The kids are back to school. The training sessions have resumed. Life is very quickly getting back to its crazy and frantic normality after a long, hot and lazy summer. So what better time to choose to go cold turkey on my drug of choice, my own personal poison than the start of term? This drug is more addictive than cocaine. It is readily available, cheap as chips and oh so satisfying. This is an underestimated and overindulged drug of choice for many. It is a legal high. This drug? Sugar.
My name is Aideen and I am a sugar addict. I get panicky if I don’t have a bag of sweets on hand. I get a little sweaty and nervous if I don’t have an emergency supply nearby and I crave a fix like a junkie. I am the wrong side of forty now, old enough to know better, old enough to have a little sense and definitely old enough to preach to my children about the dangers of sugar. I hold my hands up and freely admit I have ridiculous double standards. I try to limit the children’s sugar intake. I attempt to remove or at least reduce sugary treats from their diet and supply endless amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables instead. But I think they have me sussed by now. If they sneak off to the local shop to buy themselves a treat they always bring me back something too. They know me well.
I don’t take sugar in tea or coffee. Thankfully or else I would be on a constant high, rattling as I am with caffeine on a normal day. I don’t drink any fizzy drinks. I never have cordial with my water and I always look for slim-line tonic with my gin. Every little helps right? To be fair my double standards are shocking. How I’ve managed to delude myself this far is quite frightening really.
But today is the day. Today is the 1st day of September. The first day of Sugar Free September. The first day of the new me. Not that there’s a whole pile wrong with the old me but still, self-improvement is the new buzz word right. I’m not sure what to expect without my constant fix. Will my skin glow like a twenty year old’s? Will my waistline suddenly shrink? Will my energy increase and my mood improve? Because despite what it might suggest, a constant top up of sugar in my system is dampening my metabolism. And it’s not just the consciously ingested sugar in the form of treats. Even savoury everyday foods such as bread, tomato sauce, protein bars, low fat yoghurt, fruit juice and breakfast cereals to name but a few have seriously high levels of hidden sugar. To make matters even more complicated sugar levels can be difficult to identity on nutrition labels as they are often cleverly disguised as corn syrup, palm sugar, sucrose, maltose, dextrin etc. etc. But no matter what it’s called or how it’s named, sugar is sugar and I am having too much of it. Way too much of it.
The side of effects of the sugar are many and varied. A high sugar intake can lead to a higher risk of depression. It can increase inflammation in the body leading to joint pain and aging skin. The fluctuation in blood sugar levels can interfere with insulin production and lead to Type II diabetes. There is an impact to kidneys, to pancreas and heart also. In fact there is no good news at all about the sugar levels I am consuming. So it has got to stop.
I am starting this adventure into semi-clean living by just cutting out the sugary treats. I will still eat breakfast cereal, though it is generally Weetabix so probably doesn’t count. I will still make meals with tomato sauce and probably consume low fat yoghurts. But I just won’t buy the sweets; I will stay off the chocolate and try to avoid other treats being bandied about. This isn’t a diet. I don’t do diets. Never have. This is a lifestyle change which is even worse.
This isn’t about educating the children or making a point. This is about my battle with my sugar addiction and I am hoping by charting it here and documenting Sugar Free September it will be easier to stick to. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t but either way I will be honest and upfront and hold my hands up when I slip. They say it takes three weeks to break a habit. And I think my sugar addiction is a habit more than anything else. Whether this is actually the case remains to be seen. Anyway, feel free to join me, encourage me, laugh at my efforts or offer suggestions. All are welcome, and by the end of the month I will have lost a stone in weight, look about ten years younger and be running around like a Duracell bunny with renewed energy, vim and vigour. Or I could be cranky, miserable and downright unpleasant. Who knows? I’ll keep you posted.