journeys into sugar

Sugar and spice and things nice, that’s what little girls are made of.

This is the first post in a series that will contemplate my life-long relationship with sugar, and its effects on the body. This blog page will be part of the transmission project for The Body, one of the modules of the MA in English Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University.

a selection of sugary treats

Continue reading “journeys into sugar”

Day 8



Wow, where has the time gone? The last time I wrote I was in quite a bad space. I was definitely suffering withdrawal symptoms and by Sunday these had worsened. As well as headaches, and general pain all over, I felt really depressed. In the evening my cravings were horrendous but instead of giving in to them I had a small salad and went to bed early with a hot water bottle.

By Monday I had started feeling a little better. I decided that I needed to replace the high I used to get from sweet food with something else so around 8pm, the time I was craving food, I went for a walk with my partner (while socially distancing of course!). It definitely seemed to help with cravings but made me quite tired so I went to bed early again.

Yesterday (Tuesday), was a day of two halves. I felt loads better and my cravings seem to have settled down BUT, and it’s a big but, why do supermarkets make it so difficult to buy sugar-free food!

Firstly, the product placement is horrendous. You have to walk past aisles of chocolates and sweets to get to another aisle. Then even when you’ve managed to brave that, and get to where you want to go, food that you would think is completely savoury has some of the insidious white stuff added to it. It’s almost as if the supermarkets want us to be addicted to it!




As I’ve now completely cut sugar from my diet, life should be simpler. I should be able to skip past the ‘goody’ aisle, and pick from the serious food aisles, no problem. Unfortunately, most pre-packaged food has sugar added. I know this and check the labels anyway but I was still annoyed to find that my favourite brand of pasta sauce has added sugar. Previously, I knew most other brands did but thought for some reason that this one didn’t. When I checked in the supermarket I found that they do. Of course, you can choose other brands without sugar, but these are always the most obscure. The hardest to find and a miniscule assortment amongst the rows and rows of jars. So when I found that my favourite brand DO have some sauces without sugar, was I pleased? Well, sort of.

The jars of pasta sauce that have sugar in come in various sizes. Of course, the bigger the jar you get, the more savings there are to be had. The smaller the jar, then, the more expensive the sauce is. So, you can see where I’m going…The sugar-free jars of sauce only come in small sizes, which means I’m effectively paying more for a healthier sauce.

And it’s not just pasta sauce. A lot of other random products also have sugar added. Today, I inadvertently ate some sugar that was hidden in, of all things, gravy!

It’s not a huge amount, but it’s still in there. And when it’s hidden in a lot of items, it all adds up.

While this is all a bit sinister and depressing, I want to end today’s blog on a good note. Therefore, now would be a good time to say that I’ve not only got a healthier-looking mouth but that I’ve also lost 6 lbs this week! Roll on next week 🙂



So it’s been a little while since my last post. I’ve been sticking to my sugar-free existence but I’ve not had a great few days. Nothing bad has happened, I’ve just not felt great. The day of the last post I was fine, till about 10pm. Then an uncontrollable hunger started and I couldn’t shut it up. I finally ate a few crackers to appease it, then went to bed. The next day the same. Except that I watched TV in the afternoon and, after seeing  adverts for Dairy Milk Galaxy bars I wanted to eat a ton of chocolate. Adverts for sweets are the bane of my life right now! What is it about seeing pictures of chocolate that makes your mouth drool?!

chocolate cake on chopping board
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on Pexels.com

See what I mean?!

Anyway, I managed to control the urge but that night I dreamt about eating chocolate and feeling really bad afterwards. Yesterday I woke up with a horrible headache and joint pain all over. Now, I have hayfever and a chronic condition, so it’s hard to be sure whether I would have had these symptoms anyway, but I do think these have at least been exacerbated by my body withdrawing from sugar. Additionally, one effect of pain is  that I always want sweet food – it’s a comfort thing.  It’s that hit of dopamines and serotonin that sugar can give you that the body craves especially when your mood is low. However, after a while this sugar “high” leads to a sugar crash and then further cravings in a vicious cycle similar to those seen in drug addicts.

I’ve tried to keep this in mind and stayed away from sugar but it hasn’t been easy! As usual last night, late-night cravings ended up in me eating crackers and cheese as a non-sweet substitute but I’m hoping that as time goes on my cravings will lessen and I can cut out the late-night snacks altogether. Today has been similar to yesterday but at least I can see one definite improvement. My tongue is at last starting to look a little pinker! At this stage, I’m taking the positives where I can find them 🙂

Day 1 – reset


Well it’s been day one today of my journey withough sugar, and before I even  started it my addict stomach was crying out for the sweet, sweet taste of – well, anything sugary 😀 After my ‘accident’ with my porridge yesterday, I allowed myself some fresh grapes as a last treat and then thought that was it, my last fruity or sugary treats for a while. But just as I was thinking of hitting the hay last night, my stomach decided to let me know it wasn’t ready for going cold turkey. “Just one last hit”, it pleaded. I’ve heard it all before. I fobbed it off with a few oatcakes and went to bed.

This morning was a new day. I ate my porridge smugly, knowing I’d remembered not to put anything sweet in it. I drank my herbal unsweetened tea. Piece of cake, I thought 😀 Totally unsweetened cake.

The next obstacle was the shops. Today was the day to go out and into the world of the Co-op, albeit with social distancing. Veg, no problem. Healthy meals no problem. Meat no problem. Pasta sauce- we have a problem. Our co-op is not very big and so, as opposed to the twenty usual types of pasta sauce available in the supermarket, had four. As I checked the labels for sugar, I thought at least one of these would have no sugar added. It turns out I was wrong. So it looks like, at least for now, I won’t be having any pasta sauce. Bad times.

It’s now 10pm and I was congratulating myself at teatime on not craving any sugar today. I congratulated myself too soon. My stomach, AGAIN, is pretending it’s really hungry and needs a sweet snack, when I know I ate a huge meal at 7 and it doesn’t need anything. May have to go to bed soon – at least I remembered to buy cheese and crackers today. Hurrah!

out of order text on persons belly
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Yep, my stomach is definitely out of order!

Hello from lockdown


So…roll on a year or so, and if you’re reading this, you probably wondered what happened. Well, to be honest, life did. I suspended my studies due to ill-health and then re-started them again in September. All was going well until March of this year when the Covid-19 lockdown happened and then everything academically concerned went out of the window. It’s very hard to focus on academic concerns when you’re busy thinking and worrying about the people who are important to you. However, recently we’ve been told not to stay at home, but to stay ‘alert’! While this is meaningless to me, and I shall still be staying at home, it has been a reminder that in some aspects life goes on. During lockdown, and I’m sure most people can sympathize with me in some way, my diet has gone to pot. I’ve put on weight, lived on a diet of nachos and hummus for several days at a home and generally been eating more unhealthily. One of the side-affects from this is that I’ve started getting oral thrush, no doubt from eating far too many sweet treats; and so now is a good as time as any to start on a sugar-free diet again. I had every intention of starting today, but one of the tricks our body plays on us during an endeavour like this is to give us partial amnesia. So when I made my usual plate of porridge this morning, I completely forgot that dried fruit is not allowed on a sugar-free diet and heaped a load of dried prunes on my plate. Only when my mouth felt disgustingly furry afterwards did I realise the amount of sugar that is in dried prunes. Doh! Anyway, tomorrow the 19th of May 2020 is now day 1 of my sugar-free diet now. Roll on, having a non-furry mouth!


photo of woman showing her tongue
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

NB: Not my tongue 🙂

Keeping on keeping on




So, I haven’t updated this blog for quite a few days. For the rest of Saturday, all Sunday and Monday I was very busy finishing off a VERY long essay and literally had no time to blog. Now in the past, when I was under essay pressure and trying to keep my brain on track, I would use sugar for a boost. Basically, hacking the brain.  Not only does it give you energy but it also releases endorphins, giving you a feeling of temporary comfort which is a nice relief from the stress of academic writing. However, the positives you get from ‘using’ (or abusing) sugar in this way also has it downsides – unfortunately, a sugar boost doesn’t last very long and leaves you feeling even more tired afterwards and so you have to keep repeating the cycle. In addition, the fluctuations in mood I get from doing this leave me irritable and more prone to despair. This time, writing without the buffer of sweets and chocolate, I DID feel a difference. Although slightly low in energy, I felt more on an even keel – able to work longer before resting. And although I had less sleep than usual over the weekend and subsequently had increased M.E. symptoms (aches, pains, tiredness etc.), I was able to complete my essay without my body going over the limits of what it deemed acceptable. In other words,  while having quite a bit of pain and while not feeling great, I didn’t have a complete M.E. ‘crash’.

Not surprisingly, since I finished my essay, I have been very tired and achy, so I’ve been resting a lot. My diet hasn’t been great, however I’m still managing to stick to the sugar-free diet. I did have two prunes in my porridge on two consecutive days, but that wasn’t because I was craving sugar but because i was having ‘toilet issues’ – a polite way of saying that I was blocked up! After getting almost half-way through my thirty sugar-free days, I nearly fell off the wagon yesterday, simply because my OH had left half an iced Danish pastry on the table. I was about to eat it, when he reminded me of my sugar-free diet – In my delight at seeing what he’d left, I’d completely and genuinely forgot about it! At least, my conscious brain had – I’m convinced my sub-conscious had remembered but conspired to make me ‘conveniently’ forget! The addicted brain is tricky!





Here’s my up-to-date food diary

Rest of Day 10 –           Saturday

Chicken, chips, broccoli, carrots and mayonnaise

Herbal tea, water


Day 11 Sunday

Breakfast: Porridge with almonds and 2 prunes  (for medicinal purposes!)

Lunch: Chicken salad and broccoli

Afternoon snack: Breadsticks and houmous

Dinner: Home-made chilli-con-carne and rice

Herbal tea and water

Day 12 Monday

Breakfast: Porridge with 2 prunes  (for medicinal purposes!)

Lunch: Vegetable korma, chips and rice

Snack: Breadsticks

Dinner: Fishfingers, chips and peas

Herbal tea and water

Day 13 Tuesday

Breakfast: Salty porridge

Lunch: left-over chilli con carne and rice

Dinner: Chicken tikka massala and rice ready-meal ( I had to scour the supermarket with a magnifying-glass to find a sugar-free one)

Herbal tea and water

Day 14 Wednesday

Breakfast: Salty porridge

Lunch: chicken and spinach tortellini

Snack: ready salted crisps

Dinner: Fish and chips from the chippy :))

Herbal tea and water

Day 15 Thursday

Breakfast: salty porridge

Lunch: Asian bacon, celery and garlic soup with rice noodles

Dinner: Home-made chicken, pepper and courgette pasta sauce with gluten-free pasta

Herbal tea and water

PS I’ve realised that eating breadsticks does not satisfy my hunger, on the contrary it just seems to stimulate it even more, hence I’m not going to eat them any more unless it’s with  a mix of other foods.

Life lessons

I haven’t been on for a few days – not because I haven’t been doing my sugar-free diet but because I’ve been distracted with ongoing work on a very due essay AND also because I haven’t had much energy. Nothing extreme has happened but I’ve been suffering with frequent headaches, disturbed sleep and frequent carb cravings in between meals, sometimes to the point that I feel as if I haven’t eaten all day despite eating a meal two hours earlier. Needless to say, I think I’ve put on a few pounds!


Hopefully my energy will improve soon as I think that the trick to defeating cravings is eating good, well-balanced, home-cooked meals  and this week I don’t seem to have had the time or the energy to cook much. On Thursday I accidentally ate some pork scratchings with sugar added. In my defense the ingredients list was written in tiny, tiny writing and I didn’t have my glasses on when I bought them! I didn’t think what is basically pork rinds and salt would have sugar in though. The moral of the story – assume everything has sugar in unless there is evidence to the contrary :/ Here’s my food diary for the past few days…

Day 7

Breakfast: Porridge with almonds

Lunch: chicken and veg and potatoes

Snacks: Ready-salted crisps, g/f breadsticks

Dinner: Beef, pepper and mushroom kebabs with coconut rice

Drinks|: herbal tea and water

Notes: Had headaches all day and felt rubbish all day

Day 8

Breakfast: Porridge and salt

Lunch: Chorizo and lentil soup ( no sugar, hurrah)

Pork scratchings (I later found out they had sugar in 😦   )

Pretzels  (was starving while out)

g/f breadsticks and houmous (starving again!)

Dinner: Chicken, new potatoes and salad with home-made dressing (no sugar)

herbal teas and water

Notes: Tired and achy joints

Day 9

Breakfast: Porridge and almonds

Lunch at uni : Chicken and spinach rogan josh, rice and chips

houmous and breadsticks(while waiting for dinner to be delivered)

Dinner: Chicken tikka, rice and salad takeaway (No sugar, one of the only things I can find to take-away that I like and doesn’t have sugar in it)

Herbal teas and water

Notes: Very tired and achy

Day 10

Breakfast: Porridge (ate late as got up late)

Houmous and breadsticks  (1 hour after breakfast as was still hungry)

2 hours later Filled with ravenous hunger so…

Lunch: Spinach and ricotta tortellini and salad

Herbal tea

Notes: Obviously it’s only afternoon still while I’m typing this but I feel like I just can’t eat enough today. I need to get this under control as I’m going to be huge…

Also my joints are so sore and tender today but as my essay is still due I have to carry on working. Roll on Tuesday.




Strange days

I’ve had a weird couple of days, foodwise. I was in horrible pain yesterday all day. I have had ME for eleven years now and while I’m a lot better than I used to be, there are still some days where my muscles and joints just hurt all over and I feel crap. Normally, when I’m having one of these days, I comfort myself by stuffing my face with chocolate but as I’m on a sugar-free diet this is not an option. I managed to stay away from sugary treats although it was EXTREMELY difficult. However, my body was definitely indulging in addictive behaviour. It wasn’t happy that it wasn’t getting sugar and was looking for a way to get that hit of serotonin that it’d normally get in these circumstances to make it feel better. This meant that I was constantly hungry yesterday, constantly eating,  and wanting to eat foods with strong flavours that might give it that kick that it wanted. I also found myself wanting to buy lots of stuff online. It seems my body will do anything to get that feel-good factor  when I’m feeling ill. Anyway, today was better, although there was a big disappointment when I went in search of sugar-free chocolate at a health food store. I normally love dark chocolate so I was really pleased that I found a bar of dark chocolate with almonds that was just cacao and nut. No sugar. However, I was not so pleased after tasting it. It tasted like something that came out of the back end of a furry four-legged friend. 😦


This is the best photo I could find on Google to represent my feelings about this.



Anyway, here’s my food diary for the last two days…

Day 5

Breakfast: Porridge with a small slice of kiwi ( slight cheat but kiwi’s not so sweet right?)

Lunch: Houmous, avocado and rocket sandwich on rye. It came with a small side salad with a tiny bit of balsamic reduction on which I didn’t know was there but my taste buds immediately pounced on.

2pm snack: Smoked mackerel, potatoes and veg

5pm Dinner: meatballs with mushrooms and red peppers in chilli and tomato pasta sauce ( I managed to find one without sugar in hurrah!) and g/f pasta

8pm Supper: More meatballs in pasta sauce :O

10pm snack: houmous and sesame seed breadsticks

Drinks: Water and herbal tea

Day 6

Breakfast: Porridge with salt

Lunch: More meatballs in pasta sauce

Herbal tea

Afternoon snack: Ready salted crisps, piece of really rank dark chocolate. Bleugh 😦

4pm snack: Houmous and sesame seed breadsticks

Dinner: Chilli con carne and rice (the unicorn of ready meals, i.e. without sugar )

Herbal tea





I made a booboo

Well day 3 and 4 are over now but I have a confession to make. I slipped up yesterday and ate a Nakd bar (which is made from dried fruit). It wasn’t intentional as I was studying and just automatically reached for a snack. It’s not as bad as, say, a packet of sweets or a can of coke but, although its natural, it’s still full of sugar. Other than that I’ve stuck to the programme although it’s been quite tough especially yesterday when I went shopping. The supermarkets are just full of sugar-filled food and it’s quite hard to find stuff that doesn’t have any in its ingredients except for unprocessed vegetables and meat. I’ve got a lot on this week and was looking for things i could just throw in the oven but many had sugar as an added ingredient in the meals sauce or marinade. Basically, I have to make most things from scratch. I’ve been feeling really hungry too and trying to think of sugar-free snacks I can eat is driving me mad. I woke up today with a  headache and also, although I’ve not been eating sugar, my tongue feels furry today, don’t know what that’s all about but I hope it goes away soon. Anyway, here’s my food diary…

Day 2 (continued)

herbal tea

Dinner: Chicken tikka, rice and salad

Day 3

Breakfast: porridge with almonds

Lunch: Bacon, eggs, mushrooms and sourdough bread

Mid-afternoon snacks: Popcorn chicken(I hope these are sugar-free as KFC don’t tell you the ingredients!)

Nakd bar

Dinner: Steak, mash and veg

Evening snack: houmous and ready salted crisps

Drinks: water and herbal tea

Day 4

Breakfast: Porridge with rice milk, almonds and salt

Lunch: Steak (it was on offer, don’t judge me ) , mushrooms and broccoli

Dinner: roast chicken, salad, mixed antipasti and new potatoes

Snack: carrot and houmous

Drinks: water and herbal tea

PS: The steaks were gorgeous. I was definitely looking to buy myself a treat at the supermarket but as I wasn’t allowed to buy anything sweet, steaks it was 🙂


Oh and I’ve noticed that I can really pack it away, hopefully when I get used to not eating sugar, my metabolism settles down.

Day 1 (and 2)

Okay, well day 1 of my sugar-free diet was yesterday but as I fell asleep early last night (no doubt due to lack of sugar in my body), I’m writing day 1 and day 2 blog posts together.

Day 1

Breakfast – Ate porridge with salt. Was nice but missed my usual addition of honey

Lunch- Bacon and egg on sourdough bread

Mid afternoon snack- pack of ready salted crisps

Late afternoon snack-sourdough bread and pate

Evening meal- Paprika chicken, broccoli and chips  with mayonnaise

Drinks-water and herbal tea

Problems: I had an afternoon slump and had to go the shop for toilet paper. Until then I was fine but when I had to walk from the toilet paper aisle to the till I was overwhelmed by all the goodies that were put there to tempt me. There were thirty varieties of biscuits, plus every chocolate bar and packet of sweets known to man (and woman). However, I managed to make my way past all of these to what I thought was the safe place of the crisp section. But no. All the crisp varieties, every single one bar from ready salted, had the addition of sugar to their ingredients. Does cheese and onion and roast beef crisps really need sugar adding to them?! Apparently, the manufacturers think so. Or could it be that the addition of sugar makes the consumer want to eat more? Hmmm, I’ll have to think about it. Anyway, I had cravings after seeing all those snacks but had to make do with ready salted crisps. An hour later, more cravings but was too early to cook dinner so had bread and pate. I wonder whether stuffing my face with carbs is my body’s way of trying to gain sugar in some form…


Day 2   (so far)

Breakfast-porridge with salt

Lunch- mushroom soup with gluten free bread ( normal bread bloats me so much), ready salted crisps

peppermint tea

Issues: none so far but not sure what I’m having for dinner yet AND I’ve got to go to the supermarket again 😦





Constant cravings

I still haven’t started my sugar-free diet. I’ve had a very stressful week. Family stuff, along with a visit to my best friend and a day out with my grandkids at the cinema means that my diet has been full of chocolate, egg custards and lots of other sweet stuff . Basically, this was me…


Video not own – courtesy of Youtube channel 44viral


But I’m back home now, in grown-up territory, and while I still have stressful stuff to deal with I’m determined to start my healthier diet. It’s so easy to come up with excuses and think I’ll start when I’ve done this or I’ve got a meal out coming up so I’ll do it after that. However, that’s the addiction talking! I’ve already had honey on my breakfast this morning so tomorrow is the day I kick off and am completely 100% sugar-free. I’m posting this now so if I don’t do it feel free to come round and give me a severe telling off!