So recently I’ve been a sugar monster. There have been so many work meetings or social events where treats have been involved. I’m not going to lie, it’s been great to feel relaxed enough to eat these foods without the guilt and panic I’ve felt for years. I had chocolate Animal biscuits last week for the first time in years and man it was good. And last weekend my boyfriend bought us giant cookies, and it was great to be able to share them with him, both for the taste and for sharing the experience.
However, once I start eating something sugary I find it so hard to stop, often indulging beyond a comfortable level. And sugar does not make me feel great in large quantities – I get jittery, then sluggish, my skin breaks out, I find it harder to fight off infections – it’s all a bit of a mess. For example, (maybe TMI…sorry), I frequently get the warning signs of a UTI, and normally guzzling water and a bit of rest means by the next day everything’s grand. However this week the signs just won’t go away. It’s not turned into a full blown infection, but I’ve felt pretty grotty all week which in turn makes me anxious and grumpy and a nightmare to be around. And what comes up when you look at ways to prevent and speed up the recovery of a UTI? Cutting out sugar.
I loooooove reading about nutrition. I first started getting into healthy eating a few years ago and it really helped me change from seeing food as the enemy to being the main source of everything that keeps us alive! I find it so fascinating how what you eat can affect so drastically how you feel. People like Deliciously Ella and Kris Carr showed me how food could heal us. So many talented cooks show us that you can make healthy alternatives of pretty much anything! Refined ingredients and weird chemicals and colourings are just not necessary.
So the last couple of weeks my brain has been shouting two things at me:
- You’re feeling shit and cleaning up your diet will help with this. Eat plenty of food, but make it nourishing. And since every time you eat sugar you can’t stop, the only thing to do is cut it out completely.
- That’s dangerous. You used to cut out foods all the time when you had your eating issues and it wasn’t good for you. You need to be able to have balance and eat sugar in moderation.
Two conflicting messages. On the plus neither of them are fuelled by a desire to be a certain weight which is a massive step.
I honestly didn’t know what to do. And then I questioned whether those 2 thoughts were really all that was going on in my head. And they weren’t.
Some of my thoughts were fuelled by a worry of losing my identity. For years I’ve been known as the “healthy eater”, banishing sugar and gluten and additives for healthier alternatives. My family would send me healthy recipes because they knew I’d love them. My colleagues would come to me for nutrition advice. I felt like by eating sugar that was changing who I was. But do I actually believe you can’t be healthy if you’re eating sugar? No. Healthy is eating enough and making sure you’re getting the nutrients your body craves. But it goes beyond food. It goes on to emotional happiness, and sometimes this comes from indulging in foods like cookies, sharing eating experiences with others. Think about baking a cake with a friend and then having a slice and a cup of tea over a good chat. Or sharing a chocolate fondue with your loved one. Think about all the celebrations that involve cake (a birthday without cake…not the same). Or sometimes it’s about creating an experience for yourself, such as a long relaxing bath with candles and chocolate. Sure, there are healthier versions of all those things where there’s a replacement for the refined flour and sugar…but sometimes what you need is the original thing. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
And I shouldn’t be cutting out sugar because once I start eating it I can’t stop. That’s just replacing one disordered behaviour with another. What I need to do is understand why I’m gorging on sugar. Maybe it’s because of emotions such as stress and boredom. Maybe it’s because my meals aren’t well-balanced enough which is leaving my body to crave quick sources of energy. Finding out the reason and addressing it is all part of recovery…and I’m determined to show myself I can do this.
And just to celebrate this revelation, here are the waffles I had today. They were divine.