6 Lessons quitting sugar taught me

So as you might know, I recently completed the 8 week I QUIT SUGAR challenge.
This is my reflection of the experience:

1. Sugar is in everything

If you have ever attempted a challenge like this then you know what I mean. It is a shocking revelation and an eye opening experience to start really noticing what is in our every day foods. It is expected to have to give up deserts and a few breakfast options, but I started asking restaurants and cafes what I could eat on their dinner menu and would walk out with no options. Sugar, in your risotto? Really? In your curries? Even in your sausage rolls? What is wrong with you? What is wrong with our society? Even the ‘healthy vegan’ restaurants I went to struggled to serve me something without sugar in it.  Continue reading

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Week eight, what’s on my plate?

It’s the last week of the sugar free challenge for me, but that doesn’t really mean a lot as I’m determined to make this a normal part of my diet and lifestyle.

Since I am writing this on the 15th of July, it has just become apparent to me that today is the middle of winter (well, by the calendar’s standards). It can only get warmer and sunnier from here right? Thank goodness for that.
My tea consumption has been directly reflecting this situation. As well as my favourite Madam Flavour -Jasmine Green tea with Pear, I’ve found myself loving the Vanilla Sleepytime tea by Celestial Seasons -I don’t know how on earth I only just tried this tea for the first time, I have known this brand for my whole life. I have always dealt with insomnia and vanilla is my fave! It’s like this tea was designed for me.  Ooooh yum.
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Now, I’ve been learning a lot about the vitamins and nutrients in food and can I tell you something? Liver is the biggest superfood that ever was!
But offal is a no go zone for me, theres this mental barrier against it. It just freaks me out. But since liver has super high levels of essentially every vitamin, we could all forgo the morning’s green smoothie and just bring some pâté to your next dinner party. Joel was right into the idea and when we saw some organic frozen chicken livers at our health food store he jumped at the chance.
Now I must admit, it actually tasted quite nice once he was done with it. But it is going to take me a while to get over the mental ickiness of eating organs and consent to eating some at my own free will. But if you are cool with the idea, make some for yourself! It is just so good for you. But of course make sure that it is organic, as the liver is first in line to store and deal with toxins.

My weekend adventure consisted of dropping our lovely housemate to the airport as he was headed for New Zealand and taking his van to the Macedon ranges and sleeping in the bush. The rain, hail and extremely low temps didn’t get us down as it kind of just added to the experience. The last time I slept in a van was when I was in New Zealand, and I was more than happy to evoke those memories. It felt very similar this time round, we even found some more weird mushrooms! Nature continued to amaze us, as we were delighting in a morning bush walk between bursts of rain we saw trees frothing. Tiny bubbles were coming out of the trees, like little suds. What is that about?

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Sugar free, Week Seven.

I have felt so much more freedom since allowing fruit back into my tum. I’m finally able to eat out again -and I have been certainly pulling on that luxury. I had three meals in a row at Lentil as Anything, but if you have been there in Melbourne then you will understand..

My housemates, a Chilean traveler & I rode to Lentils to meet up with some friends. It was such a gorgeous ride along a majestic river that I had no idea existed. Many hills later, and after some breathtaking scenery (I thought we lived in the middle of the city) we arrived at our destination.
An unordered chai turned up at our table while we were having breakfast, and since no one was interested I took it upon myself to have a sip. And I’m so glad I did. It showed me how far I have come because it tasted so sickly sweet to me, that I easily gave up on it after a mouthful or two. Mind you,  I was heavily debating with myself moments before about whether I should order a chai, as the cravings were well and truly there but I knew it was made with a sugar syrup.

As insignificant as this may seem, it is a huge milestone for me. It also shows me that I don’t need to have an internal battle and resist everything with sugar because if I try a little, I will probably be turned off it anyway. And will feel quite impressed afterwards.
The night before I could literally taste the sugar in my burger bun -I could never do that before. IMG_6204
I made an interesting smoothie bowl this morning. The colour wasn’t terribly appealing but I have been drinking grey smoothies since high school, so it didn’t put me off.
It had:
-coconut water
-chia seeds
-boysenberries
-turmeric
-maca powder
-bee pollen
-banana
-hemp protein
-slippery elm
And from the garden:
-kale
-parsley
-lemon balm mint

Then on top was almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, muesli & a sliced strawberry.

It has been interesting watching youtube videos this week. I have come across some vegan channels where people are eating smoothies with 4 or 5 bananas in it of a morning, and someone saying the people in Kenya can live off corn so there is no need to eat meat.
It is so amazing how we all have different views on what health is -and to be honest, no one is right or wrong. We are all unique, complex individuals and we need to find out what works for each of us. There is no need to push values or ideals onto anyone else. There are so many other things to factor in than just the food that goes into our body. I hope we can all start to learn about and embrace our own uniqueness and find out what contributes to living our bliss.

It is a little while away yet, but I am starting to get prepared for living a SOULFUL SEPTEMBER. I want to live my perfect lifestyle, every day for a month and see how I feel during and afterwards. It is funny how much preparation and planning I am needing to put in, as you would think I would be living like this by choice anyway. But there are so many strange sabotaging energies in all of us. I’m getting ready to show myself what my life can really be. I will be sure to write about it when it comes up, and I hope some of you can join me.

Sugar Free, Week six – Adding fruit back into the mix!

Ah I have been hanging out for this week!
Yay finally here, it has felt like Christmas – 3 more sleeps ’till strawberries. Smoothies here I come. My little bullet blender has had quite the hibernation.

Welcome back berries, fruit, rice malt syrup, stevia, my new friend dextrose and…. onions. -Who knew they had so much fructose? I only found out yesterday.

I am expecting my happiness and creativity levels to be boosted by at least 300% with this freedom. In celebration of the more relaxed (natural) sugar standards I have outdone myself by making Prickly Pear Custard Mini Tarts [check the Food & Beverages page for the recipe] and am planing on making some muffins. But I will still need to stay in check and not go on a fructose frenzy.

Natural ingredients aren’t exclusive to my digestive system though, I have become quite interested in the realm of natural skincare and makeup. I generally don’t wear a lot of makeup anyway, but if I ever do it is nice to know that it could actually be benefiting my skin! That’s how it should be right?
I don’t know who the sneaky mastermind is who first talked us into smearing chemicals all over our faces, but now it is going to stop. At least for me.
I have already been right in to natural cleansers, face masks, moisturisers and even toothpaste for a long time, but when it came to my daily MAC concealer- the indigents list was indecipherable.  All the good things I had going with my skincare routine might have been compromised by that tiny product + a few others. So during the past few weeks I have built up an impressive little natural makeup collection. And that’s not all, I have started to make my own makeup! But that’s a whole other story in itself.

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I sat in on my friends’ iridology class the other day after I finished my herbal medicine exam, and eyes are so incredibly amazing! I was used as an eye model for a little bit and was told that I was prone to developing diabetes and I had a overload of sugar in my system that was clearing. How amazing is that! Thank goodness I started this sugar free lifestyle, otherwise a few years down the track and I could be pre-diabetic. It wasn’t a big shock as diabetes is in my family, but I was amazed that my eyes were already showing my sugar clearing progress.

Another thing that has been making me happy, is the discovery of Green Press just across the laneway from my college in the city. This place has incredible cold pressed juices, gorgeous organic salads and is finally a place where I feel confident to eat out. Hooray! But maybe not hooray for my wallet, organic comes as a cost.
Check these guys out here: Green Press
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Joel & I went to see Arj Barker the other night, what a funny dude- does anyone else wish they brought out a new series of flight of the conchords? When I was doing my 10 month trip around the world a couple of years ago, one of the things I really missed was not having access to my mate’s DVD collection of it.

My berry cute header image is from Mount Royal Mint. They make the most adorable tiny stuffed animals. Check out their website here or search for them on Instagram.

Week five, feeling revived. (Sugar Free)

So hello world, I am back from the near-dead existence that was last week.
Yes it’s only three days into week 5, but already I can feel a drastic difference -and thank goodness for that.

Last week was an interesting week, and now that I am out the other side I feel I can dabble into the memories.
I was thoroughly in detox mode last week. And luckily I have been studying about the symptoms and effects of detox last semester in my naturopathy classes, so I wasn’t too frightened about what was happening to me. I felt fatigued, had headaches, nausea and aches and pains all over. I was irritable and essentially a walking zombie. But the worst thing that happened was dreadful insomnia. Surprisingly though, after my worst night with only 3 hours of sleep and class early in the morning, I delved into a tired yet peaceful existence and was quite happy during the day. (Very surprising insomnia side effect for me)

I also accidentally/intuitively started fasting for a few days – which impressed me, I think is great that my body knows what it wants and needs. Fasting can really speed along the detoxing period as it allows for your body to use its energy supply on repair instead of the break down and digestion of foods. Fasting when your body needs extra nourishment sounds a bit counterintuitive I know, but it does explain why people often don’t feel hungry when they are ill, or only want easily-digestible foods such as chicken soup.

This all happened while my boyfriend Joel was away for work, so I had to fend for myself for a few days. And (like the past two weeks) I had minimal desire to cook, and actually felt a bit anxious trying to come up with a meal since my world has been turned upside down with this sugar monster exposed. -I am really looking forward to next week when I get my beloved fruit and rice syrup back again.
A few days after Joel came home I really perked up, turns out all I just need is my own personal chef and this sugar free challenge is a breeze. And added bonus for him, he got to miss out on my detoxing zombie alter ego -although I may have kept him up on the phone during some of those said insomnia episodes.

But anyway, that’s all behind me now. At least until my next crazy detoxing scheme.
For now I am feeling pretty good… unless I get hungry.

I went a digestive health talk last night at one of my local health food stores, and apparently if we are doing all the right things we should be able to live up to 120! A fair bulk of the talk was on bacteria in the gut and its effects on the body. Did you know that the gut makes over 50% of the neurotransmitters for you brain? This includes serotonin -one of the neurotransmitters responsible for those happy feels. So we can see how important it is to keep the gut happy with a healthy balance of bacteria in the body. And from what they told me, it looks like I need to develop a taste for sauerkraut as that stuff has all sorts of good in it.
A girl watching the talk even gave me a recipe to make coconut yogurt, so I will definitely have to give that one a try.

I am very happy to say that I finally bought myself a skin brush and have started to dry skin brush before showers. I’m excited to utilise these benefits as it just makes so much sense to stimulate the lymph system to discharge all the nasties -or at least getting a good flow happening.

Week six I’m coming for you!

Week four, Sugar no more.

So week four has arrived, Hurrah! That means I have somewhat successfully survived my first week without ANY sugar or sweetness (natural or otherwise) entering my mouth. This means no fruit, no stevia no sugar substitutes. And it was hard. More so because I had absolutely no idea what to eat since I had lost confidence in any foods bought from the supermarket, and was too lethargic to do much about it. Thankfully my partner (who is also doing the challenge) made soup after soup after soup, full of vegetables, vitamins and minerals. -Otherwise who knows where I would be, possibly hiding under a table somewhere rocking gently a with a lone tear running down my cheek.

Last week was my hardest week yet, not only because of what I mentioned above, but because I felt quite ill from Thursday onwards. I have had a headache on and off until Sunday when it latched on for good and is still with me now. Goodness, you try and do something good for yourself and look what happens. I’m holding on to the hope that this is just part of the detoxing period. I have a whole lifetime of sugar causing mishap, so I’m not surprised that it could take my body a while to let go and readjust.

Speaking of detoxing, I tired those detox foot patches for the very first time this week. I’m not quite convinced that they work, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless. I definitely felt a pull and heat due to the patches and wanted to keep an open mind. After wearing them to bed, I was intrigued to find the blackened patch in the morning smelling like smokey char. And even though I washed my feet very well, it stuck with me until the evening when I made myself a detoxing foot bath. – And I can certainly recommend this.

For a detox foot bath, you will need:
-A bucket, or something more aesthetic & delicate
-Warm water
-Lavender oil
-Peppermint oil
-Epsom salts
-Bicarb soda
-Apple cider vinegar
-And the secret ingredient …….. Charcoal

The acidic and basic pH levels of  ACV and bicarb make a fun fizzy reaction (here’s a bit of chemistry for your evening). The whole experience is really relaxing and smells a treat.
Go on, spoil yourself.
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Sugar free, week three!

Well well well, week three you say?
I have become overly suspicious about every pastry and savoury good out there. Waitresses are starting to look at me like a crazy person when I ask “Is there any sugar in the pastry of that mushroom triangle?”
“No I don’t think so”, they answer with an underlying smirk, “it is a savoury pie after all.” But I have my doubts. They don’t know what I know.

Besides becoming an undercover forensic sugar detective, I have thrown myself into my biochemistry and nutrition studies and for the first time in my life -doing my assignments early! My parents, peers and every teacher I’ve ever had will be just as surprised and impressed as I am.
I have been learning some interesting things about the B vitamins: and can tell you that if your energy levels are feeling low, your memory isn’t serving you to its full potential or you have been sipping too much alcohol or coffee -go ahead and take a B complex. You can thank me later.

Despite my own low energy and period woes, my boyfriend and I managed to make it out to the Dandenong Ranges and the 1000 steps (or more accurately 776 steps) and have a beautiful afternoon amongst nature at its finest. It is great to have a trained tour guide as a boyfriend as he managed to spot so many sneaky beauties that everyone else huffed past and missed. Giant blue and red parrots that made it seem like we were in the amazon, the tiniest and cutest little mushroom families and the most amazing mossy wonderlands.

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But back to the IQS task at hand, this week I am cutting out all things remotely sweet. Goodbye my new friend Rice Malt Syrup, we have had a short but very sweet relationship. So long to the occasional tiny apple that saw me through the afternoons and farewell to the new tomato sauce I made, damn.
You can visit me again at week 6, but until then we must go on our own separate paths.

I have discovered (and now lost) a lovely treat last week. Heat some milk on the stove, add a few drops of vanilla, a generous spoon of dark dutch chocolate powder or raw cacao and add a teaspoon or two of rice malt syrup. Froth it up in a coffee plunger (did anyone else know they could froth milk?) and add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Delish!