Goodbye Coco Pops…
I love sugar. I always have. When I was younger there was nothing quite like a couple of penny sweets on the way back home from school or an iced bun at break time (I was well known for always having an iced bun in one hand). As I’ve got older I’m still rather fond of Coco Pops for breakfast (my stomach just let out a little rumble as I wrote that) and when the after dinner mints come out in the evening I am always there for first dibs. I’m the kind of person who looks at the dessert menu before looking at the mains. I’ve got a case of the ‘sweet tooth’, bad.
Whilst I feel like I’ve calmed down a fair bit on the sugar front over the past couple of years. I’ve really started to notice how it’s been affecting me. After going heavy on the sugar I feel buzzy for an hour or two and then I feel sluggish, like I want to curl up into a ball and sleep for a day or two. I see it in my skin too. My skin gets agitated and looks dull. A tiramisu dessert manifests itself into a raging whitehead the morning after. Then when I cut my consumption down my energy levels dip to a point where again I feel like curling up into a ball and sleeping for a day would be a great idea. Going cold turkey is gross and that’s why I need to belt up and ride it out for a while.
I’ve read books in the past like Sarah Wilson’s ‘How I Quit Sugar’, where she recommends cutting out all forms of sugar – fruit and all – and whilst I’ve given it a go, I’m one of those people that when I’m under a restriction not to have something, I want it more. I get hungry for it and all of a sudden my mind is filled with a million and one dancing chocolate bars. It just doesn’t work for me. Moderation is my thing when it comes to what I like to fuel my body with; a quinoa salad here, a pizza there, chocolate ice-cream for pudding. Lovely. This balanced blend is key and is something that with my impending travels, is going to be a little harder to stick to. So I’m putting in the groundwork now and attempting to get into habits and mindsets that allow me to consume my favourites, but in a way where I’m not somehow sneaking them into breakfast lunch and dinner (and dessert)…
Don’t buy it in the first place. If you don’t buy the biscuits in the supermarket, then they never make it into the tempting place that are your kitchen cupboards. In order to stick to this step I aim to have a shopping list whenever I enter a supermarket and I try to keep to it and make my trips super speedy so I haven’t even got time to peruse anything else.
Meal planning is key. Whenever I haven’t been to the shops and there’s nothing in the flat, I always find that I have the ingredients I need to make, say crepes for breakfast, or that tub or ice cream could do me for lunch, right? However, if I’ve planned out what I’m going to have each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner I rarely stray from it and if I do there’s a load of fruit, veg and just generally healthier options to pick from. Have a read of my Meal Planning Post that contains print-out PDF’s if you need some help in that area.
Better alternatives. Of course the pang for something sweet is still going to come, so making sure I have slightly healthier alternatives on hand is always helpful. My favourites are Madeleine Shaw’s Ultimate Chocolate Cookies, my Salted Caramel Protein Balls or just fruit, nuts and greek yogurt. I often snack on the latter with a scoop of vanilla protein powder stirred through after a workout to get in some protein and stop me stopping by the service station on the way back from the gym to pick up some Percy Pigs.
Drink water. Recently I’ve been horrible at getting my recommended water intake in and my skin is letting me know about. Hello dehydration! My brain and I can never seem to work out if I’m hungry or thirsty, so in those moments when I feel like devouring my bodyweight in chocolate I try to sip my way through a large glass of water and often it’s exactly what my body was calling out for. I just didn’t quite know it.
Have a bleedin’ chocolate bar. There are those occasions when you really, really want a chocolate bar and nothing else will just quite cut it. When I feel like that I just have the bleedin’ chocolate bar; no guilt, no worry. I haven’t undone all my hard work at the gym through one bar of chocolate, nor has my day gone completely off-track food-wise either. Chocolate is a beautiful thing and it’s there to be enjoyed, in moderation and as part of a balanced and nutritious diet – blah, blah, you’ve heard it all before – now pass me the Diary Milk Buttons.
Disclaimer: I am not a registered nutritional or dietician professional. These are my personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. If you’re looking for advice check out the British Nutrition Foundation or if you feel like you need to talk to someone about your relationship with food head to Beat.
Photos by Lauren Shipley