Tag Archives: addiction

Coke Schmoke

Grant WilliamsHi all

It’s now been more than three weeks since I last took so much as a sip of Coke/Diet Coke of any kind.  That’s rather cool 🙂  Odd as it feels now, I really didn’t think I’ve ever be able to cope without it.  In those three weeks, I’ve done my best to avoid all forms of artificial sweetener too, though I’ve been amazed at how difficult that is if you’re not really studying labels.

Just to give you an example of what I mean by that, I took a little time to study the labels in the fizzy drink aisle of my local Morrison’s last week.  It’s not too surprising to find that all of the “no added sugar” drinks include artificial sweeteners.  What I was really surprised by was finding that the majority of the regular non-diet drinks also contained artificial sweeteners.  of the entire aisle of drinks, there were only three fizzy drinks that were sweetener-free.  For the record that was Coke and a couple of the less-common Fanta drinks.

That means that every time you’re drinking lemonade, or just about any other fizzy drink, you’re drinking sweeteners.  That’s quite scary.

Anyway, let me tell you a little about what it’s been like for me.  I went totally cold Turkey at first and was only drinking water.  That felt good, but it was also a little boring at times, so after a few days I began to drink Fruit Juice mixed with water, which gave me a lot more options, and was a lot more pleasant.  I’ve also bought some fizzy stuff as a treat every now and again, but only ones that use sugar to sweeten them.

So let’s summarise that for a moment.  I’ve gone from a world where I drank almost nothing other than fizzy drinks with artificial sweeteners in them to drinking mainly water, but with occasional fruit juices mixed with sparkling water, along with occasional sugar-based drinks.  I’m sure that in time there’s an argument that says that some of those should be removed from my diet altogether, but for now, I’m really happy with what I’ve achieved so far.

It wasn’t pleasant at first, but I feel absolutely fine now, and I’m really proud of myself for getting through the initial withdrawal symptoms.  What’s been most interesting to me is that I’ve also learnt a lot about the impact that the stuff that I drink has on my general appetite and well-being.  I can best explain it like this:

  • Artificial sweeteners trigger off cravings in me to simply eat
  • Now I’ve stopped the artificial sweeteners, I no longer have the same cravings
  • Drinks with added sugar trigger off cravings too, but not as strongly
  • Fruit juices can trigger off cravings as well, but less so than drinks with added sugar
  • I’m not sure if it classifies as a formal addiction, but the withdrawal symptoms from sweeteners and caffeine are very unpleasant
  • It’s easier to control the sugar cravings than the sweetener cravings
  • If I’m not sure whether something has sweeteners in it, it’s best to avoid it
  • I’ve noticed that if I have some fruit juice, I’ll want to have another glass straight away.  That’s diminished if I mix the fruit juice with water, and if I use carbonated water, it tastes nicer too.
  • I’ve noticed that if I have a drink with added sugar, I’ll WANT to have another glass straight away, but that if I have a glass of water, then the WANT goes away
  • I’ve noticed that if I have the second glass of sugary drink, whether fruit juice or added sugar stuff, then I’ll want to eat.  Whether it’s sweet or savoury doesn’t matter at all – I just want to eat.

So what does that mean?  Well it’s early days right now, but let me have a stab at some sort of conclusion:

I’ve always considered that the stuff that I’ve been drinking for my entire adult life had at worst a neutral impact on my weight, and probably helped keep it off.  Put bluntly, I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t drinking diet drinks, I’d be even fatter.  I’m starting to believe that there’s a fundamental lie in there, and that in ways that haven’t been properly explained, sweeteners can actually contribute to weight-gain.  I was watching a UK TV programme last week called The Men Who Made Us Thin, which takes a four-part look at the diet industry.  The third part discusses the impact of sweeteners on the brain, and suggests that it can trigger the desire to eat.

As for weight, I’ve been a lot less fussed about it recently – I’m cutting out sweeteners for health reasons rather than weight ones, and oddly enough, I’m losing weight.  Not lots, but I’ve replaced the sweetener drinks with a mix of water and sugary drinks and I’ve lost a few pounds.  What’s most impressive is that I feel a lot more in control of what I’m eating.  I’m still having bad days and bad meals, but I’m starting to identify the patterns in what I consume that trigger them.

For now, that’s progress.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man

 

Two Steps Forward; One Step Back

Morning everyone 🙂

Week 37 weigh-in completed and a +1 to bring me back down to earth.  The only surprise about this really was that the gain wasn’t greater – it has not been a good week, and I’m not sure how the gain has managed to stay so low.

There are some extenuating circumstances I guess – I’ve spent 8 of the last 14 days living in cheap hotels for one.  That brings a combination of limited food choices and a lack of gym/pool to work with for most of that time, which certainly doesn’t help, but it’s not the whole story.  Those things really just set the scene upon which I managed to eat relatively poorly every day this week, going over my points on every day, making poor choices where I had the opportunity to do better and generally sabotaging my progress.

I’ve not written about self-sabotage for a while, but this week has been a great example of that.  It’s an odd thing that happens on an irregular basis, but there does seem to be a pattern of sorts – whenever I’ve had a consistent period of weight-loss, particularly after a very good couple of weeks, this attitude of self-sabotage kicks in.  It leads to a period of me actively doing the wrong things and consciously making the wrong choices.

It’s the fact that it’s conscious that makes it difficult to grasp.  This isn’t something where I realise afterwards what I’ve been doing.  I’m fully aware of what I’m doing while I’m doing it; in fact I’m fully aware of it before I do it, which is probably even worse.  The awareness really ought to be enough to nip it in the bud, but it isn’t – it feels like I’m just watching it from the outside, and feeling completely powerless to do anything about it.

It’s not the end of the world of course – it’s not going to stop me from getting where I want to be, even if it does slow me down a little bit.  It might even be a necessary part of the process – some sort of mental correction going on that keeps me going in the right general direction.  The worrying thing for me is that it’s precisely that self-sabotage that kept me smoking for so many years after I’d decided that I wanted to stop.  In these moments, the ‘just one cigarette’ would pull me back in (am I the only one reading those words back in an Al Pacino voice?) and all my progress would be gone.

Actually that’s a really positive thing!  I’ve always struggled with the fact that I could stop smoking and drinking completely, but couldn’t manage to kick the over-eating thing.  The different scenarios around self-sabotage show that they really aren’t the same thing at all.  One cigarette used to pull me back into being a smoker, and whatever progress I’d made previously had gone.  This isn’t like that.  Not at all.  One bad choice doesn’t negate anything that I’ve achieved so far.  Nor does a week of them.  I can just pick myself up, dust myself down a bit, and then get on with heading to thinsville just the same.  I might be a pound heavier than this time last week, but I’m 50 pounds lighter than this time last year and that’s the important figure.

Let me tell you what the worst thing that comes from my periods of self-sabotage is.  Can you guess?  Tesco’s sales of value Midget Gems go up (three bags by Tuesday this week 🙂 ).  That’s about it.  I’ve had this uncomfortable worry about my tendency to self-sabotage lurking in the back of my mind for a long time.  I know it’s there, and I’ve always had this fear that it would be my undoing.  You know what?  In the last few paragraphs, I think I’ve started to process of putting that to bed for good.

Psychologically speaking, it would be great to understand a bit more about what’s going on with me when I self-sabotage, but it’s not as important as I’ve been thinking it is.  It’s a strange process, but in the wider scheme of things, it’s not actually going to stop me getting where I want to go.  I’ve often wondered if I’ve got some strange sort of food addiction going on, but for the very first time I can see that isn’t the case.  I’d love to know what the medical possibilities are of being addicted to Midget Gems, as if there’s a support group for that, I’m signing up today, but other than that, there’s no addiction going on here.  Just some really mucked up thought processes and habits that have built up over the years that are taking a while to unravel.  But they ARE unravelling, and with each little moment of self-discovery comes greater awareness of what’s been happening, and greater confidence that it will be OK in the end.

I’m not sure whether any of that will make sense to anyone else, but to me that’s a couple of pretty huge mental breakthroughs that have happened right there before my very eyes.  I’ve got a sneaking feeling that I make all of my mental breakthroughs in weeks where I gain weight too, which is an interesting concept too.

I’m not addicted to food or overeating (just possibly midget-gems).  And my self-sabotage can’t hurt me.

Bring on week 38.  I’m ready.

The Shrinking Man