I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Great Sugar Shake Up

I am one of those irritating people who loves to both challenge herself and take part in social-research type things. I answer polls, I fill in questionnaires, I stop when those people in shopping malls want your opinions on stuff, I road-test products for various organisations, and so on. Recently an opportunity came up to live "sugar free" for eight days for the purposes of a magazine article. Four people are doing this little experiment but the others are living without TV, mobile phone, and alcohol. I'm living without sugar, and the only guidelines were "no sugar at all and no fruit except limes, lemons, and oranges."

Yes, because apparently everyone loves to eat a lime right after a work out.

I took this experiment on because for me, sugar is less about a diet and more like a lifestyle choice. I'm probably like those McDonald's buns which can live in a jar and not look any different after a year of just sitting there. I think someday I will die and hundreds of years later they'll bring me back up and there I will be, perfectly preserved. Some days I think there is just far too my blood in my sugar stream.

So given all of that, I have to admit, living a sugar free life does not exactly appeal to me. Firstly, I kinda need to eat sugar as part of my job. It's not just a convenient excuse - we really do road test things (e.g. is there enough lemon rind in this lemon cake batter?).  Secondly, I rely on sugar to play the role of therapist in my life and I make no secret of the mood enhancing and hysteria calming qualities of Slurpees, chocolate buttons, and ice cream. Still, I love pushing myself and this seemed like a good a challenge as any - what is 8 days in a lifetime of sugar addiction, really?

A freaking long time, that's what.


I'm now onto Day 4 and I can say with some confidence that I am getting through it a lot easier than I thought I would be. By far the most annoying thing is how much I need to kick my food planning up a notch - and this is annoying because I already food plan (a whole hell of a lot. You do not lose 70 kilos by just looking like you care but not doing anything tangible about it.) All my usual "grab and go" meals, the ones I know are okay because they are reasonably good for me and fill the "rather eat this than grab something horrible" rules are pretty much out of the question now. Actually almost anything that comes in any sort of packaging is out of the question. From a food technology point of view, sugar is in fact a preservative - which is why almost all things which come in a package last so long. It's also a clever way around food which claim to be "low fat", where the 'moreish' quality which normally comes from fat is replaced with sugar.

I nearly sat down and cried when I noticed that the gorgeous veggie and protein filled sandwich I'd just made was suddenly a 'no go' because the mayo I'd used listed sugar as an ingredient. Then the salad my son made (blanched green beans, fresh baby spinach, toasted sunflower seeds, and a really nice soy dressing) was out because it had honey in it. Then the salad I made for dinner was out because the balsamic glaze had brown sugar in it. You get the idea. The grilled salmon with a teriyaki marinade? Also out. The chunks of sweet summer watermelon I'd lovingly chilled? Nope. I am not a fan (ok, I hate with an all-consuming passion) food or eating plans which tell you to restrict or limit things. I don't think it's the right way forward for long term success and I think it's a guaranteed way to ensure you're going to put back on every one of those kilos and then some.

However, I'm all about trying new things and social experiments, so I'm being a good sport and living by the (very vague) rules on this one. So far I see and feel no appreciable difference. I know it's only been 4 days (which seems like a woefully small amount of time) but still, no great exciting a-ha moments have emerged.  I definitely miss my morning bananas, but even that's not a big deal. Maybe the only thing of note is that I'm not really craving the chocolate buttons as much as I thought I would. I just have lost all interest in them entirely. I do miss the feeling of comfort and calm they give me, but I don't miss them for the sake of them. I'm also wandering around fairly anxious and overwhelmed, but there are plenty of non-sugary reasons for that so I can't say it's related.

Either way - even at the half way mark I can already say that it's been an interesting experience, and not one I wish to repeat anytime soon. It was 33 degrees today in the shade and let me tell you, a Slurpee would have gone down VERY well indeed (instead, 1.5 litres of water went down.) Healthier for me, sure, but so damn boring!

I might not be doing sugar for eight days, but I sure as hell don't ever plan on doing boring. Sugar (maybe just not quite as much) is back on the menu as of Tuesday.

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