…or “lunth”, as I like to call a lunar month.
I’ve just a few days left of the sugar-free challenge that I set myself as part of a little rite of turning thirty. 29 days without sugar, other sweeteners (eg.honey, agave, molasses, xylitol etc), refined carbs, conventional wheat (so spelt and rye ok) or fruit. I don’t drink and don’t have much dairy – or any meat. I also intended to have some of this time without veg high in sugars (eg. carrot, squash) and to have a 2-3 day detox eating just mung bean soup or kitcharee. There’s been successes and none-successes along the journey..
The challenges and adjustments
A week in, I was feeling weak and very tired which was affecting my mood and patience levels; not ideal for someone who spends most of their waking (and some of their sleeping!) hours parenting. I re-introduced white potatoes and the veg I’d tried to cut out (and had slipped up on a couple of times anyway). This has not made me believe that it’s unworkable to follow a diet like this even temporarily; it just wasn’t working for my body at this point in my life.
Just under a fortnight in and I re-introduced fresh fruit – although not much. I had slipped up on fruit a couple of times too. My diet after this adjustment actually felt more cleansing and healthy; I’d noticed that I’d actually been consuming more fats (albeit healthy ones like coconut oil) to substitute for what I wasn’t eating. It had felt as though i wasn’t getting the right balance of nutrients but fruit helped just make things feel a little more complete. Again, another person may feel a completely different way. Around this time there were also 3 nights when I had a little raw chocolate that has a bit of xylitol in it; I was feeling super-tired, probably mainly due to a few days of myriad parenting mega-challenges.
Around 3 weeks in, I re-introduced dried fruit and date syrup/coconut nectar to sweeten the odd drink (see hot chocolate recipe below). I freely admit that, like the chocolate, this was a lack of willpower thing. But this was around the time that I started feeling much better and for the last few days. my energy has been great, my mood’s been bright, my skin soft and clear and my gut health good. This may have also been assisted by regularly body-brushing, 2 colonics, a massage and taking the detoxifying Ayurvedic herb neem.
So I’ve not had any conventional wheat, refined carbs, sugar (as in cane/beet), honey or molasses – these latter two I’ll re-introduce in moderation from Wednesday, when my “lunth” will be up. Although I’m a little disappointed at not having totally achieved my initial goal – and that I’ve not managed any mung bean soup/kitcharee detox days – the cause/excuse is probably motherhood. I’m chasing around, breastfeeding and physically assisting an energetic, strong-willed toddler (ie: a toddler!) and so a lot is often demanded of my body, mind and spirit. I’m so pleased that I’ve stayed 100% off the main “baddies” – and that I was able to listen to my body and what wasn’t working for it and make adjustments accordingly. I do feel healthier and as though gentle cleansing and nourishing has taken place inside; those benefits are more important to me than whether I adhered to the plan rigidly. Likewise, another goal of the month was to deepen my yoga and meditation practices. I’ve not done so as much as I hoped but I have found myself living more mindfully. I’ve woven a particular yoga pose into my morning routine; one that seems to just really work for me at that time of day. I likewise have 2-4 that I practise before bed most nights; I’m accepting that change sometimes needs to come in slow and small steps.
I feel that cutting out certain foods and temporarily paring down my diet like this has brought me a feeling of opening out space. Space for me to see and feel which foods do and don’t work for me – for my body, for my ethics, for my lifestyle and this time of my life. In learning more about Ayurvedic teachings about food and diet, I’m becoming aware of things like certain foods being best eaten/avoided at certain times of day – or of the year. (my learning having been helped by being lucky enough to receive for my birthday “Discovering the True You with Ayurveda” by Sebastian Pole of Pukka Herbs). For example. I can see myself occasionally have sugar or white flour but that, when I do, I’ll try to minimise doing so in winter or in the evening, and to have it with some warming spices to help my body to digest and process it. Yet I don’t want to be too rigid around food; that wouldn’t feel healthy for me. My hope is that by looking after my body by eating wisely most meals, if I have the odd “treat”, my body will cope!
I’m grateful to have been able to adjust some of my tastes too. I’ve adapted to like my tea sugar-less (especially if made with oat milk, which tastes a little sweeter than cow juice). Most of the time, I’m really happy with letting the spices speak sugarlessly for themselves in chai. And, although I may still partake of my favourite drinking chocolate very occasionally, I’ve concocted a sugar-free formula for more frequent enjoyment. (As an alternative to some drastic, torturous measure like only having hot chocolate occasionally!):
For a large mug:
- Milk of whatever variety and whatever quantity you take – I like my hot chocolate about 1/4 mug cold oat milk and the rest boiling water, my husband makes it all hot milk and views using water as a kind of hot beverage blasphemy.
- One heaped tsp cocoa powder,
- Date syrup to taste, I use about a generous tsp.
- Oat cream
Mix the cocoa with a little of the milk until smooth. If you want to jazz things up masala-style you could add some black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Then add the rest of the liquid, stirring well, then sweeten to taste. Add a good squeeze of oat cream – I added a few sprinkled rose petals on this mug – and enjoy!
I’m starting to feel an excited sense of immanent emerging. Emerging from the turning-thirty rites that I set myself into, well. the rest of my life; emerging from the lunar cycle that we are in the last couple of days of; emerging from a tough few months as a family into what is already feeling like a happier time, emerging soon through the Beltaine fires towards summer. And of course, nature is well and truly emerging into leaves and flowers everywhere right now. I often find at this time of year that all the energy, beauty and growth can make things feel a little heady for me: I need to make sure my feet stay vaguely on the ground. Well, the tips of my toes at least.
Pre-Beltane blessings ♥