Below is a guest blog from Health Hub partner Kim, she has had her own battles with health and diet and this is her personal account of her journey and the start of another challenge.
“This weekend, not for the first time, I have realised that I am almost definitely my own worst enemy when it comes to health.
Just over 2 years ago, after lots of health issues and research, I diagnosed myself with Systemic Candida – for those of you who don’t know, this is basically and over growth of Thrush Bacteria in your system, more specifically your gut. It wasn’t an overnight whim, it was several months, if not years, of searching for the answer to my symptoms of lethargy, nausea, depression, anxiety and IBS. Initially I had assumed it would be another fruitless experiment, just like the gluten free, dairy free, or so called drug controlled options I have previously tried – but I had nothing to lose, and I QUIT SUGAR!!
I emptied the cupboards of anything and everything containing added sugar. I wasn’t brave enough to give up all sugar, so I just avoided anything with it added, and while I was at it I knocked any processed food on the head. I set my own definition of ‘added’ and ‘processed’. The ‘added’ sugars were put in to create the product, for example, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, bread, sweet pastry, sweet popcorn, and most cereal. The ‘processed’ part was harder, but basically meant I needed to know the steps taken from the original ingredients being picked / dug / harvested, to when they arrived on my plate. People talk about ‘processed’ being the chicken that is reconstituted and made in to the shapes of dinosaurs, or microwave meals, but I did my best to stay away from things like crisps as the potato was dug, sliced, flavoured and cooked, then packaged before I even got to buy it. Oats I accepted as they had only been through basic processes to get from the field to my plate and nothing had been added – plus I wasn’t about to buy a combine and do the whole thing myself!
So off I went, and QUIT!
After a few days I was climbing the walls, or more aptly, prowling the cupboards! I was craving sugar and needed a fix. I allowed myself small amounts of local honey, maple syrup or dark chocolate in my diet, but not enough to really quench my thirst for pure, unadulterated, processed sugar – I needed Haribo!
After a month the cravings became less and the effect on my body started to show. I have always been very lucky that despite my insatiable habit of eating doughnuts and biscuits, my figure has remained relatively athletic, but inside is a different story. My body had struggled to process the chemical warfare I was waging on it each day, but with the sugar detox my body was finally starting to shift the toxins! Don’t be misled, it wasn’t glamorous and didn’t always seem like such a good idea, but eventually after just a few months, I felt better than I had in years. I had energy and wanted to get out of bed in the morning, I was seeing positives in things for the first time in months, the nausea and IBS started to subside, and in turn so did the anxiety – I honestly felt 5 years younger.
I continued with my new Anti-Sugar Smugness for several months and even my husband noticed the improvements – eventually!! But, as with all good things, it came to an abrupt end. I shouldn’t be surprised, after declaring at 11 years of age that I was now a fully fledged vegetarian and that my meat eating family were murderers, I succumbed to a Bacon Sarnie within 24 hours, so 6 months of sugar free was actually pretty impressive! I am ashamed to say that in the lead up to Christmas, one toffee penny led to another and within days I was hooked.
So, for 18 months, despite knowing the effects it has, I have slid back down the sugar slide and I need to climb back out! The symptoms are returning, slowly but surely, and I know what I need to do – this week I will be preparing myself for another attempt at Sugar Free, anybody care to join me?”