Monday, 19 October 2015

I'm Quitting Sugar

No! Don't panic! You haven't come to the wrong blog! Textile Treasury will continue to be the same as it always was, a mixture of textiles, music, food and family and whatever else is currently tickling my wayward fancy. However, since I decided to nail my colours to the mast and post on face book that I intended giving up sugar, I've had so many requests for information and updates I thought it would be easier to blog about the experience and keep the information in one place. Someone suggested I start a blog (!) but to be honest it is all I can do to keep up with posting on here. So I thought I would dedicate one post a month to Quitting Sugar, and if it doesn't float your boat, you can just scroll past that particular post each time it rolls around.

I shall be pretty open and frank here as I know that there are a lot of folks out there who are interested in the whys and wherefores of quitting  sugar. I'll make a couple of disclaimers first. Although I have a nursing and public health background, I am in no way presenting this information as a substitute for your own research and medical input. Also, this is about our PERSONAL experience (Jim is wholeheartedly supporting and joining me in this) and the way I approach it will be highly individual; I'm not proselytising. You do your own thing and I'm making no judgements, but I have been asked to do this.

Also I don't want to make these posts too word- heavy, there's nothing more off-putting I think than wedges of unrelieved text. So the information will be stretched out over the months. I will give you some suggested reading and viewing, however so you can do your own research.

There is a lot of information out there, the media have latched on to this grudgingly, as it has meant them contradicting their long-time love-affair with the low-fat philosophy embraced by most of us in the western world for a couple of decades. If you search the archives of, say, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent here in the UK you will find several articles, and I'm sure there are more world-wide.

My own introduction came initially from a book I bought in a supermarket, written by Sarah Wilson, called " I Quit Sugar For Life". I bought it, flicked through it, and put it on the coffee table. And that's all I did.

Now at this point, as many of you know, I was cooking a fairly healthy menu in this house. I cook mainly from scratch, I don't use polyunsaturated fats, and I love olive and coconut oil. Processed meals seldom find their way into the house and we don't really have much in the way of junk. We eat lots of fruit and vegetables, bread is usually wholemeal and often homemade, and I tried to keep the fat content down. I tried juicing but was not entirely convinced. I've read a lot about various diets over the years - heck, I've tried most of them! And my weight has soared. I have asthma, and a poorly functioning thyroid, both of which conditions mean I take medication. Once a year I catch a cold, it becomes bronchitis and I am them laid very low with an exacerbation of asthma, all requiring antibiotics and oral steroids, which I hate taking, but I do. This happens less frequently since retiring and not being in close contact with a lot of poorly children with respiratory infections! Being overweight is bad for my health and bad for my mental health; I HATE being overweight and it gets me down very badly at times. Lately I have been getting more and more concerned about what lies in store for me, health-wise - as you do when you get to my age!

So there you have the background story. Overweight, desperate to find a way I could feed us healthily without getting hung up about it, and needing to take care of the old bod. To the rescue comes my daughter-in-law in New Zealand, Krissie. Without making a fuss about it, Krissie had been taking on board some of the food concerns I had raised over the years, and begun to use coconut oil to fry with, increasing their veggies, and having seen an online video about quitting sugar, had enlisted the support of her husband, our son Kit. An ex-Royal Marine Kit likes to keep very fit, but along with all the healthy stuff, and the running he does, Kit was consuming a lot of sweet stuff. A LOT. And so was Krissie. They watched the video, decided to give the quitting sugar a try, and went for it. And with three children and both having full-time busy, responsible jobs, that was no mean feat. Krissie sent me the video link and I came to the same conclusion. I remembered the book I'd bought and re-read it. I also read a lot of other, more medically-based papers, and watched a load of youtube videos both from a lay perspective, and from a medical, evidenced based perspective. I even watched Jamie Oliver's "Sugar Rush" video, but I can't find it on-line anymore . What I discovered made me angry, worried, and determined to get this stuff out of my life. I discussed it with Jim and he said not only would he support me but he would do the same. I won't go into detail about the information I gathered here, but I'll give you a couple of suggestions to have a look for yourselves.

Sarah Wilson "I Quit Sugar" and "I Quit Sugar For Life: menus and recipes" is a good start and she has a website, blog and Facebook page, for practical information on how to get started.

Dr ROBERT LUSTIG is a paediatric endocrinologist, and he has written "The Bitter Truth" and  "Fat Chance" and his videos were the final spur for getting me started. I urge you to watch them, easily found on youtube. He speaks only to evidenced data, and he goes into the bio-chemistry if you are interested. But his passion, and anger at the untruths which have been foisted on the world by industries with vested interests only in their own profits, will be very enlightening. DAVID GILLESPIE is another  name, an Australian lawyer who was concerned about his weight, found out about the sugar trap and challenged himself to quit. His book "Sweet Poison" came out to great acclaim down-under and he ask has several videos on you-tube. A mother's point of view can be read about / watched  in the book by EVE SCHAUB  "A Year of No Sugar"and video of the same name.  That should get you started , or just inform you.

This is not the Atkins diet, in fact it isn't any diet. We quit sugar, processed foods, and anything marked "Low Fat".  Next month I'll give you a run down on what we DO eat, and why, and I'll give you an update on how we are doing.

For now, we have been sugar-free for just a week. We have totally enjoyed our food, and plenty of it. Even after only 5-6 days we notice our taste-buds are sparklingly alive - flavours are enhanced quite naturally. My complexion is a little clearer (I have very rosacea-prone skin) I have no desire to snack between meals because I am regaining my appestat (more of which next time) and I feel full. My rings had been getting a bit tight and now they are looser, and my feet are no longer swollen by evening time. Oh, and I lost 2lb. Not a huge amount, but satisfying, especially when you consider we have not cut back on our meals, and are eating full-fat.

So there you have it. The I'm Quitting Sugar Post. I hope I haven't bored you to death. I'm sorry for the text-heavy, photograph- light post. I hope I've whetted your appetites (so to speak!) to find out more for yourselves, but most of all I hope you'll keep on reading Textile Treasury so we can continue the lovely conversation we've been having for the past  three years or more.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Still Cooking up a Storm

Life is fairly tranquil at the moment; busy, but tranquil. Mum hovers between really lucid days, and days like yesterday, when she seemed quite confused, and we spent a long time talking about family members and events, to try and anchor her down in reality. I know her condition is progressive, she won't be getting better, but it is so sad at times, being with her. Then she'll say something so funny we both have a good laugh and a cuddle, and it seems we may manage after all, for a while.

I did a craft fair at Fakenham Makers Market last week and sold a quilt to a lovely couple. They were expectant grandparents and I even got to see the ultra-sound scan print-out! My stand was near the entrance to the church which was a great spot as I was able to spread myself out.

The quilt I sold was the very end one on the left, a folk sampler I made some years ago; it has lots of small images for a little one to point to and learn from. The couple were so pleased with it, I hope the new parents are as well!

I also sold a Japanese pouch, some post cards, several pincushions, and a needle case. Not huge sales, but the quilt made a heck of a difference. I have just one more craft fair this year, at Shipden Church later this month.

Meanwhile I'm still enjoying being busy in the kitchen, more jelly making, using a generous bagful of apples from next door -

Note the somewhat improved Heath Robinson jelly-straining apparatus! Though because of the long drop I did get a few splashes on the wall, which was easily cleaned this morning.

I've really got into the middle-eastern / Mediterranean cooking lately. Jim loves it and it's such a joy to prepare. Mind you, I have the luxury of not being at work any more, I can spend hours in the kitchen. It is so much harder to be creative with your cookery if you have a young family to consider, or work outside the home - or both! We were discussing at lunch time what a double edged sword the whole supermarket thing has been for British women in particular. Liberating in many ways, I feel we really threw the baby out with the bath water,  in so many others.

This was part of a mezze table I laid on last week. On the left, a dish of gigantes - butter beans slowly cooked in a sauce of onions, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil. I cannot begin to tell you how delicious these were, I shall be making them again soon. Very easy, and very quick  -  I used tinned butter beans - and cheap. With flat bread and a salad they are a complete meal, and you can eat them hot, warm or  cool. Next to them is a dish of chick-pea hummus, which we ate with flat bread and raw vegetables. On the end some slow roasted peppers and tomatoes.

Another day I made some lamb meatballs in onion, garlic and tomato sauce, served with giant cous-cous, a nice change from rice or ordinary cous-cous. In the small bowl there's some baba ghanoush, Jim's all-time favourite, topped with a sprinkling of sumach.

And here is the Spanokopita I made this morning, only the second time I've made it, but to be honest it isn't terribly difficult or time consuming. A box of filo pastry, some ricotta, some grated Lancashire cheese because that is what I had in the fridge, a bag of spinach, half a medium onion, an egg, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, some olive oil and some melted butter to brown the top.  I made it in a medium deep cake pan, well oiled (the pan not me!) and it turned out beautifully. I can claim no real credit, because the filo pastry just ends up this way, when you fold over the overhanging ends, and use the final two pieces of pastry torn in half and scrunched to give this lovely effect. We'll have it for lunch tomorrow with some left over roasted pepper and tomatoes, and perhaps some flatbread if I can get it right this time!

So there you have it. Still can't get back into the music, sadly but I am listening to it in the car now. We are well into autumn now, having seen the last of those lovely warm sunny days we were unexpectedly gifted with. The clocks will soon be going back, and once more my car clock will read the correct time! For another six months, anyway!