It’s day three of her no sugar for 90 days diet and Anna Magee comes face to face with the dearth of sugar-free snacks at the theatre and is forced to confront the Diet Coke conundrum
Somebody needs to tell the caretakers of London’s West End: ‘Cater for the sugar-free, beeatches.’
Last night I went to the theatre to see a great production of The Weir with Dervla Kirwan (who my husband loves). It was our Tuesday night Wild Card – one of the ways our marriage survives the hours we work. A crib sheet: each week we take turns organising a night out together and the other doesn’t know what’s happening.
Trouble was we hadn’t eaten, it was one act show starting at 7.30pm and going for an hour and 45 minutes without an interval. I had a major blood sugar panic and was worried about starving to death or going into a hanger meltdown during the show so wanted to grab a snack. The little shop at the The Wyndham Theatre that was selling programmes and ‘refreshments’ sold fruit pastilles, Maltesers and some other chocolate-covered breadstick things. That was it. What if you’re a diabetic? So I opted for a giant box of salted nuts and a Diet Coke from the bar. It was the only option, your honour.
This has thrown up two conundrums. The first is, I kind of know I have to give up Diet Coke. Actually, make that I really know. Here’s why:
Studies that I have reported on have shown people who drink diet drinks are fatter than those that don’t. One study from the University of Texas Health Science Centre found that people who drank 21 diet drinks a week were twice as likely to be overweight and another looking at people drinking diet soft drinks over ten years found their waists grew a staggering 70 per cent more than non-diet drinkers.
‘Diet drinks feed a sweet tooth as gram for gram artificial sweeteners they can be 13,000 times sweeter than sugar,’ says nutritionist Zoe Harcombe. ‘This perpetuates our desire for sweet things.’ Sweeteners have also been shown to have a similar effect on blood glucose and insulin levels as real sugar. ‘These blood sugar fluctuations drive cravings for sweet substances when blood sugar is low,’ she explains. Artificial sweeteners also trigger a desire to eat more. ‘When it receives a sweet taste without the calories it expects, the body can inadvertently seek out more real sugar, triggering sweet cravings,’ says Harcombe. Obesity researchers now speculate that this could also inhibit the production of hormones that make us feel full after eating.
Then there’s the nuts. How many nuts can one woman eat? People keep telling me to go full fat everything during this no sugar diet and I am wondering if I will end up like the side of a house from eating my own body weight in nuts. Daily. Last night I ate a giant box because there was no alternative, but even now, there’s little left to me by way of afternoon snacks but boiled eggs and walnut halves.
But there is good news. the headache is gone. I slept right through the night last night. More tomorrow.
What I ate yesterday:
Pre-workout: Half a banana and a cup of tea
Breakfast: Scoop of pea protein, frozen strawberries, flaxseed oil, almond milk and spinach smoothie
Lunch: Pret chicken and edamame soup, crayfish and avocado salad.
Snack: Six walnut halves
8pm: Large box of mixed nuts, Diet Coke
10pm: Three Ryvitas, one with peanut butter and tomato and two with avocado and tomato. Half a banana.
What I learned yesterday:
1. The headache when you give up sugar will go. Hurrah!
2. Diet Coke only perpetuates your cravings.
3. London’s theatres do no cater for the sugar-free.
More in Anna Magee’s No sugar for 90 days blog series
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