Tag Archives: sweetener

I’m Very Strange

careyHi all,

Just a quick update here to keep you in the loop around what’s happening here in Shrinking Land.

I’ve been coke-free now for more than a month.  That’s rather weird to be totally honest with you, but I’m pleased.  I’ve honestly not missed it since the first week of tough withdrawal symptoms, and while it would be really easy to have some and start the whole cycle off again, I’ve not felt any pressure to do that.

That’s the positive stuff.  The negative stuff is centred around the fact that I can now safely say that diet drinks haven’t been the sole cause of my general fatness.  I do believe that diet drinks have been a contributory factor, but I still have all the same cravings and urges that I’ve come to know and despise so much.  I think I can say with little doubt that those cravings and urges are caused by sweet stuff of all kinds.

I’ve been experimenting with a variety of different drinks, and can report that I’ve drunk too much sugary stuff, and I’ve put on weight again.  The drinks themselves have contributed there, but the cravings and urges that they lead to are probably the main culprit, but the common factor is the sweet drinks.

My liquid intake these days is a mix of stlll water, sparkling water, water mixed with fruit juice, water with Ribena and 7-up.  I can’t remember whether I mentioned this before, but 7-up has no artificial sweeteners in it, so that’s my ‘treat’ drink of choice.  Of course, being me, I don’t tend to have it as a treat, it can very easily become the main drink on any day.

I’m deliberately not worrying about the fact that I’m drinking too much sugary stuff, or that I’m putting on weight.  I’ve just removed Coke, Diet Coke and all forms of artificial sweetener from my diet in one hit, and I need to give myself a bit of a break.  That’s enough for now.

I’ve noticed a couple of really interesting things in the last couple of weeks:

  • I noticed that artificial sweeteners give me headaches.  I went out for a drink with some friends at the weekend and drank orange juice and lemonade, and lime and soda.  It wasn’t possible to confirm, but I believe that the lemonade will have had sweeteners in it, and that will also be true for the lime cordial.  The next day, I had the sort of headache that I used to get if I didn’t have coke for a few days.  It hurt like hell, but didn’t last.
  • I can challenge myself when I’m eating crap stuff.  An example from this very morning – I was in the kitchen and saw a big bag of crisps on the side.  That’s usually enough.  I ignored them, and got on with the day, and I quickly forgot all about them.  Until the next trip to the kitchen.  But I ignored them again, and this time put them in the cupboard so they were out of the way.  I’ve not thought about them since.  A while later, I went to the biscuit tin and grabbed four biscuits.  I ate two really quickly, and then had a brief chat with myself.  I wasn’t hungry, I was eating them too quickly to be enjoying them and I’d hate myself afterwards if I did eat the other two.  So I went and put them back in the tin!  That’s quite a step for me!

I’m really conscious at the moment that I don’t eat like most people.  I’ve never really ‘got’ just how different my eating patterns are to other people, well to the thin people anyway.  Little things.  I had a bag of wine gums in the car the other day, and picked a friend up.  I said help yourself to the wine gums, and he didn’t.  He didn’t want them.  I sat and ate them one after the other until they were pretty much gone.  But he didn’t want even one.  That’s weird.  Not to him obviously.  I presume it’s weird for him to see the fat bloke just stuffing his face that way.

All I’m going to do for now is to relax a bit, try to challenge myself while I’m eating stuff that I don’t really want or need, and start to bring more water into my diet.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man

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

 

Caffeine and Sweetener Withdrawal

careyWow.

This hurts.

It’s now the fourth day since I stopped drinking fizzy drinks of any kind, and have drunk nothing but water.  This has been the first time in my adult life that I’ve gone without some form of sugary or sweetenery fizzy drink for as much as a day.  That sounds so terrible doesn’t it?  How juvenile do I sound?  I’ve never drunk tea, and have no more than one or two cups of coffee a year when business protocol demands it, so I’ve always lived on sweetened drinks.  As a child and teenager it was usually fruit squashes, as an adult it’s been mainly fizzy stuff.  Coke was the main culprit at first (which probably goes a long way to explaining why my teeth are so poor) as diet coke used to give me headaches, but over time I got used to diet coke.  I rarely drink water, and that means that for my entire adult life, I’ve lived on sweetened drinks.

The impact of the sugary drinks is relatively clear – my teeth are poor and I’m fat.  But what’s the impact of the sweetenery drinks?  That’s harder to see, but I’m going to stick my neck out and have a guess.  I’d suggest that there’s a great chance that the impact of the sweetenery drinks starts with damaging my teeth by mucking up the ph balance.  I’d also suggest that there’s a strong chance that they’ve contributed to my weight problems too.  I’m reading more and more suggestions that the body’s reaction to sweeteners is very similar to its reaction to sugar – cravings for carbohydrates can be triggered by both.  There’s a whole load of scary stuff out there in internet land about just what the chemicals in artificial sweeteners can do to your body, though it’s difficult to know what to put your faith in.

It’s safe to say that I don’t believe that the artificial sweeteners do me any good (I’m still fat 🙂 ) and there’s a very good chance that they’re doing me significant amounts of harm.

So I’ve stopped them.  And it hurts.

In the four days since I’ve stopped them, I’ve experienced severe stomach aches, an upset stomach, almost consistent headaches, flu-like shivers, sweats, nausea and what can only be described as very depressed moods.  I’ve had major cravings to go and have something sweet and fizzy, with the very clear message that if I have the sweet and fizzy drink, then everything will be alright.  That sounds very much like addiction to me.

On a positive note, all of the above had made me feel pretty rough, and it’s been really easy to not overeat, so I’m certainly going to lose a bit of weight while I’m feeling this poor.  I hope these symptoms won’t last long, though a bit of web research suggests that I’m hitting up against both caffeine and sweetener withdrawal, which can cause problems for weeks or even months.

This really isn’t easy, but I think it’s important in two ways.  First of all it’s a significant step towards me regaining control over my life, and secondly I think that I’m going to benefit from getting this stuff out of my life and my body.

I’m going to track what happens with this, and keep you posted.

My head hurts.  My stomach hurts.

But I’m feeling proud.

Laters.

The Shrinking Man

Anger and taking control

imagesI got angry on Saturday night.  Really angry.  Anger isn’t a normal response for me – frustration and deflation are familiar responses, but anger doesn’t come out all that much.  But I really was angry.  And that anger was directed at myself.

It was about 11:30pm, and I was sitting alone in my front room, watching the telly.  I’d eaten relatively well that day.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I hadn’t eaten well that day, but I hadn’t eaten awfully, at least until about 11:30pm.  Within the next thirty minutes, I’d eaten the remainder of that evenings Chinese takeaway, the remaining half of the large bag of crisps that I’d already started earlier in the evening, two-thirds of a pot of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food and three chocolate biscuits.

Now I’m aware that I’m a fat guy.  Honestly.  Even though I’m still surprised just how fat I look when I see photographs of me, I do know I’m fat.  But I don’t want to be fat.  So why am I acting like I want to be fat?  Am I fat guy who wants to shrink, or a fat guy who wants to stay fat?

Just to revisit that Saturday night, I need to clearly explain what was happening while I was eating that stuff.  First of all, I wasn’t hungry.  I’d been quite stuffed earlier in the evening after the Chinese takeaway, but hadn’t eaten anything after that.  Actually, scrub that – I’d had half a large bag of crisps, which is the equivalent of three normal bags of crisps.  But I wasn’t stuffed.  But I definitely wasn’t hungry.  And I knew I wasn’t hungry while I was eating all that stuff.  I was aware that I wasn’t hungry, and I was hating myself while I was eating it.  Now it’s really common for me to hate myself after I’ve eaten badly, but it’s not that common for me to be conscious enough to hate myself while I’m eating it.  I was eating way too quickly to taste the food, let alone enjoy it – I was wolfing it down really, but I was really having to force myself to eat it because I just wasn’t hungry.

Let’s sum that up – I knew I wasn’t hungry, it was physically hard to eat, I wasn’t enjoying it and I was hating myself for doing it, yet I still managed to consume, at a conservative guess, more than the recommended calorie intake for a man, in just half an hour.  All this at the end of the day where I’d already consumed more than the recommended calorie intake for a man.

I can’t explain it.  I really can’t.  But I’m angry.

I’ve spent what seems like my entire life watching from the sidelines while I harm myself, and that’s what’s made me angry.  I’ve always looked on while I’m doing this to myself, as if I’m helpless to control it, or to intervene in any way, and that stops here.  Well actually it stopped in the early hours of Sunday morning, but it stops.

I refuse to be a helpless observer in my own demise.  Point blank refuse.

I don’t have much of a plan here – I don’t want to start-up again on any diet plan or programme.  I want to be in control.

The first significant step that I’m going to take is this – I’m cutting out the caffeine and artificial sweeteners in my life.  I don’t drink tea or coffee, and have pretty much lived on fizzy drinks, either diet or regular, for my entire adult life.  I rarely drink water, even though I enjoy it when I do.  The first thing I drink in the morning is a diet drink of some sort, and the last thing I drink at night will be the same, along with pretty much every drink in between.  I have no idea what that’s been doing to me, but I’m pretty certain it’s not good, and it certainly hasn’t helped me lose weight.  So it’s going.

I’ve cut back on coke products before, and suffered from serious headaches, and have always gone back.  I’ve always replaced coke with lemonade or some other fizzy drinks, so I think I can say with some embarrassment, that I have never gone without sugary or sweetenery (my word – sorry) drinks for as much as a single day.  Not once in my adult life.

So for now, I’m angry, and I’m determined.  I will not be a helpless observer in my own demise.  I will take control.

And it starts with the drinks – bring on the water.

The Shrinking Man.