Hey guys! Hope everyone’s recovering from the snow storm that hit us all this week. I have definitely been feeling the cold. Anyway, as some of you may be aware last month I decided to take on Sugar Free Feb, and raise some money for Cancer Research. It was a very eye opening experience, and so I thought I would get a blog post up about my experiences, for all of you lovely people to read.
Why Did I Do It?
Well, my first thought when I read about Sugar Free Feb was how it might be the best way to kick my healthy lifestyle back into gear. I’ve been awful this past year or so, and really bad in the past few months, for just eating loads of sugary snacks constantly. We all know what it’s like at Christmas, it’s time to indulge, so you just eat everything in sight, plus you get given so much chocolate as presents that you’re eating chocolates well into the new year. I was mindlessly chomping down half a box of lindt chocolates most nights as I sat binge watching Shameless US (I’m so seriously obsessed). I also work in a cinema part-time, which doesn’t help me stay away from the naughty snacks either, as I’m constantly surrounded by muffins, ice blasts and M&M’s, my ultimate weaknesses. It’s so easy to buy them while you’re on shift; you’re feeling a bit tired, or watching everyone else munching on their cinema snacks, and it just sets those cravings off. Before I used to be really good, and only allow myself sugary treats on special occasions and such, so I thought this was a good way to make me stop, as I wouldn’t just be doing it for me.
Then there’s the charity side, it’s always a great thing to be able to give something to charity, and doing these kind of monthly things has been quite a fun and different way of doing that. Cancer Research is also a charity which is close to my family’s heart. At the end of 2016 we lost my Grandma, she’d been battling cancer on and off for about 17 years, and sadly she couldn’t keep up the fight any longer. She fought valiantly, and really gave cancers butt a good kicking. It’s strange when you lose someone who was such a big part of your family, as, although you always know they’re a large part of your life, you don’t really realise how large until they’re gone, and you’re just left with this gaping void in your life where someone used to sit. Having lost a family member to this awful disease, and knowing many more people in my life cancer has affected in one way or another, I thought this was a new way to do a bit of good.
How I Found It
Starting was the hardest part, as it is with everything to be honest, The first couple of weeks were incredibly tough. I had so many cravings, I kept replaying what it was like to eat one of the muffins from work over and over again. When I was doing long shifts at work I would get really tired come evening, and be desperate for a sugar hit to keep me going, as sadly I don’t drink coffee, so sugar has been my only kind of ‘pep-up’ when getting that tired feeling. I actually took to sniffing biscuits, muffins, anything I had a craving for I would just sit and smell it for a bit to try to calm myself a bit lol. The other thing I found incredibly difficult was finding out that so many things had sugar added to them. See I didn’t make this simple for myself, most people would have just not eaten sugary treats, I wouldn’t eat anything that contained any added refined sugar. Natural sugars were fine, so I could eat fruit and honey etc, but that meant I even had to cut condiments and even some crisps and such out of my diet, which was really difficult as I have a brown sauce addiction. It amazed me how many things contained added sugars, like mayonnaise, why does mayonaise need sugar?!
I managed to find useful alternatives to a lot of things though, which was great. Hellman’s Ketchup which is naturally sweetened with honey was perfect. I ordered some no added sugar brown sauce from a company called Stoffells, and sadly it didn’t arrive until I only had a week left of Feb, which was incredibly annoying, but the sauce itself is an alright substitute for normal brown sauce, even if it is a bit tart and costs £11.90 for four bottles that take like three weeks to actually turn up. Honey was my biggest saviour, as well as other alternatives like Agave etc. I actually found adding honey to my tea sweetened it better than sugar, and I found a lost love in natural yoghurt and honey, now I’m obsessed with the stuff. It was incredibly hard when going out for meals though, as drink choice was low, as was the choice of desserts. Nowhere had simple fruit and yoghurt on their menu, or any sugar-free choices. This made me think that most restaurants should offer some kind of option, as there are a lot of diabetics who would love to enjoy desserts when out for a meal, but can’t. We cater for lots of other intolerances, apart from sugar really, I think this is a travesty, and something all restaurants should rectify.
Over time I found it a lot easier to avoid sugar, and the cravings got less and less. I also found I felt more like myself, I had more energy, more motivation, I was less bloated and sluggish. I found I began to lose a bit of podge I’d developed, and I wanted to get back to exercising and taking care of myself. I also found my taste and sense of smell got better, which is the strangest thing and something I really didn’t expect. I could taste the sweetness in natural things, that usually would pass me by. When spraying my perfume in the morning I would catch new smells within it, and notice the sweet notes a lot more than I had before. It was crazy and not what I was expecting. Eventually it didn’t become a challenge, it was actually a joy, as I truly did feel so much better. They say sugar is as addictive as some drugs, and I can believe it. What started as a way to raise some money for a good cause had become a way to turn my life back around and get back on track.
Now I’ve finished I am sticking with mainly staying sugar-free. I’m not going to be checking the packets of everything I want to eat, like I was. I will also still have a treat every now and again on special occasions, but for the most part I’m sticking to it, sugar isn’t really a part of my everyday life now, and where I can avoid it I will, as I really don’t want to go back to that sluggish feeling I had. Although win for me ice blasts go sugar free in April, so I can’t wait for that!
It is something I would recommend to anyone trying to get healthier, or lose weight. It’s definitely worth kicking the sugar out, I still can’t believe how different I feel.
If anyone would like to donate to my Sugar Free Feb page please feel free to, they’re still collecting and even a small amount would mean the world. Please find the link below, thanks;