Tag Archives: fruit

How easy is it to give up sugar?

sugarI’m not going to tell a lie, it’s difficult.

After all, if you start looking at the labels on stuff there’s pretty much added sugar in everything from bread to the really naughty food stuffs.

And then there’s all the naturally occurring sugars in fruit, which gets increased when you smoothie them down – glad I sold my juice extractor!

Sugar, although it doesn’t have any real nutritional value is still part of the carbohydrate food group, which give us energy.

And we all know that anything sweet, sticky and generally looks sugar laden might be bad for us, but boy does it give us a quick, almost instantaneous sugar rush.  (You only need to watch a group of children at a party once the ice cream and cakes have gone).

The addictive nature of sugar is what makes it so tempting and easy to reach for a chocolate bar or a slice of cake (or even the entire cake) when we’re feeling down, tired, emotional, etc.

But sugar is now the bad boy of the food world.

We consume too much refined sugar which in turn, can increase our chances of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease to name but a few. And with a health service that’s already stretched shouldn’t we do something that may ease the burden?  Even if it means missing out on a slice of cake?

Now, I don’t eat chocolate. I know, I’m a girl so I must have chocolate cravings, right? Um, no. Actually, I can’t eat it. I’m one of the rare few for whom chocolate actually does not give a euphoric contentment. It does the complete opposite, I get a real, real, bad low.

And, as you all know I’m a recovering “Biscuitholic” – it’s now been 4½ years since my last biscuit!

But, I do have to confess to liking cake. The creamier the better. Carrot cake (slightly healthier option), coffee cake, vanilla, you name it, if it has got frosting, yes please.

Well, back to the point, last year I kind of got to the stage where I thought I needed to lose a few pounds – the jeans were feeling a tad on the tight side – and I had a bit of a flabby tum from not having done too much ab work following my op.

When lo, what should behold me at the local newsagent but a magazine about how to get rid of your “sugar belly”. And so, of course I bought it.

It was very enlightening, I can tell you.

For instance, I now know that the little aches and pains I notice in my joints after I’ve had something sweet are actually called “sugar aches” – who knew?  That certainly explains a lot.

So after reading the magazine thoroughly, several times, I decided that I should try this crazy idea. (At this point I had weighed myself – big mistake, huge!)

The basic idea is that you go pretty much cold turkey for 2 weeks and then gradually reintroduce sugar, see what reaction your body has and then just reduce the amount you eat.

After all, going back to the fact that it is a carbohydrate, it’s not all bad.  Just like anything it’s better in moderation.

Out went the sugar-laden breakfast cereal (I hasten to add it was only Shreddies) and in came porridge. I have to confess I couldn’t give up milk (which yes has sugar in it – obviously a naturally occurring one, but still pretty much ½teaspoon every 100ml), so I didn’t go completely cold turkey.

And to the porridge I added cinnamon. This gives it the sweet(ish) taste that your body may crave, but is actually (and I didn’t know this) a “fat-busting” herb! (Bring it on!)

I’ve got so accustomed to this now, that I simply couldn’t go back to any other cereal – it would be too sweet.

So, what else did I cut out?  Fruit, smoothies, cake, bread, etc., and I avidly began reading labels off everything.

The first day was breeze, by the second day I did start to feel a bit shaky and headachy, the third day I was pleased I didn’t actually have to work but by the fourth day I felt much brighter.

So, for the first few days you do have to think of the long-term aim and not give up.  It is hard, but you have to use that old willpower.

Over the next 2 months, I was amazed at how easy it became not to reach for the sugary stuff. And yes, I did substitute, like all the celebrity magazines. I’ve used brown sugar for years instead of white, but I also now use agave nectar, which is low GI and has a lower sugar content than honey.

And like when I gave up biscuits, my taste buds changed. I no longer craved sugar, and when I smelt something sweet all I could smell was the manufactured, processed yuckiness!

And did I mention the weight? Well, it literally fell off. (As that weight control freak, I wanted to lose a good 10-12Kgs. Not that I needed to, but that would then get me down to a weight I felt comfortable with and pretty much back to pre-baby weight).

After 2 months I had lost 5Kgs and felt great. I actually had more energy than when I had been eating sugar.

So, then I started gradually introducing a “sin” – not every day, but once a week. What I did notice, was that after eating it I got sugar-aches. The weight stabilised, but then as we drew near to Christmas…let’s just say “Oops!” maybe a few pounds crept back on – what can I say, I’m a sucker for Stollen!

But, here we are 4 months into the year and I am almost, so very nearly there. I have maybe 2-3Kg to go.

I’m still on the porridge with cinnamon and I try to avoid foodstuff with sugar in, but if it does I actually (how sad is this?) calculate how many teaspoons it is.  I generally manage to stick within 1tsp a day – it’s tough, but you can do it.

I now find I have more energy not eating sugar than I did when I did.

 

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How to Cope with Life the “Quirky Way”

Re-published Blog post from 2013

“This was an article I read in the paper last week.

We all have days when we think “why did I bother getting up”, or “my life is sooo boring”, or we are just plain exhausted, or our job is getting us down and we feel anxious, stressed and depressed.

Research by Direct Line, the insurance company revealed that we all try to cram so much into a day, that approximately 25% of us end up feeling too tired to enjoy the fun things in life.

So, a Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor in human behaviour at the University of Central London came up with the following suggestions to bring a little boost to our energy levels:

  • Listen to a minute and a half of loud rock music pre day at around 11:30 am.
    • Apparently it’s an ideal way to keep you going until lunch – and I thought that was, according to the adverts, a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (or indeed any other breakfast cereal). At the moment we alternate between School Disco in my car CD player (SC is particularly fond of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”, or Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love”) and Now that’s what I call 30 years of Music (favourite tracks The Proclaimers “500 miles” or Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell!”) – will try blasting them out tomorrow morning at 11:30!
  • Allow time for a power nap during the day.
    • Personally, I’ve never been a power napper. Closing my eyes during the day makes me feel worse, sick and then I can’t sleep at night – so I’ll be giving this one a miss I think.
  • Jog to meetings and lunch to boost endorphins.
    • Endorphins, as everyone knows are what make you happy – it would certainly make me smile to watch everyone in an office jogging along the corridor to their next meeting, or indeed jogging along the busy streets of London (and yes, I know not everyone works there) in their power suits off to the local supermarket!
  • Write in different colours and styles.
    • Ooo, I can see a surge in sales of those pens with 4 different inks in them. You know the ones, with one click you can go from blue to black to red to green. Many a happy hour was idled away at school changing colours. Even at university I used to write in different coloured ink. Assignments were sent in red, turquoise and I think even lavender at one point! And as for style, mine changes like the weather and depending on my mood ranging from very neat and tidy to doctor scrawl which needs several different interpreters to decipher what I actually wrote!
  • Indulge in social media for 5 minutes at a time!
    • Seriously? 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work, 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work ….
  • Start a hobby that improves self-esteem – to make the things that ‘have to be done, like going to work, feel easier.’
    • Surely anything that you enjoy will improve your self-esteem whether that is pounding away on the running machine and the weights at the gym to something more creative like writing, art or music. After all, if we indulge in what we love and enjoy then we release more happy hormones, don’t we? And surely, self-esteem starts with feeling happy?
  • Doodle (not write) to-do lists first thing in the morning.
    • I used to be so organised before I had SC, and I was working. Now I just used post-it notes, which get stuck everywhere, or write lists in various notebooks!
  • Sleep on the wrong side of the bed.
    • Seriously, do people have a wrong and right side? As long as the mattress is firm and I have enough room to stretch my long legs out, without them ending up dangling off the end of the bed I do not care one iota which ‘side’ I sleep on. I know I’m anal about most things, but which side of the bed I sleep on is not one of them!
  • Eat a piece of fruit at 3pm to combat the afternoon ‘slump’.
    • A natural burst of sugar to keep you going until the end of the working day. I used to do that at work when I was pregnant, because around 2/3 o’clock was when my blood sugar plummeted and I started feeling nauseous. Orange juice kicked up the blood pressure, didn’t quite get rid of the mid-afternoon sickness though!
  • Set New Year’s resolutions in July.
    • I get the whole it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, etc. Time to make a fresh start. But I don’t see why we have to wait an entire year before starting, or finishing, something we want to do – like going on that diet, finding a new job, etc.
  • Tube surf – change your usual route to work.
    • When I first read this I had images of commuters standing on the tube platform in the morning with surf boards under their arms and strains of The Beach Boys “Wipe Out”, playing over the intercom system. I always used to tube surf. It’s sometimes a necessity when the tube line you need is severely disrupted, and you end up with varying ways to get to the office. Even when I drove to work I would sometimes just drive a different way in. Plan B is always essential on the commute, you never know what hold ups with occur.
  • Get a personal mantra.
    • I’m all for mantras. The more positive and focussed the better.
  • Let imagination and creativity run wild by reading a favourite childhood book.
    • Einstein said “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere,” and also “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!” As adults we lose our childhood imagination to see the world as a vast adventure, and it does become a hum-drum existence of working to live instead of living to work. Where does our imagination go? Why does it get stifled?

I’m all for quirky 😉

I never do things by the book.

If you’re feeling a tad stifled in your existence, try some of the above. What’s the worst that can happen?

As for favourite childhood books, I’m such a bookie it’s a hard decision. My top 5 would probably be “A Dream of Sadlers Wells”, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, Family from One End Street” and “Mallory Towers” (I so wanted to go there when I was little!”)”

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Jam Making…

…so we have an absolute glut of gooseberries, and still have at least half a bush still to pick.gooseberries

Redcurrants aren’t ripe yet, but we will have a goodly stash of those, and a few hundred blackcurrants.

So my mum has decided to make jam!

Actually gooseberry seems to be quite easy – equal amounts of fruit and sugar, bit of boiling and Bob’s your uncle, so to speak.

But, I have one question that has got me stumped!

Gooseberries are green.

Why then, is gooseberry jam red?

Anyone know?

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