Confessions of a chocoholic health freak

I have always been a relatively healthy person, largely due to my upbringing. My parents were of the organic produce purchasing variety and were always very conscious of the food we had in the house.

Unfortunately, this relative famine of treats meant that as soon as a tub of ice-cream or packet of chocolate biscuits were in the house they were devoured in about thirty seconds flat. Which I believe is a lesson to parents – allow treats, but in moderation.

Like there are dog people and cat people, when it comes to food there are sweet people and savoury people and I have always been more inclined towards sweets. Whether this is due to the deprivation of sweets throughout my childhood, I am not sure. What I do know is that given half an opportunity I will devour chocolate and cake like there is no tomorrow.

Some of you will know about my cold turkey from chocolate. It is going really well so far – two and a half months going strong. Once the cravings have been overcome the amazing thing is you start to lose the insatiable appetite you once had for sweets.

So you can walk past the chocolate aisle or the bakery at the supermarket and not feel pangs for sugary goodness. It is a fantastic stage to get to, but you need to work through the hard times to get to it.

It may be difficult to believe it after hearing about how much of a sugar fiend I am but generally speaking I try to eat healthily.

You see, I am a creature of habit and that has worked wonders in terms of my healthy eating regime. I eat a homemade salad everyday at work (saves money and calories) and I try to incorporate healthy snacks like nuts and yoghurt into my diet. Dinner tends to be vegetables and brown rice with salmon.

Many people have told me that they would struggle with eating this way and I must admit that I have felt a little uninspired from time to time with eating so healthily and with such little variety. On the other hand, I feel so much better for it and I feel that my health and wellbeing will thank me for it later.

The other reason I eat healthily is so that I can get some leeway on the weekends. Some people call these cheat days, I don’t call them anything in particular, though I consider weekends to be free reign and I will often eat cakes or burgers or pizzas or pastas whilst still trying to fit some salads and veges somewhere in the mix.

I always think that one must have something to live for and food brings so much joy to my life that I still want to be able to eat delicious food – some of which may not always be healthy.

The thing I have learnt is that if you eat healthily most of the time it is perfectly acceptable to have those days where you eat a burger or cake or fish and chips. If you don’t treat yourself you can end up deprived and ready to snap, which may mean devouring an entire packet of crisps or a block of chocolate, and nobody wants to be doing that.

So the core lesson is treat yourself, but not everyday. Eat treats in moderation, but when you do eat them savour them and try not to overdo it. A lesson I have had to learn the hard way.

Cold turkey

I have decided that it is time to go cold turkey off of chocolate again. This may seem a little extreme to your average person who can eat a couple of pieces a day and call it quits, but I am simply not one of those lucky people. I don’t go by individual units of chocolate – I count by rows. And while I may be able to limit myself to one row of chocolate on the first day that a king size block is in the house, by day two I am up to two rows, and then the next day it is three, and quicker than you know it the whole block is gone and I have the realization that I am back to square one as far as chocolate consumption is concerned.

Now this may not rate as a terrible addiction to anyone who has seen one of those documentaries about people who eat a king size block all in one go by themselves, in addition to an entire pizza, two burgers and a two litre bottle of coke, but it starts to become a problem when one cannot fit into one’s pants anymore. So I have decided to start with eliminating chocolate and see where it takes me. I hope that I will be back to sliding into my size 10s in no time. If I can just stay clear of that magical aisle beckoning me with the promise of sugary goodness…

If we are looking at the bigger picture, I think we must hone in on the root of the problem – I am essentially addicted to sugar. In recent years there has been a massive sugar backlash with an array of people presenting their case for the poisoning effects of sugar. The fact that it is bad for us surely surprises no one, the fact that it may be better for you to eat fat instead is a bit of a surprise. Apparently, back when we were hunter-gatherers sugar was extremely scarce, so when we got a taste of it our bodies would clutch at it and desperately hold on to it and it would not satiate our hunger. Now that sugar is no longer scarce, we can eat seemingly limitless amounts of sugar and never be satisfied. Anyone who has been confronted by a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups knows that this is true.

My day is buoyed by my consumption of sugar. Work is the worst place for my sugar addiction, namely because my workplace is packed with an impressive number of bakers who are constantly luring me to their desks with the promise of carrot/chocolate/hummingbird/lolly/blueberry cakes. I at least have the willpower to wait until after lunch to consume said cakes, which seems to impress some of my colleagues. Shame I can’t seem to stretch my willpower to actually refrain from eating the cakes in the first place, but willpower has to start somewhere. The good thing is, I have a plan. As an extension of my no chocolate diet, I’m cutting down on cake. I’m only allowed one dessert food a week starting from today. Here’s hoping that no one brings red velvet cupcakes to work tomorrow.

When I was vacationing in Melbourne I stopped into a cute little boutique and had a conversation with a friendly shop assistant dressed in a fabulous vintage 50s inspired ensemble. How we got started on the topic of sugar I can’t recall, but I was relieved to discover that I am not the only person suffering from sugar addiction. This girl, who found herself flagging mid-morning only to take refuge in a sugary treat to get her through till lunchtime, was actually on the verge of cutting out sugar all together and that, she explained to me, included cutting out fruit. That’s right, fruit! Which I have always been told is good for me. Apparently it contains fructose which only works to feed the addiction and if you are to curb your appetite for sweets 24/7 you have to cut absolutely everything with sugar content. Which doesn’t leave terribly much in the grand scheme of things seeing as sugar is in everything.

Goodness, if I was to go strict on myself about this I guess I could forfeit my morning kiwifruit and afternoon pear, but my sanity is far too important to me to go that far. I still need a little sweetness in my life – it just means I can only eat natural sugars. As long as that is not a sliding slope back to chocolate, cupcakes and donuts, I am fine with that. We shall see how I go.