thwarting my enthusiasm for different flavours. This week I've adored broccoli soup, zucchini slice and chilli chicken pasta. I'll get these onto my recipe page ASAP. 

    I continue to enjoy my sugar free breakfast and really believe that starting the day with a zero sugar intake sets me up to have a successful sugarfree day - because all in all I'm finding this journey relatively "easy". (Don't get me wrong, I still have my moments where I stare down anyone holding onto a takeaway coffee cup and dream, almost smell and taste a sweet vanilla chai latte. I think I'm having the odd mirage visions too - seeing someone carrying a packet of chocolate bars, only to discover on second look it is a pencil case?!?). 

    Toward the end of my first week - when doubts started to arise - I started to think about the cost this lifestyle change might incur.  A trip to the health food store to buy some licorice root tea (savior!), come cacao powder (which has since been shelved until at least week 6) and some Tahini, set me back almost $30. Raising two kids on a 1.25 wage, I started to wonder about the financial viability of this lifestyle.

    However, I've since rethought it. 

    • Natural muesli ($4.50 for 750g) traded for homebrand rolled oats ($1.20  for 900g)
    • Weetbix bites for the kids ($5.60) traded for Weetbix ($4.50+last much longer)
    • Pepsi once a week ($2.50) traded for water - free!
    • Sweet treat on each trip to supermarket ($3.00 give or take!) - ching ching - put me in credit! That can go towards my beloved almond spread on rice cakes. :) :) :)
    • Chai latte 2x a week ($4.00 a pop) traded for copious amounts of aforementioned licorice tea, peppermint tea or green tea. Probably equal cost but for about 100 cups. 
    • Sweet meringue pavlova nests (common addition for the family with yoghurt - $4.00) trade for some good quality natural yoghurt for me!
    So, with those very rough mental calculations I have successfully banished cost saving as a potential excuse for giving up on this thang.

    Here's to less weight, more energy and more cash!

    (I've got so much more to tell!!! But I get that blogs should be short and sweet - or not sweet as this case may be. My next post is going to be about some of the emotional changes I've started to notice). Stay tuned.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Quitting sugar, quitting speed

    Yes I'm quitting sugar and subsequently I am quitting: speed. No no, not the amphetamine variety (In fact, I wouldn't know that if it came and bumped me on the forehead) but the literal act of rushing. And more specifically rushing through my food.

    I've noticed over the past 12 sugarfree days that by pausing to think about what I am eating, I am also pausing to think why am I eating. Going sugar free is giving me time to be more aware of my emotional triggers for food. 

    This morning for instance, my 2 year old daughter had an altercation with a giant slide at one of those kids indoor playgrounds. In the company of my friends, I was attempting to placate her. My friend grabbed some halloween treat bags full of lollies that she had prepared for the kids. Whilst the lolly helped Miss2 for a brief moment, it didn't help enough and I soon decided she may need to head to emergency. 

    Driving to the ED, I was of course feeling flustered, guilty, anxious, confused and angry. The treat bag sat within my reach on the passenger seat. I don't think I have been more vulnerable over these past 12 days than that very moment.  But because I am on this sugar free journey I was empowered enough to pause, recognise that I was just having an emotional response and swiftly threw the bag onto the floor, well out of my reach. (In my sugar addict state that wouldn't be out of reach enough - I've been quite capable of performing Olympic standard gymnastic manoeuvres in the car at any red light, when the need for sugar is bad enough.)

    Likewise this afternoon, feeling exhausted from our ordeal (which BTW turned out to be a slight overreaction - 3 hours in ED, 2 traumatic X-Rays and we left with 2 band aids for friction burn) I was hanging out at the pantry door begging for something to jump out at me. I grabbed some Pringles (damn that lady at the supermarket giving samples last week). But, like Sarah outlines in her e-book, fat is filling. Our body can tell us when we've had enough. True to form, after a handful of those wafer thin chips I was over them.

    I'm also hoping that by taking on this sugar free challenge I'm also getting over food (sweet food) being an automated response to emotional situations.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    This ain't no yawn, but it's just as catching

    Earlier in the week my husband measured out how much Just Right he was putting in his breakfast bowl. He read the label. He checked the sugar content. He was a bit embarrassed. This morning I noticed he had scribbled his current weight on the calendar.  I asked him if he was starting to think in an "I Quit Sugar" way. He confessed he was. 

    I've banished Weetbix Bites from the cupboard. The kids are now reaching for the plain old Weetbix for breakfast. My 4 year old son in particular is gobbling them down. As I write this post I'm recalling how many times this week I've told my husband how pleasant our son has been. It's just dawned on me that it may not be a coincidence. (I've also stopped giving them the odd jam sandwich and I don't think they've have had any "special" drinks - i.e. the flavoured milk they talk me into with every trip to the supermarket... we are having less supermarket trips though, giving that I'm not pining to go to get something for myself)

    I'm not going to force this "I Quit Sugar" regime onto my family - but I'm really pleased that by me looking out for myself a bit more, it's having a positive impact on them as well. If I can just pull back the reigns a bit on the kids' sugar intake (and before reading Sarah's e-book I thought I was a pretty health conscious mum), and encourage my husband to make wiser choices then that in itself will be pretty damn sweet!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Taste buds they are a'changin'!

    So, last night was chocolate night - and for those who didn't catch my first post I made an agreement with myself that I would still allow myself to share a block of chocolate with my husband on Friday nights: purely for the therapeutic benefits of celebrating the end of the week with my DH.

    Here's the interesting thing - quite often, I can't wait until Friday night for my chocolate hit, so sometime after lunch I'll duck into some sort of sweet treat and believe me, it certainly doesn't curb my appetite for my Dairy Milk later that night.

    But this past week, with next to no sugar in my diet, I was very blase about our chocolate ritual. Of course, I supported DH in finishing the block. But the taste was sickly sweet. I even felt a bit ill for the rest of the night. I'm certainly not in a rush to go out and eat more, that's for sure. Dare I say it - I may have ruined our Friday night chocolate night!!

    This isn't the only taste (or physiological/psychological?) change that has occurred. My little ones had pasties for lunch one day. Miss 2 requested "black" (aka BBQ) sauce on hers. I was picking at her leftover meat and took in a smidge of the sauce. And, Wham - it was sweet! Sickly sweet. It tasted completely different to what it would have 2 weeks ago.   

    This is all good news. It tells me already things are changing. I haven't noticed anything dramatic with the scales (maybe just less "I'm having a fat day" days), but that's not my major goal in any case. I just want to feel better about myself. I just want to finish the day and know that I didn't abuse my body. 

    Where I'm at with other foods:

    • I'm enjoying my breakfast once again. I've learned that porridge cooked on the stove is far superior to porridge in the microwave (and I've been putting oat milk on it, but have since gone back to Sarah's book and David Gullespi's website and found that the sunflower oil and inulin in it are no-no's... still trying to find out why. But once that carton is gone, I'm going to try porridge with coconut milk)
    • Coconut water is alright! I found some in my local supermarket and thought I would give it a go. I've been missing my weekly hit of soft drink, but thanks to my rejigged taste buds this is sweet enough and doesn't leave me pining for more (in fact 3/4 bottle is still in my fridge)
    • Licorice tea is fabulous! Really gives me a warm sweet hit.
    • Rice cakes with almond spread are tasty and filling.
    Thanks to some fellow I Quit Sugar comrades for commenting on here, and others for your support. Keep it coming!

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    A whole new world

    Day 7 - Over the last two days the cravings have started to hurt a bit. But I'm not pining for a bag of starbursts, I'd just jump over the moon if I could have a handful of sultanas to be honest!

    Funny how by cutting out the sugar your taste sensations change. I had myself a bowl of Jalna whole fat natural yoghurt earlier. Normally I've found this to be rather sour and hard to take (compared to sweetness of flavored yoghurts) but this evening it was - WOW! It truly hit the spot. (I topped it with some hazelnut meal, cinnamon and chia seeds just for fun. Yeh, that's how I roll, now). 

    Likewise I'm coming to notice that tomatoes taste rather sweet in my salad. Have they always been sweet? Or have my tastebuds been so clogged with sugar I've never really noticed.

    It's killing me that for the last two weeks my Aussie Farmers Direct organic box of fruit and veg has contained a mango. Every time I see it sitting in the fridge, I salivate a little. Last week I sent it in the kids day care lunch, so I didn't have to put myself through cutting it up for them. (I'm not normally a big fruit eater, but it seems by stripping back my sugar overload I'm craving the more nutritious varieties).  

    Bring on Tuesday so I can get rid of that mango temptation once again!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Six SugarFree(ish) days

    Tomorrow will be my sugar free 1 week anniversary. 1 week since I started this journey. And already I've learnt a lot, about foods, sugar and most importantly myself.

    I've learned to look at another section of the Nutrition Information Panel on packaged foods. Previous "diets" and research has conditioned me to look at fat content and calories, and since having the kids I'm also always scanning for preservatives. But now I look at the sugar per 100g or 100mls. After giving the kids a prepackaged juice as a treat earlier in the week, I checked, then measured, the sugar content:


    Needless to say juices like this will become even more of an occasional treat after that little experiment!

    I've learned that breakfast cereals in general are really nasty.  What I've been feeding myself and my family is high in sugar (even though I've never even allowed the "heavy hitters" like coco pops, nutra grain and rice bubbles in). They've probably overdosed on their sugar requirements by 8am! I'll be secretly weaning the kids off berry weetbix bites and gently encouraging them back to their much more healthier cousin: the plain old weetbix. But it's not the kids I'm worried about - how do I break DH clutches off his Just Right?

    About myself I've learned that I have been literally running on sugar. Somehow this reduced sugar intake is slowing me down. Not in a physical, sluggish sense, but in a food seeking sense. I'm still thinking about food - (alot!), but I'm not anxious about it. It's as if in my sugar-addicted life, I was bouncing from one sugar hit to another. Having less sugar in my diet this past week has highlighted the times that I really do crave it. And I've been able to stop and find an alternative.

    I'm enjoying food. It's making me feel good. Strangely, these higher fat, lower sugar foods feel much more human.  

    I've realised tonight (after revisiting Sarah's e-book), that I've kind of skipped to the end of this journey before my time and have already started seeking out low fructose sweet treat options (that's not encouraged until week 6). So it's time to put the breaks on that, and as I move into week two: It's time to start exploring the world of good fats and proteins.

    I've had ups and downs over the past 6 days (in fact, I think I've found today the hardest thus far) but in general I'm still highly enthused about this plan. Bring on week 2!


    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Sugarfree Saturday sucks

    It's Saturday night. I've done 3 days sugar free. Well not technically, there has been the very odd bit here and there, but by comparison to my usual intake it's probably down 95%.

    Yesterday and today I was on a real no-sugar high. Excited by the prospect of a change, and equally excited about the range of foods and flavours I'm going to experiment with. Coincidentally, last week I also started arranging home delivery of an organic box of fruit and veg from Aussie Farmers Direct - the mystery of what we are going to get is exciting and it's prompting me to try new things. 

    But.... at the moment, it's 8:40 on a Saturday night and my body wants to feel the love of sugar. Doubts are starting to creep in - can I really sustain this? Is this worth it? Why deny myself so many things I love? This is a ridiculous idea.

    Nevertheless, I will not yield. This still feels like the right thing for me to try. 

    Where I'm struggling, how I'm coping:

    • As predicted - breakfast time! I know eggs on toast sound like a novel idea, but with two kids popping around me it's hardly the ideal breaky cuisine. I've opted for porridge with a sprinkle of cinnamon.Quite frankly, this isn't really cutting the mustard.

    I am however, chasing it down with a slice or two of multigrain toast with vegemite and I'm very excited that butter has made it's way back on the menu. This smooth delight is getting me through, and may possibly be doing a better job of filling me up than the muesli/fruit/yogi combo was doing previously.
    • After lunch: I'm craving that sweetness. I usually raid the cupboard for anything sweet - meringues, dried fruit, soft drink or, I drag the kids to the supermarket claiming we're in desperate need of milk (when in fact it's mum in desperate need of chocolate!) Voluntarily taking two toddlers to the supermarket is clearly the sign of a desperate woman. Over the last few days however - peppermint tea has been my savior.
    • Right now: as mentioned Saturday night. I deserve to relax a little don't I? Normally, I'm not a huge alcohol drinker, but given that wine gets the ok from Sarah I'm making that my weekend indulgence. And because one glass basically renders me paralysed, I rarely get up to get myself another.
    Meals I'm finding ok. I'm actually enjoying the relaxed attitude towards fats. It's a shift in thinking, but it's nice to make a meal with all the trimmings that go well with the foods (creamed silverbeet, carrot and radish salad with an oil based dressing for example - you can find these on my recipe page). It's the snacks that I'm finding tricky - no dried fruit, no fresh fruit, no rice crackers (sugar in there? Seriously!). But I'm trying to reach for nuts, plain crackers or the kettle for a herbal tea.

    Day four here we come...

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Why I'm going sugarfree

    Thanks to "twitterverse" I came across Sarah Wilson's "I Quit Sugar" e-book. Within a few pages of this little beauty I felt like this was the lifestyle change for me.

    For as long as I can remember I've been addicted to sugar (of course, I've only identified it as an "addiction" recently. Up until then I considered it a "sweet tooth"). I remember as a young girl (maybe 5 years old) being rather enthusiastic about accompanying Dad to his weekly squash game. While he sweated it out on the court, I'd be sneaking into the tea room to steal a few cubes of sugar. That memory still carries the same emotions as sugar does for me now: sheer delight coupled with shameful guilt.

    Now as a grown woman, a wife and a mother of two toddlers, I'm still sneaking sugar in where I can. Now it comes in the form of an impromptu "urge" to whip up a batch of meringues; the curious "need" for something at the supermarket, just so I can add a chocolate bar to the list; and even the very unhygienic habit of licking the sugar spoon between my two-spoons-of-sugar cup of tea.

    Here's the weird bit: I'm a fitness instructor . I live and breathe exercise. I'm also a huge advocate for toxic free cleaning and personal care products (this is me). On the outside I take very good care of myself. On the inside I'm poisoning myself.

    I'm quitting sugar because I need to balance up my values a bit. And, like Sarah, I also have a lurking thyroid issue going on, but in the form of hypothyroidism. It's not fully blown yet, but my GP tells me its only a matter of time. And, well, a few kilos shed wouldn't go astray either.

    A few less kilos + more energy hopefully = a faster half marathon time.

    So far, Sarah's e-book has taught me that aside from the obvious sugar hits I'm grabbing, I'm also taking it in with almost every meal of the day, and one bit of sugar (or fructose) just activates my brain to want more.

    So, I'm committed to giving it go.It's going to be tough. I expect these are going to be my biggest hurdles:

    BREAKFAST TIME: I've got to find an alternative to my beloved natural muesli, yoghurt and fresh fruit. There's sugar in the dried fruit of the muesli, the flavour of the yoghurt and the fructose of the fresh fruit (NB: as Sarah writes "when I talk about quitting sugar, I'm talking about quitting fructose").

    PEPSI: I know, a no-brainer right? But my husband and I are literally hanging out for our weekend fix of this dirty stuff. It's clearly gotta go.

    CHAI LATTE: After taking 3 fitness classes in a row on a Tuesday morning, my vanilla chai latte bides me and my appetite some time to get home, have a shower and fix myself up some lunch. I'm going to have to go - nuts!

    FRIDAY NIGHT = CHOCOLATE NIGHT!: This implies that I don't have chocolate on any other day, when in fact I probably have it in some form, at least every second day. But on Friday nights my husband and I usually enjoy half (or a full!) block together. This ritual normally extends to Saturday and sometimes Sunday night - meaning, I have had a big chocolate hit 3 out of 7 days of the week. Because of the marital bliss this brings us, I'm actually going to try to hang on to this. But it will be strictly one block for the weekend and if I find it's making me fall off the wagon - sorry DH it might have to go!

    Wish me luck! In fact, better than that - wish me good health!