The Sugar Hangover Diaries

Finally an Action on Sugar

The strangest thing happened: I was at a meeting and looked for a water cooler to fill up my water bottle. When I asked the lady leading the meeting, she asked in return whether I was one of those “sugarfree” people. I was dumbfounded. After a few seconds, when my brain had finished evaluating what she had said and what this meant to me I asked what she meant and she said it was the new year, everyone is usually on some sort of diet and that there was a lot in the news at the moment about the impact on sugar on health. “You can reverse diabetes by removing sugar from your diet”, she said. I nodded and said that I had been campaigning for a few years now to make people understand how addictive sugar is and the negative impact it can have on our life.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, said: “Added sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever and causes no feeling of satiety.”

Watch Dr Malhotra on the BBC: http://youtu.be/bgegpakWYVE

I had near to given up on telling others about the impact sugar has on their health and had quietly made the decision to stop lecturing others about it since they didn’t seem to take much notice anyway, or simply didn’t care enough for it to leave much of an impact.

But hey, if it is in the news, though I do wonder why the sudden interest, maybe I had simply been too far ahead of my time and that now was the time to be available for those who are faced with the difficulties that the removal of sugar from the diet brings with it, an experience I have well documented on here, which can maybe be of help to those who struggle.

Interesting is, that not that long ago did¬†I come across an article in the newspaper saying that chocolate is going to run out in the near future due to the demand of the world population. So to make it last longer and avoid rising costs, the plan is to mix it with even more sugar and milk than is present at the moment, creating a product that the firsts testers already detested ūüôā

Society has to change, not chocolate. When we begin to see sugary treats and chocolates for what they are instead of associating them with rewards, treats, love and gratitude, we will shift from addicted make-belief to informed self-belief. Nothing wrong with a few chocolates as long as you recognise your own patterns instead of letting your unconscious behaviour empty the whole tin because your brain hasn’t learnt any other way to be happy than by a sugar-induced comatose state of bliss.

There are many ways to raise serotonin levels and induce happiness: laughter, sunshine, green meadows, beautiful flowers, close friends, dancing….the list is not exhaustive. Don’t rely on sugar to give you a high.

Happy to help!

Love
Anna

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Experiment yourself to a life without Sugar

This text came together in an email to someone who wanted to know more about a sugar free diet and raw chocolate. Considering the wealth of information that I packed into it, I thought¬†I might as well also share it here with you. It’s my acquired knowledge to date in a nutshell ūüôā

When I realised that I don’t agree very well with sugar, milk and yeast, after an initial panic, I began experimenting with things I did agree with. These might be different to your own, so please don’t take my experiments as the one and all cure for a¬†better diet!

So if you are diabetic or have any other condition affecting your health, then please check with a registered professional before making any major changes to your diet. I’m not diabetic, though I have some of the symptoms and borderline on insulin resistance.

Medical terms aside, for me, having a naturally sweet tooth, i.e. being sugar sensitive (some people are, some people are not), dried dates were a perfect solution to help my craving for sweet things.

However, dried dates still have a very high GI (Glycaemic Index, rating the speed at which food is transformed into glucose) and might not suit everyone. I know of people who even stopped eating fresh fruit because of the sugar response… It’s more about learning to listen to your body and understand the signals it gives you to determine what is right for you. A diet focusing on low GI foods can help stabilise blood sugar levels.

In my eyes, dried dates still have more “body” to them with fibres and vitamins whereas a teaspoon of cane sugar consists of pure carbohydrates only. As natural sugar replacement I use mostly agave nectar and xylitol. The best options from all the different product distributors¬†are those that have undergone least processing, or are termed “raw”. Raw is considered anything that has been heated below 46C, at which level most essential properties like minerals and vitamins are still present.

Throwing in some links for you:

Agave Nectar knowledge
Agave Nectar product

Xylitol knowledge
Xylitol product

Now to raw chocolate. I have found pure chocolate solids very helpful in stabilising my blood sugar levels and help me get over my initial craving phase. It is essential quite pricey, like most good things,¬†but ever so worth it any penny, because essentially you will eat less of it because you won’t get that craving like from “common sugar chocolate”.

I have put together a little visual aid to show where chocolate comes from (click image to enlarge). These cacao solids I use in my attached recipes.

raw cacao

 

Below some recommended “life saving” reading (It saved my life after all) ¬†ūüėČ

For really easy sugar free snack recipes: Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles

How food can heal:  Secrets of natural healing with food by Nancy Appleton

Best raw dessert recipes EVER!: Sweet Gratitude by Mathew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra

Essential read to understand the impact on cane sugar on our health: Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin

Guidance to understanding and healing sugar sensitivity: Potatoes not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons

The GI diet by Rick Gallop

 

These books are a selection of my collection that has greatly contributed to my understanding and awareness of the impact that food has on us. Please be considerate and see how your own condition might be affected by any of the suggestions.

It is a very big topic and I have written a lot about it on the Sugar Hangover Diaries here, so do have a look for more information on sugar related stuff in earlier posts.

Below I have listed some of my experimental creations. Any ingredients can essentially be exchanged or left out, additional ingredients added and the sweetness adjusted to your own liking. Be experimental!

I sometimes lead small introductory workshops where individuals can experiment themselves. Get in touch if you are interested!

Happy to help if any queries!

Love
Anna

RAW CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

250g ground almonds, 50g ground brazil nuts (or other), 40g raw cacao powder, 100g roughly chopped hazelnuts, 200g chopped dates, 50g agave nectar, 40g raw almond butter, 2 TBSP melted coconut oil (optional), 1 TBSP cinnamon, 1 TSP vanilla extract, pinch of salt.

Mix dry parts together first and then mix in the rest and form doughy lumps. Line a medium size baking tray with baking paper and press dough thoroughly into it. Leave to set in the freezer for a few hours. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

 

RAW CHOCOLATE (about 500ml chocolate)

300ml melted cacao paste (or 280g cacao powder and 300ml melted cacao butter) , 150ml agave nectar,  150ml melted coconut oil, 2 TBSPS cinnamon,  1tbsp vanilla extract.

Melt cacao paste (or cacao butter) in a hot water bath below 46 Celsius. The hottest water your tap provides should be okay. If the water in the pot feels too hot to touch it is too hot and will burn away all the goodness! Use a thermometer if you have one.

Add all the ingredients to the melted cacao paste (or cacao butter) and stir until everything is smooth and without lumps. Sweeten to taste, adding a bit more of any of the added ingredients if it is still a little too bitter. Feel free to add flavours e.g. mint or orange or add nuts or dried fruit to the chocolate mix for more variety. Pour into forms or cover nuts, fruit ANYTHING with it and place it in the fridge/freezer to settle.

 

RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

200g ground almonds, 30g raw cacao powder, 100g chopped dates, 25g agave nectar, 2 tbsp soft coconut oil, pinch of salt, coconut flakes.

Mix everything together apart from the coconut flakes, form small balls and roll them in coconut flakes until all sides are covered. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.

 

RAW COCONUT BALLS

100g coconut flakes, 50g agave nectar, 3 tbsp soft coconut oil, dash of vanilla extract, pinch of salt.

Mix everything together and shape into small balls.  Leave to set in the fridge and then cover with raw chocolate.

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Stress needs more than cake

It’s classic. I start university and meet sugar addicts aplenty.

“I need sugar to keep me going” says the girl next to me as she stuffs a hard boiled sweet into her mouth¬† while I bite my tongue to not give a lecture. Another girl is continuously sucking noisily on something throughout the day.

On my next day at work I bring in a cake to celebrate my start an uni. I lovingly made this cake myself, using Xylitol, a natural low G.I. sugar alternative derived from plants and vegetables, to provide my fellow colleagues with something healthy yet tasty.

Pretty much all of them liked it very much, one giving me 9 points out of 10. Curiously I asked what she didn’t like to give me another point. “It’s not sweet enough”, was the answer.

Oh you dear sugar addicts. Nothing will compare to cane sugar once your body is hooked on it.

When my cake had nearly gone, another colleague called her partner instructing him to urgently bring in some sweets. “Chocolate, some HAS to be chocolate! We are so stressed today, we need something to cheer us up!”

So my poor cake was all but forgotten when the big tins of sweets and biscuits arrived and I wondered why I even bothered.

I did play with the thought of bringing in one of those tins but quiet honestly would feel such a hypocrite because I wouldn’t eat it myself.¬†Instead I went through the effort of baking a¬†cake the good old-fashioned way, with long lasting sugar release to prevent blood sugar crashes in my dear colleagues for them to carry on working to their best, only for them to crave something even sweeter.

It is so damn difficult to change the world.

They can only decide for themselves where they want their life to go.

Read my earlier blogs about sugar sensitivity for a greater understanding why we are all addicted to sugar.

Love
Anna

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The Curse of the Hoisin Sauce

There I was, awake again at 6.30am, mentally alert yet physically knackered after two twelve hour shifts and a feast of duck pancakes, the sauce of which clearly contained something my body¬†couldn’t cope with.

During the night I got up twice to empty my bladder and while staggering along the hallway like a hallucinating zombie, I wondered if this is really just due to the sugar, which can’t have been that high a concentration of the meal.

I was proper drowsy and my body only just responded enough to the movement my brain tried to command. When I tried to pick up a glass of water it wavered about precariously at the other end of my arm before it finally reached near enough my mouth to take a sip. I felt ill in my gut and found it hard to breathe for the rest of the night due to mucus congestion in my nose.

This morning I am still out for the count, a zombie in the truest sense, unable to function properly either mentally or physically when sitting upright, weak at the knees when standing, but when I tried to lay down again I got all fidgety.

It seemed such a nice idea when my partner announced merrily last night that he had found a duck pancake set in the shops for only a fiver, considering duck is usually quite expensive, especially as a takeaway. And I really didn’t want to ruin it by studying the ingredients!

Looking on the ingredients list this morning in view of the aftermath, I gently ignore the small¬†sugar content¬†in the duck’s marinade, since I didn’t really eat the skin anyway but was¬†mildly worried when reading through the ingredient list of the¬†Hoisin Sauce: Water, sugar, yellow bean sauce (fermented salted soybean [soybean, wheat flour, salt, water], soya sauce [water, soybean, wheat flour], sugar, water, colour: caramel, preservative: potassium sorbate), brown sugar, rice vinegar, rice wine (water, rice, wheat, caramel), modified maize starch, garlic puree, salt, spices, colour: caramel, sesame oil, colour: carmine, chili powder.

Though, actually, it wasn’t all that much sugar, considering I only had a reasonably small amount of the sauce. Could it be something else that made my body behave so strange? Maybe the preservative or the colouring?

Sadly I actually have to admit that I even lack the willpower to look into this any further right now and quote from my inspiring book “Cellular Awakening” by Barbara Wren about the sodium levels in our cells during the night…I am soo tired. Truly “sugar hangover” once again ūüôā

Now all I want to eat is cake….just great!

Does anyone have similar experiences?

Would love to hear!

Anna

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A nutty problem

It’s been a while since I last wrote on here and what I most strikingly realised over the past few months is my irritability towards others who haven’t yet come to realise the connection between their cravings for sweets and their addiction to sugar.

Seeing others suffer is just as tiring as trying to explain to them the effect of sugar on their physical as well as mental health.

Most of my colleagues at work have by now began to remember that I don’t eat the chocolates and biscuits that end up in our staff room every day from well-wishing and grateful patients.

But now a new girl has started and I hear her constant dialogue of “chockies, ahw¬†¬†biggies, oh, really shouldn’t have any, ah gonna have it anyway….” etc, etc, etc.

Of course I don’t want to be the grumpy health freak that does the telling off, but I also haven’t found an easy way of making her aware of a behaviour that is quite likely going on unconsciously.

But to be honest, I am tired of trying to make others aware of healthier options and natural sugar replacements, since the majority don’t take any notice of it anyway. But can I really leave someone to suffer right in front of my eyes?

Would you walk past someone who hasn’t realised they have¬†a knife stuck in their back?

And even if someone chooses the “healthier diet options”, I honestly don’t believe that they are any better than the “unhealthy sugar options”. And then I saw this article:

2013-07-13 13.35.50a

At the end of the day, we all know that sugar isn’t the best food options. Some just choose to ignore it or simply don’t care.

Everyone needs to make their own decisions. If you feel that some foods have an adverse effect on you, try and leave it out and see if you feel any different.

When I started running a few years ago, I noticed soon that some days I would have more energy than other days. This in it’s own is natural, our energy levels depend on a lot of other factors. However, I watched it for a few weeks together with what I had for breakfast before (I just can’t do anything on an empty stomach).

I realised pretty soon that if I had e.g. bread with Nutella, my energy hit rock bottom about 10 minutes into my run. If I had porridge or cereals with natural sugar replacements like agave nectar, my energy levels stayed the same until lunch.

This is only one small example of indications that can give you an idea of what your body agrees with and what you better not consume if you want to keep your energy levels up and running and conquer any food aversions in the long term.

I actually get a funny tingling sensation on my upper gums just by thinking about Nutella. A recent Nutella TV ad sais that “15g of Nutella contains 2 whole hazlenuts, some skimmed milk and cocoa and it releases it’s energy slowly”.

Now then, how come that the first and main ingredient, with 40% of the product’s calories, is sugar, but isn’t actually mentioned in advertising? Isn’t that kinda lying? Making a product look more healthy than it actually is?

I tried to weigh two hazelnuts but they don’t even register on my kitchen scales so must weigh about a gram if not even less, together! So the rest of the 14 gram of the so called “nutspread” is what exactly? Adding to the onsideration that it can’t legally call itself “chocolate spread” because the cacao content isn’t big enough either!

And then, 60% of the world population can’t digest milk very well…me included.

In 2012, Ferrero, the producer of Nutella, was sued for falsely advertising nutritional health benefits and required Ferrero to change their Nutella labelling. Well, that’s a couple years after I discovered Nutella doesn’t do it for me. Am I still an annoying health preacher or what??

What puzzles me is the “slow release of energy” promised by the Nutella ad. And apparently this is true, purely, however, due to its high fat content which is slowly broken down in the gut. BUT, this does NOT make it a healthy food option! AND, considering that it mostly seems to consist of sugar, which has a high GI, i.e. fast energy release, I think that equals itself out.

Looking for the exact ingredients on the www seems hopeless, but I see that others have been trying as well and actually had to buy a jar of Nutella to get the correct list of ingredients, since this is by law a requirement. So I simply share this link here http://foodwatch.com.au/blog/additives-and-labels/item/nutella-the-full-correct-list-of-ingredients.html

In short, of course there is more sugar in it than anything else. Please feel free to scroll through my blogs to find out why sugar may affect you adversely.

And a simple but really helpful tip for you next shopping trip: check the label! The first ingredient is what the product is! And if sugar is first on the list, it is not anything else it says on the front label, unless it is in fact actual sugar! ūüėČ

The choice is yours!

Love
Anna

PS

Make your own easy and nutritious version of nut spread!

Ground hazelnuts, raw cacao powder, agave nectar, coconut oil. Mix it together to your liking of nuttiness, sweetness and spreadable consistency and enjoy!

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Enough with the hangovers

I was in a meeting last week and this really nice lady kept on talking about cakes, up to the point that I was wondering if she maybe had an eating disorder. Her answer to most things concluded in cakes, from visually comparing the putting together of a course content to a shopping trip with the cake at the end representing the gained certificate, to her answering  to my excuse that I would not be able to make a date because I was out of the country with a light hearted suggestion to just bring back cake for everyone and further lingering on the idea of future meetings which are all fun because of the cakes.

My dear God, wouldn’t it have been to my long and arduous journey to come off sugar, I would probably have gone straight down to the supermarket after work and loaded myself up with nothing else but cakes. Thankfully I was over it and it actually didn’t trigger anything at all. Which I have to say is very interesting indeed.

Having just realised that it’s been over a month since I last blogged here, I seriously think that my sugar hangover is finally over. Could it be for good this time?

Ever since I added that little bit extra protein to my breakfast have I not craved sugar like I used to. Apart from the odd Chinese takeaway, which is naturally higher in sugar, particularly the sauces, and every now and again a light crave for sweets, I have not relapsed and feel quite fine with it.

In fact, I wonder why I ever needed sugar. I was told I would feel just¬†like I¬†don’t need sugar, but the sheer normality of it is quite surprising. I can simply enjoy a nutritious meal and not feel the need to have pudding.

My verruca¬†is also as good as gone. It is steadily growing out with the old skin. I wrote about it here before, explaining the healing¬†impact of more protein and less sugar intake. Sugar inhibits the function of protein. If only I’d known that earlier!

The Haribo advert on telly comes to mind where the poor little kiddies are sat in front of a Haribo sweet and told that if they manage to not eat it they will get another one. Of course they can’t resist it! They are either sensitive to sugar or addicted to it and¬†don’t have the understanding yet what sugar does to them! And when even the supervisor tries to get to the bag the little girl says “greedy chops”. Would you say that to a drug addict?

I really try to not get too much into this and turn into a mad version of Mother Theresa, but merely by watching other’s unconscious behaviour with sugar, like the lady from the meeting,¬†it is quite obvious what is going on…

And what with all the medication containing sucrose. Yes, we all love Marry Poppins and her spoon full of sugar because it sweetens the bitter medicine, but please someone listen to the research that has been done on sugar and do something about it! It unfortunately starts with the young children who can’t say no because they don’t know it any better with their first vaccines and follow up¬†treatments thereafter.

Just found this online http://prc.coh.org/SucAnal.pdf¬†(really shouldn’t keep looking for this stuff!). Sucrose is used as a pain relief for infants. Despite the article itself saying that there hasn’t been enough research to estimate side effects….Alternative therapies don’t get accepted in healthcare because they are apparently not tested enough and approved of despite some of them being some thousand years old, but sugar is blatantly used anyway because¬†nobody has officially died of it yet. ….just¬†that it isn’t the sugar itself that kills you….it’s the protein inhibiting¬†effect…your body has no chance to recuperate once sugar¬†has taken over….

Thankfully, someone counteracted the sucrose use in infant analgesia already www.livestrong.com/article/441013-sucrose-pain-relief-for-infants/

To a better world ūüôā

Love
Anna

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Easter Chocolate Fun

Ah, lovely Easter is here and I am proud to say that I have not been in the shopping aisle stacked with all the Easter chocolate. I didn’t even feel the need to just go and have a look, actually bored with the yearly repetitiveness. It’s nothing special anymore. Just the same same every year. Wow. I have come a long way, but it seems to pay off. I feel better without the constant ups and downs of changing blood sugar levels and the crankiness that comes with it. Looking at the paper the other day it looks like I might not be the only one. It might be a tradition that lasted a little over a hundred years, but maybe it is time now to reinvent Easter traditions. The human body¬†hasn’t even fully adapted to agriculture yet, how could it possibly¬† deal¬†with the few hundred years of sugar consumption?

2013-03-29 10.05

¬†So instead of bulk buying from Tesco’s¬†shelves I¬†made my own Easter chocolate with raw cocoa, coconut oil¬†and agave nectar, all low GI, no refined sugar or milk. Read my previous blog to learn a bit more about it. About 4 years ago, when I had just finished my first detox, the begin of a proposed life without sugar and cow’s milk, I thought that a few little chocolate Easter eggs won’t hurt, especially now that I had been so well for a whole month. It was Easter out of all times of the year that I did this detox, but had kept some of mum’s lovely gems of chocolate Easter eggs, sent with love from Germany. It was probably the worst decision I could make, yet not the only one. Obviously I was straight back on the sugar binge with all it’s little side effects, made worse by the fact that I am sugar sensitive.

As a child we are oblivious to the damage of sugar, particularly if it is mixed together with chocolate in the shape of an Easter egg or bunny and wrapped in colourful tinfoil. We are mesmerized, captured by the colours, smells and flavours like Hansel and Gretel by the witch and her candy house. And I think we still hold that affection for it as adults, despite the growing awareness that sugar isn’t good for us. After all it used to be a well deserved treat, something we longed for and looked forward to with eager anticipation. Oh sweet childhood.

My brother had a lot of allergies straight from birth onwards. We always had alternatives for everything back then. And trust me, I hated them. They were bitter, didn’t taste at all like their sweet derivative, had a funny texture and smelled funny as well. After 20 long years of self-discovery and development I have arrived again back with the bitter, funny smelling chocolate with the funny texture. But I have also evolved though trial and error and now understand what to do to make it taste nice. I like it, that is not to say that others understand why I put up with it instead of just buying it in the shops, which is so much easier!

Just look at the beauty of this!

2013-03-30 16.37.42

The bigger ones are with almond butter and the small eggs with orange flavour. And tomorrow I am going to timidly introduce them to my work colleagues, hoping they might enjoy a special Easter treat. Though they usually don’t appear to take on board what’s so special about them, especially if they don’t taste like the commercial chocolate.

Ever since I left Germany for England has my mum sent me exciting parcels. Even though the sugar contents have increasingly decreased and despite me asking my mum to not send me any more commercial chocolate, she still does. Small amounts, just a few bits and bobs, and I have to admit that I actually like the gesture of it. She wants to show that she still cares about me and it still gives me the feeling that I am looked after. A proper mother-daughter bond. I have this thing, where I enjoy things much more while savouring the moment of the unknown, before I open or unwrap something. Once I have examined it all from the outside, I lovingly hand it over to my partner or colleagues at work.

It is a pitty that sugar is so versatile that it can be used in absolutely every food commodity, enhancing their flavour, texture and looks, contributing to today’s high intake of sugar. According to John Yudkin, we are “less likely to become fat, have nutritional deficiencies, a heart attack, diabetes, dental decay and¬†duodenal ulcers and would also reduce our chances of getting gout, dermatitis, some forms of cancer and would generally increase our life span” were we to omit sugar from our diet. He admits that it might be difficult to imagine that all these benefits could come from simply removing sugar from out diet, but he has done extensive research and I like to say that out of my own experience, judging the before and after sugar moments, I can only agree.

Off now to nibble on my chocolate creation.
What’s your¬†Easter treat?

Love
Anna

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sugar+milk=cancer, or does it?

It is funny how your perception changes once you have changed a part of your life. While I was sitting next to a patient that needed one-to-one specialling at work, the hospital’s shop¬†trolley arrived in the bay, eagerly pushed and pulled by two enthusiastic volunteers. Without really paying much attention to detail I glanced over to it and, realised that besides some toiletries, the odd pack of fruit and a cuddly teddy bear, most of the content was based on cane sugar.

“Here come the cheap drugs that will still make you happy and high but are a legal and affordable option to keep you entertained while you are stuck in hospital”. Yes, I am being a little pedantic here, but I just couldn’t help it ūüôā

Next,¬†a patient’s relative tells us all how she read in the paper today that ice-cream is found to cause cancer. Aha, sugar+milk=cancer. Is that true? If you read my previous blogs which address that us humans don’t naturally have the enzyme to digest it properly and that the milk digesting enzyme was in fact a mutation about 10.000 years ago, which affected one of two babies, you might see that there could potentially be a problem here. And then to sugar, well, read my past blogs.

It’s funny that the topic of ice-cream suddenly pops up again. A few weeks ago I had attended a networking meeting and as an “ice-breaker” the facilitator suggested that everyone said what their favourite ice-cream flavour was and why. I kind of felt a little silly at the time¬†since I haven’t had much ice-cream since I tried to go off sugar but didn’t want to spoil the exercise by delving into my sugar and milk aversion. Instead I panicked and thought about¬†a flavour I used to like,¬†not that I could even decide, and didn’t think about it any more after. Now I feel even more silly¬†because the wonderful sugar and dairy free ice-cream varieties only came to my mind¬†this very moment! Talk about sugar sensitive brain! lol

Beside the wonderful Booja-Booja chocolate flavour ice-cream, which only contains water, cashew nuts, agave nectar and cocoa powder (they do other flavours too), I had begun to make my own simply with frozen bananas, chopped and whizzed in a blender. Maybe with a drop of almond or soya¬†milk to make it more creamier and chopped raw chocolate pieces or cacao nibs. You can use those bananas that are beginning to get brown spots, peel them, chop them up if you like but it doesn’t matter and pop them in the freezer. Then get them out when you feel like ice-cream and blend them to a creamy texture. They will be wonderfully sweet anyway. Fantastic! ūüôā

So, since this is technically ice-cream, would it cause cancer too? What have they found to cause cancer?

First of all I found a short clip explaining research into a modified ice-cream that uses the ingredient lactoferrin (protein in milk, with highest content found in human breast milk, also component of immune system) to combat side effects of chemo therapy in cancer patients. This is ironic, isn’t it? “Let’s treat your cancer treatment symptoms with more of what caused the cancer in the first place.” Okay, irony aside, I am still non-the wiser who decided what exactly is said to cause it.

There doesn’t seem to be a definite answer. Like how one website put it aptly: “Ice cream may cause cancer. That’s an absolute fact because the word may is so incredibly wimpy that it can always be used to make sensational, yet meaningless claims. Ice cream may indeed cause cancer because it’s never been proven with absolute certainty that it doesn’t.” Whereas the UK Cancer Research Site simply states that they need much more research to come to a conclusion.

Educate yourself about ingredients, listen to your body’s symptoms and change your diet if you feel that you don’t agree with something. You are what you eat and you are the one who decides what you eat and ultimately also who you will become in the future. It’s funny, because when I began to reduce my overall sugar intake it was ice-cream that I tolerated reasonably well, despite my milk intolerance and sugar sensitivity. But I haven’t dared having one in a while in case it triggers my sugar cravings again.

According to Louise Hay, an inspirational teacher on body and mind, cancer comes from a deep hurt and¬†longstanding resentment. It is a deep secret or grief which is eating away at the self and carrying hatreds. She offers an affirmation to being to release those negative emotions: “I lovingly forgive and release all of the past. I choose to fill my world with joy. I love and approve of myself.”

Love
Anna

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Healing Sugar – Sugar Healing

For over 20 years did I have a very insistent verruca under my foot which would not budge, regardless of how often it was treated and no matter what the treatment entailed. When it took hold I was way too young to understand what it was so it happily nestled in and became part of my history as much as changing school, the first kiss, starting higher education, leaving home and moving abroad.

It was only in my early 20s when I noticed the reaction of someone who catched a glimpse of it one sunny day at the lake that I thought, well, yes what exactly is it actually and does it really have to be there? A skin specialist confirmed that it was a verruca¬†and that I should undergo weekly debridement¬†and cryotherapy. Eight years of trying everything from laser to salicylic acid¬†to banana skin and duct tape,¬†it wouldn’t shift.

Now,¬†since the beginning of the year have I been adding a bit more protein to my breakfast,¬†about the third of¬†the daily amount in line with my body weight, as suggested by Kathleen DesMaisons¬†in her book “Potatoes not Prozac” in an attempt to heal my sugar sensitivity. Since the first day I have not had the bad sugar cravings like I used to and have been able to abstain from most sources of refined cane sugar. After A MONTH, my verruca¬†had nearly but vanished! After over 20 years, it simply vanished after a month of no refined cane sugar and more protein for breakfast. I was gobsmacked.¬†I waited another month to not disappoint¬†myself should it have returned, but alas, it is still on the way out, with new skin forming and the old verruca more resembling faint scar tissue.

I had noticed at times over the past years on my journey to reducing my cane sugar consumption, that it would affect the verruca¬†and gave me hope, as much as confirmation, that if I was able to abstain from sugar for good, the verruca¬†would go as a side effect. But I only understand now, that you can’t just take something away and expect miracles to happen. As with anything, you have to add something first. And I don’t necessarily mean to replace an addiction with another, or to substitute one thing for another, if it wouldn’t touch the core problem. For me, it definitely was the protein that helped my¬†sugar sugar cravings and health.

Verrucas¬†are said to be a virus (human papilloma virus) and can disappear as quickly as they appeared in the first place. The more I learned about my intolerance¬†with some food groups, in particular sugar, cow’s milk and yeast, I also understood that as long as my body is weekend by food that it has difficulties digesting, it won’t have the strength to fight the virus. By adding protein and reducing those foods that had a negative impact on me, I invariably gave my body the building blocks and support¬†it needed to re-structure and heal¬†itself.

What is interesting now is the fact that sugar has shown very good results in the healing of wounds. It is said to sprinkle sugar over cuts and grazes because it would help healing and also numb the pain. When taking in a lot of sugary foods we can feel numbed or emotionally satisfied because that’s what sugar does. And there have been experiments that show that our pain threshold is higher when we have consumed sugar.

Now to wound healing, a study by Moses Murandu (who has grown up in Africa with sugar being a standard remedy for wounds) shows that granulated sugar and honey have both a high sucrose content which interferes with water activity (De Foe 2004, Mpande et al 2005, Chirife et al 1980). This has potential benefit in encouraging wound debridement. I had read before that sugar is very good at soaking up water, which can have a dehydrating effect on your body when eating or drinking high sugar contents, but on exudative wounds it is beneficial because it enables the wound to heal faster. The study also found that odour from wounds was reduced and concludes that sugar inhibits bacterial growth, meaning that sugar can reduce or prevent infection of wounds.

Of course, one shouldn’t use sugar from the supermarket shelf but certified and sterile sugar direct from the manufacturer. I wonder if this certified sugar is less refined than the supermarket sugar, since the untreated sugar cane juice¬†still contains most of its original¬†nutrients. But I will have to look into that another time. Also, I find it well interesting to note that in those suffering from diabetes, oral sugar intake isn’t advised and will most likely affect their blood sugar levels adversely, however, it will be extraordinarily beneficial applied on ulcers or wounds on the skin, since poorly healing wounds can often¬†be a reason for amputation in those with diabetes.

So if sugar is damaging when taken orally but of benefit when applied to exudative wounds with a fastened healing process as well as odour reduction, maybe we should use sugar more often in wound healing instead of munching away on it. Would you really want to eat something that soaks up all your internal fluids and inhibits bacterial growth? Do you think it affects the good bacteria as well? Another thing I will have to look into another time ūüôā

Love
Anna

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Sugar, sugar and yet another sugar

My very special raw chocolate birthday cake was absolutely fantastic, despite the fact that the staff at the restaurant still didn’t really understand why it was raw and what the matter was with me. But this too shall pass ūüôā

I was happy I could eat cake that didn’t make me feel ill, and went straight for a drink of vodka lemonade after. Jeez, it wasn’t an easy decision, I don’t even like alcohol. The vodka lemonade has always been the only thing I could tolerate taste wise, yet at the same time I knew I wouldn’t tolerate it health wise anymore. But then it was my 30th and it was supposed to be fun. Maybe I should be grateful to the others who simply weren’t interested in clubbing, so it stayed with this one little glass of vodka lemonade, after which I went to bed and was more or less okay the next morning.

While sipping timidly on my drink, awaiting the result of the simple sugars of alcohol and lemonade to take hold of my body cells,¬†I remembered what a friend had said earlier in response to my minor reaction to the little surprise sugar birthday cake: “How much do you think your psychological response plays a part in your reaction with sugar?”

This is surely a very good point. In a way I am on a good way to developing a food anxiety, which could be detrimental if not recognized early enough. For example, if I say I am feeling light-headed and have a heightened heart rate after consuming sugar, is this an anxiety response because I fear that I will feel ill, or is it actually really the sugar itself that causes these symptoms?

When looking for evidence on the www, I found others who also reported a raised heart beat after food that they were intolerant or allergic to. Another article suggests that it is the rapid spiking of insulin after intake of sugar that leads to an equally quick drop in blood sugar levels called reactive hypoglycemia. This in turn releases hormones that attempt to counter-regulate and stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which can¬†result in¬†sweating, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, shakiness and anxiety…

Furthermore, on the study day including the sugary¬†birthday cake, we had a diabetic specialist talking to us, who clearly stated that we all need sugar for our body to function. There were cheers and sighs of relief in the group that it wasn’t at all bad to eat all those sweets because here was a specialist who said that the body actually needs it.

I really had to bite my tongue once I had decided it wasn’t the right place to discuss cane sugar and it’s possible damaging effect on our body. But I also understood what the specialist meant. He meant that we need glucose for energy, which the body gets from all kinds of food after digestion.

In the book “Pure, White and Deadly” by John Yudkin,¬†it explains that sugars are actually all¬†digestible¬†carbohydrates, compared to the indigestible carbohydrates, namely fibres. Glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose and¬†galactose¬†are all sugars, but glucose is the main source of energy for both, plants and animals. What we refer to as “blood sugar” is actually the level of glucose in the blood.

Sucrose, the “common refined white sugar”, is made up of two units of glucose joined to one unit of fructose and John Yudking¬†suggests that it¬†might be¬†the fructose part that causes the negative reactions in some people. Maltose is formed during the digestion of starch before it is transformed into glucose. Fructose is mainly found in fruit and lactose is made up of glucose and galactose and only occurs in milk and¬†is another sugar which commonly causes intolerance. Read more about it on one of my earlier blogs.

An interesting fact I learned recently while watching Eddie Izzard’s research into his ancestral lines, is that apparently there were two babies born when our early ancestors left the African continent and reached Arabia. One travelled on to reach Australia, the other set off towards Europe and developed a tolerance for milk!

1. This proofs that we are not naturally milk digesters.
2. It would be an explanation why humans began to consume and distribute milk.
3. Considering that we are nowadays cross-world travellers and pair up with people that we wouldn’t have been able to reach some hundred years ago, it would explain to me that another reason for the recent increase in milk intolerance across the globe is the mix-matching of different genetic predispositions.

It is also evident that humans didn’t start agriculture and farming their food for purpose instead of grazing until 10.000 years ago. This is apparently not enough for our bodies to adapt. And the sudden rise in sugar consumption over the past years certainly hasn’t had a chance to settle, hence it has a negative influence on us, because our bodies simply can’t handle it.

So when I told a friend about the development of milk tolerance in humans over many thousand years, she asked cheerfully:” So if we keep eating sugar, we will soon adapt to it?”

Another question: Apparently, blue eyes,¬†which were just as much a mutation as milk tolerance,¬†are slowly diminishing, overridden¬†by the stronger gene of brown eyes. These come mainly from African and Asian ancestors, who are also mainly the one’s with lactose intolerance. Assuming that blue eyes die out because of the stronger gene, does it also mean that at some point humans will have reverted¬†back to lactose intolerance? Then what¬†are the milk producers going to do?

Isn’t science just beautiful? ūüėČ

Love
Anna

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To a happy and long life

Yesterday was my birthday. The big 3-0. I’m really excited to embark on a new decade of discovery with all its trials and curiosities waiting to be found and tested.

Yet, the week leading up to it already offered more trials and tests than I could have wished for. It is relatively easy to ignore my partner having a pudding or chocolate and even easier to ask mum to not give me any sweets for my birthday. What isn’t there can’t tempt. However, each year a friend of mine and I celebrate our birthdays together, which are just 6 days apart. So I found myself sitting together with my friend at a table in a lovely beach cafe, having had a nice lunch and the most natural thing seemed to be to go straight for the¬†pudding menu.

There was this little fight going on inside of me. “Should I have just this one pudding, just because of the moment, a treat for my birthday? But what if I relapse straight after and get huge cravings again? I have done so well since the new year, should I ruin it now? Or would it maybe be okay to have just one pudding if I didn’t have one for so long and surely wouldn’t again anytime soon?”

My senses won over my physical want¬†for sugar and I was proud of myself. Until the next trial, two days later, on my friend’s actual birthday meal. Oh God, again, the same struggle. And I even felt guilty because I felt I’m not complying with the norm of someone’s birthday bash by not having pudding like everyone else. The hypocrite that I am, I used to be the one who couldn’t understand how some didn’t want pudding after a meal. I was having it, so why wouldn’t others? In fact, I used to go for the most chocolately¬†and sickly pudding. It tastes so good. “Got to have puddin!'” I used to say. Typical for a¬†sugar sensitive! ūüôā

And now I was the¬†one¬†standing on the other side, fighting against the well-wishing attackers all around me. Okay, those at this meal were actually not bothered at all, not all had pudding. Seriously, the mains were already by far too big anyway! It was more my own internal struggle again. But then, on my own¬†actual birthday, I happened to be on a study day, and when I came back from the bathroom there was this cute little birthday cake sitting on my table and everyone started singing “Happy Birthday to you…”

Besides the embarrassment such situations harbour, it was actually a real surprise, which was nice, and¬†I appreciated it. Just what do I do now? Do I eat the cake, or do I not? This is the question. And you know what I did? I actually had a very tiny piece, purely because I was so taken by the fact the course leader was so sweet and¬†had gotten me a cake! So after I had dished out big pieces to everyone else, I sheepishly nibbled away on the crumbs resulting in a strange kind of sugar rush which upped my heart rate rapidly and made me a little drowsy for the rest of the day. But hey, it’s my birthday, right? Is it appropriate to ruin your health only because it is your birthday? Well…

Not to talk about my sudden onset for craving of popcorn the day before my birthday. I munched on a big bag (always only a couple of pennies more for a bigger one) of sweet popcorn and was actually happy. Darn you sugar sensitive brain!

Am I back on a sugar crave? For my own birthday meal at the weekend I planned ahead that much that I actually asked the restaurant to make me a raw chocolate cake, with only natural ingredients and sweeteners. My worry now is that they charge me a whole load of money, but as long as I can have guilt free cake that doesn’t affect my body chemistry like cane sugar does, I shouldn’t really mind. Again, it is my birthday after all! ūüėČ

Love
Anna

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Take two and hide

When I was¬†much younger, about 5 maybe,¬†I sometimes spend afternoons with a friend at her grandmother’s house. I can’t remember much of her grandmother, she was rather reserved, just that she had a very big house with a¬†huge garden and the town’s water tower at the end of it. She also had a¬†porcelain jar sitting on a small wooden table in the entrance hall in which she kept hard-boiled candies. Not just any, it was a popular German candy called “nimm2”, which means “take 2”, implying you should have one each which would give you a boost of essential vitamins. Accordingly, they came in orange and lemon flavour with the suitable colours of orange and yellow. Inside lays hidden a liquid core that begins to ooze out once the outer layer has dissolved a little and you crack it lightly with your teeth.

Every time I came to visit we were allowed two of each. The pure thought of it drove me into a little bit of a frenzy. I didn’t just want two, I wanted a whole hand full! Sometimes we would sneak downstairs again a little later to fish a few more out of the jar. Until one day, we kidnapped the whole jar and ran as fast as we could to the far end of the massive garden to hide behind the big azalea bushes. There we quickly unwrapped and stuffed as many of the candies into our mouth as we could until my friend’s grandmother suddenly loomed over us asking for an explanation.

We didn’t say a word. We were too embarrassed. ¬†I think it was even my idea, which made it worse. Who was I to “steal” my friend’s grandmother’s candies? Suddenly, in the light of reality, the colourful sweets turned a bleak grey and on top of it our mouths were thoroughly sore from the citric acid.

Since I can’t remember any kind of punishment other than the embarrassment and sore mouth, the true punishment must be that of sugar sensitivity. The feeling to need sugar, no matter what. Nimm2 has been around since 1962 as a popular children’s sweet. Yet not many understand the concept of sugar addiction and the effect of sugar on the body and behaviour. Quite often did I recently hear someone mention sugar rush and children in connection with attention deficit syndrome, which, however,¬†has scientifically not been proven. But Kathleen DesMaisons outlined in her book “Potatoes not Prozac” how sugar can give us a feeling of boldness and new self-esteem, similar to alcohol, which was probably my driving force to take and hide the jar of sweets in the back garden.

One of these sweets consists of a good two-thirds of sugar (glucose, sugar, glucose-fructose syrup, fruit juice), which outweighs by far the proposed benefits of the added vitamins. I don’t want to bore you with some foreign correspondence here, but the following would really translate easily onto any kind of marketing of sweets¬†in the world. The German company that produced nimm2¬†was actually taken to court because of allegedly misleading the nation by suggesting to eat titbits¬†of this¬†healthy sweet to boost your vitamins, though there is no evidence that the nation was ever lacking vitamins in the first place. The prosecution announced that nimm2¬†has misleading advertising and marketing strategies implying that their product is somewhat better than common sweets due to the vitamins, which in no way justifies¬†the amount of sugar and therefore gives the wrong message to children and their parents that sweets are an essential or necessary addition to our diet. Nimm2¬†defied all accusations and despite the¬†campaigns there was no change in consumerism of nimm2 sweets.

An¬†online review stated how much he liked the flavour of nimm2 but that he also thinks there are better ways to get your vitamins in and that we shouldn’t be mislead. He finished his review with the sentence “Be aware, I couldn’t stop eating so that the bag is empty now”. Typical sign of sugar addiction. And another comment under the research findings to sugar consumption in relation to hyperactivity: “those who tell us that sugar is a poison are LYING, and in my opinion they should all be blasted into space on a one-way trip!”

As Kathleen DesMaisons¬†outlines in her book, there are those that are sugar sensitive, who react to sugar differently than those who are not sensitive. It depends on your brain chemicals. And while “blasting us into space” won’t really help, raising awareness of the effect¬†on us as individuals, each with our own predispositions, we can make an informed decision whether we want to include sugar in our daily diet or not. Whereas “a spoon full of sugar sweetens bitter medicine”, it might also stop your body from healing itself properly.

More about that soon.

Love
Anna

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From sugar rations to sugar overload

When I was very little, my mum made every effort to get me the best and most nutritious organic food she could find. She didn’t even say no to¬†travelling to the other end of town to the organic green grocers for fresh potatoes and carrots to make her own baby puree especially for me. She even stopped smoking the minute she learned that she was pregnant.

So where did it all go wrong? When did I become addicted to sugar?

Well, I have mentioned before that sugar sensitivity, and with it the need to consume stuff that raises your beta-endorphine and serotonin levels in an attempt to make you feel happy, is in fact inherited. And despite my mum’s efforts, I have a feeling that my predisposition to sugar already comes from both my mother’s parents. I can’t for the life of it remember my mother being overtly into sugary stuff. Maybe she was just trying to protect me from it. But it was my grandmother who offered me a saucer with sugar to dip my orange in because it was too sour. And she used to put sugar into a lot of things to make them taste nicer, like my all time favourite yoghurt dressing she used to make, turning an essentially healthy salad into a sugar trap.

My granddad, on the other side wasn’t only a qualified pastry chef who made the best plum crumble cake in history, but also used to treat me to a bar of Caramac every time we went to pick up his weekly lottery ticket.

I wonder how much rationing during¬†the Second World War¬†had an influence on my granny’s cooking and use of sugar. Around 1940, sugar was one of the first things to be rationed. Mainly because enemy’s ships cut off trading routes and undermined export from countries that supplied foods which couldn’t be grown in the colder regions of the planet.¬†I am talking from a European point of view. There was a lot of substituting going on in all areas of food production, which actually reminds me a bit of my own recent experimental cooking trying to avoid cow’s milk and sugar. An article on the BBC¬†about wartime rationing said that carrots replaced¬† sugar in apricot tart and were also eaten on sticks as lollies. Also interestingly, the health of the poor increased, despite the lack of valuable food, because people ate more fruit, veg and protein instead of sugar.

It was also due to this lack of sugar imports and cold climate that Finland, which had been completely marked off during the war, began to actively produce Xylitol, a natural sugar derived from birch trees. This had originally been found by a German scientist (Hermann Emil Fischer) at the end of the 19th century, who won the Nobel prize in 1902 for his groundbreaking work in sugar chemistry. It was however very expensive to produce and put aside when cane sugar made its way into the country again after the war had finished.

Until the 1970s, when a major Finnish study (Turku) was made public explaining the good properties of Xylitol. It established that Xylitol can not only be derived from birch trees but from any other plant with similar fibre content. Even the human organism produces a small amount of Xylitol which is why we can digest it much easier without the huge insulin response caused by cane sugar, for example. Xylitol is said to be anticariogenic, blood sugar stabilising and generally has a good effect on our physical self and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, the higher prices of Xylitol still means that cane sugar wins the world’s vote of cheapest sweetener.¬†¬†Leading on from my last blog, there are a mere 4 massive enterprises that own about 60%¬†of the world-wide cane sugar market. In 1991, the EU produced 15 million tons of sugar, an excess of 5 million tons! It is therefore probably not really a conspiracy of money greedy sugar companies, but just an attempt to use the excessive amounts of sugar, by mixing them into any common processed food source available.

Diverting to the Paleo diet, a primal approach to eating, encompassing our very old eating behavior many thousands of years prior to worldwide mass production: back then there was no sugar, so technically we don’t need it. Of course we took in¬†sugars naturally found in our food, which are essential to our health.¬†Up to the second world war, we ate about 15 g of naturally occurring sugars via fruits and vegetables per day. Today, we consume five times the amount – 75 g each day!

Again, we are a world population addicted to sugar, and most of us don’t even know it. In my attempts to live without cane sugar, I have greatly¬†introduced Xylitol¬†and agave nectar as a more natural approach to cane sugar to my diet. Xylitol¬†is granulated which makes it a great substitute for cane sugar when baking cakes, whereas agave nectar is more like honey and goes well with any smoothie, cereal or in¬†flapjacks.

The extra money it costs was a bit worrying at first, but compared to my better health and felt wellbeing I wouldn’t want to miss it anymore!

Try it and see for yourself!

Love
Anna

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Sweet Swedish Saturday

Something I actually, believe it or not, have not yet mentioned in connection with sugar, though so obvious, is tooth decay. Maybe I avoided it because I dont’ particularly like dentists. Who does? There is a tradition in Sweden, where children are only allowed sweets on a Saturday. Considering Sweden has some of the most exquisite sweets around (ever been to IKEA?), I wonder what the adults are like, considering they could buy their sweets whenever they like. And who came up with this idea?

Turns out that this idea has not even been around for all that long. It was in 1938, when the Swedish Dental Service was formed and they realised that there were so many Swedes with caries. There had been assumptions that sugar might be the reason, but there was no scientific evidence, so they decided to lead a study into how much caries were affected by the intake of sugar. In 1947 the Medical Board conducted the Vipeholm experiments. The Vipeholm Hospital accommodated around 900 mentally handicapped patients, who were used for the study, concerns of the ethics of which were only raised in the early 1990s. Consent remains a question.

For two years, these patients were given sugar in three different ways: dissolved in fluid, baked in their bread and as candies in between. All of them gave great evidence that it was indeed sugar that lead to the rise in caries, but the candies proved to be the most destructive, because they stayed longest in contact with the teeth and therefore caused most caries. Many of the participant’s teeth were completely ruined because of the experiment.

When these findings were clear, the Swedish confectionary and candy industries, who had largely funded the research, were clearly not happy, which delayed the publications until 1953. It was then decided that children were only to have sweets on a Saturday, in an aim to reduce caries.

Did these poor people suffer in vain? Or why is today’s sugar intake even worse than back then? Is it really a conspiracy or just pure greed from candy manufacturers to carry on attacking the world’s teeth? Or is it even the dentists themselves, for they would clearly be jobless if we didn’t have any more caries. Why do we play their game? Because sugar doesn’t just attack out teeth, it also makes us addicted to it! Read my last blog on sugar and¬†brain chemicals. I find that I often dream about eating sweets that have been offered to me and, once the sweet taste reaches my taste buds, I realise with a shock that I wasn’t supposed to eat it.

Once you’re hooked on sugar,¬†worse if you are sugar sensitive,¬†you will eat it like a sheep eats grass. You just carry on without giving it any thought. Once asked why Christmas sweets appear in the supermarket shelves already in late summer, a spokesperson answered because the demand is there. Of course people will buy it when it sits there. Of course sheep are munching on grass while it’s there.

Besides health implications, another problem arises were we all to stop buying sugary sweets and chocolates. Coca Cola, which does not only sell this favoured drink, would go bust, so would Cadbury, Nestle, Haribo, to mention but a few huge industries involved in the marketing of sugar. Next in line would be all those involved in the production of sweets. This goes down to as far as lorry drivers, engineers, cleaners, they would all be jobless. So would be the hard workers in poor third world countries, that make a living by chopping sugar cane and carrying it in bundles from their fields to sell them.

What can we do to change this situation? It will certainly not be easy. But we got to start somewhere if we want to change something. Do we want to change? It depends on how much sugar affects you. If you’re not sugar sensitive, it probably won’t. I have stopped eating it in obvious form (i.e. sweets, as opposed to hidden in ketchup for example)¬†and use more natural sweeteners instead. This was my first step. The next is to inspire others and to raise their awareness. That’s all I can do. That’s all we can do at the moment.

Love
Anna

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The sugar brain

Without realising the impact of my naive realisation, I had first compared my relationship to sugar with the alcohol and drug addiction of my ex-boyfriend a couple of¬†years ago. Out of the blue did I say to someone in conversation: “Trying to come off sugar is just as bad as coming off heroin.” To which I received the reply:”Actually, heroin is out of your system after four days. It’s much more difficult to stop smoking.”

So I looked it up, eager to know what an effect heroin addiction had on the body and if there was any research about the effect of sugar. That’s when I stumbled across studies confirming my coincidental realisation.

I used to get really annoyed with my ex when he had yet another hangover, though he was on something most of the time. Even though I had all the sympathy and understanding for addiction and the toll it has on our body, I could never quite understand why someone would do this to themselves. Until I realised that, although I was convinced that I would never be addicted to alcohol or drugs, I actually was addicted to sugar and was fighting as much a battle with mood swings and all like my ex.

That relationship was a very bad experience for me, however, it makes me chuckle now to see both of us, unknowingly in the grip of an addiction that I was as unable to escape as my ex with his drugs. Quite often we would down a whole straberry cheesecake with cornish vanilla ice-cream between us in one go.

I always believed that with the right termination and willpower one can achieve anything. But when learning that sugar addiction, just as alcoholism, is hereditary,¬†that it isn’t a character weakness but a chemical imbalance, I felt like a right¬†hypocrite¬†at first, but also very relieved to understand my own behaviour. Now it is me, in full-blown sugar withdrawal, unable to retain information, slightly deluded, not responding as fast as expected. For example, I knew I had said something, I could still hear my voice echo, yet I could not remember what I had said. Or, throwing a hissy fit one day and not remembering the next why.

Lets have a closer look at our clever brain chemicals. Both, serotonin and beta-endorphin, are neurotransmitters that bridge the gaps between cells to transmit information. Beta-endorphin is our natural pain-killer, serotonin controls our impulses. If there are too many neurotransmitters around, the receptors, which receive the information, will close down(downregulate) to avoid overload. If our serotonin or beta-endorphin levels are too low, the brain will open up(upregulate) more receptors.

At optimum levels, serotonin creates a sense of relaxation and satisfaction. Low levels represent themselves as impulsive behaviour, depression and cravings for simple carbohydrates, which raise serotonin levels, as do antidepressants.

Beta-endorphine has an effect similar to opioids, like heroin or morphine. They all create a sense of wellbeing, reduce pain, create emotional stability, control anxiety, reduce anger, relieve depression and produce a sense of euphoria.

According to Kathleen DesMaisons, if you are sugar sensitive, like me, or in fact alcoholic, you were likely born with low levels of beta-endorphin which¬†shows as low self-esteem that is biochemicly¬†based and less likely¬†to¬†respond to¬†psychotherapy, counseling or positive affirmations. Your brain is already upregulated, it has more beta-endorphin receptors than normal. This means also that they can overreact to any substance that evokes¬†a beta-endorphin response. Anything that makes us feel good releases beta-endorphin. So if eating sweets makes you feel happy, that’s because they trigger beta-endorphine. So does alcohol, so does dancing in the sun on a green lawn, so does laughter. Being born with lower beta-endorphin levels means that you are less insulated and tend to feel pain just as joy more intensely. It makes you a special, sensitive, curious and creative individual.

Narcotics, just like heroin or morphine, have the same shaped molecules like beta-endorphine, which is why they have exactly the same influence on the brain. They make the brain believe that beta-endorphine has arrived and create a feeling of euphoria, optimism and high self-esteem. The sugar sensitive among us have a much bigger reaction to anything that creates a beta-endorphine respond.

When developing a physical dependency on a substance, you alter the natural state of your system. Your brain wants more and more of the extra serotonin and beta-endorphin hits and complaints if it doesn’t get it. In an attempt to recover from the imbalance, your brain creates withdrawal symptoms like irritability, aches and pains or headache. If you give in to those cravings and feel instantly better, it is a good indication that you are dealing with physical dependency.

Think again the next time¬†you reach for your¬†“sugar fix” ūüėČ

Love
Anna

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The new year is here…

…and I sincerely do not feel like consuming the common household sugar in any form or shape, needless to say, neither does chocolate or cake hold any attraction. This comes as a little surprise, considering that I had assumed to leisurely not remove sugar from my diet until the distant step 6 of my plan. Hoping that this is not just a lure in line with a New Year’s resolution, I don’t see why I should eat something that holds no nutritional benefit. I even felt a little bit repulsed at the sight of my dear partner’s chocolate fudge cake with custard the other day. The smell was too sweet and sickening, the custard even with a note of sourness.

It’s interesting to note how your senses change once you begin to change yourself. It’s like teaching a blind man to use his sense of touch to “see” his surroundings. This too takes time. Everything will need to be felt in order to register as a new, or different memory of an object. The same I did with food over the past years. Every time I ate something after having learned something new about the ingredients, the product almost changes completely, or more likely, I saw it in a different light. Do not be discouraged by the amount of time this takes. It is never too late to begin the change! And the change occurs straight away.

Getting back to Kathleen DesMaisons book. I have trouble adding the recommended amount of protein to my breakfast (read my last blog).¬†Trouble is, the easiest would be to down a fully cooked breakfast, but I’m not a big fan of it. So I finally looked for protein powder to add to my breakfast meal, which I was very reluctant to, but in view of the promised healing abilities of protein on my serotonin levels, I thought I give it a go. I found one with just soja protein and some bulking agent, which I still preferred to those with 16 or more ingredients.

Another part of step 1 is to have your breakfast within one hour of getting up. Surely that is an easy one, I thought, since I am a regular with my breakfast and hold to it with meticulous precision. But alas, was I surprised to notice that it is more often over 2 hours since waking up that my breakfast finally reaches my intestines! No wonder I’m feeling under the weather, unknowingly¬†starving my body. When exactly is the moment that I wake up though? If I’m not working, I tend to toss and turn for about an hour and upon falling out of bed, I follow my morning routine of personal hygiene, dressing and considering what to have to eat. Sometimes I even include a bit of tidying. Does “waking up” mean literally waking up, or getting up, or starting to think clearly?

I have come up with the conclusion that the hour starts from when I look at the clock for the first time. Half an hour later I get up and now enjoy the inconvenience of having breakfast in my pyjamas, unkempt and drowsy as the morning has created me.

Interestingly, over the past week I have noticed that I feel much more alert first thing in the morning, even getting up earlier. Is it the protein or my new morning routine?

Until the next.

Love
Anna

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On a sugary Christmas follows a crappy New Year

If you have discovered that you are sugar sensitive and you instinctively knew this for a few years, your hope to be free from the ups and downs that go with blood sugar spikes and inevitable withdrawal symptoms become a distant cry for help once Christmas arrives with all it¬īs sparkles and scents and cold nights in together with family, food and sweets that go way beyond any sugar addict¬īs wildest dreams.

Once again I find myself reverting back to the little child I once was, with the reflection of the wax candles in my eyes only merely covering up the gleam of near insanity, or child-like joy, at the sight of granny¬īs big Christmas plate filled with lebkuchen, stollen, biscuits, marzipan and chocolates filled with the most delicious mousse and cream, all wrapped in all the colours of the universe. Again, this is Germany I am talking about. No offence, but nothing in the UK has matched the above experience yet.

So here I am, Merry Christmas, everybody is having fun, to cite Slade¬īs well-know festive song. Look to the future now, it¬īs only just begun. But I already know that my future will be bleak if I indulge in this sugary feast of plenty. And somewhere deep inside I wonder whether I will ever be able to abstain from sugar for good.

Kathleen¬†DesMaisons says that it is important to have time to reflect on changing our relationship to sugar. To just go “cold turkey” is rarely advisable nor often manageable.

She offers a 7 step plan, with the first step being to include an adequate amount of protein in line with your body weight to your breakfast. Protein provides tryptophan which is needed for your body to make serotonin, which helps you to remain calm and competent. Protein basically gives you the building blocks to heal your sugar sensitive brain and body.

Once you mastered this, you can go on to the next step, all the while you can still eat whatever you like. Instead of removing something that your body is used to, you add something new to help your body heal. This way you slowly re-wire your brain and teach your body a new trick.

Of course, my 30-year-old self still couldn¬īt help itself in view of the Christmas treats, though it was more in control than the last year. I had cut down on sugar in every-day life, with the exception of festive periods. With every sugar-coated almond, chocolate coated marzipan, chocolate nougat ball, poppy crumble cake, waffle topped with hot cherries and rice pudding I ate, I said my last goodbye, knowing that if I want to change, I will have to just do it.

It is more the social obligations that make this tricky. Apart from the fact that sugar is in most things today, it also¬†is a common gesture of goodwill to offer chocolates and sweets to others. And if they are declined, it is as if you didn¬īt accept the gesture itself. I find it easier to decline alcohol, though not without many a tiring explanation, than to forego sugar, since it is seen as just a harmless bit of fun. So along with my petty goodbye eating, I added more protein to my breakfast and dreamt¬†of a long and prosperous life without sugar.

I am sincerely sorry if I will be a little crappy around New Year¬īs, but I will have a little trouble adjusting to a time with less sugar intake after such Christmas indulgence. The actual removal of sugar, however,¬†doesn¬īt occur until step six of the plan. By then, my body should be prepared because I have taken precautions.

One step at a time. Or as my cheeky little brother suggested: “Just keep eating sugar, then you won¬īt get the hangover withdrawal symptoms.” Which is true, but still doesn¬īt change anything.

To a happier and less crappier New Year!

Love
Anna

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Sweet childhood

When you are a child about to start school and you are lucky to live in Germany at that time, like I did, you will experience the sweet custom of receiving a “Schult√ľte” on your first day at school.

This object, not known in other countries, might also be called a “Zuckert√ľte”, which, if you are still none the wiser, is directly translated a “sugar bag” that comes in the shape of a colourful cone made of paper or cardboard and is filled with sweets and other little things that might come in handy like pens or crayons. Here is me and my meed.

It is said to “sweeten” the first day of school which might be perceived as a little frightening to the small child. This is a lovely custom, however, it is only one example¬†of an unhealthy¬†“reward experience” leading you not only straight to the dentist a few years down the line but maybe even to a psychologist as well. If you have read my previous blog about the comparison between sugar and heroin, you will see why.

I clearly remember the day and how proud I was. The cone was quite big and almost too heavy for me to carry. I was a little strange, kinda still am, in that I like to admire presents as long as possible, extending the exiting feeling of curiosity and expectation of what might lie inside. So while I was celebrating this special day with my family and coffee and cake, my cone lay on my bed in the most exquisite state of wonder.

Until I heard a rustling in my room. I rushed off my feet, ready to pounce on any unwelcome intruder who dared get anywhere near my cone. When I swung the door open and started protesting,¬†I saw my granny busily trying to squeeze¬†a bag of fizzy peaches into it. I ate the whole bag later that day! (do not google “fizzy peaches” if you are trying to avoid sugar!)

What I have learned so far from the book “Potatoes not Prozac” by Kathleen DesMaisons, is that sugar sensitivity is an inherited biochemical condition, caused by a chemical imbalance,¬†not a character defect. This is hugely reassuring, considering how many times I have relapsed and downed yet another bag of sweets or cookies, despite all my good resolutions to not have sugar and consequently beaten myself up about it afterwards.

Being hereditary, it means that either or both of your parents¬†are likewise sugar sensitive. The same goes with alcoholism. It simply affects your body chemicals and affects your mood and stamina if your¬†parents were dependent on alcohol or sugar sensitive. My mother told me how she fancied a certain type of marzipan only available at Christmas in the middle of summer when she was pregnant with me. I love marzipan! And that’s the thing: those who are sugar sensitive see sweets as a friend they dearly love. They can feel this strong sensation in their bodies and simply can’t help but eat it all. Quite to the contrary of those who are not sensitive to sugar: they are totally capable of just ignoring sweets and maybe have some later or tomorrow, or even next week. “Whatever”, they might think, whereas the sugar sensitive either have to wrap the tablecloth around their wrists to restrain themselves or just eat for the hell of it.

But it isn’t just actual sugar that affects the sugar sensitive amongst us. It is any type of food that changes quickly into simple sugars which go straight into our blood and cause blood sugar changes which¬†ultimately cause the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect”. These include white bread, pasta, cereals¬†and any refined flour. One minute you might be full of confidence and strength, the next experience low self-esteem and hopelessness.

Kathleen says that sugar sensitive people appear to know instinctively that something is wrong, but find it difficult to make sense of what exactly it is. It is a matter of finding out and not being discouraged by those who try to put you down by saying you are making things up. This is my aim for the next weeks.

Love
Anna

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Chocolate and other Culprits

I love chocolate. Who doesn’t? But did you know that the kind of chocolate you find stacked on super market shelves has very little in common with actual, proper chocolate? Once you had the enlightening experience of tasting real raw chocolate you will understand. Raw chocolate doesn’t contain sugar nor milk and it has been lovingly mixed together with original untreated cacao and heated below 46 Celsius so that it still contains all the original goodness which is very heat sensitive and would otherwise be destroyed in the heating process.

For those of you who say: ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt like dark chocolate‚ÄĚ, let me explain something to you:¬† Just a single drop of milk destroys most of the good chemicals contained in raw cacao. Cow‚Äôs milk was never intended for human consumption. It is fine for calves, but we only have a milk digesting enzyme until we are about two years of age and after that our body will have significant trouble coping with it. Nowadays cow‚Äôs milk is being ‚Äúmade fit for human consumption‚ÄĚ by pasteurisation and thus heating it far beyond its heat labile point at which it begins to change its chemical configuration. This can and unfortunately nowadays is happening to any food which explains why there are so many people who are intolerant to milk and other products. Interestingly, the enzyme necessary for digestion of cow‚Äôs milk is only created in the fermentation process which is why people with an intolerance to milk might find that they are able to tolerate e.g. cheese and yoghurt. I have never really agreed with cow‚Äôs milk without actually realising and have now converted to soya or nut milk. Soya milk can be found pretty much in any supermarket, but make sure you choose unsweetened and sugar-free and as a general rule of thumb choose one that has as little ingredients as possible. The ingredients in the soya milk of my choice only contain soya beans, water and salt. Nut milks will be available in your local health food shop or online.

Now to those sugar addicts out there. I raise my hand voluntarily admitting:‚ÄĚ Yes, I am a sugar addict.‚ÄĚ The truth is, everyone is, but not everyone is aware of it. And to be fair, it is not easy to avoid it because nowadays it is added to pretty much anything to enhance flavour. It nearly borders on conspiracy which I am eager to make clear to everyone. Sugar as in the refined white stuff we commonly use in everyday life is a secret killer. No need to panic here, keep using it if you are happy with it. But understanding what affect it can have on us and how addictive it can be, or in fact is, I made the decision to remove it from my diet.

Trying to come off sugar can take time because your body will still crave for it for a long time after your last consumption. Picture yourself repeatedly going back to that chocolate box for yet another ‚Äúfix‚ÄĚ. You feel you need more in order to keep you alert and running, but this is a misconception. Yes, it will make you feel more energized, for about 30 minutes, after which your blood sugar comes crashing down again and you find yourself reaching for the next sugar fix. This is a tough lesson and after three years of repeatedly attempting to avoid it I only just start to settle on a diet without it. I firmly believe that most chronic conditions would be diminished or reduced if we simply remove cane sugar from our diet. And I mean any cane sugar, not just the refined version. Cane sugar alters our body chemicals. Don‚Äôt be discouraged if you can‚Äôt go without it for very long, once you realise how much better you feel without it you will try until your body doesn‚Äôt want it anymore. If you wish to avoid the damaging effects of sugar on your health, I strongly encourage you to take the first leap. The end result will be a much more alert, happy and active you. And believe me, your aches and pains will probably just disappear.

There are natural sugar replacements with a low GI value (Glycemic Index i.e. keeps your blood sugar levels stable). I personally use agave nectar or xylitol instead of sugar. Check your local health food shop or the internet. Agave nectar can now even be found in Tesco and dare I say at a much better price than health food shops. But please give your local health food shop a visit because the other good stuff they stock is well worth it and will most likely not be found in general super markets. The arising cost implication is a minor nuisance that I now easily dismiss in favour of a healthy and balanced lifestyle and the fact that I am indeed able to live my life and not be controlled by my dietary intake.

Most people don‚Äôt realise how milk, sugar and other food groups affect them or that they are in fact intolerant to any of them. An intolerance is difficult to spot. It isn‚Äôt always obvious because a reaction can be subtle and at times doesn‚Äôt show at all until the next day unlike an allergy which usually occurs straight after consumption and can be potentially life threatening. To give you an idea I will list some of my symptoms: feeling ill or sick and tired, aches and pains, blocked nose, headache, poor concentration, mood swings, viral infections, skin irritations, fluid retention in hands and feet and a swollen face upon waking in the morning plus not being able to wake up properly. After an acute intake of ‚Äúordinary‚ÄĚ sweets and chocolates I even get a blurry vision at times. I did get checked for diabetes because some of my symptoms were quite similar but the test was negative.

It took me years to figure out that I didn’t agree with certain types of food and went to my GP at least once a year to have myself checked because I just didn’t feel well. But all standard tests were fine. And when I finally figured out that my reason for feeling unwell was indeed an intolerance to food I was told by my GP that they won’t test for food intolerances and that I ought to go privately. Others might have more luck with this but in the end I consulted a Kinesiologist (muscles reflex testing) who identified which food I was most sensitive to and confirmed mostly what I had already figured out myself simply by watching what I was eating and how I felt afterwards.

If you think you might have a food sensitivity keep a food log and record what you eat and how you feel and you might be able to come to an astonishing realisation. Try to avoid foods that give you problems and ensure you eat a balanced diet with as much raw or steamed vegetables as possible. Also try to avoid sugary drinks; they really don’t do you any favour. Water is the elixir of life ;)

Now back to the chocolate again. Raw chocolate contains no milk and no refined sugar. Just natural sweeteners and cacao. I have been experimenting with it for a couple of years now and have created the most delicious chocolate treats ever. And the best? I don’t feel ill after and I don’t end up craving in an unhealthy manner.

The naturally good properties and health benefits of raw chocolate: Most concentrated source of magnesium in nature. Magnesium supports the heart, increases brain power, relaxes muscles, increases flexibility, promotes healthy bowel movements, helps build strong bones, facilitates more than 300 different detoxification and elimination functions. Highest food source of chromium which assists in balancing blood sugar levels. Possibly best source of antioxidants containing 10,000mg/10%. Also contains vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, C and E and to a lesser extend fibre, iron, phosphorous and hundreds more. Theobromine, the sister molecule to caffeine but much milder, dilates blood vessels, acts as a cough remedy and has shown cariostatic effects. Phenylethylamine, the love or happy chemical, is naturally produced by our brain and other than that is only found in raw cacao and blue-green algae. Anandamide, the bliss chemical released in the brain when we feel really good. Tryptophan, necessary for the production of serotonin which can lower anxiety and stress. Most of these properties are very sensitive to heat and usually destroyed in the cooking process. (List of properties taken from Sweet Gratitude by Matthew Rogers and Tiziana Alipo Tamborra)

For those of you who had the opportunity to try some of my chocolate experiments will know where to get more. For those of you who haven’t yet, either come to one of my workshops where I will always have some on offer or contact me for more information or on how to make raw chocolate yourself.

Love
Anna

Categories: The Sugar Hangover Diaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Sugar Hangover

Presently I am feeling slightly queasy and mildly unwell. And despite my face only being slightly puffy and my nose only a little blocked, the overall tiredness, listlessness and ill feeling in my tummy are the common tell-tale signs that I am currently acting out a sugar hangover. And yes, I do vaguely remember reaching repeatedly into that luminous biscuit box and also unwrapping some chocolates hidden in mesmerizing colourful tinfoils.

In case you are wondering: sugar has been having an increasingly detrimental influence on me. I have been watching it for a few years now, but despite my awareness and my continuous effort to educate others about the damaging effect of the common white sugar on our health and wellbeing, I still find myself relapse again and again and again. It raises the question whether it is even a much bigger issue than even I had dared envisioning.

What is it that gives me this longing feeling of needing sugar and why can’t I control it despite repeat experiences that I will feel ill after?

As with all addictions, there is something else running in the background that might need to be addressed first. As I once was reprimanded by an insisting Irish catholic (no offence): ‚ÄúOnly Jesus can fill that hole in you!‚ÄĚ Well, I obviously preferred biscuits and chocolates.

Addiction in general terms is a compulsive recurring behaviour that is difficult to stop, despite harmful consequences. Biological or psychological factors may play a part here too. Researchers say that sugar and the taste of sweet is said to stimulate the brain by activating the same chemicals activated in the brain by the ingestion of heroin and morphine. Sugar stimulates the release of endorphins which makes us feel good. So when we’re stressed, we crave foods that trigger this sensation. However, if we try to cut it out of our diet, we can experience withdrawal symptoms.

Watch this sweet little poem about the sugarcane:

www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/grace-nichols-sugar-cane-poem-only/1360.html

Sugarcane is a tall growing grass, which mainly grows in warm southern regions of the globe. Interestingly, it is one of the largest crop produced in the world, with the main produce being sucrose which is being processed into other forms of sugar for food or ethanol for fuel production. It appears that sugar found its way around the world as an expensive sugar spice after the sweet reeds were discovered by Persians and Greeks in the 6th and 4th centuries BC in India. It wasn’t until after the 18th century that cane sugar became a world crop and arrived in the form of white granules in our kitchen cupboard.

Is that the reason why it is in nearly every prepared meal or snack on earth? Just for a cheap flavour adjustment? It is just unfortunate that the whole process of extraction, bleaching, filtering, heating, drying and the ultimate use in food products completely destroyed most properties that would have been good to start with. We are unwittingly made addicted to it because of the masses of it that we encounter in everyday food. Sucanat (sugar cane natural) or organic whole cane sugar is the most natural form of sugar because the juice of the sugarcane is simply evaporated at low heat. It can be found it in health food stores or online.

The glycemic index plays an important role too. High GI foods cause our blood sugar to soar up and drop down just as quickly. This is not good for our body and can not only lead to diabetes and obesity but also impacts on us with tiredness and lack of concentration hence we grab hold of the ‚Äúnext sugar fix‚ÄĚ. Refined sugar has a GI of about 64, compared to raw sugar cane which has a glycemic index of¬† 30 to 40. I only just heard of raw sugar cane juice which can be found in India, for example, but which I did not have the pleasure to try yet. It is packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamins, antioxidants, proteins and fibres, to mention but a few.

Sugar is basically a naturally occurring substance in most fruits and vegetables. So are carbohydrates, which are a common food source said to give us energy, and also one that we crave for most. But carbohydrates are actually not an essential nutrient since our body can get all its energy from protein and fat. High carbohydrate foods are amongst others fruits, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and, guess what: sweets. Refined sugar is composed entirely of carbohydrates. We really do not need it to survive and it is also most likely linked to obesity and diabetes.

I found this article of great interest: www.processedfreeamerica.org/resources/health-news/405-the-truth-about-evaporated-cane-juice

I have a predisposition to compulsions that include food. When I feel anxious or stressed, every single cell in my whole body gravitates towards those biscuits. I might not even be aware of any particular anxiety, but when I listen deeply, I can feel this subtle restlessness coursing through my bones. My anxiety unknowingly started somewhere in the middle of my teens and carries forward until today. It has been years since I last brought up a binge eating attack, following the guilt of eating way too many cakes and biscuits. I have learned, I am still learning and I will learn for the rest of my life. And what I learn, what you learn, what others learn will hopefully lead to a better understanding of ourselves and of how we behave and what we agree with best.

Many different sources claim that refined cane sugar has a negative effect on our health, and I totally agree, but don’t have any credibility or evidence other than my own experiences, to prove what I believe to be true. I believe that many many people out there are addicted to refined cane sugar and that most of their little niggling ailments will disappear should they be strong enough and withstand the felt need and longing to consume it. Just be aware that once you can live without it, don’t think just one won’t do you any harm! You will only relapse and will have to start the battle again.

I am working on it, swimming against the tide as much as I can. I actually don’t even buy any commonly mass produced chocolates or sweets and rather make my own raw chocolate with natural sweeteners. The pitfall presents itself at work, where there is always a tin of chocolates on the table. Most of the times I master the control needed to ignore it. Just sometimes, especially at certain times of the month, my body is just stronger than my mind, or maybe rather wildly out of control. But I am working on that too, in the hope that the world will one day come to its senses and rethink where we were coming from and where we are heading.

And now the authorities want to force us to consume genetically modified foods and on top of that change all food labelling so we really have no idea what we are eating anymore? It is better anyway to cook from scratch, just to find the time… ;)

Love
Anna

Categories: The Sugar Hangover Diaries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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