IQS – Week 3, Day 18

If you think the title of this entry is a good sign, you’re right! I have managed to stick with this new lifestyle. In reality, it has only been 18 days so far, but it already feels like a lifetime. The amount of information that has embedded itself into my brain, the recipes, the new food I’ve tried – hello! how had I never tried eggplant (UK Aubergine) until now? – have made me feel like a bit of an old hand at this. Again and again I’m reminded that this is a lifestyle, not a diet. And the health benefits and weight loss are sustainable as a result. Speaking of weight loss, could you possibly be a little interested as to how much I’ve shifted? Yes? I’ve lost…drumroll, please…

Five pounds! That’s 5 pounds in 2 1/2 weeks. The only thing I have changed is my diet. I’m pretty happy with that. I do, however, have a magic number in mind which, if I fall below, will really solidify that I am truly losing weight. Besides the weight loss, I have been sleeping better than before, although I still feel quite tired in the morning and throughout the day. Sarah Wilson explains that some people may feel a little hypoglycaemic in the beginning, and that it is beneficial to still snack between meals to get through this phase. I have considered that this might be down to my thyroid disorder, as well. I have had a particularly difficult few weeks in regard to that, and I’m still waiting to receive my appointment date to see an endocrinologist. I have previously written about my struggle to get to this point, about the time I started this sugar-free journey. You can read up on that here. It’s clear that this condition has been aggravated by my sugar intake. While my body works to get clear of the junk I had been putting inside it, I can push through and take comfort in the fact that I am doing it a far greater favor for the future.

My husband and I have been very busy in the kitchen the last few weeks. It’s been a bit of trial and error, but with mostly positive outcomes. We both adored this Aubergine Parmigiana from our River Cottage Veg Everyday! cookbook, and will most definitely be making it again, although perhaps when the weather gets a bit cooler, as it was a very hearty and warming dish. Side note: if you would like to incorporate more vegetables in your diet, get this book!! You won’t even miss the meat, I promise.

A few other winning recipes included:

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ANZAC Biscuits (Husband was really missing a biscuit with his tea. This was a really yummy alternative. Little Bug liked them, too!)

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

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Tahini-dressed Courgette and Green Bean Salad (Courgettes are US zucchini, by the way.)

And a few things I threw together on my own, but inspired by tips from the I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar For Life cookbooks. Here’s what I did last night: 

 Mixed Green Vegetables with White Wine and Garlic

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Serves 2 

All measurements are incredibly rough! 

Handful of fresh green beans 

 Half a head of broccoli 

 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped 

 1 1/2 Tbs butter 

 2 large pieces of cavolo nero kale, stalks removed 

 1 leek, chopped 

 2 small shallots, cut into slivers 

 2 Tbs white wine 

 Salt and pepper, to taste 

 Steam broccoli and green beans until al dente, and set aside. In a frying pan on medium heat, sauté garlic, leek, and shallots until softened. Add the broccoli, green beans, and white wine and heat until alcohol is cooked out. Season with salt and pepper to your liking, and melt through the last 1/2 Tbs of butter. Serve with toasted sourdough and top with a fried or poached egg.

We took the tip from the IQS cookbook to freeze leftover wine into cube trays for later use. I bought a really cheap affordable bottle of wine to cook some leek risotto last week, but the wine wasn’t really to our taste, and we didn’t want to just pour the rest down the drain. For the recipe above, I actually used one cube of frozen wine, but our cubes are pretty huge because they are frozen in silicon trays we had previously used to purée and freeze Bug’s homemade baby food.

I’ve been so much more conscious of what what I eat nowadays. The average Briton consumes 160 teaspoons of sugar per week. Considering the recommended limit per day is 50g/roughly 12 teaspoons, or 84 teaspoons per week, this is incredibly high. The 160 figure includes hidden sugars and those occurring naturally in fruit. But don’t be fooled. Sugar is still sugar, wherever it comes from.

Five or six generations ago, we hardly consumed sugar. Fruit was a treat, and didn’t come around very often. The contrast of diet between then and now is shocking. (Not that I was there! But still, it’s safe to say that if our great-great-great-great-great-great grandmothers could see us now, I’m sure they would be wagging their fingers at us!) We have a huge population of overweight and obese individuals. We are inactive, complacent, and impulsive. We are also addicted. It has been proven that sugar gives our brains a “high” – a feeling which we love to experience again and again. Bad day at the office? Chocolate bar. Kid kept you up all night? Sugary coffee drink, it is! Going through a break-up? Girls’ night, complete with ice cream, gummy worms, and cookies galore. Sound familiar? We have such an emotional attachment to food. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but when we combine it with a substance which has the power to control our appetite, it spells disaster. Maybe you’ve been dieting and have been “really good” so you want to “treat” yourself. This is something I used to say.

When did eating something so bad for us become a “treat”?

In the last few weeks, I’ve had somewhat of an epiphany. I’ve begun to consider that, actually, putting healthy foods into your body is a treat. Going for a jog is a treat. Listening to your favorite song is a treat. Having a massage is a treat. We should be treating ourselves – every day. At this moment in time, I could not imagine sitting down to eat an entire Cadbury Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy chocolate bar, but I used to. The sharing one. But I didn’t share.

You can see why I feel as if I have done this forever. The way I look at food has completely changed, and I couldn’t imagine going back now. I’ve become passionate about my own health, and I’m hoping to inspire others along the way.

IQS – Week 1

Day three of this new way of life, and I have to say – I’m doing pretty well. Even though the first week is a transition into letting go of the sugars in your life (think: half tsp instead of a full one in your tea or coffee), I have been completely sugar-free since Sunday. It hasn’t been without pain, though. Monday evening, I had the nastiest headache and felt nauseated, so I took a bath to help. If I ever feel unwell, no matter what ails me, a bath is my go-to cure. Except that time I had a fever and didn’t know it – nearly passing out taught me to always take my temperature first before soaking! Anyway, afterward I felt only a little better, so I went to bed but woke up the next day with a slight headache. Ridding your body of sugar is tough business! It just shows the drug-like effects of sugar. I really was feeling the withdrawal.

I have been eating pretty well, and our mealtimes have been far from boring! Monday for dinner, Husband made Summery Quinoa Tabbouleh and sea bream topped with Pea Herb and Almond Crush. I had the leftover tabbouleh for lunch the next day. I could have easily eaten the whole recipe to myself! It was delicious. I suppose it helps that my husband knows his way around the kitchen.

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Nice, huh?

For my lunchtimes while in work, I recalled a recipe I had seen on River Cottage, prepared by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I love watching his programme, and often make note of his dishes. In particular, I have fallen in love with the tasty and super easy “Instant Noodles” featured in one episode. I didn’t follow this recipe in particular, but it is pretty difficult to mess up. I used: 

 one nest of thin, egg noodles 

stock powder 

garlic powder 

powdered ginger 

pepper flakes 

broccoli 

diced red pepper 

mangetout 

bean sprouts 

soy sauce 

 The quantities depend on the size of your jar. Yes, jar! The beauty of this recipe is that you can just chuck everything in a glass mason jar and tote it to work. Then just boil a kettle and pour! I helped mine along a bit by whacking it in the microwave for a few minutes. I don’t eat things like Pot Noodle, but in my not so professional opinion, this alternative is 1000% better for you.

I’ve really been getting into the “IQS” community, especially on Instagram. (My username is @nashnewton if you want to follow along!) It’s a nice feeling to know that so many others are making the same journey. I hashtagged “IQS” and “iqs8wp” (I quit sugar 8 week programme) on a photo of my red pepper soup from yesterday, and I even got a special mention from @iquitsugar in my comments. “Great pic!”

I felt pretty cool.

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So at the end of Day 3, I’m feeling pretty good. Today was a co-worker’s birthday, and that meant sweet treats to resist. And resist them, I did. Feeling a little proud of myself!

It’s the kind of self-motivation that gets me excited to see where I will be next week. Stay tuned!

I(‘m) Quit(ting) Sugar

Looks like my baking adventures will take a backseat for a while. I don’t say that sadly, though. I am thoroughly excited for this new adventure, and in the right mindset. Husband happened upon a book called I Quit Sugar by Australian, Sarah Wilson. She suffers from the same autoimmune disorder as I do (Hashimoto’s). It has only been since the birth of my daughter that I have truly had a problem with my disorder, which has brought on Hypothyroidism. Through struggling to find a GP that would actually listen to my problems, despite only a slightly abnormal reading on paper, to finally receiving a diagnosis after demanding further (probably expensive so therefore deemed “unnecessary” by the NHS) testing, I have since been placed on thyroid hormone, only to feel not a great deal improved. I’ve been referred to a specialist, but in the meantime, I’ve developed a desire to take back my health. So for the last few weeks, we have been researching the effects of sugar in the body and specifically in those who suffer from thyroid autoimmune disorders. You can read more about that here.

We bought two of Wilson’s books, I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar for Life. Technically, day one of our 8 week challenge begins Monday, but we have been experimenting the last few days with her recipes, namely her Coco-nutty Granola, Carrot Cake Porridge Whip, and Perfect Omlette with Baked Mushrooms.

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Coco-nutty Granola.

I added some sesame seeds and sunflower seeds to mine and used 95g coconut oil. I also omitted the rice malt syrup as we just ordered ours from Amazon yesterday.

I’ve been a little coco-nutty myself, lately! I can’t seem to get enough coconut, which bodes well with this lifestyle. Wilson uses different forms of coconut in her recipes A LOT.

Hopefully blogging about our journey will help us be more accountable and track our progress. Another benefit (but certainly not the most important factor) of this journey is the amazing weight loss achieved by participants, remarking that they don’t miss the sugar at all! Their skin glows, energy soars, and their bodies feel like new. It is important to note that sugar isn’t “banned.” That’s not what it’s about. The 8 week initial cleanse is about recalibrating the body and killing the sugar cravings, then slowly reintroducing the better alternatives (I.e. fruit), enabling you to make better choices.

I’ve avoided using the word “diet” because it simply isn’t one. It’s a major lifestyle change. One that will, hopefully, transform this body more than just aesthetically.