I’d wanted to do something about it for years. I didn’t think I was overweight, I just felt uncomfortable at times: not right.
In 2013, a stomach bug caused me considerable bloating and discomfort for some months. I had to buy bigger trousers as I couldn’t wear 90% of those in my wardrobe. As a Crohn’s disease sufferer, luckily symptom-free for decades, I convinced the NHS to give me a full check-up. The conclusion was that it was nothing serious, but they didn’t know what was causing it or how to treat it. I decided to stop taking the medication they had given me, which was not working, and felt better overnight.
I also decided that, with my history of Crohn’s disease, my age and the ineffectiveness of the medical profession, I needed to do more not only to get fit again but to take better care of my body.
I had thought that wheat was part of the problem and sought to reduce my consumption, but I also looked at sugar. I have a very sweet tooth and, although I have reduced my consumption at times, can wolf down sweets with ease.
My wife and I cook most meals from scratch and eat little manufactured food, but I looked more closely at what I was eating. I already ate Shredded Wheat for breakfast but switched to porridge made with milk six days a week – we have a cooked breakfast on a Sunday as a treat. Of an evening, I would enjoy a shortbread finger with my coffee. Out that went, along with all biscuits and shop-bought cake. I even stopped eating my favourite organic yoghurt which had frightening levels of sugar in it.
I started to feel hungry.
I resisted the temptation to open a packet of biscuits or buy sweets when filling up the car with fuel. Instead I started eating almonds and cashew nuts as well as dried apricots (when fresh ones were not available).
The results have been remarkable. Within several months I had lost 8lbs and returned to the weight I was 20 years ago. Some of my new trousers almost fall down when I wear them and I can fit into all the clothes I have in my wardrobe, some of which I have kept for years in the hope that they would one day, by some magic, fit me again.
I’m probably eating as much bread as before, but much less sugar and much less less glucose fructose syrup and other food nasties.
Is my diet boring?
I’ve started baking and eating my own cakes again, because I believe it’s good to have occasional treats, but I know how much sugar I’m eating.
We also eat lots of fruit and veg and my belief is that good quality ingredients make food tasty. They need not be expensive either: root vegetables are very cheap, as are many other basic ingredients.
Is it easy to change diet?
It needs determination.
When I go to a filling station, I always seem to have to walk through an aisle with sweets to the right of me and crisps and snacks to the left. I usually have a bag of almonds in my pocket for fuel.
When in grocery stores, I look at the cakes and biscuits, but the image in my mind of what’s in them puts me off.
When out and about, it can be very difficult to eat well. I won’t buy prepared sandwiches, often full of undesirable ingredients, so usually carry my own packed lunch. I can see how easy it is to revert to old habits.
I have, on several occasions, relapsed and chomped on a packet of sweets, but soon regretted it. Is my body starting to reject the rubbish in these products?
Is it worth it?
I still can’t believe how several simple changes have had such a big effect and how much better I feel. I’m glad I persisted.
So that’s my experience of reducing sugar and food nasties, and how it is working for me.
I would recommend it if you want to give it a go. I have no idea if it will work for everyone, but I’ll be happy if my experience can help you.