By Lynda Wallas

I Let Sugar Back in this Week

Life is short, just eat the dam muffin….. Yes it sounds wonderful, throwing caution to the wind and being defiant. For sure, if this is just an irregular occurrence then it’s not going to be the end of the world (unless you have celiac or some other gut/digestion issue and then it’s just a little bit silly)….

But the thing I’ve found with sugar is that once you let it in, it can get out of hand rather quickly. Once you say yes to sugary treats then the cravings kick in and your body starts acting like it needs sugar for its very survival. In fact it absolutely feels like your energy, especially mid-afternoon, is now dependant on a sugar hit, whereas when you were staying away from it, energy did not seem to plummet like that. Having sugar in your day means you will get the highs and lows. In contrast, eating primarily lean protein, good fats, vegetables and some fruit will keep the body balanced. This includes energy and concentration, all the way through the afternoon.

I remember when I was heading towards CFS (which I didn’t know at the time) and my body was winding down, I was hitting an energy wall every day, dragging myself around like a zombie…. I was craving sugar and giving in to the temptations. I was having a coffee and a muffin mid-morning for breakfast/morning tea and often another coffee and cake in the afternoon to keep going. This was certainly one of the factors that lead to the CFS, since my body was compromised on multiple fronts and this sugar routine I had fallen into was disrupting the internal processes and balances. It was a vicious circle – low energy was giving my body signals to go for a quick energy boost but after the high there was an opposite low. Obviously once I was diagnosed I went cold turkey for quite some time. Then over the years there have been times when it has crept back in again, never to the same extent but for a while there when menopause was crushing my energy, I found myself gravitating towards sugar treats again. I had to make a conscious effort to stop.

Recently I’ve been going great on the Metabolic Aftershock program and with clean eating – choosing treats in the weekend that are of the non-sugar variety (such as making a pizza with a gluten-free base and minimal cheese, opting for feta or goats cheese, or making guacamole and having gluten-free corn chips, or making buckwheat pancakes with blueberries and coconut syrup).

As an experiment for my own proof (as much as for yours), I decided to have a week where I let some sugary treats sneak back in, to monitor what happens. It started at work where everyone was talking about Cronuts, the croissant/donut combo filled with all sorts of amazing goodness…. OMG yep, seriously good! I had a chocolate one and a salted caramel one. Then the next day someone was passing out homemade cake at work and I said yes thanks. This was mid-morning. In the afternoon my concentration was wavering and I felt drained. Then when I was driving home my mind turned to what I could get on the way past the supermarket and, before I know it, I’ve gone in and bought a small Lindt chocolate bar. It felt like I would not be able to walk the dog without it! The next day on the way home I got two of them. Then every afternoon at work I was thinking about an energy hit. My mind was suddenly thinking about treats that I could justify having for whatever reason and isles I had not even wanted to visit in the supermarket for ages were now where I found myself.

The week became two weeks without me deciding that I was going to do that. On Saturday I bought two pieces of baklava, dripping in honey and I sat down with a magazine and two small chocolate bars on Sunday afternoon because, well, they were only small!

During the next week my hot flushes were back; I hadn’t had them for ages but they just kicked in again, it was really annoying. This made me irritable and I noticed I was not motivated to exercise in the evenings. I felt sluggish (my tummy was bloated and I was struggling with being ‘regular’).

It happened quickly and the affects were immediate. My balance was thrown off pretty much straight away with regards to energy and sharpness and willpower. The mind can replace clean eating with sugary treats like a fickle friend plays favourites.

Conclusion. For me anyway, I would rather stay cold turkey as much as possible to avoid the cravings, moods, increased menopause symptoms and the impacts to bodily processes (including bowel movement and sleep), as well as the concentrated effort required to get back on track and break the cycle once you realise what’s happening. Yes life is short…. too short to be feeling below par based on something you can easily decide not to do. So why not try making the muffin with coconut flour and coconut sugar or making some healthy cacao balls for a treat you can reach for when the need arises. Plan your weekend food in advance, allowing treats but not of the sugar variety – go for some carbs you wouldn’t normally have during the week, like pizza or pasta or a curry with rice. Think about consecutive days without sugar in your body and the wonderful affects this is having on your skin, adrenals, ageing and life expectancy!

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

Check out Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar blog and start on her 8 week program if you want some help to kick the habit.

Google ‘healthy treats’ or ‘cooking with coconut’ or buy a beautiful recipe book with ideas for making healthy sweet alternatives – check out Abigail O’Neill’s Model Chocolate, full of amazing recipes using cacao, dates, coconut, nuts, good fats and superfoods.

Clean out your pantry and replace white sugar with coconut sugar (and/or an artificial sweetener if you can’t go without some sweetness in your cup of tea or coffee).

Be prepared for afternoon sweet cravings – think licorice tea, a kiwifruit or a square of 70% dark chocolate if you need it.

Check out my breakfast choices to start your day off on the right footing, as well as the snacks and treats section in Nourish me.

Also have a look at The Me in Menopause on Pinterest for a collection of wonderful sweet treats from healthy recipe sites from all over the Web.

Lynda Wallas
Lynda Wallas
About me

I’ve always been interested in health and fitness…. which turned out to be a good thing when fertility treatment in my 30s took a toll on my health, leading to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and early onset menopause. More about Lynda...

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