I have been intruiged by my desire for comfort food for some time. There is so much discussion about our emotional eating in the media nowadays, but I wondered how far I was using food to quell my emotions and which particular thoughts and feelings created the desire in me to change my emotional state. So, I have set myself a challenge, to not eat anything sweet for 2 weeks. So no sweets, or booze, and not even any fruit.
Our culture encourages us to treat ourselves or indulge ourselves with sweets and alcohol, we use them to celebrate- cake and champagne. Or to cheer ourselves up- chocolate and ice cream. We are encouraged to associate sweet foods and booze with feeling happy. So there is no surprise that if we are feeling glum or stuck or miserable, that we reach for a little pick-me-up, that sugar thing. But at what cost?
How could I say good bye to sugar? It has been my dear, dear friend for a long time. I don’t even dare to try and estimate how many tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream I have devoured, on my own, not even including the ones I have (im)patiently shared with someone else! The inspiration that I feel every single day through working with my clients, had brought to light my need to re-evaluate our sweet-friendship. I often discuss with my clients how their diet affects their levels of happiness, anxiety etc. I had been noticing how I crave something sweet when I feel a bit out of sorts or confronted by something as well. I eat sugar to comfort myself. I feel an emotional niggle and then, instead of being still and listening to what is really going on for me, I eat some chocolate, or I have a glass of wine….ahhhhh…nice, …all better.
But, all better, only lasts a short time. Saying au revoir to sugar feels like the right course of action right now.
I have worked with many clients to reduce their consumption of both caffeine and sugar, with fantastic anxiety reducing results. So, it is clear that some foods do have side effects. I have had a rash in my armpit for nearly a year. I have tried numerous creams but nothing has cleared it up for longer than a day or two. I have suspected that the cause of it may be candida. I chose to cut out sugar to see if I could clear up my rash and also to explore my own relationship to my niggling emotions, and how I desire to take the edge off them with sugar, (usually chocolate,) or a glass of wine or two.
I am now on day thirteen and for those of you who may have seen on Facebook, I have had a rollercoaster of a time. I have also had some really surprising results. I started on a Monday and by the weekend I was feeling pretty awful. I was irritated and upset, cross and angry, frustrated and angry. You name it, I felt it.
I was confronted with thoughts and feelings that I had been having on and off for a long time, which I had been brushing aside for months. Now they weren’t being subdued through feeding the edginess of them with a bit of sweet medication. They were there, each way I turned, there was nothing to do except sit with it and find out what was really going on.
Now, if any of you are thinking of giving it a go, I have to highly recommend that you don’t have anything important that you have to do in the first two weeks!! Support yourself as best you can. Don’t make any decisions whilst you are in the edgy withdrawal stage. Give yourself the time and space to journal about your feelings and talk to a dear friend. The clarity that is bound to arise from looking at your true feelings needs time to bed in.
The brilliant film ‘That Sugar Film’ has a website and some resources to help you to reduce your sugar, including recipes. My top tip is to buy some licorice tea to have when you are feeling a craving. It satisfies the desire for sweetness and the necessity for you to keep yourself hydrated. My favourite is licorice and peppermint tea by Pukka.
Now I am nearly at the end of my planned two weeks, I have decided to do it for another two weeks. I shall see how I feel after a month, and then re-evaluate the system. I may even go wild and have a banana! Ha ha.
But seriously, the results are:
I’m so much more creative with my meals.
My veg consumption has increased loads. Sweetcorn tastes AMAZING!
My taste buds have definitely altered already.
My armpit rash has gone down considerably.
I have also has bumpy skin on my legs, for forever, and my legs are beginning to feel smoother than before I can remember.
I am not craving something sweet.
I feel strong, alert, so much less tired.
I notice my feelings when they come up and I sit with them and don’t judge them straight away. This way I ask myself what is truly at play and what I can do about it.
This journey is having a profound effect upon who I am and what I believe I can achieve.