Quitting sugar: week 2

Day 8 and 9

At this stage I am learning to deal with sugar cravings. They are really manageable now, so it’s nothing like trying to deal with them when I was eating sugar. Now I notice them, and make a decision: am I actually hungry and need a snack, or is this just a craving and will pass. I feel very in control of myself, and that feels really good. I am becoming in tune with my bodies needs too. I have realised I really do need a snack after dinner. The other big change is that my energy is consistent throughout the day. This is completely new for me, as I have always had poor energy. Now, I am getting through the day with ease. Amazing! There is a bad side to quitting sugar (well good and bad), and it’s how much sugar I see my girls consuming now. Yesterday they ate baked beans, bacon and homemade bread for breakfast (the beans and bacon both have sugar), then a bowl of natural yogurt with honey and crunchola (the honey and crunchola), and then grapes and fresh dates for morning tea. Previously I would have thought that was a good healthy morning, but now all I see is the sugar! When I move to the maintenance plan of this diet, I will start to change the girls food too. Of course I will keep healthy sugars like honey and fruit in for them, but overall there will be a reduction in the amount of sugar they eat.

Day 10

Today I hot footed it to the health food store to stock up on stevia and xylitol. I’m not planning to use the xylitol until after the strict 3 week phase, but the stevia is for now. I went to the shops, and seeing all the chocolate eggs EVERYWHERE really kicked some cravings in. I didn’t end up using it as 1/ it tastes like crap and 2/ I strongly suspect the weaning myself off the sweet taste is as important and life changing as weaning myself off the actual sugar.

Day 11

Today was tough! I’m not sure why, but all day I have wanted chocolate. My resolve was very sorely tested. I stayed strong, but it was very hard.

Day 12, 13 and 14

The last few days have been insanely tough! I have been having really strong cravings, and right now this quitting sugar business seems all a bit much. Yesterday was the first day I knowingly ate something that had sugar in it. I was out at a community event and had very few choices. In the end I selected a pizza, which definitely would have had some sugar in the dough. It’s not a major indiscretion, but still irritating given how hard I have been working at this. It’s another reminder that preparation and planning are the key to making it through the tough stage with minimal problems. Despite the cravings, it has not been all bad news. I went to the shops to grab breadcrumbs today*, and my cravings were so strong I was worried I would cave and buy a chocolate. When I got to the shops I found the constant bombardment of sugar foods, all prominently on display, to be really offensive. It made me angry and more resolved to be strong. So from this I can see my attitude is changing. I also decided to have a hot chocolate at night time with some xylitol, as a bit of a treat. When I made it, I actually found the cocoa and milk to be sweet enough - I didn’t even need the xylitol! This is a huge change, as I would have found this undrinkable prior to quitting.

I only have one week of the super strict regime to go, then I can relax and add some fruit back in. As tough as it has been I can see both my palate and attitude changing and adjusting. This is a lifestyle choice I feel really works for me. People have been commenting that I look better, and I’m losing weight (to be fair I am also exercising a lot more so it may not be related). It’s been worth the pain.

*Did you know the commercial bread crumbs have sugar in them? I ended up toasting some fresh bread and making the crumbs myself

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Hojicha – super yummy green tea

We all know that green tea is packed with antioxidants, making it great for our health. Sometimes though being good for you doesn’t equal nice tasting. In the case of green tea, unless you are super careful with the way you brew it, then it becomes very bitter. I am one of those people that brews a cuppa, walks away and totally forgets it. By the time I come back it’s ruined. 

Fear not, there is an alternative to the standard green teas sold in supermarkets: hojicha. Hojicha is my very favourite green tea. It is made from the leaves or twigs of the normal green tea varieties, but after picking is roasted in a clay pot to give it a nutty, smooth taste. It also lowers the caffeine, meaning it can be drunk all day long. I love to make a pot and drink the whole thing, cup after cup. 

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Hojicha tea (image from wikimedia commons)

Hojicha is quite robust, and can stand up to 3 infusions from the same leaves, making it perfect for pots. The best brewing time is 2-3 minutes, but you can forget about it and return 10 minutes later and it will still be drinkable. 

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The brown coloured leaves are characteristic of hojicha (image from wikimedia commons)

The antioxidant effects of this tea are lowered, as the catechins are partially reduced by the roasting process. It still contains approximately 60% though, leaving it on par with black tea overall. The EGCg and EGC levels are only slightly less compared to sencha though, so it will still give you fantastic health benefits. If you want to boost the absorption of the catechins, pop a slice of lemon in too. 

I buy mine from T2. You will not find it at supermarkets, but it is worth searching local tea stores for.

Happy drinking. 

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Bathroom Safety: quick, easy and upcycled.

I really love the concept of upcycling: finding new uses for rubbish. Normally upcycling is done with lovely old materials and turned into some artistic and lovely creation. That’s very cool, but that is not going to happen in my world. In our house upcycling is uber-practical; even if it’s not pretty.

When you unleash the chaos of small children into your world, you quickly learn that your house is fraught with dangers that little people just love to find. Bathrooms are especially bad. You could spend a fortune on fancy gadgets to protect your little ones, but there are two bathroom safety items you can quickly and easily make yourself: a tap cover and a spout cover.

Supplies

  • 1 old tennis ball
  • 1 soft drink bottle, between 1.25 to 2L
  • A stanley knife, or similar

Method

  • Using a sharp stanley knife, cut an incision in the tennis ball about 3cms long (you can go wider if your spout needs it)
  • Now cut a cross shape about 5 cms long into the side of the soft drink bottle
  • To stop head knocks on the spout attach the tennis ball
  • To stop children turning on the hot water, attach the bottle over the hot water tap
  • Admire your handiwork

**Caution** Do NOT allow kids to play with the soft drink bottle once cut. Both my girls (yes both) have stuck their hand in there and scratched themselves trying to get it out. It’s not a serious injury, but you will be pretty sure you’re a shitty parent afterwards (especially if you didn’t learn the first time like me)

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Old tennis balls can always be found around tennis courts. No need to buy new.

 

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The incision doesn’t need to be big, as you don’t want it to come off to easily.

 

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Again, don’t cut this too big. It should be hard to get off.

 

 

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It’s not pretty, but it reuses rubbish and it works!

 

Have you got any simple safety tips like this? Please share!

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Quitting sugar: week 1

I’ve decided to write a weekly report while I go through the quitting sugar process. I should have done this the first time around, as I had heaps of great tips to share. The first time I did the protocol set out by the Healthy Home Economist. It was great, but as I don’t eat much junk food and make nearly all my own treats, for me the first 3 steps were all combined into one. This time around I’m trying the I Quit Sugar program, set out in Sarah Wilson’s book. So far, I’m loving her book. It’s got an impressive amount of helpful recipes, and the info is what I would share with my clients.

The I Quit Sugar program is 8 weeks, but the first two weeks are unstructured and based on cutting down on sugar and increasing good fats. I’m skipping them as I want to jump in now! So I’m starting at week 3: cutting out sugar cold turkey.

Day One

It’s just past lunchtime on the first day, and so far so good. The key to the early days is to eat, eat, eat. Don’t let yourself get hungry, as it’s so much harder. Lots of protein and fat based snacks. I love macadamias as they have a great natural sweetness too.

Well, in the run-up to dinner I was no where near as zen as after lunch. I was hungry, grumpy and wondering at a sugar free diet that excludes fruit. I have to admit, I don’t personally feel that fruit ever needs to be removed, but I’ve decided to challenge that belief and follow the Sarah Wilson program properly. It was so weird to not share a plate of fruit with my girls at afternoon tea! Anyway I have learnt another valuable lesson: you need to be really organised in the early days. Not having myself a snack ready at afternoon tea made the lead up to dinner unbearable. To succeed at this you really do need to have the following:
-Your cupboard well stocked with sugar free supplies
-Have your day meal planned the day before
-Have several snacks in your handbag (I learnt that the hard way)

I’m planning to end tonight with some natural peanut butter and cacao powder mixed into warm milk. Mmmm sugar free isn’t too bad!

Day Two

Okay see that statement above; the naively hopeful one about sugar free not being too bad. Yeah, that comment can just fuck off. Today has been hell. The only thing that has got me through is eating my body weight in fresh bread and butter. To not even eat fruit is just crazy! I feel rubbish, and my body is telling me I’m starving, even when I’m not. I tried Sarah’s suggestion of tossing toasted walnuts and cinnamon over yoghurt – it was awful. I choked down 3/4 of the bowl and then admitted defeat. I actually like natural yoghurt, but it needs some fruit at least. I just walked past Sarah smiling from the front cover of her book as I went to write this. For a moment I wanted to physically harm her! (to be fair it’s the first day of my period. I would harm cute kittens today if they messed with me).

The good thing about today is it has strengthened my resolve to see this through. For me to feel so strongly about quitting sugar shows me what a problem I have with it. I have eaten a ton of food all day, so it’s not low blood sugar. This is something I do need to do. I’m keen to see what my palate and food choices are like once I can relax the program a bit.

My tip for today is again about being prepared. Whenever I have had a craving today it has been when I am most busy. Normally I would mindlessly grab something sugar laden, like a muesli bar, but today I had no quick solution and no time to think of one. Tomorrow I’m going to write a list for the fridge. I’m going to include sweet vegetables like carrot and red capsicum, a yummy spread like macadamia butter and cacao and a fat fix of olive tapenade on rice cakes. These little treats would have got me through today, and had I made the list already would possibly have saved the bread from becoming a casualty of the sugar war.

Day 3

Hell. Just pure hell.

Day 4

I felt a lot more in control today, and my every waking thought was not on sugar like it was yesterday. I made a list of healthy snack options for the fridge too, which helped me find food options when a craving hit.

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This is my list of non-sugar quick food options. Pretty basic, but all filling and easy to make in a flash. The frozen peas were great!

Day 5

Today has been really good. I’m in control of my cravings and have had steady energy all day. The biggest change I’ve got so far is an awareness of how much I mistake hunger for a sugar craving. There are so many points during the day where I snack on a muesli bar, a huge bowl of yoghurt with honey or chocolate thinking I’m hungry. Really I’m not though, I’m craving sugar. I had no idea this was occurring! My eyes have really opened. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks, and having my body come back into balance.

Day 6

Tonight was my birthday party; a traditional Sri Lankan feast! I was really excited about today as I had planned to indulge in the Sri Lankan desserts. All day I was wondering what they would be like. When the dessert was served though I had NO desire to eat it. I can normally annihilate a dessert in record time, but I didn’t even taste it until an hour later. Even then I had two tiny bites of one, and one bite of the other and was done. This is a massive turn around for me, and has completely convinced me I am doing the right thing.

Day 7

Today I am having some sugar cravings, but I find it quite manageable now. I’m going to have a bowl of raw nuts now, and some vegie sticks. This seems like a treat! I’m completely sold on the sugar free lifestyle change.

Overall this has been the most amazing journey. I started slightly skeptical on the benefit of such a strict 3 week quitting period, now I am totally sold. I am finding it easy to do now at day 7, and my relationship with food is changing. The most surprising aspect of this last week is realising how often I eat a snack when I’m not really hungry. I will often have a muesli bar, a big bowl of yoghurt with honey or some chocolate because I thought I was hungry. Now I realise I wasn’t hungry - I was craving sugar! 

I am really excited to see what changes the next 2 weeks bring.

 

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Slippery Elm lozenges

naturopathicmum:

This is a fantastic post from one of my wonderful naturopath friends. Slippery elm is a wonder herb for heart burn, IBS, IBD and chronic constipation. It’s also really great for feed the good bacteria in your bowel. I love Kathleen’s method for dosing it, as it takes a brave soul to drink it in cold water! I recommend making a tea from it, with a spoonful of honey, but this is my new favourite way to take it.

Originally posted on Your health. Your life.:

For those of you that experience regular bouts of indigestion or heartburn, I have an excellent and dead-easy home remedy for you: slippery elm lozenges. Earlier in the week I posted about pregnancy heartburn , what causes it, how common it is and my top tips for reducing symptoms. These lozenges were mentioned, as they can be used safely throughout pregnancy. It should also be noted that they are great for anyone , i.e. non-pregnant folk, who experience reflux.

Firstly, let me give you a quick run down on slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), an all-round hero of herbal medicine and truly excellent remedy to have on hand in your pantry.

The bark of the slippery elm tree had been used for centuries in herbal medicine, with remedies requiring both topical application (as a healing balm for wounds) and oral ingestion (for sore throats, digestive upsets, etc).

slippery elm powder - image via pinterestSlippery elm is taken as a powder and…

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Ten tips for beating the baby blues

**This post was written a really long time ago. Before I even had Lillypilly! This was my list of strategies to avoid PND. Well we all know that didn’t really work, so I never bothered to post it. In reality this is still a great list, and I have continued to use these strategies alongside my medical treatments. For mild PND or just in general this might be a good resource to help you get through. Always remember that if this is just not cutting it for you, you may need some extra help, and that’s okay too**

1. See a naturopath

There are numerous effective and safe natural medicines that can provide significant relief from depression and anxiety. Natural medicine got me through my pregnancy, and I still use it now alongside my medication. Always work with a qualified naturopath to ensure safety.

2. See a counsellor and make a plan

When I was about 36wks pregnant, I went to my GP and got signed onto a mental health plan to give me access to free counselling. I found a counsellor and had my first appointment before baby arrived. This gave me a chance to meet my counsellor, find the clinic and get some advice before I had to cope with two kids. This was an even better decision when I realised my first person wasn’t right for me as I had time to find another. I think having a counsellor in place is really important even if you’re coping quite well. Post natal depression can hit hard and fast. Better to be prepared.

3. Get out in the sun and fresh air

This was so important for my AND, and is something I still do now. If I feel overwhelmed and unhappy, I bundle the kids down the stairs and get out into the yard. Spending some time with the sun warming my body and looking at the sky really calms and refreshes me.

4. Exercise

I find this so tough to do but the research is pretty clear on this: exercise improves mood. Lately I have found that even tiny bits of exercise add up. I think it is easy to think that unless you are at some crazy bootcamp every morning, then there’s no point. I recently dropped a couple of kilo’s just by doing a couple of 30 day challenges. They took me hardly any time, but they built up my muscle mass which helps burn fat. Every little bit counts.
5. Have a daily routine

I had a really interesting experience while pregnant; I woke up one morning feeling just awful. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I felt so overwhelmed with responsibility and I was so low. Over the past year I had created some routines to try and bring my chaotic life into order. On this lowest of days I just automatically started doing this routine of little things, cleaning ‘that’ bench that acquires all the junk, putting the washing out, wiping the benches etc, and all of a sudden I realised I felt much better. My day had started to take shape, little niggly jobs were getting done and getting through the day seemed more achievable. At that moment I realised the value of a daily routine (even just a morning one). So write a routine, even if it’s a basic as get changed, wash breakfast dishes, clean the messiest room in the house. You will be surprised by its effect. (If you need some help to do this check out FlyLady)

6. Get some chores done

When you have a baby, everyone tells you to ‘forget the housework’. The problem is when you are tired, depressed and sitting on the couch breastfeeding all day that mess can be pretty irritating. I am so not a neat freak but it drives me wild. My advice is to get a few chores done if you can. You’ll feel much better if you know at least the floors are swept or the washing is out. You won’t be able to do everything, but doing something will help. The best option is to hire yourself a cleaner for 3 months. If you are worried about money ask people to put in for that instead of baby gifts. But if this is not an option for you just do one thing a day.

7. Eat well, eat often, eat protein

This is so important, but perhaps one of the hardest. I’ll be honest, my diet is no where near what I want it to be. Often I’m grabbing a muesli bar at lunch time while holding the baby under my arm and stopping the toddler from breaking something with the other. However do your best to eat good nutritous food at every chance. Sugary processed food will give you a short energy boost, but once it wears off you will feel even worse. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar stable which is important for mood regulation. Low blood sugar makes you feel shaky and anxious, as well as low on energy. Protein foods provide essential amino acids used in the creation of neurotransmitters. These are responsible for our mood.

8. Have a support network

I believe as a mother you need two types of support: people who can help care for your children, and other mums. These aren’t mutually exclusive, but usually family or close friends can be trusted to look after your angels, while a broader group of mums to share advice, tea, and the occasional whinge session are also important

9. Lose yourself in child’s play

Playing with your kids can give you a huge boost if you really lose yourself in it. Children find everything joyous and magical, and that can be infectious. I find imaginary games the best. Anything that involves mess can become stressful, so grab a box and pretend to be pirates for an hour.

10. Keep up the grooming

We are all guilty of those days when we live in our pajama bottoms, and our hair doesn’t see the brush. However spending every day like this will just make you feel dowdy, and you will lose sight of who you are. First thing in the morning brush your teeth, hair and get changed into clothes that you would wear to the shops to get milk. You will feel better, and if you do have to leave the house unexpectedly it won’t be such a hassle.

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Quick craving buster: choc-coco-nut crackers

I almost didn’t post today, as things have been so busy. Quitting sugar has still being hard today, and I finally caved and sent hubby to the shops to get some xylitol, but alas he came home empty handed. Desperate, I rummaged through the cupboards and came up with a quick treat. I didn’t have high expectations, but it was amazing. My sugar craving is totally gone and it took less than a minute to put together.

Method
Mix together a heaped spoon of natural peanut butter (I used crunchy), 1/2 spoon of cacao and 1/2 spoon of coconut oil. Spread over a plain corn thin or rice cake. Devour!

That’s it! So simple, but really satisfying. I’ll be making these for the girls to eat at snack time tomorrow. You could use any nut butter you like. Try almond for a calcium boost.

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