Decades ago I noticed that when I ate bread (any type) for breakfast I’d be hungry all day and eat twice as much that day as any other. I wanted to kick eating bread out of my diet but my husband said he’d die if he couldn’t eat bread. He was incredibly skinny back then so he probably had a legitimate fear, had we cut those calories completely out of our diet and not replaced them. I don’t I told him how we’d replace them, and back then I probably would have replaced them with cake as it didn’t have the same effect on me. That came later.
I did have a small win a couple of decades ago while the children were young – we switched from bread 7 days a week to only a couple, using crackers such as Saladas as a substitute. I noticed that it was easier for me to say no to that extra cracker. A bonus was that because we weren’t eating sandwiches a lot of the sugary sandwich fillings disappeared from my diet too. My kids were home educated so that meant I didn’t have the issue of coming up with ideas for school lunches. I stopped regular baking too: we were having a cake or a batch of scones every day and if we made biscuits they wouldn’t last more than a couple of hours. However the shops were just down the road and we have an awesome award winning bakery in town! The kilos continued to pile on…
Fast forward to last year – we’re almost completely grain free, having given up cakes and biscuits but we were still fond of desserts and had them everyday. They were usually fruit based, but topped with icecream or cream or crumble or meringue. And we drank a lot of iced coffee and chocolate which is as loaded with sugar as those fizzy drinks. Our sweet tooth was still dictating our dietary habits. One thing both of us noticed as we gradually gave up grains over the years is that neither of us wanted or needed an early breakfast. We’d have a cuppa in the morning and not eat until 10.30am most days.
What we had gradually done over the years in cutting back on grains in our diet was replaced them with vegetables. Where most people we knew would have a few sliced of steamed carrot on their plate we’d have a whole carrot each. I’d buy a broccoli head and we’d have a quarter each. Veggies never made into the fridge at our place. We’d eat 250g of mushrooms each. Our plates were full of veggies. Our meat portions gradually shrunk as well to what was recommended. I began experimenting more with different spices and sauces. And we opted for dips and veggie sticks and a punnet of strawberries instead of traditional picnic fare. We also started buying and eating more nuts, replacing grains with almond meal, LSA, and ground nuts.
I’ve been following Michael’s TV series over the past couple of years and like his style and his integrity. I reflected that I was studiously avoiding watching that sugar movie that is doing the rounds – I understood and knew the message as my mum had been diabetic for close on 20 years (died of a heart attack at 82). Michael’s approach to the subject in his documentary was personal and it struck with me and it helped that I already trusted him as a doctor and a presenter.
We had resolved to go grain free last September and apart from eating rice in various forms had managed to stay that way without any problems. I think we ate about dozen things that had wheat in them over the next 6 months. My husband, thanks to our incredibly long transition to becoming wheat free, had no objections and didn’t feel any hungrier because he wasn’t eating those foods regularly. We had decided that we’d follow up grain free with sugar free beginning in the new year but this didn’t happen. We procrastinated. It was hard to kick the habit. Neither of us felt attached to sugar in particular; we both recognised our sweet tooth was more of an entrenched habit. We looked for that sweet taste after every meal.
A month ago we both started the BSD diet giving ourselves a week to adjust. Our first week our carbs were fairly high (I had never focused on counting carbs before and it was a whole new area of learning for me) and our calories around the 1200 mark. All we did was cut out the desserts, and sweet and savoury snacks and commercially produced iced coffees and chocolate drinks. We didn’t change our basic diet at all. It was already close to what Michael recommends in his book. And that made going on the 800FastBSD really easy.
I’m not sure I would have been able to stick to the diet without this preparation work. Having mental health issues dieting had always been difficult for me. I knew that dieting couldn’t be about denying myself food I loved, it had to be about changing habits. I knew that I had to diet to save my life rather than lose weight: being overweight was too emotionally charged for me. I was still allowing being called a fatty as a child to injure me. My mother’s condemning words on arrival seemingly every time she came to visit our family, “You’ve put on weight” still echoed in my head and I was still beating myself up for every kilo I’d put on over the years. All 42 of them! Grain based food comforted me as a child and it was hard to give up that comfort.
Learning to love myself and heal my emotional and psychological wounds have been as important as giving up grains and it’s been a deliberately slow and gradual work. I’ve forgiven myself time and again for not being slim and trim and for falling off diet bandwagons. I knew that one day I’d get there but didn’t realise how ill I had to become before I became desperate enough to give up sugar. And even then the threat of death didn’t motivate me. I’m a grandma now and those precious little people assume that I’m going to be around forever. I don’t want to disappoint them. That motivation has helped galvanise my commitment to stick to the Blood Sugar Diet, not just to lose this weight but to stay in a healthy weight range forever.