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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

WHY SUGAR AND I CAN'T BE FRIENDS


Before I quit sugar the first time I had started to turn a deathly shade of grey.  I ate all day long, anything that I could get my hands on.  My stomach was as round as a football, I frequently doubled over in pain.  Even my closest friends began to suspect I had a secret eating disorder as my weight continued to plummet.  I was so fatigued that I needed to take several naps a day.  This was my life, day in, day out for several years. Unsurprisingly it was soon accompanied by deep depression, a hole so dark that I wasn't sure I would ever claw my way back out. During this time I visited countless doctors, soothsayers, potion makers, specialists and healers.  Everybody had a different diagnoses, everybody offered a different cure and yet my condition stayed the same. Eventually I decided I had had enough, I was not going to continue living my life like this, so I made a pact. I bought a one way ticket to Germany, the last place I had felt happy and well.  With a strength I hadn't known for a long time, I decided to give myself a year in which to do everything in my power to get well. And so my journey to recovery began.

Through the help of an amazing doctor in Germany (to whom I will be forever grateful) it was discovered that my body was over run with candida.  Candida is one of those sneaky illness' caused by an imbalance in the gut that can wreck havoc with your body. The Candida Diet website describes candida as being 'a pathogen that takes advantage of a disruption in the balance of microorganisms in your gut'.  Candida thrives on sugar and yeast.  In my case it was literally eating up everything I was consuming, leaving my body in a malnutrition
state.  The week after visiting this doctor, I left on a two month backpacking adventure through Spain and Portugal with several close friends.  The whole time I carted around a small bag of homeopathic remedies to help begin the process of taming the candida and repairing the damage it had done.  The combination of the right medication, the warm Mediterranean climate and great company slowly lifted me out of my hole.  My the end of the two month adventure I had piled on some much needed weight, my skin was glowing and my smile was huge. However it took my several setbacks to realise that as somebody prone to candida, I needed to make some permanent lifestyle changes.

Like most people, I was consuming sugar without really realising it.  I would drink a glass of orange juice at breakfast, a hot chocolate in the afternoon, a bakery treat every other day (because it's hard not to when you're in Germany!).  Before hitting town on the weekends we would knock back a few vodka redbulls and I always stored a couple of muesli bars in my bag in case I got hungry.  I didn't consider my diet to be particularly healthy, but I also wasn't eating bags of lollies and ice cream everyday either.  It wasn't until I had moved back to New Zealand to study but was also working two jobs, and dare I say it partying rather hard, that I found my health spiraling out of control again.  When I contacted my doctor in Germany he immediately suggested a strict no sugar/ white flour/ yeast/ alcohol/ fruit diet.  In doing this the candida is literally starved back into submission.

Quitting sugar cold turkey sends your body into a tornado of withdrawal symptoms not unlike that of a drug addict.  Not only are you fighting an incredible craving for anything sweet but you're also feeling the physical side effects as you detox.  The first time I did this I thought I was on deaths door.  My head ached, my body ached, I went from having constipation to diarrhea and back again, I was so fatigued I could barely function and worst of all were the toxins seeping out of my body in any way they could.  I literally smelt like a damp tea towel that had been left in a corner to collect mildew.  My eyes watered, my nose ran and I was constantly in a cold sweat. Thankfully this didn't last for long.  After a couple of weeks I began noticing immense changes, it was as though a veil had been lifted from over me.  Suddenly my mind was crystal clear, a would wake in the morning bursting with energy and enthusiasm for the day, my cravings for anything sugary had completely disappeared and my senses were alert.  I felt super human.  I swore never to put anything bad into my body again! 

Of course over time I slipped back into bad habits, particularly in times of stress.  However I made some permanent lifestyle changes that I've held onto ever since.  I never drink sugary drinks anymore, even during setbacks I still only allowed myself to have one sweet treat a day, and I remained in-tune with myself enough to know when the candida was creeping back.  For years now I have done regular sugar free diets in order to steer my body back to its neutral point.  The severity of the detox always differs depending on how bad I've let things get, but the results are the same.

Despite knowing how wonderful it feels not to have a system poisoned by sugar there's no sense in declaring I will never let a grain of it pass my lips again.  I'll continue to indulge in a piece of birthday cake, the occasional Sunday waffles drizzled with maple syrup or a bite of my beloved cream donuts.  However I will never let myself get back to the place I once was.  Not only do I not want to be overcome with candida again, but I also want nothing to do with type two diabetes and all the other lifestyle related diseases that are so common in our society now.  Our bodies work so hard for us and I feel we owe it to them to at least nourish ourselves adequately.


Helpful links:
The Candida Diet 
I Quit Sugar
The Sugar Film
 

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