Health and Wellbeing personal reflections

A love letter to sugar and refined carbs

I was asked by friend the other day how I felt about HRT especially in light of the new evidence that it might help to reduce the risk of dementia. Both are mothers died of dementia and we are both very aware of what a terrible disease this is, how hard it is on loved ones and society as a whole.

I have been aware of how my diet has slipped into some bad habits and inspired by my friends question on HRT and my flatmates success with Keto I did a bit of reading around about sugar and the brain and there seems to be be some good evidence that it increases your risk of dementia. In the past I found Robert Lustig M.D. lecture and John Yudkin’s book Pure White and Deadly really instructive and convinced me I need to make a permanent and drastic change but my will power fails. I have been seeing quite a lot of coverage in the media about sugar addition to which I can, annoyingly, relate.

I have been aware for some time of my addiction to S&RCs (sugar and refined carbs), its not crazy and I could argue that it is not an issue but I can feel the craving and the reward cycle. I crave sweets/biscuits/bread and once I give in to the craving I feel the sense of satisfaction, this is not feeding myself this is unhealthy. I don’t want to be stop myself having pleasure but I also want to be in choice and give myself the best chance for a healthy 3rd age. I need to finally face the fact that I have to give up S&RCs for good, OMG, but how!

My system has always been very responsive to S&RCs and since I was in my 20s have noticed that if I eat a lot I get uncomfortable low blood sugar in the following days. My father suffered with this all his life and his answer was to continue eating the same diet but have to eat at set times with much drama. In my late 30s I did some experimenting with giving up wheat, sugar, diary and alcohol. I felt amazing really clear and balanced, my skin was great and I only stopped after more than a year as it was very hard to eat out as a veggie. BUT I only lasted 3 months at sugar, there was never a day where I was not obsessed with it, I could spot a bakers ahead of me in the high-street as I could taste sugar on the air! If every there was a clear indicator to my sugar addition it was this! My diet drifted back to lots of cheese and S&RCs resulting in uncomfortable sugar lows and generally not feeling so great so I experiment with a low-glycemic load diet which suited me really well but again hard work and difficult to maintain in social situations and I always gave into temptation.

Then menopause arrives in my life and I am grateful for an easy ride, apart from a panic when I though brain fog early onset dementia. The mild hot flushes on the other hand persisted and I came to spot a pattern, they where triggered by S&RCs, and would extended to disturbed sleep and often a mild hangover the next day. My body has been giving me strong signals all my life that S&RCs are not good for me.

A couple of years ago I did some short fasts and found that it really helped to bring my sugar levels into balance which lasted a while until the inevitable drift into too many S&RCs so I started doing intermittent fasting. I now fast at least 14hrs a day and try to eat 1 snack and 1 meal between lunch time and early evening. This has been a great success and I have maintained this for several years now and find it easy, including in social situations but I still get seduced by S&RCs.

And then … there is the social aspect to consider. We give each other sweet foods to show our love and care for each other, as way to spoil ourselves. I will be taking away a share experience of joy and I will be asking a lot of myself and my loved ones if I refuse their offers and gifts. How does one navigate this social challenge with care for me and others with love?

So given that I know S&RCs are harming me and I could be happier without them how do I go about removing them from my life. I know what my trigger foods are, I know because when I eat them they give me a hit and the other foods just don’t quite cut it. I know I can do this because I have before but how to be kind and make a long term change?

S&RCs I love you in all your forms and I am going to miss you very much!

cakes, pastries, croissants, ice-cream, chips, fresh white bread, chocolate dipped macaroons, sticky toffee pudding, black forest gateau, lemon meringue pie, cheese toasties, waffles, pancakes with lemon and sugar, chocolate, pear drops, chewy sweets, wine gums, milk chocolate, apple pudding, pizza, afternoon tea – sandwiches scones with cream and jam, cakes, flan,