I thought I’d start posting my Huffington Post blogs on here as well, so in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the latest one:
Well, would you Adam and Eve it? A whole two weeks have passed since I decided to give up sugar. I know it may not seem like it because I stopped posting my daily consumption after I had my last chemo, but today is in fact the last day. As of tomorrow morning, I can eat chocolate again – yay!
So how did it go? Well, besides being rushed to hospital for a few days, the no-sugar diet itself went just fine. The chemotherapy had already altered my tastes and meant that I’ve been eating strangely for the past few months anyway, so the shock to my system wasn’t as great as it would have been. I have definitely wanted to eat sweet things, but funnily enough with the withdrawal of hard chocolate, I’ve been left desperate for the simplest and actually quite healthy things – for instance I would kill for a dark-chocolate-covered rice cake, and I almost cried last week when I could only eat the raisins out of my Graze box but had to leave these chocolate-covered apricots. I mean, apricots, for God’s sake! I don’t even like them that much! But they’re still sitting here, ready to be eaten tomorrow.
I haven’t especially noticed any effects – whether good or bad – of giving up the white stuff, but that is probably mainly because of the chemo. I have had lots of headaches, but again, probably the chemo. And I can’t say I am brimming with energy but that’s also most likely because I’m still on really strong antibiotics and and the after-effects of the chemo.
My Mum, on the other hand, was probably a better guinea pig for this experiment and I could tell she felt miserable a few times not being able to have chocolate. She also had a lull around day five or so where I thought she didn’t have any energy and was fed up having to eat bananas and nuts all the time. So, cutting out chocolate can also make you a bit miserable. (We didn’t really have to do this experiment for two weeks though really, did we?) My Dad is also doing the diet and for some strange reason it barely seems to have affected him. I’m not sure whether he’s secretly sneaking in loads of cakes, but I do know he had a can of lemonade when I went to hospital because he was worried about me. (We let him off).
The outcome of all this is that I still believe all the hype about how bad sugar is for us and how it’s one of the causes of cancer, so I’m definitely cutting down on it long-term. Though I believe going completely cold-turkey can make you much more tempted to eat sugar, so I’ll be allowing myself small amounts from now on.
Here’s the report on the minor cheating incidents:
1 glass of apple juice at home because Mum forced me to drink it (it would’ve been wasted otherwise)
1 glass of orange juice in the hospital because it was the only thing that could quench my thirst after the first night in the most stuffy, tropical room with a 38.6-degree temperature
Quarter of a tin of beans on my jacket potato in hospital out of sheer deperation
Clandestine sugar sprinkled on my porridge by the hospital
1 cup of Horlicks in hospital to try and help me sleep/get rid of the yucky chemo taste in my mouth
That’s it. I swear. I am too honest, really I am. No chocolate, no sweets, no packet food, no crisps, no hot chocolate, nada.
In case you have nothing else to do of a Thursday afternoon, here’s the list of stuff I ate for the last two weeks – some of it has been forgotten as I wasn’t writing it down every day but you get the rough idea. I think I ate an unhealthy amount of nuts to replace the chocolate…
DAY SIX (Wednesday)
6am pre-breakfast: A banana and four steroids.
9:30am actual breakfast: Porridge with blueberries, nuts, cinnamon and a cup of tea.
Lunch: Bowl of homemade cauliflower and almond soup with one slice of grain bread and butter. A flat white coffee.
Snacks: One cup of tea.
Dinner: Lamb chops, veg, mashed potato with an actual sprig of mint in it because I didn’t think I was allowed mint sauce.
Now that’s commitment! Bowl of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and Greek-style yoghurt. Mint tea.
DAY SEVEN (Thursday)
Breakfast: Porridge and banana, one tea.
Snacks: One flat white coffee.
Lunch: Two boiled eggs on toast with some salad. A fruit tea.
Snacks: A punnet of black-pepper pistachios and one of savoury biscuits/cracker snacks. Ginger-lemon tea.
Dinner: Fish, potatoes, veg, 1 slice of bread. Several pancakes with fruit, cinnamon, lemon and Greek-style yoghurt. One tea
DAY EIGHT (Friday)
Breakfast: One slice of brown toast and Marmite. One tea.
Lunch: Minestrone and bacon soup with one slice of bread.
Snacks: A load of seeds and raisins and one green tea.
Dinner: Mushroom and bacon pizza with salad. One banana with Greek-style yoghurt. One tea.
Then I got rushed into hospital… And stopped taking track of what I ate quite so much.
DAY NINE (Saturday) – in hospital
Several hours and litres of saline through a drip.
Breakfast: A bit of porridge and banana and some mandarin segments. A cup of tea. A clandestine half-glass of orange juice.
Lunch: Half a tuna sandwich and a bowl of fruit.
Dinner: Jacket potato with cheese. More fruit.
Snacks: Cup of hot milk.
DAY TEN (Sunday) – in hospital
Several more hours and litres of saline.
Breakfast: Full bowl of porridge with clandestine sugar. Bowl of mandarin segments.
Lunch: Cod mornay with rice and broccoli. Bowl of fruit.
Dinner: Pasta with tomato sauce. And a cheese board.
Snacks: Half a bag of pistachio nuts, unsalted, and some more nuts and raisins. One cup of hot milk, one clandestine cup of Horlicks.
DAY ELEVEN (Monday) – in hospital
Loads more saline.
Breakfast: Full bowl of porridge with clandestine sugar. Bowl of mandarin segments.
Lunch: Some toast with chicken and bacon and a jacket potato with cheese and some clandestine beans. Bowl of fruit.
Dinner: Chicken in white wine sauce with rice and veg. Another cheese board.
DAY TWELVE (Tuesday) – in hospital
Breakfast: A slice of brown toast and butter and a bowl of porridge with a banana. Cup of tea.
Lunch: Beef bourginon with rice and sweetcorn and a bowl of fruit. Cup of tea.
Snacks: Flat white coffee.
Dinner: Chicken and mushroom pie, chips and peas.
DAY THIRTEEN (Wednesday) – back at home
Breakfast: Bacon sandwich with brown bread and fresh tomato. Cup of tea.
Snacks: Flat white coffee.
Lunch: Tomato and basil soup.
Snacks: Nuts and raisins.
Dinner: Fish, potatoes, veg. Mint tea.
DAY FOURTEEN (Today!)
Breakfast: One slice of brown toast with Marmite. One cup of tea.
Lunch: One boiled egg, one pitta bread, houmous, salad, balsamic vinegar, salmon.
Snacks and dinner: Nothing as yet, but I promise I won’t eat any sugar!
Has anyone else managed to do two weeks? Or almost two weeks? How’d you get on?
Five down, ONE TO GO! Hoooraaaaaaaaaay… I just have to get through the next 10 days or so of horrific pain and self injections but at least the nasty hospital bit is done and there’s only one more session to go – I’ve practically flown through it!
Here’s a couple of pics of me enduring the ice torture with my giant frozen baseball foam hands and feet, which seemed appropriate for election day!
Unfortunately my little finger on my right hand doesn’t seem to have thawed out properly after an hour and is still tingling and red and painful so I’m holed up in my room with an electric heater and the radiators on full blast hoping my pinkie won’t go black and drop off in the next few hours.
In other news, the sugar challenge is going well but I really feel like I could use something sweet right now…
The Big Sugar Challenge
DAY FIVE (Monday)
Pre-breakfast: Four steroids and a banana.
Breakfast: Grilled bacon sandwich with grilled tomato on grain bread. One cup of tea.
Lunch: One mushroom, tomato and cheddar omelette with a bit of salad and balsamic vinegar. One cup of tea. Four more steroids.
Snacks: An apple, kiwi etc smoothie with a little spinach, broccoli and other bits of vegetabley goodness (I’m not sure where the boundaries lie between fruit juice and a natural smoothie…) Another cup of tea with milk.
Dinner: Roasted chicken stuffed with Philadelphia cream cheese (no sugar… am I allowed this?) and wrapped in bacon with a fresh basil leaf. Boiled potatoes with butter and steamed veg. A bowl of blueberries.
Snacks: More cashews and raisins and a cup of tea with milk.
Well done so far to Mum, Dad, Beth, Michelle, Ed (?), Emma, Lucy, Flavia (?), Elspeth (?), Niki (?) and anyone else I’ve forgotten for joining in the sugar-fighting efforts!
P.S. In the below pic you may notice an empty glass dish on the wooden table. I can assure you this was a FRESH FRUIT SALAD and NOT ice cream! I would never lie to you… 🙂
Tomorrow I am having chemotherapy round five. To prepare for the ice torture, I stood outside in a field for a couple of hours last night until my feet felt like icicles. Now hopefully it won’t feel too bad when I have my hands and feet deliberately frozen tomorrow. I have also started taking the steroids again, which has left me feeling sick and even more hungry, making the no-sugar challenge that tiny bit harder.
Day three of the no-sugar diet was a little tough as I went out for a big lunch with family and friends at one of my favourite local restaurants, The Farmer’s Boy, followed by a bonfire complete with cake stall in the evening. Going on any kind of diet can make social situations such as dinner parties and restaurant meals more difficult as you become the picky one who can’t eat most of the things on the menu. It is debatable whether I was allowed to have an enormous battered haddock and chips for my lunch, but I reasoned (with myself) that there is no sugar in it and it was all freshly prepared, so it was probably fine. Chips unfortunately don’t taste quite as nice without ketchup (which contains loads of sugar and is thus on the NO list) but lashings of vinegar did the job instead.
At the end of the meal, the bill came with a few mint imperials. I put one in my mouth as a natural impulse and immediately spat it out on realising I was on a no-sugar diet. This was a bit like the time I did a sponsored silence when I was 8 years old and managed to last for a couple of hours in complete silence before shouting out “Daaaaaad!” from my bedroom in the final two minutes and then cupping my hand to my mouth in disbelief when I realised what I’d just done. So, slightly cheated there, but I didn’t actually eat it.
At the bonfire in the evening, I had to contend with a cake stall that comprised of fresh ginger muffins, coffee cake, Mum’s incredible miniature Victoria sponges, cakes with chocolate icing and smarties on top, parkin… the list goes on! (Thanks Kimm and Howard, for hosting!) But we both managed to say no to all the sweet goods and even my father declared he would start the no-sugar diet today.
DAY THREE (Sunday):
Breakfast: Bowl of porridge with berries, cinnamon and a banana. One cup of tea.
Lunch: Small bit of salmon mousse with cucumber, a large bowl of artichoke soup with tomato bread and butter and a huge battered haddock, chips, mushy peas and vinegar (no ketchup!). One cappuccino. A highly regrettable, momentary lick of a mint imperial.
Snacks: Two cups of tea with milk. A handful of raisins and cashew nuts and one solitary strawberry.
Dinner: One hotdog with some onions, two extra sausages (compliments to chefs Howard, Tim and Dave!), half a burger in a bun (STILL NO KETCHUP – a travesty). One cup of tea with milk.
Snacks: Some more handfuls of raisins and cashew nuts. One green tea and one camomile tea.
Not the healthiest day of my life, but still no sugar!
How is everyone else getting on?
Back in 2005, in my final year of university in London, I attempted a complete detox. This meant going from drinking several cups of tea a day and eating a lot of chocolate and sweets (pretty much all day long to get me through exam revision and freezing cold temperatures at my Wolfson House halls of residence and the King’s College library), to living off fruit and veg.
The sudden cold turkey was a terrible shock to my system. As many of you know, I am pretty obsessed with food. I go to bed thinking about what I’m going to have for breakfast, wake up thinking about lunch and then obviously spend the rest of the day thinking about dinner. So, when I took away all the amazing stuff I usually ate (toast, pitta breads, cheese, meat, rice, potatoes, not to mention the chocolate, tea, coffee, sweets), the obsession was amplified to the power of 10 and I literally could not stop thinking about food.
Instead of finding something else to occupy my mind, I ate everything in sight, as long as it obeyed the list of “Yes” foods. This meant that I ate 6 bowls of pure-vegetable soup in one day, 5 bowls of porridge with honey, oodles of cups of fruit tea and plenty of extra veg. My 5-a-day became 25-a-day, and my concentration went out the window.
They say if you can get past the first 24-48 hours of a detox, you’ll suddenly feel like the most energetic, spritely elf in the world and will start bouncing around like a 3-year-old. Unfortunately, I didn’t get further than about 13 hours, at which point I vomited everything up, popped a few pills for my splitting headache and promptly gave up.
So I’m pleased to say that it’s been a little easier this time. Nothing like a bit of chemotherapy to prepare the system for all kinds of shocks! Here’s my food diary so far: (And I realise this is probably incredibly boring for some, so don’t feel the need to read on if you’re bored already).
DAY ONE (Friday)
Breakfast: One slice of grain toast with margarine and marmite. One cup of tea.
Mid-morning beverage: One flat white (espresso + milk)
Lunch: One of slice of serrano ham, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 slice of grain toast no margarine, a pile of lettuce and vinaigrette (may have to check the label on that for next time), a pile of mozzarella balls, roasted red and yellow peppers and sun-dried tomatoes from Morrisons deli counter.
Snacks: Two bowls full of salted microwave popcorn (with no added crap) and two cups of green tea. And two slices of taster cheese from Morrisons. One normal cup of tea.
Dinner: Two homemade Jamie Oliver salmon fishcakes, minted peas, basil, tomato and chilli sauce and mashed potato. The rest of the packet of microwave salted popcorn and another cup of green tea.
Snacks: A handful of nuts and raisins.
I didn’t crave sweet stuff much at all today, but funnily enough I kept craving salt, hence finishing the entire 4-person bag of salted popcorn.
I realised later on that the salad dressing I used at lunchtime had a tiny bit of sugar in it, so I may have ever-so-slightly cheated there, but I’m switching to balsamic vinegar from now on.
So far, so good…