IQS – Week 5, Day 32

We’re going downhill! (Meaning we are over halfway through the programme.) There was a small setback last week when Husband and I were very kindly invited to dinner at someone’s home, where we thoroughly enjoyed the food, but we drank some elderflower pressé before eating, and within minutes, my head felt awful. It’s amazing to think how quickly the sugar can affect the body! There were sultanas in the lovely salad we had with the main, and a cheesecake with strawberries for our dessert. I had a very small piece of the cheesecake as I didn’t want to decline and appear rude, and although it was tasty, I actually felt as though I could take just one bite and be done. I wasn’t tempted by it at all. I did go ahead and eat it all, including the strawberries, again so that I wouldn’t appear rude. Not having any sugar of any sort to suddenly having so much in one evening was really a shock to my system. Despite the nice food, I felt bloated and a bit gross. Afterward, we all took a walk around their beautiful land, which was in preparation for the Eisteddfod (for anyone completely foreign to Welsh, it’s pronounced roughly “eye-STETH-vod”). From that evening, I’ve recognised a desire to get moving when I feel a bit “ick.” Taking a walk post dinner that evening felt so great; it was a cool evening and I loved hearing the noises of the night all around us. They reminded me of the crickets chirping away on a hot summer night back home in Missouri. I got a little nostalgic. Maybe it was that nostalgia that helped to put me in the frame of mind to exercise. I used to go jogging most afternoons after school when I was a teenager, and I always found it therapeutic. I’m not sure why I ever stopped, but I can say now, five weeks into the program, I’ve had a renewed desire to be more active. I’ve logged time on the cross trainer, and indulged in a new Windsor Pilates DVD set with Pilates circle, which has become my new favorite thing! It appears to be simple and low-impact at first, until a sore set of abs greets you upon waking the next morning! I really want to jump start my weight loss since it was clearly impacted by the inflammation of our sugar spree.

The amazing food has continued! We made Sarah’s Sugar-free Barbeque Pulled Pork a week ago, and I’m still looking forward to eating it again. Husband wasn’t so impressed by it, but I loved the combination of the pork and pickled chilli cucumber ribbons with homemade slaw, wrapped in a corn tortilla. I didn’t get a snap of the finished product, (it didn’t last very long!) but I did get one of the pork shoulder before I seared it.

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Sugar-free Barbeque Pulled Pork 

It was a lot of work, but it did feed us both at least twice.

Our food creativity has still been pretty high, preferring to just throw together what we have, rather than seeking recipes. We did find a recipe on Pinterest because we wanted to use up some cannellini beans, which resulted in this yumminess:

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White Beans with Spinach and Sausage 

 But mostly our meals have looked a little like this:

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Just some sautéed asparagus with fresh mozzarella and a simple salad. Nice.

But one of our most favorite recipes, however, (pre-IQS even!) is Tarka Dal. Lentils, tomatoes, white beans, spices, chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander (US cilantro)…you can’t go wrong! I would happily choose this over a take-away version any day.

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Tarka Dal 

One more fantastic side effect of quitting sugar has been my skin. It’s much smoother and clearer than when I started, and I’m wearing much less make up as a result.

Seeing my journey so far, do you think you could quit sugar, too? What do you think would be the hardest part for you? Remember, this lifestyle isn’t about deprivation. It’s ultimately about learning to listen to your body and treat it well.

As well as Facebook, I’m also on Instagram, Pinterest, and on Twitter as @ttbakermom if you want to follow! I appreciate all of the support I have had so far – it really helps to have people rooting for you!

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.