Wow, that was intense. As a friend recently said on Facebook, who chooses Easter to give up sugar? Well, exactly.
As you know the office was teaming with the pungent aromas of Caribbean grown finest cocoa beans and I sat here like a Nigel no-mates while the rest of them inhaled it. At Easter, thus I was dreading the same again.
However, I got overly ambitious during a dead lift in the gym and totally pulled my back out. And I don’t mean a little niggle. While the endorphins got me home okay, once there I had to be lifted off the floor like a rag doll. Note to self and other women who dabble in weight training: when you’re doing a dead lift, don’t look down! Look ahead to keep the pressure on your core muscles and not on the discs in your spine. When I said to the guy in the gym: ‘Look I have slipped a disc,’ he looked at me faintly and explained it probably wasn’t that or I wouldn’t be able to walk at all. Then he went, ‘Don’t tell me, dead lifts?’ They’re a notoriously dangerous exercise and I am not sure strengthening my lower back is worth it TBH.
My husband got on with the festivities, going to see my niece dance only in the world championships in Irish dancing (and come third no less!). I meanwhile, having never had back pain in my life and hating being immobile and was forced to lie flat and rub myself in topical ibuprofen whilst applying simultaneous hot and cold to it repeatedly.
This continued for two whole days. All the online self-diagnosis I could muster (thanks NHS Choices) plus an interview I remembered with a GP said that after the acute phase had passed – the bit where you can’t move – you need to get back into things. So I did some yoga yesterday and today, walked to work and now, the pain is only a whisper of what it was.
While I was indisposed chocolate didn’t matter. I had no stress which is the one thing that makes me want it, so I was happy with my spartan protein dinners and almond snacks. But now I am back at work and just having had lunch I am thinking intensely about the secret chocolate stash; little bunnies left over from last week in the draw.
Still, I haven’t caved and if I am honest, I still don’t feel different in terms of suddenly shinier or happier. In fact, I am still picking more fights than usual with my Significant Other. I don’t really know what to do with my emotions – panic over money or deadlines or whatever used to get the chocolate treatment. Now I am left overwhelmed by my feelings and not quite sure what to do. Obviously, when any of that hit in the absence of the sweet treatment I did what any thinking woman would do and shouted at the person closest to me.
But there is some light and dare I say it, benefit, emerging. First, I feel a little calmer. More even. Not jittery in the way that I do when I am having lots of fruit or odd bits of chocolate through the day. Mostly, I have been surprised by the look of my skin, it’s gleaming in ways that it hasn’t for years, despite my being typically under slept. Here’s a pose-y close-up pic for you to see for yourself.
The whole lying flat for two days thing got me thinking about why I am doing this and it really is to feel better, to see what all the fuss is about and to see if I can. And to be honest, there are other benefits. I have a sense of feeling more serene around food – that a choice has been made for me so that’s one less I have to make in a day; restful for my decision-battered brain.
It brought home the need for some real rules to help get me through. For the moment, after speaking to people who have done it I have come up with the following (mind you next week, as I make my foray into the mountain anti-sugar literature, these may change a few times).
1. No Diet Coke There’s no point giving up sugar when everyone who has done it successfully says not to replace it. Truth is, I can be a Diet Coke fiend if allowed because it feeds my sweet tooth and makes me want it more. So it’s out.
2. No sugar Obv.
3. No sweeteners this will be hard but all the gurus say it’s best – but they say I can have a little Stevia occasionally (remember, it’s ‘methadone for sugar addicts‘)
4. 1-2 pieces of low sugar fruit daily – that’s apples, berries and pears
5. Minimum grains and starches I don’t really eat much of these anyway as they tend to leave me craving more – they turn quickly to glucose in my system and make me tired, more hungry and irritable.
6. Heaps of vegetables
7. Plenty of good proteins and healthy fats everyone keeps telling me how going full fat with everything keeps me satisfied longer. That was terrifying to do with milk but it works. I am having protein at each meal where I can too.
Still not sure what to do about milk I need it in my tea and can’t bring myself to cut it out even though some nutritionists say the lactose in it is sugar. I also like the odd bit of yoghurt (how many days can someone eat eggs for breakfast?). For this month at least and in the interests of sanity, we’ll keep it in.
What I have learned:
1. THE EMO THING When you stop having sugar in all its forms, at least for me, there are excess emotions hanging around. How to deal will be interesting
2. YOU WILL FEEL DEPRIVED But you need to keep focusing on the plus sides – on what you want from this. It’s the only thing that gets me through, the calmness, energy and clarity I want to feel.
What I ate today:
AM: Full fat yoghurt with Stevia, chia seeds soaked overnight, an apple, half a banana (technically not allowed as a high sugar fruit). Tea with milk
Snack: About ten walnut halves. Tea with milk
Lunch: Poached salmon, boiled egg, cucumber and spinach. Tea with milk.
Dinner: Mmmmm, Himalayan/Nepalese feast featuring lamb curry with okra and dal at my favourite local curry house, The Himalayan in Green Street Upton Park (who needs sugar when you can have curry – and no, I isn’t ask about sugar content!) – you have NEVER eaten curry like this.
Read more No sugar for 90 days blogs from Anna Magee:
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