Regarding the various family life lessons I have learnt and discovered, I consider myself to be fortunate, lucky and live a relatively healthy lifestyle. The reasons being is due to growing up knowing I can live a semi-reclusive, cancer-free lifestyle. Although there has been a few hiccups along the way regarding skin cancer and biopsies being done.
Over the past several years of moving in and back out of the family home, the one lesson that continues developing and growing is understanding the foundations of where our food comes from. Whether our vegetables are organic/non-organic and the meat on our table comes from a slaughterhouse or has been ethically killed on a farm, after having grazed freely on grass for the past 90 or so days; we have a greater knowledge of what it is that we have brought, raised and grown ourselves.
So much so, there is a photo of my siblings and I in various age groups, standing at the kitchen sink either peeling vegetables, being shown how to do the procedure without skinning your fingers or playing with the water. When much older, we were shown how to grow and maintain our own organic vegetables on our little plot of twenty acres in the boondocks. Alongside raising, producing and killing (much to our horror one summer) the chickens we had brought until us children and Lois protested and our chickens continued to live a happier life until they died of natural causes.
It was during the times of pure happiness, concerns about money and forging a unity between all of us as a family, we were shown ways of how to bake copious amounts of scones, pavlova’s that we sold to families around the district for a small income and I taught myself how to make the perfect sponge cake. However, it was during the time of living away from home, attending university and endless hours spent studying over a textbook, my unhealthy eating patterns as an adult would start catching up with me.
Having gone to see my family doctor and being told I was a “borderline Type One Diabetic” because my blood sugars were higher than normal for an adult my age and weight, I started looking into ways of how I could slowly decrease my sugar intake or successfully cut it out altogether from my diet. It would only be after talking to Lady Blacksnot III, who had become a diehard Paleo addict and hearing of the benefits of it being a low to no saturated sugar diet and high in protein and vegetables, I decided to give it a try. By making this decision and sticking to my guns, I slowly went about decreasing my love and consumption for all this sweet, chocolate-y and delicious.
By ‘slowly,’ I went cold turkey at the beginning of the month and lived as a hardcore Paleo lover for 30 days.
All the while my poor family got to experience me going through a severe sugar detox, the withdrawal symptoms of a junking including the sweating, shakes and tremble would deter anyone from wanting to go cold turkey and the endless moaning of “I just need one bite…bar of chocolate”.
Nearly four years later after having initially taken that step, I have been living an almost sugar-free lifestyle and diet. My diet was completely sugar-free until my pregnancy, where I craved for frozen coke and had to have a large one every day while pregnant with my son. During my pregnancy, I did start researching what benefits and health associated risks sugar can have an effect on our body and I discovered that sugar has been not only linked to a number of chronic (lasts longer than 3 months) conditions and has been known to increase cancer cells within the body of someone going through chemo and radiation.
This knowledge has not only confirmed and encouraged me to continue living an almost sugar-free lifestyle, whilst enjoying the odd occasional bar of chocolate or ice-cream. So for those who are wishing to have a slightly reduced sugar intake or go the full hog like I did, these are the ways I continue reducing my sugar intake and living a healthier lifestyle regarding sugar.
1.) Adding one less scoop of sugar to the morning coffee or tea.
While going sugar-free is an adjustment and a half for your tastebuds, especially if you are used to drinking and consuming heavily sweetened drinks, I’d recommend starting off with a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar each morning and sticking to that ratio for a few days. Until eventually sugar is a by-product that’s used by strangers or guests in your home and looks pretty in its container.
2.) Low Fat or Skim foods vs Full fat products.
Thought low fat or skim based products are more healthier than the regular kind? Well, I hate to be the one to bear bad news but low fat and skim products have been known to have a higher concentrate of sodium (salt) and sugar. Although I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist, I’d recommend going for your normal full fat product and have three small servings of this per day. Plus, your bones and teeth shall thank me when you’re older. Not today, osteoporosis!
3.) Education from reading food labels.
One of the first things I do when thinking about purchasing a store brought item is to flip it over and read the ingredient and dietary information on the back. By researching and educating myself on the various types of sugars there are, I have been able to identify if something is a processed, naturally occurring or just downright nasty for you. Often the later gets placed back onto the shelf and I purchase a much healthier option if available. If there isn’t a healthier option for me, there is always one option and this leads me to the next point.
4.) Bring out the baking goods and call me Betty Crocker.
In other words, make it yourself. Guaranteed we all live incredibly hectic lives with various group activities, work and work functions and trying to squeeze in thirty minutes of fitness, its often easier to buy something that’s already premade and glammed up. However, there is something fun and slightly hazardous (in some cases) about seeing little patty pans lined up in an array of different colours in a muffin pan, the smell of a cake cooking (burning) in the oven and the joy I get when whipping up a cream cheese frosting for a banana cake.
If you’re someone who can easily read an ingredients list, whether it’s in a cookbook or online, than what’s stopping you? A majority of the cakes I cook are thirty minutes or less (legit, I timed myself once) and that’s from start to putting it in the oven to bake. I’ve become a whizz at baking lately that my nose can automatically decipher if something needs a few more seconds or minutes to cook or its ready to be placed on a cooling rack and I can stare at my creation. This is also, while running around the house with a vacuum cleaner and feeding my son.
Note for the courageous souls:
If you’re courageous and want to wonder where the hell you went wrong, you can always ask your children, nieces and nephews to come and bake with you. As someone who has previously and bravely done this, Lois would recommend for an adult to be the one in control of the floor (to prevent messy kitchens and people) and to pop the cake in/out of the oven. As to icing the cake if you so wish too, allow the kiddies to experiment to their wildest imagination and you can also teach them how to clean up by giving them a wet sponge and hey presto, clean kitchen benches!
5.) If you’re craving a sugary snack, have some fruit.
In the family household, us four O’Chunky children grew up with an abundance of fruit ready for us to devour and we were taught if we were hungry prior to dinner, we were to have a piece of fruit. Now as an adult, I always make sure that my house contains various fruit and Mr. Darcy has a field day whenever he opens the fridge door and sees apples, oranges, bananas and other seasonal fruit in the crisper. To this day, I still follow the rule of having a piece of fruit prior to dinner if I’m hungry, especially when my sugar tooth is craving for something sweet.
The positive upside is fruit contains a natural sugar found within the flesh/skin of the piece of fruit. Only downside is because of the levels of sugar found in fruit, dieticians recommend eating three pieces of fruit a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle balance.
After experimenting over the years by introducing and removing alternative sweeteners such as locally sourced honey (I’ve never touched stevia in my life as it has been linked to various cancer pathogenic cells) because I’m a firmer believer in supporting the little guy; I’ve settled on the idea of simply not having sugar in my morning coffee and as such, have become accustomed to loving the almighty power kick I get in the morning when taking that first sip.
Hopefully these five simple and easy ways have either spurred you onto thinking about the amount of sugar being consumed daily and if you’re thinking about saying farewell to sugar and living an almost sugar-free diet like me, I wish you all the best. However, I can still guarantee if someone brought me a piece of cake filled with sugar and delicious icing, I’d be as happy as a pig in mud.
With that in mind.
Until next time,
Main image: courtesy of Tumblr.