Thursday, 9 May 2013

Sugar Detox - Coping with cravings

Well, after my cheesecake-chucking experience on Monday, I decided to get serious about my health and cut out sugar. Am not sure yet whether it's going to be a "no sugar, ever" or "ok, maybe a little every so often if I can have it without bingeing"... I think time's going to tell.

But the first step is to get though the detox. I know from past experience that this isn't a fun thing to do - I expected headaches, crankiness and generally to be a moody bitch. Which is why I'm slightly shocked that I am on Day 3 and haven't bitten anyone's head off yet!

I have been craving the sweet white poison though - that little voice in my head was trying to convince me to buy some donuts and icecream, and that I could start again tomorrow. That's the voice which has derailed me more times than I can remember, and thankfully today I chose to ignore it. I needed to go to the store so bought a BBQ chicken, some salad, and some 'no sugar added' yoghurts. I'm going to try and avoid artificial sweeteners, but they're in the fridge as a backup in case I totally crack.

The other thing I bought was a pack of apples. I had one this afternoon and they were amazing - sweet and delicious. As Robert Lustig says about fructose in my favourite book ever - Fat Chance - "when nature gives you the poison (ie. fructose) she also gives you the antidote (ie. fibre)" and it's true. I've never been that much of a fruit person, but I think these ones might be winning me over.

I'm drinking plenty of water, and also decided to just eat as much non-carb food as I want this week while I'm going through sugar withdrawal. I'm going to make it as easy as possible for myself to stay with this, without feeling deprived. So right now I have the most delicious-smelling pork belly cooking for my dinner! Can't wait...

It's one day at a time - keep shining!

Monday, 6 May 2013


Tonight I threw out cheesecake. Perfectly good cheesecake. Sweet delicious cheesecake with a crunchy base and smooth creamy texture. And I threw it out. Well, I ate about a quarter of it first, but let me explain...

For months now I've been trying to lose weight by cutting out wheat, and reducing my dairy. And I've been struggling. The lure of wheat and sugar, especially when you add some delicious fat was just too much, and after three or four days of being "good" I'd end up going on a binge, and buying then eating every Cornetto in the shop. Not really designed to make a girl feel great about herself, and each binge came with a "now sweetie, WHY did you do that?" personal chat afterwards, never with any particularly good reason.

 But after reading an insanely good book "Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease" by Robert Lustig, I feel like I might finally be understanding what's going on. I can honestly say this book has been a life-changer. 

In a nutshell, the way Dr Lustig explains it is this. Every time you eat carbohydrate-based food, your body releases insulin so that it can convert it into either glucose (which can be processed by pretty much any part of your body) or in the case of sugar, split into glucose and fructose (which can only be processed by your liver).

Once enough insulin is in your system, it's supposed to trigger leptin, which is the signal to your brain that you're full and that it's time to stop eating. Except in many obese people, your body is leptin-resistant, so your brain doesn't get the signal and it thinks you're still hungry. So no matter how strong your willpower is, if your brain thinks you're starving it will either slow down your metabolism to conserve energy (he calls this "sloth") or force you to eat more ("gluttony").

Talk about a light bulb going off! So there's a very big chance it's not just me being a lazy arse, there is a reason that no matter how successful I am in the rest of my life, my biochemistry is screwed up and the years of yo-yo dieting have just contributed to it. 

So today I went and had tests done for my insulin levels and leptin resistance. The prep for the Glucose Tolerance Test is three days of high carb food. At first I thought this was a great excuse to have all the "naughty" food I wanted, and I went to town at the supermarket. Bread, pasta, cakes, fruit juice, soda - you name it, I bought it. And for the first day it was great! By the second day I was feeling quite sluggish and headachy, and by the third day I was forcing myself to eat. Quite a strange feeling for me! For some reason my body was just rebelling - maybe it was because I knew what this was doing to me now.

Anyway, after three hours at the doctor's I finished up, went and had some breakfast, and ended up back in the supermarket. The little voice in my head said "ok, so you know you should start eating low carb today, but as you've already had a huge pile of glucose already why not have some yummy sweets today and start tomorrow". Yes, that little voice has been my downfall on many an occasion, and today was no different.

So I bought a cheesecake. And cream. And I came home and tried to eat it. While watching "Supersize vs Superskinny". Yes, I see the irony. But the interesting thing was that I couldn't finish it. I put it back in the fridge, and all day I've been surprised that I didn't want any more. So just now I threw it out. Put it in the garbage and took it out to the bin. And I am so proud of myself!

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and today I took that step.