Kicking the Habit

We’ve all been there, you think about your goals and realise you have to give up something you adore in order to achieve it. For some it’s a simple addiction to chocolate, for others it’s breaking the habit of a 3 o’clock muffin and hot choc (yes, hubby I’m talking about you – xx) and for some it’s giving up a social nights out at the pub because you have to get up and ride your bike at the sparrows fart! (this one’s me in Ironman training mode!).

Whatever your goal you can bet you’ll be tested and temptation is round every corner.

Recent ill health has forced both myself and my husband, Warren, to give up more than just one of our vices.

Trips to tropical climates left us with constant upset stomachs, feelings of fatigue and a general awareness that we were not ourselves.  After a trip to talk to our wonderful GP and naturopath at Your Health in Manly we were diagnosed with parasites’.  Eew!

Before you give us a wide plague like birth, we all carry parasites of some form or another.  Most of us have them and don’t even know it.  Unexplained tiredness, cravings for sugary foods, stomach cramps and even back pain can all be attributed to upsets in your digestive system.  You have to ask yourself who you are feeding.

Over the last 3 months we have hit the little buggers hard!  A complete digestive cleanse was the first step and this was done in conjunction with a very dramatic shift in our diet.

We became gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. Add to this that fact that I’m a vegetarian and Warren is a self confessed sugar addict and you can feel the tension in the Evans household mounting already!

The effects of Gluten on our systems is well researched and talked about alot in modern diets.

It’s estimated that two thirds of the white population are gluten intolerant.  The most severely effected of these are known as Coeliacs.  The reaction to gluten can vary significantly with in each of us, it  can manifest itself in a wide variety of symptoms that include: dermatitis, fatigue, joint pain, acid reflux, abnormal periods in women, and infertility. Some gluten sensitive people feel none of these symptoms until they develop more serious problems later on in life.

Gluten is a water soluble protein found in wheat, oats, rye, barley and triticale. It can also be found in some food additives.

Dairy is more commonly known to cause allergies than gluten and there is a great reason why.  We are the only living creatures to drink milk into our adult years.  Milk is used to promote health growth and pass on antibodies from mum to babe.  By the age of 2-3 years humans lose the enzymes required to effectively digest dairy.  Dairy allergies can cause symptoms such as skin irritations, asthma, abdominal bloating and gas and other digestive disorders.

Add to this the fact that the milk we drink has been processed to such an extent that it barely resembles it’s original state and you see how our bodies find it hard to stomach.

We all know about the evils of sugar.  It’s often the first thing we think of when we start a new ‘diet’.  Not all sugars are bad, naturally occurring ones found in fruit and product such as raw honey are ok in moderation.

The main sugars to watch for are the processed kind.  Most food you find in supermarkets will contain high levels of processed sugar.  Look at the ingredients of the packets in your cupboards, if they contain anything ending in ‘ose’ then it has processed sugar in.  Don’t be fooled by thinking eating cereal for breakfast is a healthy alternative.  Sadly many packaged cereals are high in sugar content and also score high on the GI stakes so they won’t keep you filled up for long and you’ll soon be hunting for your next sugar fix.

Excess sugar in our diets can cause, food cravings, sleep disruption, mood swings, irritability, weight gain, skin irritations, weakening of bones and teeth, and in severe cases it can lead to cancer, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, diabetes and food intolerances.

Hard hitting facts on all three of them I think you’ll agree.

The effects of all of the above can be witnessed most acutely in children.  We all know the effect sugar can have on the little people in our lives.  Their bodies are so finely turned that they react to any toxin quickly and in some cases with quite dramatic effects as their systems battle the poisons.

As we get older we feel the effects of things alot less, normally due to the build up in our bodies over a long exposure.

So, back to how we are getting on with what must seem like a very unfun way of life.

We are 3 months into a new lifestyle now so we are reaching the end of our ‘sentence’.

Week 1 was harder that I thought it was going to be.  I didn’t think I ate alot of sugar but I found myself literally drooling at the sight of banana bread!  Warren was just hungry all of the time.

I’d brought a few gluten free cook books and attempted homemade gluten free pasta with the help of my mum.  It was successful and very yummy if not a little time consuming to make.

Week 2 and my recipe list grew by the day and the cupboards were stocked with yummy food.

Week 3 and things were getting easier and so we continued into Christmas.  Eek the festive season on a crazy diet. Surely we would crack.  And indeed we did.  One of my gorgeous clients had made us a Christmas gift of the most sumptuous Christmas pudding and homemade vanilla ice cream.

On Christmas Day we allowed ourselves the treat of a spoon on pud and a small scoop of ice cream.

It was delightful.

The side effects were quite small.  I felt a bit sleepy after the gluten and that was about it.  The main reason for the lack of effects of course is that the food was home cooked, from scratch, using whole foods with no crappy additives’.

But, side effects or no side effects we still had a long way to go so we continued on with the lifestyle change.

Month 1 moved into month 2 and then into month 3.

This lifestyle is now our way of life and we enjoy it.

Both of us have shed 5kgs in weight, not that we needed to lose any but it’s a welcome side effect.  We feel that we are the body size and shape that we were meant to be.  Nothing stored up, nothing clogging our systems.

Sweet items that we could happily consume before, now just taste so sweet that we can’t stand them.  Our cravings have disappeared; our energy levels are even and consistent throughout the day.

I fuelled my training for an Ironman triathlon on zero sugar.  It was hard to do anything at great intensity at times. But research, trial and error found me some great alternatives that I will continue to use.  Somehow my body just runs better on this cleaner fuel!

We are now at the 3 month mark and intend on continuing with it for the future.

If we want a piece of cake we’ll have one, if we want a hot chocolate or a glass of wine, we’ll have one, not because our bodies crave it but because we really genuinely desire the taste.


13 August 2011

By Sarah Anne

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