Monday, 8 April 2013
This week: back to bread and sugar
Those of you who follow my blog regularly might remember I had decided to give up refined sugar and bread for Lent this year. My online food diary was a big help in motivating me to think of different ideas for lunches in particular and I had fun experimenting with some sugar-free baking. Interestingly, I found the bread more of a challenge to avoid than refined sugar. I generally steer completely clear of processed foods, which often contain sugar. It was only on one occasion when I checked the ingredient list for some cheese crackers I like, that I was surprised to see they contained sugar and therefore didn't buy any.
If you're wondering what happened once Lent ended, the simple answer is I consumed both bread and refined sugar almost immediately! However, I have made a couple of decisions based on the experience of giving them both up for a few weeks that will influence my eating patterns going forward.
I realised I enjoyed my non-sandwich / non-bready lunches a lot more than my simple sandwiches I often ate in the past. Generally, during the week I will continue to avoid bread for lunch and will eat the substantial salads, soups and such like that I got used to recently instead. It means I eat more healthily and increase my intake of fresh vegetables.
With the refined sugar, we all know it's not good for us and so if I'm going to have some, I'd rather it be in something worthwhile for an occasional treat, like a cake I really enjoy or a couple of squares of chocolate and not in something where it's essentially a redundant ingredient. So, I won't be buying or eating the aforementioned cheese crackers any more (I've even found an alternative with no nasty ingredients) and I won't bother with breakfast cereal that contains sugar (we only ever buy one type of cereal that has a very little sugar in it, never buy any of the obviously sugary cereals). I also like to think I will try to give it up entirely again for the odd month here and there, to resist the addictive qualities it has on us.
Some of you might be curious as to whether I noticed any differences in myself after omitting these two things from my diet. I didn't really. I've been ever so slightly happier with the state of my tummy recently but hard to know if that's related to the small dietary changes or a result of more regular exercise. Not having bread, did make me feel less full a lot of the time and so I recognised that I ate more fat (cheese, crackers etc) which probably wasn't a good thing but there was no change in my weight and I was eating a lot healthier for my lunches than previously so perhaps everything balanced out...
In conclusion, I am back to bread and sugar in my diet but with a difference. I'm glad I gave both up for Lent as it's given me a new perspective on my own eating habits that I otherwise wouldn't have had.
Did any of you give a particular food for Lent or have you made any dietary changes for other reasons? Was it very difficult or easier than you anticipated? I know a couple of my readers have made some dietary changes recently (you know who you are!) and I'd be very interested to hear any of your observations so far.