A few weeks ago I was not feeling so flash, my allergies were out of control and affecting my eyes (really) and sinuses, and I just felt a bit off. So, I decided that in mid-August I would ditch sugar to see what happened. This is someone who thought they had a pretty healthy diet, bar chocolate.
I started off with ditching any processed foods, and then I reduced and then eliminated fruit and then axed sugar anywhere else I found it. Eliminating fruit is so hard for me because I LOVE fruit. My friend Candace had started a mission to reduce sugar in her diet many months ago and, in her case, she had great success with better health and significant weight loss that went with it. Whilst I need the weight I have for the mountains, I'm keen to feel better so off I went on this mission.
Days 1-7/10 were pretty easy. I felt really good. I wondered what all this talk was about withdrawal from sugar. But, then by days 11-18 the withdrawal hit me and I felt like it must feel like for people coming off other kinds of addictive substances like cigarettes or drugs of some kind. I was shocked how bad that period was for me. Since then though, now that I must be 'clean' I feel a-w-e-s-o-m-e, except for now trying to get my allergies back under control.
Then, I suddenly realised that with a mountaineering expedition coming up in Nepal, I needed to think carefully about what my food choices would look like on a mountain in a remote area, in a foreign country (the beautiful, Nepal). It starts to get tricky. In addition to that, I have to be able to address my food allergies and my likes and dislikes because I don't eat meat and the one fish I eat is not readily avalable where I will be. This very quickly became a very difficult mission. I don't want to go back to some of the food I had relied on previously, such as chocolate and other sugar laden high energy solutions.
So, what does it mean to go without sugar, given that some foods have naturally occuring sugar? Well, I've eliminated any obvious sugars, everything labelled on a food, and eliminated fruit, and identified foods without sugar. I was never really a sugary drink person so that part was easy. It has been a big learning curve for me because I thought I knew a lot about sugar but I learnt very quickly that I didn't, and I'm still learning.
One of the biggest surprises for me is how calm I have been feeling. The absence of highs and lows in my daily life has been wonderful, and I'm sleeping so much better - actually, that started to happen really quickly.
The goal of this mission is not to scientifically dissect every morseful that goes in my mouth for scientific research but to cover off every single item to the best I can and see if I can climb as well, and feel as good as I otherwise might.
Why the asterix in the heading? Well, it is to cover off those negligible or traces of sugar that might pop in for the weirdest or unexpected of reasons, where items are produced in a facility where sugar is present but should not be in the product, labels show no sugar but somebody finds a grain somewhere or trace amounts potentially exist, or if something turns into sugar as a result of being processed by the body etc.
I'm taking advice from Candace and other health professionals, and also relying on my recently acquired knowledge on sugar. Many people think they cannot get through a normal day without sugar hits. I want to see if I can get through a 1 month mountaineering expedition successfully, safely and heathily relying on a major mountain diet change. So, a few more experiments are required, recipes are being tested, and I'm checking labels galore on food that will come to the remote areas that I will be in. Luckily, for me the Nepali diet is generally low sugar, so there are many sugar free options for me.
Candace and I had a good chat about this mission on a recent training day on a trail around Sydney. Please watch the video appreciating we are simply having a bit of fun with this experiment. If not embedded you can click on the following link:
Best wishes, Chris
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL BEFORE STARTING ANY FITNESS OR DIET REGIME OR CHANGE. NO LIABILITY IS ACCEPTED. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.