So two weeks down the line and here I am. Sitting in bed on a sunny Sunday morning enjoying avocado and egg on multigrain toast, and a diet coke. Ain’t life sweet. Or, well, not to be exact. It has been 16 days now since I, Emily Duffield, decided enough was enough and made the brave decision to cut sugar out of my life.
I wish I could say to you all that I am a woman with a will of iron and have not touched sugar once. Alas, I am only human, and this human has had a few stumbles on the road to recovery. Like yesterday for example. I live with a cooking school student who spent a sleepless Friday night making one hundred honeycomb macaroons to be delivered Saturday morning to some fancy restaurant. I wake up, walk into the bombshell of the kitchen and there are mutant macaroons EVERYWHERE. And not only macaroons that didn't make the cut, there is also a whole slab of honeycomb just winking at me on the side, and a tub of leftover chocolate ganache practically calling my name. Before I know it the macaroons are in my mouth, there’s honeycomb flying everywhere and the chocolate ganache is all over my hands and face. Hell I even picked up the golden syrup and threw this into the mix. Epic fail. But half an hour later what tasted so good at the time, really did not feel so good. So unused to this amount of sugar (there were a lot of unwanted macaroons) my body is now literally pulsing and I feel terribly queasy. But instead of beating myself up for my fail, the way I felt after the sugar just reminded me of why I was giving it up, and just reiterated how refined sugar is not good for us. I find it scary to think that my body felt so horrific after a morning sugar hit…something which just over two weeks ago would have been a standard procedure for myself.
Yes that’s right; I was a glutton when it came to sugar. Fuelling my body daily on a diet of chocolate and sweets I lost all want for savoury. Ever needing my next 'fix' I substituted meals for chocolate bars, cupcakes and tubs of nutella. So it shouldn't have come as shock when on my last visit to the dentist after years of never having a filling I suddenly needed four. Going cold turkey was my only way out, and it couldn’t have come sooner.
One thing that I have found hard to break these last two weeks is my idea of sugar as a 'comfort'. Earlier in the week I felt extremely drained and disappointed in myself and there was a pack of biscuits just within reach. I didn't fight it, and I put one after another in my mouth. And after eating the whole pack did it fill the void? No. Did it make me feel any better about myself? No. In fact it made me feel worse because now not only was I still disappointed with myself I was also disappointed with my lack of willpower. But instead of applying my old “F- it I’ve broken the diet lets go crazy and eat everything I couldn't” I just saw it as an unavoidable slip-up (I am only human after all!) and resumed my sugar-free eating for the rest of the day. And that is the beauty of going sugar-free, it’s not a 'diet' as there’s no limit on food, or restricting of portions or snacks, so there’s no real feeling to go crazy on ‘banned’ foods.
So all in all cutting out sugar has not been as hard as expected. As long as I am prepared and make sure I have a snack, or sugar-free meal ready to go then there is no excuse to turn to a sugary option. And have I been hungry, or had cravings for sugar? Surprisingly not really. Since eliminating it from my diet I find myself developing more of a savoury tooth and (joy of joys) I am no longer waking up desperate to get to the nearest dairy in order to satisfy my need for chocolate.
Another fantastic side-effect from giving up sugar is losing my insomnia. For a long time now I have struggled with sleeping, and in no doubt in my mind that was part due to the huge amount of sugar I was daily pumping into myself. Since eliminating refined sugar I am getting into bed and falling straight to sleep. And my moods…well what moods?! I find myself a lot less irritated and snappy then I was before, no doubt due to my stabilized blood sugar.
Quite surprising is the amount of positive feedback I have got from people for doing this. Expecting to be regarded as some sort of freak, I instead receive “Oh wow, good on you…I wish I could but I just couldn't do that”. Well my friends, YOU COULD. If Emily 'nutella spread thickly on cream biscuits is a healthy breakfast' Duffield is managing then I do think anyone could. I am not going to alienate myself from people, or make this diet change make my life difficult in anyway…after all if it’s something I want to carry on doing it’s got to be sustainable. So I still drink alcohol, and still eat out. According to Google sugarless vodka and soda will be my new best friend, but sadly vodka has never been my friend. So I turn to dry white wine instead, as there’s less sugar (if any) in that. But obviously if the odd cocktail makes an appearance I am not going to turn it down!
Two weeks in and I'm not only proud that I am still doing this, I’m also shocked at quite how little I feel like I'm having to fight urges or restrict anything. And only 16 days in I'm starting to see this new way of eating as a way I would love to follow for the future, not just for a limited time. Right now I feel like I can have my cake, and not eat it!
For me this diet change would be a huge fail if I didn't always have some sugar-free snacks to hand as then I would be tempted to reach for the biscuits. Here are some easy sugar-free snacks:
- Air-popped popcorn (get the kernels, 2 minutes in the microwave and a spoon of honey mmm)
- Frozen berries
- Hard boiled eggs (I literally have these coming out my ears at the moment…so good with just pepper and salt on)
- Sugar-free jelly and unsweetened natural yogurt
- Carrot sticks with 'Lisa's hummus dip' (yay a sugar free dip!) or homemade guacamole
- Dried dates and figs
- Frooze balls (dates, cashew nuts, almonds, carob and coconut squashed into these amazingly tasty balls of goodness) … a great substitute to a chocolate brownie
- Grilled banana with honey and cinnamon
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