#1 It IS do-able. That might not sound like much if you’re new to this blog but readers of my earlier post,’10 things about cutting down on sugar (month one)’, will be aware I’m a self-confessed sugar monster and have been all my adult life.
We’re not just talking a sweet tooth that’s partial to the occasional treat now and again. We’re talking year-in year-out of enjoying a biscuit or sweet treat with every cup of tea… and trust me, I drink a lot of tea! Well not any more.
I still drink the tea but six months into my experiment to cut down on sugar and the biscuits are all but gone. In fact, the sole purpose of the biscuit barrel in my kitchen is now to keep my dad (a practising sugar monster) plied with biscuits when round for a cuppa.
#2 There have, I confess, been lapses. Sometimes for a few weeks at a time. Not full ‘back-on-the-biscuits-by-day’ lapses, but ‘slipping-back-into-the-habit-of-a-biscuit-or-two-at-night’ lapses. Most commonly, when my workload has been particularly punishing or the nights increasingly dark and wintery.
Occasional lapse aside though, I have managed a massive reduction in the sugary stuff over the last six months. As a result my energy levels are more sustained throughout the day and prone to fewer dips, I’m more focused at work and my skin is clearer. Much clearer. (See point 3.)
#3 Nothing renews determination like a lapse. Or rather, the after-effects of a lapse. One of my primary reasons for giving up sugar was the suggested link between it and adult acne – something that’s become an increasing problem of mine over recent years, yet has slowly but surely cleared up as I’ve cleared out the sugar.
Within just a few sustained weeks of sugar creeping back into my diet however, not one but FIVE spots appeared in the space of one weekend… all corkers too. On going out to dinner with friends I felt it only fair to forewarn them I was bringing along some uninvited guests! Let’s face it, there was no way they were going to miss them.
Fast forward another sustained month or two of all but cutting out sugar again and… no more spots. Lesson learned. Sugar definitely aggravates my immune system.
#4 With renewed determination comes rigorous inspection of ingredients – and with good cause. A humble sachet of Lemsip contains two grams of sugar. Two grams! According to revised guidelines by the American Heart Association that’s equivalent to one tenth of the recommended daily intake of sugar for women (20 grams or 5 teaspoons) in one teeny weeny sachet, and think how many of those you might consume over the course of a bad cold or bug.
Ironically, the reverse of the packet also states: “If preferred, sweeten to taste with sugar, honey or your usual sweetener.”
And it’s not just Lemsip. A single spoon of standard cough medicine can contain two grams of sugar and sweeteners in their different guises. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down indeed!
#5 I’m no saint. I can still be seen enjoying one of my mum’s home-made goodies once in a while or having a few spoonfuls of dessert occasionally when out for dinner. I just don’t need or want it nearly so much as I once did. And if I am going to indulge, I’ll choose wisely. I’d take a slice of home-baked cake over a sachet of Lemsip any day.
As Dr Lisa Young says in her article ‘Welcome to 2013: 8 Tips to Better Health’: “By incorporating and legalising your favourite cheat food once in while, you will less likely feel the need to have it.”
#6 It’s not as difficult to give up sugar as you think. And I never, ever thought I’d hear myself say that. But the more articles you read about sugar and the more educated you become about the harm you might be doing to yourself, the more you find yourself looking at goodies and thinking ‘bad’.
You also become much more aware of how you’ll feel after eating it… on a high for those brief moments where your blood sugar levels spike, then afterwards sluggish and just a bit ‘off’.
There is even, I have discovered, such a thing as a sugar hangover, where you wake after a night of indulging either in biscuits or a few glasses of wine and just feel ‘bluurghhh.’ Now, I can literally tell how good or bad my diet has been just by how I feel within myself.
#7 The more aware you are of what sugar could be doing to your system, the more aware you become about the other food stuffs you’re putting into your system. Oven chips (I know, I know, but they were a quick and easy answer whenever I was working late) are out, so too are takeaways, crisps and dips and the like. Fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and fish are in.
#8 There are whole aisles of the supermarket that I now no longer frequent. Something that only dawned on me recently as I found myself passing on by the biscuit aisle… then the confectionary aisle… then the crisps aisle… then the fresh cakes and desserts aisle… then the jams and Nutella aisle… then the baking ingredients aisle.
#9 The less sugar you have, the less you want. For me it’s all started to taste too… well… sweet and sugary, including my former favourite Cadbury’s chocolate. On a friend’s suggestion I tried Green & Blacks, a brand I previously bodyswerved for tasting a little bitter but now find a couple of squares at night does me nicely. Yes, my name is Lesley and I have become one of those people. The kind that are satisfied after a couple of squares.
#10 Lots of things start to taste different. It’s like my taste buds have changed now they’re no longer quite so pickled in sugar. Mentally and physically I’m becoming conditioned to liking cleaner tasting food – what top American personal trainer Jill Coleman refers to as an attitude of ‘eat clean’ in her blog post, ‘4 Ways Your Attitude is Hindering Your Results’.
My hourly cup of tea with milk is often swapped for straight green or white tea. I’d thank you more for a slice of juicy melon than a sugary biscuit. (Not with my cup of tea, right enough.) Even a glass or two of white wine is, dare I say it, now starting to taste a little sickly sweet. Leading me to wonder should I… could I… cut down or even cut out alcohol from my diet? Watch this space… !!
Tried cutting down on added sugar or alcohol? Leave a comment below.
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