At the end of January, this year, I met with a friend of mine, a qualified nutritionist at some sessions she provided to a group of people wanting to change their eating habits, loose some weight and make changes to their lifestyles to improve their health. One of the things she and I worked through was my daily food intake and what I was eating and drinking. I was shocked and surprised to discover that on most days, I was consuming well over the recommended amount of sugar ( the NHS recommendation is 50g/day for a woman) simply due to the amount of juice/sugary drinks I was having.
Before I carry on with this blog post, I want point out that this is not me lecturing anyone on what to eat or drink, or how to manage their lifestyle. I am NOT one of those sanctimonious health gurus trying to tell people what to do. I am trying to make some changes for my own health and well being, and for my family, and after a lot of reading, and research, I personally have cut back on some things to help me with that.
I tend to work on the basis that “everything in moderation” is a sensible way to live. I love broccoli, but too much of it is not going to be good for me (and probably render me unsociable to be around 😉 ) chocolate, as a treat is lovely, bacon in a sandwich is fine, the odd cake isn’t going to do you any harm, if you are living an active and healthy life. We do however, need to fuel our bodies properly, to help them work and not give out on us before they should. That isn’t something new to anyone. We all know what we eat helps our bodies, and that too much of anything is likely to not be that good for us.
I have two weak areas in my eating habits. I love my pasta, breads and processed carbohydrates, and I also used to love drinking sweet drinks. A nice cold glass of apple juice here, a long drink of fruit squash (and we don’t use squash with artificial sweeteners in, so what we do use has sugar in some form or other) a can of “sparkling elderflower cordial”, a glass of cola with ice and lemon at the end of the day. Add in the dollop of syrup in my coffee or the spoonful of sugar in my coffee, and then perhaps the odd cake or biscuit and on some days, I was consuming 80-100g of sugar, without even adding what is in the foods I was eating.
THAT’S a LOT of SUGAR! Two glasses of apple juice, a can of cola or a pre bought smoothie, and two cups of sweetened coffee and I am over the limit. That means if I have a pot of low fat yoghurt, which contains sugar, or an ice cream, or a cake, or some chocolate, I am taking in far more sugar than my body can burn off. That for me equals calories that my body isn’t shifting, which means weight gain, or not being able to loose weight. I thought that because the juice I was drinking was made from fruit, that it wasn’t doing me any harm. When I stopped drinking it, I could see that actually, it wasn’t actually doing me much good.
So, I went cold turkey. I stopped the juice consumption. I haven’t had a glass of apple juice or fruit squash since January, I have dramatically cut back on the amount of sweetener I have in my coffee, and any “juice” I make at home, for myself is mainly from vegetables, with some fruit added, but not processed or pre packaged juice. If I really want a cola, I have a diet cola. Because I don’t think that artificial sweeteners are that good for me either, I try to minimise how many of those I have too. Once a week at most.
Without sounding like some sort of miracle has occurred, the simple act of giving up sugar in this form helped me, along with sensible eating, and increasing my exercise as much as my injured knee will allow, has meant I have managed to loose almost 14lb in weight. I haven’t worked that hard on my eating habits other wise, but just ditching my sugary little habit has really helped.
And now the real rub. I don’t actually like juice any more. When we were away, just LSH and I, for our weekend, he ordered me some orange juice for breakfast, one morning, forgetting that I wasn’t drinking juice. It was freshly squeezed, and looked good, so I thought I had better not waste it, and drank some of it. It tasted horrible. I tried some of his apple juice, and that tasted equally revolting to me. My palate has changed and I no longer want to drink lots of sweetened or juice drinks.
This has also had an indirect affect on how I feed my children and what I give them to drink. They no longer have fruit juices or squash, in their lunchboxes. They have water. They no longer drink juice during the day, or with meals. They have milk (coconut or goats milk, due to intolerances) or water. They do have a smoothie for breakfast, but it’s one I make for them, and I sneak a lot of veggies in there too. Juice is treat when we are eating out, or for meals at the weekend. They don’t even ask for it any more and I haven’t had to replace the bottle of juice that lurks in my pantry cupboard, for weeks, in fact, probably a good month or two. I do think there is too much sugar in the pre prepared foods we buy. I am working on other areas of reducing some of the sugar we consume, but it’s baby steps and simply to help keep us healthier. We still like our treats, and nice things, we are just working on consuming them a little more sensibly.
So, if you offer me a cold glass of fresh juice, or a tempting bottle of fizzy cordial, I will turn you down, and ask for a glass of water instead. No juice please, I just don’t like it anymore…