By Amy Treasure
About six weeks ago I decided to make a major lifestyle change. At the end of last year I was going to the gym eating really well and looking probably the best I have in years. Then we moved house, the excuses crept in, the convenient quick meals and <whispers> takeaways, lots of takeaways.
I know that sometimes life gets in the way and that it is ok to lapse once in a while. Seeing it written down just makes me feel guilty for undoing all the hard work I’ve done on my own body, letting rubbish foods creep into my children’s diets (not good) and also the realisation hits about all the money we have wasted.
Well, no more. It’s time I took a stand and that stand is against sugar. This sounds quite dramatic but the reality is, too much sugar especially refined sugar can make you feel really down in the dumps. So I undertook an experiment to see what would happen if we gave it up completely…
It's not easy
I was pre-warned that it wouldn’t be easy and would require commitment and a lifestyle change. Never one to shirk a challenge I began to prepare for the weeks ahead by stuffing my face full of my stash of chocolates and treats for old time’s sake and in a bid not to look back wistfully on my decadent sugary ways but forward to a healthier (and hopefully slimmer) new version of me and healthier family, who didn’t need sugar to feel good.
Sugar and I have become firm friends over the last few years. When I was younger I could take it or leave it but in recent times I seem to have developed quite an addiction and have managed to come up with various excuses as to why I need a sugary pick me up. Such as the old, I’m breastfeeding so need the extra calories and so it goes on, forgetting to remind myself I stopped breastfeeding 6 months ago!
I’ve begun to realise that when I’ve had a particularly bad sugary binge such as the aforementioned chocolates, I really do feel like complete and utter rubbish afterwards and have been wanting to try and eradicate my tendency to go sugar crazy for a while now.
The notion of detoxing may sound a bit American but is steadfastly becoming the way forward in the UK too. As a nation, we are becoming more and more aware of the issues surrounding food, and the sugar debate is quite often discussed in the media. As a Mum, I want to do my absolute best in feeding my children healthy and well-balanced meals and I really do go out of my way to dissuade them from sugary treats and shield them from my bad habits but one of the things that are apparent is sugar is EVERYWHERE and so I need educating.
One of the things I’ve learnt is that there is a lot of sugar present in foods you don’t associate with sugar such as tomato soup, yoghurt, salad dressing and even bread. The sensible thing to do is to make everything from scratch which takes a heck of a lot of organisation but it is completely doable.
I met Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella in the summer and listened to her talking at a conference telling people about how she has drastically improved her health by eating a clean, unprocessed vegan diet. I bought her book Deliciously Ella: Awesome ingredients, incredible foods that you and your body will love and have loved trying out all the different tasty recipes in there.
Whilst we try and stick to a mainly vegan diet most of the time if you check out my Instagram you might well see me enjoying an enormous beef burger and a milkshake. But do you know what? That is ok! I think it’s fine to allow yourself a treat and although I understand why Ella doesn’t compromise her diet for health reasons, there are lots of ‘clean eaters’ who allow themselves a cheat day every now and then.
Since beginning our healthy lifestyle I can confirm that I sleep better, my skin is better, I am more focused, I have lost weight and my tummy is flat. Hoorah! The rest of my family are benefitting too and we are all generally healthier. If you are considering giving up sugar and adopting a healthier diet then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Ella’s book and try out some of the recipes.
I’d love to hear from you if you have changed your diets and noticed any health benefits. I’m always around on Twitter for a chat about clean food, and, of course, the odd cake 😉