hangovers

Sugar Hangovers – They do exist!

As a recovering alcoholic of over 27 years, I know more than most how debilitating hangovers can be.  Not just physically, but emotionally as well.  It feels now as though I awoke, almost every week, of every month of every year for 27 years with a pounding headache, swollen eyes, parched dry mouth, dehydrated yet profusely sweating, unrefreshed as well as with no energy or zest for the day ahead. Now though, just over 2 gloriously, easy years of sobriety, which is not dependant on any interventions, support or therapies, I wake almost every morning refreshed, with a clear brain and eyes, fresh skinned and raring to go.  Not so great for my son, who is not a morning person, but perfect for my puppy, Gorby, who is!

In short, my life has changed completely and I feel amazing. Until recently. Since I started to research sugar and its affects on our weight and physical and emotional health, I have made an astounding discovery.  If I eat too much sugar regularly, I wake up with almost the exact same symptoms as a vodka binge! I am experiencing sugar hangovers.  This is incredible to me.

I started my nutrition and weight loss practice, YOUtrition, after realizing that making simple, easy and straightforward changes to the foods I ate made a huge difference on every level to my health (at the beginning this was as a rear-guard action to counter balance the damage caused by my drinking), as well as my weight. And whilst this has now become a way of life that keeps me slim and in tip top physical shape, I have also noticed a huge shift in my emotional wellbeing.

Then of course, the better I feel, the better able I am to make the best food/lifestyle choices, as I love the way I feel now and I am thriving on every level.  So, sugar has been relegated to a small corner of my nutritional intake, a small slice of birthday cake or slice of occasional pizza – I am very  sociable.  Becoming sugar free was not even a conscious decision, it just came about because the wholefoods I choose to eat and love, don’t come with any pre-packed, processed nasties.

That is all well and good, but to write about sugar and its affects, I needed to actually eat the stuff, so I made a deliberate decision to include in my daily diet, for just one week, some of the food products I rarely eat.  Bread, shop bought cakes with my coffee on dates with friends, refined pasta, shop bought sauces etc.  I didn’t over eat, I just can’t, my body knows when to stop and sends very clear signals, which I cannot ignore, but still I ate differently and my God, the change I felt was almost immediate.

I am bloated (though no extra weight yet), my waist is thicker, my skin is duller, my hair (never anyone’s idea of a crowning glory), lifeless, my eyes are puffy in the morning, I feel sluggish and dehydrated and worst of all, I have no energy, little enthusiasm and my mood is lower. In short,  I have woken every day this week sufffering from sugar hangovers and the only thing that shifts them is either a huge jolt of caffeine, or a “sugar hair of the dog” in the form of a sugary breakfast that then starts the depressing and depressive cyle all over again.

I am only aware of this change because this is not my natural way of living/eating. And  I know I can’t live like this. My body is under siege from the assault of rubbish it now has to process and get rid of –  this stuff has literally nowhere to go, or has any use in my poor body so can only be stored as fat, mainly around my waistline (just where I want it most!). Plus, and by far the worst aspect for me, my emotional wellbeing is struggling too.  This then is a complete no brainer, I eat rubbish, I feel like rubbish.  End of experiment.  End of the sugar hangovers.

One week later, back to my normal eating habits, I feel amazing again.  Fresh, relaxed, my humour intact again and raring to go. Up and ready for my early morning puppy walk – let’s do this Gorby.

Give yourself just five days of eliminating processed foods – and they are all sugar/salt drenched, they have to be for longevity on the shelves and to compensate for the taste that’s lost through processing, and you will see and feel an amazing difference.  Don’t just trust me, trust our body, it will literally change a gear and whiz you towards where you want to be with your weight and health.

If you need any help or support in ditching your sugar hangovers and living an easy sugar free life – and it is easy as well as much less expensive, contact me.  I want you to feel the way I do every single day. I deserve to feel this way and so do you!

sugary

Sugar Addiction Questionnaire from my A Simply Sugar Free Life recipe book

As part of my YOUtrition, A Simply Sugar Free Life recipe book, I have devised a simple questionnaire to help you identify your triggers, moods and feelings around sugary foods (well, actually if they are not whole foods, they are “food products”), and on how much these “food products” feature in your life.

How much control does sugar seem to have over you? How much do you think about these foods and how often do you consume them?

By completing this questionnaire honestly, you are taking a first huge step towards acknowledging the power and prominence sugar has in your life and then, with my help, starting to make the changes in both foods and behaviours that will get you living a slim and healthy Simply Sugar Free Life.

Don’t overthink your answers, a simple Yes or No, (your immediate response) is all that is needed.

When you have finished, look back and review your answers.  There are no right or wrongs, it’s just about you, what you eat and how you feel about what and why you eat.

If you would like to send me your completed questionnaire, email me through my website, I will send you back a quick summary which will depend on how many Yes answers you have!

Do you have a sugary food/drink every day? Yes No
Do you feel you need sugary foods to get you going? Yes No
Are you aware if you haven’t eaten a sugary food on any day? Yes No
Do you feel proud of yourself if you haven’t eaten a sugary food on any day? Yes No
Do you often think about your next sugary treat? Yes No
Can you stop after two sugary treats or does it trigger a binge? Yes No
Do you feel guilty after eating sugary foods? Yes No
Do you feel that sugar has control of you? Yes No
Do you go out of your way, even when you are tired or fed up to buy sugary foods? Yes No
Do you think eating sugary foods will make you feel happy on a bad day? Yes No
Does your energy crash after breakfast/ lunch? Yes No
Do you choose sugary foods that you know are unhealthy over healthier choices? Yes No
Do you think you a sugary food will make you feel better or comforted? Yes No
Have you ever tried stopping eating sugar and not been able to stick with it? Yes No
Do you feel drawn to sugar foods even when you don’t feel like eating? Yes No
Do you find it difficult to resist a dessert even after a big meal in a restaurant? Yes No
Does eating sugar affect your mood, either by not having some or overindulging? Yes No
Do you feel upset and guilty when you have eaten a sugar food? Yes No
Are you often tired and lacking energy? Yes No
Do you hide how much sugar you eat? Yes No

* A Simply Sugar Free Life to be published in November 2017

 

 

 

Gluten

Going Gluten Free? What else are you cutting out?

Recently I was in LA, in what appeared to be the gluten free capital of the world.  The restaurants there offer a huge selection of innovative healthy meals which were completely delicious to a sometime health freak (who also does like a little something sweet to finish with), and I truly thrived on the foods. I write that because of one of the biggest challenges I face when I travel, which is a lot, is eating out.  I want to maintain the feeling of physical and mental wellbeing I have at home where I am in control of my eating, but obviously it can be more of a minefield when I am away. Whilst I know how to make the best choices, if the restaurant isn’t particularly good, even their best choice can arrive sugar and salt soaked from the definitely not homemade ingredients.  Anyhoo, no point in complaining and spoiling my trips or my companions, I just re-adjust when home.

Back to LA.  I was really struck by the amount of gluten free foods. Almost every meal had a gluten free option.  There must be a Coeliac epidemic in LA, or, if not that, an overwhelming preponderance of gluten sensitivity.  Maybe there is something in the water……….. Strangely, the few I met that I knew well enough to ask without offending, if they had been tested, all said no.

Self-diagnosis can be a tricky experiment and give wildly inaccurate results. It is estimated that only 10% of all those who go gluten free have Coeliacs’s disease.

Coeliac is a hereditary autoimmune disease with potentially serious consequences, such as Type 1 diabetes, MS and some intestinal cancers to name a few, so it is imperative Coeliac ‘s stick to a gluten free diet. Then there is gluten sensitivity, much more common and definitely a real condition where people can experience extremely unpleasant symptoms such as depression, abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea if they eat gluten, so they also need to avoid it.

My concern with the gluten free bandwagon is that too many who cut out gluten seem blissfully and dangerously unaware of the necessary vitamins they are depriving their bodies of, and that they may well need to boost with other foods.  So, below are my top vitamin boosting recommendations to living the healthiest life if you are gluten free.

B6 – needed to fight infections, found in chickpeas, tuna, salmon, chicken breast and turkey.

Folate – Another B vitamin, need for cell growth. Think green to boost your folate levels: spinach, asparagus and brussels sprouts all are high in the nutrient, as are green peas and broccoli. If you eat 10 spears of asparagus or two-thirds of a cup of boiled spinach, you’ll be more than halfway to your daily folate goal.

Vitamin D – sunshine vitamin. Studies have shown that people with Coeliac’s or gluten intolernance are often very deficient in this vitamin.  Few foods naturally contain much vitamin D, but there are exceptions including cold water fish like swordfish and sockeye salmon, which contain substantial amounts. An egg yolk contains about 10% of the vitamin D you need each day. If you consume dairy products, you can look for products fortified with vitamin D.

Calcium – Bone strength. Like vitamin D, calcium is found in dairy products, milk, cheese, yogurt etc, be careful though if you are lactose intolerant. If you are, look for tofu or canned fish with bones. Some orange juice brands also contain added calcium (as with vitamin D-fortified products, just make sure to buy only gluten free).

Iron – Oxygen carrier. Anaemia is a common symptom of Coeliac disease, so those who suffer from it need to be more careful than average to get enough iron, either through their diets or through supplements. People who don’t have Coeliac but who are following the gluten-free diet also need to be careful. Iron is easy to get if you eat meat: beef and turkey contain plenty. Oysters also are high in iron, and tuna contains some iron. If you follow a gluten-free vegetarian diet, you can obtain iron from soybeans and legumes.

Vitamin B12 – Fight fatigue. Vitamin B12 helps maintain your nerve and blood cells, and those who are particularly deficient in B12 can find themselves fighting constant fatigue. Meat, fish and dairy products tend to be the best sources of vitamin B12, so vegetarians and vegans often are more deficient. A meal-sized portion (4 oz. or more) of salmon or trout will provide 100% of your recommended daily intake, while 6 oz. of beef will give you half of what you need. A cup of milk or an ounce of hard cheese will provide about 15% of your vitamin B12 requirements.

So, please, before you decide to exclude any food group, do check what else you will be removing from your diet. Make sure that you are not missing out on any other vital vitamins or minerals. If you are, your health will suffer in ways you may not be expecting.

sugar

A Simply Sugar Free Life – My recipe book & guide to the life you deserve.

I recently started to research sugar, and sugar addiction for my new A Simply Sugar Free Life (scheduled for October release) recipe book.   I want to write a straightforward, no-nonsense, easy to follow book that will really make a difference.  A game changer hopefully (well, that is my aim anyway). I want it to be a mix of the science behind how sugar affects the brain and keeps us coming back for more after the first bite, the potential consequences to our health and the definite consequences to our weight.

“Ok”, I thought, “Jump in Sonia, go sugar free yourself”.  So, I did.  I gave myself one last dinner out and, fairly unusually for me, had a creamy, yummy dessert which, whilst it tasted pretty darn good for all of five minutes, left me feeling somewhat low and uncomfortable afterwards.  Been there anyone???? Anyway, the next day  I went sugar free.

First things first.  Off to the shops, no sugar shopping for me.  I had researched all the sneaky sugars and knew what to avoid.  And then as I wandered around the shops, a slow realisation came over me.  I was buying exactly the same foods I bought every week!  There was literally no change.  It suddenly hit me that I do, at least 90% of the time, live a sugar free life!  What on earth……..

So, a sugar free life is ultimately a life without processed foods.  It is as simple as that.  I don’t buy shop made sauces, I don’t buy processed cereals, I eat very little bread, I don’t buy cakes or sweets – instead I always treat myself to once piece of fresh, juicy, sweet and often exotic fruit each day and I love full fat yogurt with a teaspoon of honey or a good sprinkle of cinnamon and maybe, if I am going crazy a chopped strawberry or inch of chopped banana.  All of which satisfy my sweet tooth and leave me feeling good and positive afterwards.

I have to say, this was quite a revelation and also a slight worry.  How on earth was I now going to write the definitive book on a sugar free life?  I now knew that with a little re-thinking, as well as some tasty alternative recipes to guide my readers into the speed, ease and inexpensive way of making homemade sauces, dips and meals bursting with  texture, colour and flavour sans the sugar and salt that drowns out the taste of any shop bought ones, that I was done. In fact, I have just written it in this blog.  Read this, take it on board and a sugar free life is yours!

But of course, the food information is not the complete answer to a sugar free life, in fact on the whole it is only about 10% of it.  There is the science of addiction as well, how the brain responds to the sweet poison.  There are the types of sugar that we need to avoid, think fructose as well as sweeteners.  Then there is the sugar that we do need in the form of glucose for energy and brain function.  This information offers probably another 10% at best towards a sugar free life.

So, we are left with a huge 80% to deal with, and that it is where my expertise really kicks in. My first book, This Isn’t Me, is currently being published and is due for release in September 2017.  It is my memoir and deals with my 27 year battle, first with heroin addiction and then alcohol addiction. I write about my total desperation to be sober, especially after my glorious son, Christopher, was born and my total failure to be so even when armed with all the information, researched by myself, as to the devastating consequences both physically to myself and emotionally to him.  And still I just couldn’t stop.  And then I did.  I understood my addiction and just like that, I stopped.

That understanding of my addiction was the 80% that was missing, and it is the same with all behaviours.  Please trust me on this.

It is not about what you know about what you do, it is about why you do it.  It is about what you feel, about what you do, be it drink, drugs or food.  It is about what you think it gives you. It is about how you think it makes you feel, even when all the evidence points you in another direction.  It is about understanding you, and finding alternative ways of thinking. It is about your mindset.

When you have that knowledge, that understanding, you have the elusive 80%.  Then with the science to back it up and the recipes to support you, you have your 100%, and as we are talking about sugar here, you have your simple sugar free life.

I would love to hear any questions you would like addressed in my A Simply Sugar Free Life book.  The more I have, the more I can help. I can write from my perspective, but I want to help you.  Have a think and email me through my website.

Believe me, my alcohol free life is easy, every day.  Your sugar free life can to too. x

 

 

me

This Isn’t Me – A painful, yet inspiring personal memoir on alcoholism and recovery.

This Isn’t Me details my journey into a heroin addiction and recovery, and then subsequent alcohol addiction that lasted 27 years.  It is about the  horrifying shock of realizing that my alcoholism was impossible to overcome, even with all the available interventions and professional support I engaged with for over 15 years, when I had successfully overcome heroin with none.

It details the relationship between myself and my now 19 year old son. It is about being a single mother and the absolute joy of the gift of him. A joy that turned into the crippling nightmare of severe post-natal depression, requiring in-house psychiatric care on two occasions, and my return to drinking and then self-harm to cope.

It tells of my despair on realizing that I would die an alcoholic after being informed that my liver was damaged. Of the deceptions and self-disgust, of my complete desperation to be different.  Of how it affected my son’s life before he realized it was alcohol that changed his mother from the daytime loving, caring one into the cold and emotionally unavailable shell I became in the evenings.  Of his realization, during his teenage years that alcohol came before him and that I was unable to stop, even when he begged me too.

It then details the miraculous, magenta moment just over two years ago when I just stopped drinking.  No last drink, I just stopped.  Of the “how” and “why” of my stopping.

It is about my son’s initial distrust in my sobriety and my determination to show him that I was sober, by changing my behaviour, by doing something different.  As part of my apology and acknowledgment of the damage I had done, I started my own nutrition and weight loss business YOUtrition and together we are building our brand.

It tells of my total commitment to helping him heal as much as possible in a healthy way where his hurts and confusion are discussed and talked through, as and when he needs those conversations.

I write about where I am now, where we are now in our relationship, our closeness, our friendship, our love and understanding.

My sobriety is easy and I do not attend any interventions or have any therapy or support.  I just don’t drink.  Even after my first sober, truly painful experience of loss of a loved one, alcohol did not enter my mind. I even have alcohol in the house, I just don’t see it.

My book is not a “woe is me” exercise. I do not attempt to deflect responsibility away from myself or to apportion blame to anyone else for my choices.  I own both my drunkenness and my sobriety.

It is simply honest, painful, uplifting and inspiring. It offers a different view on recovery, which works for me so easily where accepted interventions didn’t.

It is ultimately a letter of love to my son, an apology , which he can re-read as he grows stronger, one that will help him know and understand that he always was, and always will be my Number One.