Everything in Moderation?

I have always had an interest in healthy eating and I consider myself to have a pretty good diet. I have spent a fair bit of the past three years losing the ‘baby weight’ and I think I have a good understanding of how to eat well and lose weight.

However, I have been rethinking a lot of what I thought I knew.

Here are some of my favourite things:

  • My family
  • My bikes
  • My health (and that of my family)
  • Coffee
  • Red wine
  • Chocolate

These are not necessarily in priority order since this order could be subject to change moment to moment. To be honest, there was a time when my youngest was suffering with undiagnosed silent reflux and only ever slept for 45 minutes between 2 hour screaming sessions when coffee was possibly right at the top of that list.

I love coffee. I love coffee strong and black, or strong in a latte. But always strong. I’m talking about the kind of coffee you can stand a spoon up in. The kind that makes the unaccustomed wince and add 12 sugars.

I love red wine too. The more full-bodied the better. My weekend social life is fairly standard for a parent of young children and involves a couple of glasses of wine and netflix.

I also love chocolate. Actually, not just chocolate but pretty much anything sweet. I am the kind of person who does not just eat one biscuit but who eats the whole packet, in mere minutes. My husband knows to hide biscuits if he wants to count on one with his cup of tea the day after they are opened.

A couple of months ago my brother and his family stayed with us. Sadly, we don’t see all that much of them as they don’t live in the UK. Unsure of their beverage of preference, I stocked up on wine and beer. The preference was for beer so there was a good amount of wine left in the house after they left.

My will power when it comes to the things I love is sometimes in short supply. While I didn’t have wine for breakfast, I probably had a glass or two a night pretty much every night for a couple of weeks. Just to use it up you understand.

My coffee habit remained pretty static at two or three cups in the morning and another two or three (or maybe four) during the day.

Then one evening, I got a stomach ache. A really bad stomach ache. A doubled up in bed kind of stomach ache. Being over 40, I immediately diagnosed myself with a stomach ulcer, a range of cancers and other catastrophic illnesses. Grandad was called for emergency babysitting (thank you grandad!) and off we went to the out of hours doctor at 10pm.

Turns out it wasn’t catastrophic, it was gastritis.

Basically, my steady consumption of wine and very strong coffee had really irritated the lining of my stomach.

Nothing that some good old gaviscon couldn’t fix.

But for me it was a real wake up call.

So much for my view of myself as having a healthy diet with a few treats thrown in. A few treats do not send you to the out of hours doctor unable to walk because of a stomach ache.

It was enough of a wake up call that I have had no coffee and exactly 5 glasses of wine (and no other form of alcohol) since.

Stopping drinking alcohol was pretty straightforward. I discovered that tonic water on its own was actually just as pleasant as gin and tonic. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I haven’t actually given up alcohol because I have simply got out of the habit of drinking it. This weekend I did have a glass of wine and I really enjoyed it. But now I find that one glass is enough. In the past one glass just made me want another.

Coffee was a different matter. For a long time I have had occasional headaches with a dull pain behind my eyes. Kind of like being poked in the eyes. For two weeks after I stopped drinking coffee (and any other form of caffeine), I had these headaches constantly and I felt dreadful. Then suddenly the headaches went. What’s more, I have not had a ‘poked in the eye’ type headache since. I have not touched caffeine since and have no intention of going back to it.

Stopping alcohol was simply a matter of changing habits. Stopping caffeine felt like withdrawal. It really unnerves me to realise that I was addicted to something which was causing me health problems (headaches) while all the time believing I had a healthy lifestyle.

At least I still had my chocolate. A healthy diet and lifestyle with a few treats.

But then I watched ‘That Sugar Film‘. Following that I read Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. Following that I decided to give up sugar.

It has been a week since I took that decision. Here are my thoughts so far:

  • I am enjoying foods which previously I would have avoided as unhealthy such as buttered toast, cheese and biscuits and full fat greek yoghurt.
  • I am not particularly missing sugar for now.
  • I am realising just how many products contain sugar (seriously, salt and black pepper crisps – I was looking forward to them!).
  • I am not consuming as many calories and yet I am not feeling hungry.

Watch this space for an update on how this one goes…

So, ‘everything in moderation’ may well work for some, but I am not a moderation kind of person. As I have said before, my motto in life appears to be ‘if something is worth doing, it’s worth going completely overboard with’. So, I am not cutting down on caffeine, I am cutting it out. I am not cutting down on sugar, I am cutting it out.

For now I think I’ll stick with moderation when it comes to wine though.


5 Replies to “Everything in Moderation?”

  1. Oh yes, the caffeine headache. I know it well! I fell out of love with booze a while ago and have no problem staying away but I always end up back on the caffeine for a short while. The headache is crazy! Sugar is a tough one to kick though. As you’re finding out, it’s in everything, even savoury things that you wouldn’t expect (Heinz baked beans, anyone?) It’s fun finding new ways to eat sweet things without the sugar hit though and you’ll also develop a sensitivity to sweetness like you never knew. Good luck with it!

  2. Good to know we’ve got exactly the same priorities although I’d add cake to my list! I now drink decaf coffee since a colleague read me the riot act about how much caffine I was drinking – took a while to detox but I don’t miss it now and really notice it adversely when I have some. I look forward to hearing how you get on with the wine, sugar and chocolate as I’ve yet to get beyond dry January.

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