healthy living, healthy living, quitting sugar, wellbeing

“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you … right?!” … (IQuitSugar Week 6)

Game, set and nearly match!!! …

This week has had some real “challenges”… pushing me WAY beyond my “comfort zone” – one in which I was actually starting to feel quite warm and snug! Those lovely people at the “I Quit Sugar Program” (IQSP), encouraged us to “get out in to the real world” and see how easy it is to eat sugar-free meals, suggesting we try a couple of different restaurants during the week, at different times of the day…

With my wedding anniversary – conveniently – popping up this week, my first thought was “I have SO got this one in the bag – simples!” But then… after thinking things through a bit more, the thought started to fill me with dread. For the last 5 weeks, everything has been on my terms, on “home-turf” so to say… where I’ve had ultimate control over the ingredients I’ve used, knowing with certainty whether they DID or DID NOT contain added sugar… So the thought of ‘losing control’, simply not knowing or having any control over the sugar content of the food I would eat, made my initial feelings of confidence fade… rapidly! I couldn’t believe I’d gotten so used to the snug and warmth of my little world that I’d made myself…

I know very well (through prior experience) that fear leads to avoidance (No, not to Hate… this isn’t Star Wars!) and that we tend to build things up to be bigger problems than they really are and this I was also finding SO ironic… why? because I’ve actually found eating only at home to be pretty restrictive and this feeling truly conflicted with the “food freedom” I’ve actually found by following the IQSP so far… I’ve reduced my emotional eating, eaten REAL food (in abundance!) and no more counting calories or stressing over the full-fat / low-fat debate… It’s been SO great to just eat real, wholesome, nutrient-dense food and to become more educated and aware (wow what a list of advantages!) so WHY should I now limit myself to home!

So, let’s go back to how this “process” actually played itself out during the week, for which, I need to get back to my wedding anniversary… my darling (one of the polite things I call him ) hubby had booked us a “surprise” long-weekend away at Ayres Rock Resort! and it was on finding this out that – despite the initial reaction of SENSATIONAL! – my “fears” reared their ugly heads and I started to question the sense of control, freedom I would have to manage my sugar intake… this anxiety then flared into a firework of celebratory negative thoughts!

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If I could have harnessed all the negative energy, I could have saved hubby my plane fare and fueled my own bloody plane to the resort! Luckily though, they were only fleeting thoughts and yes totally normal given the circumstances – after all, we all have some form of negative thinking patterns right?! …

After arriving and settling ourselves in – which was beyond easy and OMG! what a fantastic resort – I dragged hubby off to investigate and found that it wasn’t going to be the meals that were the problem, with a sensational buffet-style menu that listed the likes of “Barramundi with Lemon Myrtle Cream Sauce”, “Seafood in a Saffron Tomato & Fennel Sauce”, “Braised Lamb, Native Thyme, Rigatoni Pasta, Peas & Shaved Pecorino”… from this, there appeared to be no challenge at all… well, except to just NOT over-eat!

Yes, “portion control” was what I found myself screaming in my head… although, as it was our anniversary, I may just have ignored that inner voice a few times! …  but I did focus on portions of sugar – maybe “proportions” would be better here. I accepted that there would be “some” sugar in the sauces but overall the proportions were acceptable and pretty minimal – I took a deep breath, realized that this was totally going to be OK and dived right in! … guess what? I ate pretty much what I wanted and… “Nothing” and I repeat “NOTHING” bad happened! Sugar is NOT my enemy…

In fact, after spending the last 5 weeks recalibrating my “set point” this AMAZING trip just confirmed that my tastes have changed and that I’m now naturally choosing sugar free foods… my breakfasts for example were sublime, with freshly prepared “Eggs Benedict” and “Omelets”… that offered so many real, wholesome fillings to choose from it was unreal!  I didn’t deny myself any of the more “sugary delights” either (gasp shock horror!)… Yes, I tasted the jam filled Pastries and Croissants which, HONESTLY, I found bland and tasteless… not even that sweet! I much preferred the richness and creaminess of full fats… the one thing that for years, I would have totally avoided!  In hindsight, I’m convinced that by breaking the rules, testing boundaries… I’ve reduced the “hold” that sugar had over me and now know for certain that I’m making an informed choice and NOT – as some might think – blindly following the IQSP.

Fortunately for me, I’m not being forced to reduce my sugar intake for any health reasons – this was always about a personal lifestyle CHOICE… but if I hadn’t had this experience I could see that I would have easily let my personal rules, values and need for control tie me up in knots, ultimately restricting myself … that’s if I’d allowed them to! … but I thought why the hell should I throw away my freedom of choice?!  With no health worries, I’m able to choose what, when and where I eat… on my own terms… and if that includes sugar sometimes, then so be it! Just to be clear, this in no way means I’ve lost faith in IQSP… far from it! I will continue to be cautious of restaurant menus; it’s just that I no longer see sugar as the “demon ingredient” it once was…  and thus fears and anxieties are gone! In fact, I’ve found this mindset really helps when talking with others about a menu; it’s just SO much easier when you’re relaxed!

So for our anniversary meal over the weekend at Ayres Rock, this meant that I simply focused on the menu in terms of the flavours I know I like – which is what everyone normally does anyway, right?! I didn’t specifically focus on or ask about the sugar content (the negatives), I simply explained my preferences to the staff in the restaurant and in return I got some fantastic recommendations. We even joked about how the “Kombucha  Bondi Batter” would be so much lighter than the mix the chef used – laughing about which of us should tell the chef! – I backed out of that one… deciding on the lamb instead followed by an AWESOME cheesecake (because desserts are TOTALLY allowed on your wedding anniversary!) which – after asking – turned out was made with macadamia nuts – beyond smooth!!

In the end, I managed to approach the weekend as less of a challenge and more of an experience!

This immediately took away any perception of difficulty or concern about failing a challenge. I allowed myself the CHOICE and did not deny myself anything from the menu. This clear CHOICE (balanced against what was available and what, if any, compromises I was willing to make) meant I couldn’t fail… and the weekend became more about exploring my “new” taste preferences and thinking how much these had changed since starting the IQSP. After all, let’s face it, whether you’ve decided to give up sugar or not… it’s very rare to find exactly what we want on any menu!

In conclusion, what I found from the challenge set by the IQSP to “get out in to the real world” and my amazing trip to the Ayres Rock resort, is that some eateries – yes, I appreciate probably not all – will and do go out of their way to help us with our enjoyment of the food we prefer and if it can be done, they are willing to offer alternatives or changes. So, with the most fantastic wedding anniversary tucked literally under my belt (I ate so much!) and week 7 of the IQSP fast approaching, I now have to concentrate on portion control, PORTION control, PORTION CONTROL!…

OH! There’s just one last thing that I need to share with you… Another of the “challenges” from the week that I mentioned right at the beginning… well, it’s said that a picture can paint a thousand words so, here are a few pictures of me, wrapped up warm, under an amazing star-filled sky at Ayres Rock resort… eating kangaroo!! Just don’t laugh as much as hubby did… I might get a complex!

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6 thoughts on ““If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you … right?!” … (IQuitSugar Week 6)”

  1. I love this! I totally appreciate and agree with your approach to eating out – I do the same thing – including dessert, if I want it! I think quitting sugar is all about making informed choices. PS, love the kangaroo pics! 🙂

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  2. So many thoughts sounds so familiar to me reading this! About emotional eating and that whole process. It’s great that you have been able to find food freedom! Quitting sugar has helped me find that too (for the most part!). So glad to hear you had a great time away, because that’s what it is all about in the end. We only live once 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true Zoe we must enjoy each & every moment, explore the opportunities we are given in life for sure …. each day also gets easier with the emotional baggage, l’d like to think l’ve unpacked most of mine now but every now & then l find that odd dirty sock 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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