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Eating for Wellness

Kicking a lifelong sugar habit 

The bain of my life. I love that sweet white (or brown) stuff that is seriously bad for our health if we consume too much of it. Sugar has been deemed the new smoking which is pretty serious stuff.

I quit smoking at just 17 (yes I started horrendously young thinking it was cool), but I haven’t been able to quit my nasty sugar habit. Why? Because despite the health warnings, sugar is readily available and convenient. It’s a social thing – I love the idea of afternoon tea with the ladies, even though I always feel horrendous afterwards.

I’ve needed sugar more than ever since having my little boy nearly three years ago. It’s a huge energy boost. I probably indulged my sweet tooth more than I should have when I was pregnant. This swiftly stopped during my second trimester when I was wrongly diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (long story). I had to prick my finger around seven times a day and record my blood sugars before and after each meal. That should have been enough to make me realise that sugar had a pretty detrimental effect on our bodies. And cutting sugar out made me realise how addicted I am and how much I actually consume daily.

After a traumatic labour, a long recovery and the sleepless nights that inevitably come with newborns; my sugar addiction was at its peak. Often I needed two or three chocolate bars just to get through the day. I don’t eat large portions and I don’t eat badly overall, I’m a grazer. So I get away with not putting much weight on as it balances it out with the calories I consume overall. But it’s the damage it’s doing that I can’t see that’s worrying me.

I find sugar oh so comforting. Like a big snuggly blanket after a long day, a much deserved chocolate bar and hot chocolate (sometimes both). The day doesn’t feel right without a proper cup of tea and I just can’t take it without sugar. I only take a half but I just don’t enjoy it without, although people tell me I’ll get used to it. I’d rather not have a tea than have it sugarless!

Sugar is a huge boost when I’m lagging, the mid-day slump quite often gets me. I’m really fascinated by nutrition and I’ve read enough articles and books to know that a sugar hit causes a spike in blood sugar. This causes you to feel great for a short while afterwards but you feel tired again once blood sugar levels drop. This results in craving another sweet hit and so the vicious cycle continues.

I don’t believe in completely depriving yourself, I just need to develop the discipline to keep sugar as an occasional treat. And stop being in denial about how much I’m consuming. I need to find healthier ways to get my energy, such as earlier nights (another challenge for me, I’m a night owl!) For me, rather than vanity side of to, I need a driver to make me feel serious about change. Sugar usually makes me feel fantastic (at least for a short time), so I find it hard to find the motivation to kick it.

The effects sugar can have on your body

After a morning at work and a long shopping trip, I came home yesterday and made the hot chocolate I’d been dreaming of for hours (in my defence I did resist nipping into Costa!). I also nibbled on a few large squares of Lindt chocolate and a couple of Jaffa cakes and some muesli and yogurt. I felt awful afterwards really jittery, I think I’d just consumed an very intense burst of sugar. I also recently kept on getting poorly and a had a couple of fungal infections. I did some research and found out about Candida, which is a bacteria found in our bodies and a certain amount is vital for our health. If Candida overgrows it can cause chaos in our bodies and affect our health and mood. Sugar is the perfect breeding ground for this stuff to multiply which is pretty scary.

A contribution of these factors and the fact I’m starting to take my health more seriously, has given me a huge kick to develop more willpower and make some changes. It won’t be easy kicking a lifelong habit but I’m determined to do it. I made myself a huge Tuna salad for tea and I’m swapping my high sugar granola for weetabix and banana in the morning.

The best advice I’ve read recently is to start with small, achievable changes weekly and gradually introduce more over time. Making any drastic change to our lifestyle poses the risk that we’ll find it too much and will go back to our old ways. We are creatures of habit after all.

It’s very easy to slip into bad habits. Do you have any tips of how you’ve managed to reduce your sugar intake?

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