Last Friday I decided, after much research, to quit all forms of sugar for a three week cleanse. In all honesty I believed that I'd be singing the results of my little experiment from the rooftops. I thought I'd be all over it and never, ever want to return to eating sugar ever, ever again. As you probably know I don't consume any kind of white refined sugar, so I thought it would be pretty easy for me. From what I had read it would cleanse my system, specifically my intestines, clear my skin, balance my hormones and make me feel super duper good among everything else. My skin and hormones were primarily my reason behind doing the little sugar detox in the first place.
I spent last Sunday preparing sugar free meals and snacks, ever so proud that I had taken the initiative to portion up six meals a day for each day during the coming week. There was no way I was succumbing to hunger of energy slumps. I was on it and oh so very ready. I soooooo had this.
I suppose in a way I was fortunate that it was such a rainy weekend, I had a bad headache that was quickly turning into a migraine and jumped at the opportunity to stay home, cooking and creating in my little red kitchen.
Monday arrived and I ate my meals and snacks throughout the day, never getting hungry and feeling pretty energetic. My headache still perservered and was getting quite bad but I blamed it on the weather and changing seasons as well as the cold I was still battling.
Tuesday I awoke after a terrible night's sleep barely able to open my eyes with the pain that seared across my temple. How was I going to face teaching rowdy kids all day?!
The pattern continued, I felt really good about myself for sticking to my six meals a day, but the migraine was taking the energy out of me. I was over the moon when towards the end of the week my period arrived on time for the first time in six months, was the sugar free diet already working? Were my hormones actually balancing out? My skin felt like it was clearing up too, although, if I'm honest, I didn't really care. All I wanted to do was close my eyes - the light only worsened my headache and crawl into a cave of darkness where migraines didn't exist. No amount of painkillers, (and I tried rather the variety) seemed to bring any kind of relief from the constant banging in my head teamed with pressure on my temples and the feeling that my brain was about to explode out of my head.
It was only after a few people asked, quite tentatively - so as not to offend, whether I thought it could be quitting sugar? It had occurred to me more than a few times I must admit, but I didn't want it to be that. However, come Thursday, I couldn't take any more, every step I took would cause a whole new world of pain in my head, when I spoke my ears and brain felt like they were vibrating and I could barely open my eyes. I gave in and made some energy balls with sultanas and honey, telling myself that if it wasn't down to this I'd have to go to the doctors asap.
Thirty minutes after eating the energy balls, my six day migraine completely disappeared.
I know that some would say I should have stuck it out, my body would have gotten used to it. It was only the effects of going cold turkey etc. But guess what? I don't care. Nothing could make me want to go back to that world of pain.
I will stand by my beliefs that we are all different and all of us require a unique diet. I'm always up for experimenting with my diet if it means improving my overall health. However, nothing is worth causing your body any amount pain. (Post gym / exercise burn is good pain!!)
Completely removing sugar from my diet isn't for me, it's just something I can't do. We all have limits and boundaries, we grow and learn by testing those invisible lines. I'm glad I did the experiment, I now don't feel so guilty for eating things like energy balls or having honey on my breakfast, which I know reading this back, sounds insane to begin with.
A huge part of me feels like we have taken fitness and eating healthily to an impossible level, we compare ourselves only to the portfolio fitness gurus and super food chefs share with us online. whilst this is fantastic for inspiration and motivation, we must also bear in mind that it is just that - a portfolio - the sharer's very best work.
What they're not sharing is the bloated days, the I can't be bothered days and the I'm just going to have cereal for dinner days. We should never compare ourselves to anyone, much less a person we know very little about who only shares a tiny part of their lives with us.
Treat yourself and your body kindly. Don't use food as a way to lose the pounds or gain weight. Don't use it as a reward or punishment for yourself.
Don't punish yourself with a workout because you ate too much.
Food is so much more than that - it is comfort and pleasure, it is creating delicious mouthfuls of loveliness. It is enjoyment, nourishment and health.
Keeping fit is so much more that that - it is a release of energy, adrenaline rushes and fun. It is well being and growth.
I say it's time we stop punishing ourselves, it's time to stop feeling guilty after eating a little too much, it's time to stop standing at the fridge or cupboard and stuffing things in our mouths without enjoyment because we feel like we shouldn't be eating them in the first place.
If you want it, take it out, pop it on a plate, put the kettle on and go and sit and really enjoy whatever it is you feel like eating.
You only live once, eat the cake. ;)