Content warning: this post is about sugar and not about anything D/s or kink related. It is written for the second part of May More’s Food Matters series and it does also mention cancer, although only in relation to sugar.
I wouldn’t say that I ever ate a lot of sugar. As you will have seen if you read HL’s post about living with a pain in the arse eater, I start every day by trying to be good. I had always seen fat and sugar as being bad so, as a rule, products containing them would be on my NO list. However, I started a new eating and exercise regime a few years ago and that sort of let me see (healthy) fat in a new light. If you have read my post then you will know that I enjoyed the new way of eating and exercise that I was using and it lasted for a couple of years I think. It didn’t end like most things because you want the bad stuff, it actually fizzled out because we got a dog.
Having the dog meant that we were walking more. I was on a step challenge at the time with some of the other lovely twitter subs I know and I had set myself the target of 10000 steps a day. We hadn’t planned to get a puppy but it just sort of happened and, as with so many who fall in love, it was not with the one we thought would be our type or suit our lifestyle, but with a crazy and quirky sprocker, a particularly high energy dog who loves the countryside. Our routine changed I guess and we were walking her in the mornings before work, which sort of put pay to the idea of the HIIT session. Although the diet remained similar, I probably slipped back into a low carb and low fat way of being, putting Joe Wicks back on the bookshelf.
I was hungry and at times my resolve would fail, hence the bag of Percy Pigs to which HL so lovingly referred. It didn’t happen often but sometimes I would be working hard and feel I deserved a sweet treat. My weight didn’t alter much as I weigh myself so often that I manage to stay in control of it, but even a pound or two feels like a lot to me. I wasn’t particularly looking to change though when I had coffee with a friend who was telling me about a cancer programme she had watched. She sent me the link and I watched it and decided to make some changes.
It seemed simple really. Sugar was one of the substances that cancer would feed on and, although I didn’t think that I had cancer at that time, it seemed like the easiest thing in the world to change. I stopped eating sugar. Not natural sugar but refined sugar, the white stuff that gets added to (now that I came to check the labels) EVERYTHING! I was rigid at the start. I am a rule follower and not a rule breaker after all, and rules about eating have always been my bread (homemade wholemeal once a day) and no butter.
It wasn’t that hard not to have any sugar as I made nearly everything from scratch anyway. The baking I do for others had to be avoided and it made me realise how often I had been tempted into something sweet at work – just a small one of course. Being able to say, “No, I have given up sugar,” was easier that saying that I was trying to be good, and in the end people stopped offering me sweet things. There was a bit of withdrawal but I had read that chocolate (90% or above) didn’t have much sugar in it so I allowed myself that little treat once in a while. It was surprising how sweet that bitter chocolate started to taste, once I had got the bad stuff out of my system.
I was sensible too. I have had enough years of crazy diets to know that denying yourself something only ends in relapse so I made a conscious effort to eat more at meals and not deny myself anything which was genuinely sugar free. I still ate fruit and, while I limited some carbs, others such as pulses made me feel that I was eating much better, and healthier, than ever before. I find that if I don’t eat sugar, then I can eat more of the other things while remaining the same weight. I don’t ever feel hungry, because I eat if I do, and I don’t have cravings for sweet things any more.
I have fallen off a couple of times and gone back to eating sugar but I end up feeling slow and sluggish and less healthy so I always start again and that feels okay. If I am out I am polite and will have what is served up and not worry and really, that seems to work well. I know that I am weird about food and my appetite is probably still more controlled by the psychological and the emotional rather than by the natural physical process, but I do think that this is probably quite a good way to live. If it is better for my health then that is the main thing, as I am at the age where I really need to take care of my body.
I guess maintaining what I see as being an acceptable weight will always be a thing for me and actually this works for that too. I have tried fasting but it encouraged my disordered ways in the end, and basically I want to enjoy my life. Family mealtimes are important to us and so missing them, or eating something different is not something that I ever felt was helpful once I became a mum. I have tried to project normal and healthy as best I can and, although I know that I haven’t done that as well as I had hoped, I think I have done better than I might have.
So no sugar for me, I am sweet enough as they say. Whether the programme I watched was accurate in its research or not I do not know, and sugar was only one of the many factors discussed in that particular masterclass. What did shock me was the way my body reacted to withdrawal – my head hurt, my pulse rate dropped (this was long term and it only creeps up if I drink alcohol or eat sugary foods) and I felt a bit as if I had the flu. If you have ever given up caffeine then it was a similar feeling, but it did open my eyes to the fact that somehow, sugar had developed subconscious and physical hold over me.
If you are interested in the programme that I watched then it was Conquering Cancer 101, although this link goes to the site and I think there is now a 102. It is quite long and I found the guy kind of annoying despite the fact that his information was good and what he said seemed to make sense. Anyway, that is really the story of my breakup with sugar, why it came about and how it has worked. I feel better for sure but also have to conclude that, sugar apart, walking the dog keeps you fit but doesn’t tone your body like a HIIT session would.
Skeleton in my closet: eating issues undressed is about my journey and the way that I am still affected by my difficult relationship with food and with my own body.
Healing is an autobiographical account of my experience, but told from a third person perspective as the distance made it easier to write.
Body Image explains the way that some of the body image issues still affect me.
Body Image, Beauty and Balance also looks at where my body image issues have come from and how we have been able to address them as a couple.