One of the biggest benefits of this yogic path I’ve chosen to walk on is that it seems to have given me an internal camera, inward eyes if you like, that not only allows me to get more in touch with myself on a spiritual level, but helps me to really see and feel the affects of the food I’m putting in my body. More than ever before. And the more steps I take along the path, the clearer the lens gets. But what makes it blurry again is when I eat shit. I can’t give many concrete facts around this topic because I’m not a Deliciously Ella-fied nutritionist (watch this space), but what I do know for sure is that not only does a poor diet eventually show itself on the outside, it also massively affects our mind and our mood; a link that I’m growing increasingly sensitive to.
Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a sugar fiend. Ok addict. BUT. I’ve admitted it, I’m fully aware of it, and now I’m doing something about it. After Easter a few weeks ago, with the whole week having been underlined with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, I felt repulsed by the amount I’d consumed and the new wobbles I’d inherited. You know that feeling when you jog up the stairs after a few indulgent days… Uh uh. Not cool. But not only did I feel physically bleurgh the following week, I felt blocked, unfocused, lethargic and moody; trying to get anything done was a sticky, uphill struggle. Ok I’m gonna be honest – Easter aside, this is a pattern of mine that generally shows up on Saturdays and Sundays. Most used phrase: ‘Start Monday!’ Anyone relate? I’m not gonna lie, I ate two chocolate brownies, a piece of banana cake and half a family-sized slab of Green and Black’s white chocolate last night, with a sugar-coated devil on my shoulder whispering “it’s okay, we’re starting tomorrow!”. Urgh. SORT. IT. OUT.
So! I met another Sugarholic at my friend’s hen do this weekend, who had last month gone cold turkey and cut out all refined sugar for 21 days. I decided on the spot to follow her example and take on the challenge – STARTING TODAY. She warned me of the withdrawal symptoms – the headaches, low energy for the first week and a high risk of Moody Bitch Syndrome – and I was up for it all. My plan was to declare my ‘21 day sugar-free challenge’, document it and put it out there for people to read and maybe try out for themselves. But it was literally until I started writing this blog that the whole thing suddenly didn’t feel right to me… Firstly, if I know me, I know that completely cutting out something I enjoy will result in a mega-binge, probably sometime over the next seven days. And secondly, if I’m trying to practice and encourage generally not taking short cuts in life, slowly and surely feels like the right way for me. I used to be all or nothing. (All of the cake. None of the vegetables.) I still kinda am. I want to change. But not drastically; just steadily. The tortoise wins the race, right? (Is she still going on about the bloody tortoise…)
We all know that sugar is the new fat. It’s just not good for us, physically or mentally. Not only does it pile on the pounds, it gives us foggy brain goggles, messes with our metabolism and wreaks havoc with our insides. Saying that, I do also believe that if eating something indulgent once in a while makes us happy, then on some level it’s good for our soul, and surely there’s some kind of balancing act going on there… Balance being the definitive word! So to all of my fellow Cookie Monsters reading this, I invite you to join me in abandoning the ‘quick-fixes’ that normally lead to longer-term disappointment, and instead focus on making small, achievable changes over time, to clean up from the inside out. All of these little daily dietary decisions, good or bad, that we don’t think make any difference, all in fact add up, and one day ultimately determine how healthy and happy we really are.
A few healthier ‘sweet tooth curb balls’ for when you’re gagging for the cake:
- A teaspoon of ‘Meridian’ or ‘Whole Earth’ peanut butter – no added sugar, and fills you up!
- Raw cacao – try ‘Ombar’ (WholeFoods or Planet Organic) – a great alternative to chocolate, and full of extra benefits (high in magnesium, iron and vitamins)
- A piece of fresh fruit – berries are the best option, with high fibre and low sugar
- Vegetables such as sweet potato and parsnips with your meal
- Honey or agave syrup in your tea over sugar – yes it’s still not ideal, but it’s au natural
- Greek yoghurt with honey/agave syrup rather than ‘low fat’ yoghurts (which are often high in sugar)
Well, it’s a start! It’s all about taking small steps in the right direction, without beating ourselves up if we stray from the path from time to time – every day is a new chance to try again. I know I’m a sugar addict but I also know that I really want to change that, and that’s the first step right there. I want to be in control, I want to look and feel good, and I want my body and brain to function at their best. My revelation is that my spots won’t fade with cream, my cellulite won’t disappear with a body brush (apparently not even the Body Shop’s finest), and my unfocused mind won’t sharpen if I’m not giving it the right fuel to work with – at the end of the day, WE ARE WHAT WE EAT. As always, life is a mirror, and our outside will only ever be a reflection of our inside. It all comes down to what we really want for ourselves. (Ahem, summer body.)
Wishing you health, happiness and willpower,