This week marks my second attempt to quit sugar. Sugar. That appealing, seductive, addictive vice that comes in the tempting guises of pretty coloured cupcakes, tasty Thai dishes, and blocks of smooth, velvety chocolate that leaves you wanting more. No more. I have a compelling reason for breaking my ties with sugar. I have an autoimmune disease, and as is largely documented, sugar equals inflammation equals so many health issues that can be avoided or at the very least, alleviated with abstinence. Forget the countless mentions on the internet, in health magazines and pop science sections of the weekend lift-outs, I’m going on my own experiential evidence to back my reason for quitting, again.
When I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I went into a state of denial, sadness, anger, a little bit of whoa is me, but then I got a grip and started doing some research. One common factor in all my reading was that lifestyle, namely diet, stress and exercise seem to have an influence. Aside from that, there is a lot of conflicting advice- you can eliminate dairy, legumes, grains, gluten, nightshades, acidic foods, meat- you name it, there is a claim of its connection somewhere, so filtering through all that information and finding what worked for me was quite a challenge, but one that seemed to me a better alternative than the drugs with some nasty side effects which ironically also include the very symptoms that inflammation causes.
Stress? Yes I had loads of it in my life then and for much of my life prior to diagnosis. Stress was one thing I had to avoid – easier said than done! I am still working on stress management and though I know the benefits of meditation, I struggle with making it a daily practice.
Exercise and yoga? I was doing plenty of that, so a big tick on heading in the right direction there. Right now though, there is little of either, but something else to add to the lifestyle changes I would like to make, with quitting sugar being the beginning.
Diet? I was already a pescatarian, and I briefly tried but failed to eliminate nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, chilli to name a few). I didn’t forego dairy, but I reduced it. Post-diagnosis, my first major dietary change was gluten, probably influenced by the plethora of claims of gluten being the cause of all evil and the rising popularity of the paleo diet. I can tell you, it is a lot easier to avoid sugar than gluten. I briefly had an overlap of avoiding sugar and gluten. Add that to explaining to people what pescatarian meant, and I was that awkward person that nobody wants to cater for or go out for a shared meal with. Continue reading