The Writing Detox

Writing Myself a Healthy Life

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Mood Swings

Last week I gave in and ate three cookies. I’ve never been ¬†much for moderation. They were gluten-free cookies, so at least I’ve stuck to it on that point.

The next day I felt very out of sorts. I was grumpy. Anxious. Angry. Moody. I chalked it up to hormones and we went out to dinner and a movie. We were going to see the Hunger Games and I was excited, having looked forward to it for weeks. But I was so grumpy, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to silence, by any means necessary, all the other inane people standing in line with us. Especially the guy in front of me who wasn’t saying anything. What was his deal??

I decided that since I’d looked forward to the movie so much, I would treat myself and have a pop. I stared for a moment longingly at the Yogen Fruz, but the line was too slow and I decided just to go with the root beer. Bad choice. The root beer was unsatisfying and I kept thinking about strawberry frozen yogurt all night. Actually, I’m still thinking about it because they had a sugar-free version.

I drank half the pop and didn’t want the rest. The movie was amazing and I was cheered up for the ride home. But the next day, all the anger returned. I was a grumpy, moody, weepy mess.

I’m not entirely sure that the correlation equals causation, but it was noticeable that after I went back to not “cheating”, I started feeling better again. I’ve been a bit more even keeled the last few days, and every time I think about eating sugar, I think about how miserable I felt on Saturday morning and I decide to wait. Just in case. It’s even made me question whether I will in fact cheat and have dessert at Easter. I may just make some of my chocolate truffles with maple syrup (which, oddly, doesn’t seem to have the same effect – or at least not to the same degree).

Food affects your hormones and your mood. How, exactly, is a different question. But I’m beginning to see a link between sugar and feeling miserable, and I’ll take happiness over candy any day.


Good Alternatives

I have discovered that cutting out major food groups like gluten and sugar (sugar is a food group in my experience, whether the Canada Food Guide admits it or not) requires creative replacements. In order to manage my cravings, I’ve had to come up with treats that are like the better of two evils. I mentioned already that one of my weaknesses is cheese, and while I do try not to eat the entire block in one sitting, sometimes I’ll eat the cheese to avoid eating the cookie and I figure at least if I get a bit chubby, I won’t have osteoporosis.

Other brilliant things I’ve come up with to manage cravings include making sugar-free buckwheat pancakes. My partner found a great recipe online, which if I can find it, I’ll post here. It involves whipping the egg white and folding the egg yolk into the rice milk…brilliant. They are the fluffiest pancakes.

He also made me some chocolate truffle cookies by melting squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate in a pan, adding a few tablespoons of maple syrup and then mixing them together over the heat until they start to solidify together. Drop them onto wax paper and press an almond into the top, place in the fridge for ten minutes and voila! Delicious, chocolatey truffle cookies with no refined sugar. Maple syrup is thought to actually contain minerals that are good for your liver, and everyone knows that chocolate is really good for you.Plus, this takes less than ten minutes and is guaranteed to satisfy any chocolate craving without all the added junk. Interestingly enough, when I eat processed chocolate, my skin always breaks out, and when I eat this chocolate, it doesn’t.

I’m still working on managing calorie intake, and I know I need to up my exercise plan, but I’m really excited that finding alternatives isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

Dirty Little Secrets

I keep thinking about cheating. On my diet that is. But then I remember I’m not on a diet, I’ve simply changed my eating habits.

I’ve gone back to eating cheese, and now cheese is the number one reason I can’t stay under 1800 calories per day. Even with exercise, I eat so much cheese that I’m always over budget. Cheese! Dammit. I love cheese.

Aside from that, I have successfully gone three weeks with no gluten (except for the time my brother-in-law forgot and cooked the fish in flour…) and no refined sugar (except for Tyler’s birthday when I made a gluten-free cake, had a slice and stayed up all night…). The fact that these are the only exceptions are big victories. Oh wait, there was also the time I realized there was no good replacement for ketchup so I ate it anyway with my…wait for it…grilled cheese sandwich.

Big victories. I have given up gluten, theoretically for good, and I’ve given up sugar and committed to at least three months without it and the possibility of a permanent extension, at least until such a time when I think I could control the cravings. Ha.

The bigger victories have been the times I’ve stared at the candy that I stashed in the freezer, or the gluten free cookies I bought when I thought that sugar would be a temporary elimination, and I think “no one would know…it wouldn’t matter! It would be my dirty little secret.” And then I turn away, and eat cheese because I would know. I would know that I’d cheated and failed. This isn’t a victory calories wise, but it’s a huge victory for me, for now. I am gaining some control over my addiction to sugar. This is the first step towards avoiding diabetes.

Week Two

It’s been two weeks since I’ve eaten any refined sugar and I’m starting to be okay with that. My visualizations and the fact that I’ve cut it out entirely really seems to have helped with managing cravings – or at least with being able to say no to it.

I was in Toronto last week and I found a restaurant called Rawlicious that has the most delicious food. My friend and I had the lettuce taco wraps which were so tasty and filling that I could hardly eat anything else all day. Have you ever noticed that when you eat something really flavourful it is more filling than bland foods? Maybe that’s psychological, but it’s more satisfying for sure. I also found a number of gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cookies, including macaroons that rivaled every macaroon I’ve ever had. I bought ingredients yesterday to try making them myself. All of their sweets were made with agave, which is significantly sweeter than sugar and therefore you use less of it in anything you make. I have been eating non-processed sweets in moderation, but I find that often I don’t even crave those. Tyler keeps offering to make me gluten free French toast, but I just don’t feel like eating that much maple syrup.

The habits are the hardest thing to break. For example, we are going to the movies tonight and I know I’m going to want to have a coke and some candy. But I’ll take a bottle of water and have popcorn, and overall I think I’ll be okay.

I have lost a few pounds since I started this, but not as much as I’d sort of secretly hoped. It’s only been two weeks, and I have dropped about 4 pounds, which is the recommended average. I guess my bigger hope, other than losing the weight, is that this lifestyle change results in me being healthier overall and sustaining it long-term. I’d like to get my concentration and motivation back, and I’d like to have more energy. So far, I feel pretty tired and I’m having trouble remembering to eat regularly. When I eat often, I’m okay, but I find that because my meals involve so many fewer calories, I often forget to snack on something healthy in-between and then I’ll get very hungry and get a headache. But on the flip side, I am beginning to notice that I don’t have a three-o’clock slump any more. My sister is a coffee drinker and she’s been staying with us. Often right around 3 o’clock she will need her third cup of coffee, but I’m still motoring along quietly, snacking on this and that. That seems to be a positive result.

Keeping on!

Sugar Cravings

I feel a little bit better today. My head is still a bit wobbly and my stomach still a bit nauseous. Today after lunch my intestines were unsure about the whole procedure and were a bit cramped. However, I enjoyed my lunch of chicken, arugula salad, hummus, carrots and olives. It was tasty and nutritious. My main goal is to eat lots of greens every day, especially while I’m not eating red meat, to keep my iron levels up. The arugula is spicy and delicious, and I squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto the leaves instead of salad dressing and it’s really delicious.

The hummus has been a life-saver for sure. Whenever my energy is down, I just eat some carrots or celery with hummus, and I feel full for longer than if I’m just eating veggies. I’ve been eating a lot of fruit too. I know that some people think that fruit should also be on the give-up list because it’s mostly just sugar as well and because anything that sparks an insulin reaction can lead to fat-storage, it’s not a good idea to overdo it on the fruit. However, I cling to fruit during these times as my only source of sugar. As someone who considers myself a recovering sugar addict, the fruit keeps me from going completely nuts when the cravings kick in.

Today, I’m full-on craving candy. I know myself well enough to know that the first few days of a detox are painful physically, but it’s once the physical symptoms start to abate that the mental games begin. I have to find strategies for resisting sugar.

Some evidence suggests that sugar is a highly addictive substance, even more addictive than cocaine. I have no trouble believing this, as sugar has always held an incredible pull for me.

I have always had an addictive personality, and several years ago my binge drinking led to my body rejecting alcohol. I gave up all alcohol for three years. More recently, whenever I drank, it was usually in moderation and with a more concentrated mental awareness of what I was doing. But it was always a risk that I would slip into enjoying drinking too much and I would start to binge. The thing that helped was that most people now know I don’t drink a lot, and most people don’t make a big deal of it any more.

My goal is to create the same situation for myself around sugar. I need to let people know that I no longer eat sugar. I need to create a mental, emotional and physical response to sugar that is negative enough that I won’t cave and eat it when it is in front of me, or in response to someone else’s guilt or feelings about food (such as the all-too-common idea that food is love and therefore if I don’t eat your brownies, it means I don’t love you). In order to create these associations, I focus on the way eating sugar really made me feel. Not the pleasure of the taste, but the low energy, the hang-overs, the weight gain, the mood swings, the poor self-esteem, the lack of concentration and motivation – all of those negative side effects that drastically reduced my quality of life. And if that doesn’t work, I create an association closer to the above comparison – I imagine myself snorting sugar up my nose. An image which grosses me out intensely, and draws more specifically the comparison between addictions – those considered acceptable and those considered unacceptable in society, but both of which can have devastating consequences, including death.



Nausea and Headache

What a lovely reward for being so “nice” to my body. A girl tries to do good by herself, by cutting out all of the poisonous foods, and what happens? Well, her body expels all the poison and it hurts coming out. I’ve felt wretched since yesterday. I’ve had a miserable headache, nausea and aching all over. It feels very much like a migraine, which worries me, because I used to get migraines and I was very happy that I stopped getting them about a year ago when I stopped taking birth control pills.

But I’ve been told to expect this kind of thing, and I guess it means that my body really had adapted to surviving the abuse I was giving it. Now that the abuse is gone, hopefully it will start to feel better soon.

Day The First

Today I woke up with a splitting headache and every muscle in my body was clenched. I’m not sure whether it was the lack of caffeine, the lack of sugar from yesterday kicking in, or whether I just slept funny. It also could have been that I was a little bit hungry by the time I went to bed last night, and that’s actually a funny story. Funny today. Yesterday, not so funny.

I was pretty excited about being on this new healthy lifestyle thing-a-ma-bob yesterday, so I looked up a great recipe for curry and even though it called for chicken, I used tofu since I didn’t have any chicken in the fridge. I’m not a vegetarian. I believe in the ethical treatment of animals, but I grew up on a farm where our mentality was “treat them really well, respect them as living creatures, and enjoy how delicious they taste”. Even now, I buy meat from butchers that know what farms their meat comes from (hopefully local, ethical and, if possible, organic) only because I believe that animals should enjoy a high quality of life not only for the obvious ethical reasons, but also because they taste better when they are happy and don’t have toxic adrenaline and stress hormones running through their bodies. Watch Food Inc.¬† if you want to know what I’m talking about.

I made curry. I chopped up snow peas, cauliflower, broccoli, ginger, garlic, peppers and sprinkled them with curry powder. The recipe recommended one and a half teaspoons. I’d never cooked with curry powder before but it didn’t look very strong so I added probably another teaspoon and a half, maybe two, just to be safe.

Then I marinated the tofu in curry powder – probably a good tablespoon or two or three – and then fried it up in olive oil until it was nice and hot and seared on the outsides. Then I mixed it all together with some vegetable stock and set it on the stove to simmer. It smelled amazing. It looked amazing. We dished it up on rice and sat down really excited to eat it last night.

There is a reason the recipe only called for one and a half teaspoons of curry powder for the entire recipe, and that is because despite its mild smell, curry powder has a very strong taste and an even stronger after-taste. Especially when there’s about six tablespoons of it on your meal. It was almost inedible and we gave up after a few minutes of trying and some experimentation with adding soy sauce. I made myself a greek salad with avocado and that was all I ended up eating for dinner, so by the time I went to bed, I was hungry!

I woke up today, ready to really start my cleanse, and found myself aching head to toe. To make myself feel better, I made myself this delicious Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas treat, using exactly the recipe’s suggested amount of spice. I highly recommend it. I cut the sugar right out of the recipe and cooked them in a little bit of honey and then added more at the end, since I’m not eating any refined sugar right now. A small amount of honey is the perfect treat when struggling with giving up sweets, and the cinnamon helps keep your blood sugar low.

Day one, feeling not-so-hot, but enjoying my new favourite snack!

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