Sunday, 15 April 2012

Total Sweet(tooth)!

I have a confession to make - I have a real sweet tooth.  This has obviously contributed greatly to my weight and my struggle to lose weight.  I used to find myself craving sweet things - cakes or cookies, and especially Coke!  Every lunchtime would involve either a Cherry Coke or a Dr Pepper - if I didn't have it, I was craving it for the rest of the day.  This, of course meant that my blood sugar was doing somersaults throughout the day causing me to have serious lows and of course binging because I felt faint.  It's a vicious circle.

At different points over the past few years I have felt certain that there was something medically wrong with me - my blood sugar lows were SO low that there were times when I would literally have to sit down, have something sugary or sweet and wait for it to kick in before I continued doing anything.  I noticed that these lows seemed to occur around about the same time each day - generally just before lunch and around 4-5pm in the afternoon.  I went to my doctor and requested a blood test - assuming I was borderline diabetic, but I also asked them to check for an underlying Thyroid condition (again, hoping that my weight was not due to me stuffing too much in my mouth, but in my body's inability to kick up my metabolism).  Both tests came back clear - there was nothing wrong with me.

Then, I began talking about my problems to a very close friend of mine, who, as it turned out, had very similar symptoms.  I should have mentioned previously, but in addition to my blood sugar lows, I was also very tired - and I mean dog tired - all the time.  I would yawn about 50 times throughout the day, I struggled to concentrate, I relied heavily on coffee, which in turn gave me heart palpitations from the caffeine.  I had zero energy to cope with day to day life, much less get off my butt and start exercising to lose weight!  But talking to this friend really gave me hope.

She had been to see a naturopath in London who did a very detailed assessment and an adrenal gland test.  This adrenal test was different to the one the GP or doctor does (they only test for adrenal failure), this is a saliva test which checks for adrenal fatigue.  What I hadn't realised was that the adrenal glands are so closely connected with blood sugar highs and lows, energy levels - literally everything I felt was wrong with me could simply be adrenal fatigue!  So, I made an appointment with the naturopath and went along for my assessment.  After my assessment, I was sent my adrenal test kit - a very bizarre process where you are required to "spit" into four tubes and then freeze them throughout a 12 hour period.  This then gets sent to the lab for analysis.  When the results came back, I was absolutely flabbergasted!  The naturopath showed me that my adrenal levels dipped quite considerably at two times during the day - just before lunch, and again between 4-5pm!  Finally after years of having no answers to the way I was feeling, I had a solution!

I now take two supplements on a daily basis specifically formulated for adrenal fatigue and the difference in how I feel is unbelievable.  In addition to these supplements, I have switched from taking sugar in my coffee to having a totally natural alternative called Xylitol.  This stuff is awesome - it tastes just like sugar and it has absolutely NO aftertaste (like you get with most artificial sweeteners), and the best part - not only is it low calorie, but it is also low GI!  It is even suitable for diabetics!  I get my Xylitol in the form of "Total Sweet" which is available from Holland and Barrett, Sainsburys and Waitrose, to name a few.
Now, I have done really well with my weight loss, and yes I have cut out a lot of stuff that I used to have regularly (such as Coke!), but there is one area of my life that I staunchly protect and refuse to give up and that is having sugar and cream in my coffee!  I have a maximum of three cups of coffee per day (for the aforementioned reason), and I refuse to compromise where this is concerned!  However, by using Xylitol and Elmlea (a buttermilk based alternative to cream), I find I can have my sweet, creamy coffee each day and not feel guilty about it.

Funnily enough, the times when I have tried to eliminate sugar and cream from my coffee, I find I am much more likely to fall off the wagon on the diet altogether!  So, by incorporating a small treat into my daily calorie allowance - I stay happy and I still lose weight - win, win!

Regarding giving up coke - I wish I could say that there was an equal 'natural' alternative, like I have found for sugar in Total Sweet, but sadly this is not the case.  I have found that apart from my three cups of coffee per day, I drink only water - either still or sparkling.  I am trying, for the most part, to maintain a 1200 calorie per day allowance and sacrificing precious calories on drinks  (apart from my coffee!) is not something I'm prepared to do!  I do find that the sparkling water is a sort of fizzy substitute for coke and it certainly makes water more interesting.  So that I am not completely bloated from all of the fizz, I tend to save the sparkling water only for dinner time.

The strange thing about sugar now is that I can really taste it!  The other week, I was without my Xylitol and decided to have half a teaspoon of sugar in a coffee at church - half a teaspoon tasted waaayyy to sweet for me!  In a weird way, I actually think that Xylitol might be weaning me off sugar without me realising it!

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