Monday, 27 October 2014

Time marches on

It has nearly been a month since my last post. I find life increasingly gets in the way of blogging but at least there is no hiding my priorities! We have had family visiting, followed by my eldest daughter's third birthday so there has been plenty going on and few spare moments for blogging.
Autumn arrived, the leaves have been turning and falling from the trees, the clocks have changed here in the UK but if I am honest, it is a little too warm for my liking! I am ready for a chill in the air and cosy wool jumpers... However, we are making the most of the nice weather and getting outside as much as we can, while it remains so pleasant.

This week is a half-term holiday. Both my eldest children were ready for a break after busy weeks at school and nursery and I am looking forward to extra time spent all together. We will be out to some parks collecting sticks, acorns, conkers and leaves, seeing some friends and Halloween at the end of the week will be fun as always. No doubt we will be doing some Halloween crafts and enjoying getting costumes ready to wear.

There may even be a blog post or two to come during the week, but I won't make any promises!

What do you look forward to doing at this time of year? Are your children also on holiday for the week and if so, what do you have planned?
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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

My no-sugar challenge

A couple of months ago I went to a nutrition workshop focusing on giving up sugar for a month. Sugar has been getting a lot of bad press recently and is thought to be linked to growing obesity rates and much worse. It is proven to be addictive and I felt I was very much addicted to it!

I had given up refined sugar for Lent, earlier in the year but instead of chocolate after dinner, my husband and I had gorged on dried apricots instead, which are still sugar and I had baked with agave syrup, honey etc. This time I wanted to do it properly and avoid any and all forms of sugar. The workshop I attended did not tell me much that I did not know but it did help remind me what I needed to be avoiding and gave suggestions for filling the sugar void.

I chose the month of September for my no-sugar challenge. I roped in my husband because as strong-willed as I know I can be, it is no fun watching someone else munch on biscuits/cookies when you can't touch them. We ate nothing containing sugar, no potatoes (very high in starch which turns to sugar in your body very quickly)  and no refined carbs (wholegrains were fine). We ate fresh fruit but only seasonal produce (those sun-soaked tropical fruits are much higher in sugar than fruit grown here in the UK) and only up to two pieces a day.

We quickly discovered our snacking tendencies! We munch on things before dinner and after dinner we do like a couple of squares of chocolate or a couple of biscuits with a tea. My husband who buys lunch during his work day found it very restricting and ate a lot of salads during the month!

As we do not eat a huge amount of sugar generally, it was not the horrendous upheaval in our diet as it could be for some but we did have to make changes to some of our snacks and our big weekend breakfasts. I made wholemeal flour tortillas one day because the shop-bought tortillas contain sugar. They are pretty easy to make but of course it was not as convenient as getting some out of a packet! Snacks largely consisted of nuts, seeds, oatcakes, rice/corn cakes.

Did it make any noticeable difference to us over the course of the month? Well I remarked to my husband that I felt my overall mood had been better, I had snapped and shouted less and generally felt more balanced. My husband thought he had been sleeping better. We also both lost a little weight, not intentional, not needed but not surprising.

Now the month is over and the no-sugar challenge complete, I am craving some roast potatoes and a rhubarb crumble! I will aim for moderation, avoiding sugar more days than not but allowing some maybe over the weekends. Will I be able to have just one biscuit (not several) and only one or two squares of chocolate or will I be quickly drawn back into my bad ways? We shall see....!

What is your typical sugar intake like? Are you careful with how much you eat or do you recognise that you probably consume more than you should? If you too have given up sugar at some stage, what was your experience?
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