Being a relative newcomer to blogging, I’m still finding my feet. Opening up online is taking some getting used to.
I know from previous posts like ‘Why I Googled how to stop eating biscuits‘, that the harder posts to write do resonate and help others the most. So, I’d thought I’d open up a bit more and just lay down where I’m currently at in my sugar-free journey…
First up, a word of warning on this post. It’s bit deeper (& thus a lot longer) than my usual posts…but it’s important things I feel I need to communicate.
My Happy Sugar Habits
Right now seems like a good and interesting time to let you in on where exactly I’m at with things. Last month I spent three wonderful weeks in America visiting New York, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Boston. It was my first ever visit to America and a trip I’ve been dreaming of for years. It also gave me loads of time to think, recharge and I had some amazing ideas when it came to my Mentor Me Off Sugar programme and future sugar busting plans (watch this space).
Like you, I’m on my own journey with sugar. I was once addicted, yes. I have done some serious time without it (felt amazing for it) and it’s fair to say, I feel very differently about it now than I used to.
Interestingly though, at the moment, I feel like I’m changing and I feel the need to share these developments.
I say this because I’ve become a little bit more relaxed these days – I’m letting a little sugar enter the building, I guess, as an experiment. When I say a little, I’m really not going mad (before you have visions of me diving head first into a chocolate bath). What I mean, is a little bit more relaxed with natural fruit sugar (fructose); a little bit flippant with hidden sugar when eating out; and a dabble to see if very occasionally, I can have a smidge of dessert and feel 100% in control. That’s the end game here right? It’s not for me how I can eliminate every gram of sugar from my life forever, it’s about control, freedom, zero guilt, happiness and what I call my own version of ‘sugar harmony’.
The reason America comes into this post is because it’s where I observed and tested some new sugar habits. I wanted to share some of my experiences and how I felt these three weeks (plus show you some of the photos!).
Firstly, there is a lot of sugar bounding around. It’s pretty in your face. I guess it’s not too dissimilar to here in London, but I just think over here (where I live) I have learnt to become blind to it. However, when you’re on holiday, you notice things more. I noticed sugar everywhere, sometimes just for fun. I even took photos of it as a novelty like some sort of crazy sugar tourist…Look at this giant chocolate rabbit ha!
What was nice, and made me feel safe, is that I really wasn’t bothered by most of it. Giant cookies didn’t appeal to me like they once would have. I had absolutely NO desire to buy anything in in the M&M store and the giant sweet shops made me feel sick (I just liked taking stupid pictures in them). Feeling this obvious change made me feel quite secure and safe. I think what I like most about my changed relationship with sugar is relishing in this control – knowing that I don’t desire sugar anywhere near as much as I used to.
That said, I’m not going to lie, there were some certain sweet looking things that did appeal on occasion and I did still get some cravings, often for particular things. Strangely, one of these was granola with fresh fruit and natural yoghurt (this used to be one of my favourite things). So I dabbled with some very posh expensive granola (might as well get the best right?!). It was really good, obviously pretty sweet and I didn’t need much of it. I did notice a bit of a slippery slope though. I wanted more and could feel the lure of this sugary food tempting me back in. I felt on the edge of control but I pulled back after a few days, resuming with green juice and egg breakfasts. I’m not going to be eating sugary granola at home, I learnt on holiday it’s still a sweet danger food for me, so that was a holiday special.
Expectations and ‘missing out’
As part of my American cultural experience I was aware that there were some foods I ‘should’ try. Like many, I absolutely love travelling and see trying different foods part of the experience, so I allowed myself some freedom here.
There was one day where I said, “right you’re allowed pancakes today Laura” (note an empowered decision). What was weird is that I just didn’t fancy them all day in the end. It got to lunch and I really really wanted this amazing salad I saw someone have – so I had that. I didn’t have pancakes or cheesecake the whole time. I intended to, but I just didn’t fancy that full frontal attack of too much sugar in my face and the occasion didn’t present itself. Again, nice satisfying evidence that I have changed.
Some will say I missed out. My holiday was jam packed with experiences as it was so I really don’t feel that way. I’m going to go back to America for sure, and I’m sure cheesecake and pancakes aren’t going to go anywhere!
I tried plenty of other foods I had on my list. I had a traditional bagel with spinach cream cheese; a burger (a good quality one mind). I loved some of the traditional soul food. My favourites being black beans and collard greens. I did try corn bread (which is basically cake) and I knew straight away it had sugar in it.
That brings me to my next point. I quite often ate sugar in things when away either by accident or just because it was ‘invisible’. I really didn’t stress about this because I saw it as part of the social experience and I wasn’t scared these smaller amounts of sugar were going to take me back to my old sugar ways. I controlled sugar where I could, and let it flow the rest of the time.
Because I wasn’t diving into the cheesecake, this hidden sugar is probably where I ate it the most by being more ‘relaxed’. I had some delicious pulled pork which I know is made with sugar. I had some freshly made sushi with a good friend and realised the seaweed had sugar in it as soon as I tasted it. I had some bucks fizz (including orange juice) at a Harlem choir brunch (to be fair, I found that quite hard to drink with it being so sweet). I didn’t worry myself with all this too much because that’s not the life I want to live and is why I have to write this massive post to explain it properly.
The most guilt I felt was that I needed to tell you all about this where I was worrying that everyone thinks I’m this 100% sugar-free goddess all the time. I eat a very very low sugar diet yes, but I’m not completely virtuous. I help others with my knowledge and experience and I think my realistic approach does nothing more to enrich the support I give.
For anyone that knows me, I live my life very socially and I thrive on being out with friends and family. I know that I can do all of this without sugar in my life and for the majority of last year I did that (whilst I was getting full control and finding my way). Now however, I feel I could be friends with sugar again, just in a very measured way. I liken it to splitting with a partner. Only when you truely let them go and accept a life without them, can you become friends.
At the same time, sugar can be a very slippery slop and sometimes I feel a bit risky with this approach. As a result I’m still pretty careful. I can’t eat it completely in moderation like the average (not formally addicted) Joe, because I accept my relationship is still a little delicate for that (& might forever be that way).
I appreciate for some individuals, it’s too hard to be ‘friends’, but I think it’s what I’m aiming for long term. I’m 28 years old and I need to find what works for me, much like you maybe different point in your life and need to find what works for you. I’m learning lots about this working 1-2-1 with my wonderful sugar balance health coaching clients. I ask them and I ask you now…where do you want your relationship with sugar to be in a years time? How do you want to feel around it?
Home ‘healthy’ home
I can’t deny I was looking forward to getting back to my nutritionally dense diet after my holiday. I felt I did eat more sugar those three weeks in total than I have for a while, I think I sensed cravings increasing towards the end because of it. So I got back, had a week back almost fructose free and my home habits resumed.
I had the most incredible holiday. Really, I could have written a whole other blog on it. To think I’ve written just this much about the sugar!
I hope you found this post helpful in some way and that it aids your own healthy efforts. If you’ve read this far and you feel compelled, I would love to hear where you think you are at the moment in your sugar journey? What is your ideal outcome from all your efforts? Leave a comment. It’s amazing to share
Over and out,