My Diary

Ejo #124 – My Diary: Quarantine (Part 1)

On the last day of our trip to Japan, our HR department got in touch and instructed us to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival in Dubai. To be honest, at the time it felt like a wee bit of an over-reaction, but you will never catch me complaining about a freebie fortnight off work. I now know that the UAE government was being proactive and taking necessary precautionary measures. I started writing this diary, before the world went into lockdown. Self-isolating at home was an anomaly, and not the current norm.  We were the only ones I knew that were quarantining, and I thought it might be a little bit of novelty for you all to read about our experience. Now almost everyone is stuck at home, and you all have your own stories to tell. Here’s mine, anyway.

DAY ONE
Coming back from Tokyo was weird. We were in business class for the long-haul flight (frequent flyer miles, yo!), and the entire upper deck of the A380 was virtually empty. There were just five passengers and almost double that number of crew. Which was a relief because I’d been a little worried about flying home in a jam-packed sardine can. Don’t even get me started on the number of times I’ve contracted a flu or a cold or a sniffle or a cough after flying. Some bitches just do not know how to cover their goddamn mouths when they sneeze. It felt like the five of us were seated far enough apart from one another to not have to worry about cross-infection. However, in retrospect, getting drunk at the bar and hugging some rando stranger may not have been the smartest choice in the world. Live and learn.

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Tumbleweeds

We landed in Dubai at 6am and were in bed an hour later. We got up at around midday, and easily oozed into full-sloth mode. We ordered chicken wings for lunch and spent the rest of the day watching Netflix, systematically destroying a 1.8 litre bottle of sake and popping the M&Ms we’d nicked from the aeroplane. We are not intending on continuing this way, but it feels right for the first day back. Zero effort; just ease on into it. No-one’s handing out awards for pandemic over-achievers. Actually, maybe they are. But we are definitely not in the running.

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Kampai!!!

DAY TWO
Oh my god, I had such a good night’s sleep. I actually woke up feeling rested, which is so unusual for me. I’m normally either fatigued from shift work, or burning the candle at both ends while travelling. So I felt great. I figured I should use my new-found energy to unpack my suitcase, as well as all the records and all the booze we bought in Japan. So many records; so much booze!! Actually, it feels a bit weird to be drinking, when technically I should be working. But I’m not actually sick, and I’m not actually skiving off work (though it does feel a little bit like I am). I almost feel guilty indulging in a tipple (or two), but you can bet that’s not going to stop me.

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Ugh, I hate unpacking.

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Adding to the collection.

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Delightful, limited edition Japanese liqueurs (as well as some sake and the fixin’s for our signature cocktail – the Aviation).

Today, I also finally got around to watering all our babies ( I would make a terrible mother). Our poor houseplants have been without water for 17 days and are looking a little… shall we say, dehydrated. The highlight of today, for me, was a small (but glorious) bounty of four little red cherry tomatoes. Look how beautiful they are!!!  These are especially important to me because they are my Mum’s heirloom tomatoes. I am grateful, beyond belief, that I now have her seeds to plant again next season.

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Baby tommies!!!!  I’m in love!!!

DAY THREE
Today, we left the house. It felt weird, like we were committing some nefarious crime. Or venturing into a zombie apocalypse. But we weighed up the risks, and decided that it would be better for us to go out and do one big shop (that will hopefully last us the remainder of our quarantine) rather than continue to eat takeaway food and get home delivery. Also, we were out of wine. So…

Seems that most of Dubai is pretty relaxed about COVID-19, I guess because there haven’t been that many cases here, so everyone is just carrying on as normal. The supermarket didn’t have my preferred brand of toilet paper (tragedy!), but it was still fully stocked. No panic buying here. Not yet anyway.

DAY FOUR
Today I woke up with a mild feeling of dread that I haven’t been able to shake. I’m seriously enjoying not working (hello early retirement?!), but there’s a lot of heaviness hanging in the air and I guess it’s taking a mental toll. I also woke up with a horrible rash on the back of my hands from the incessant handwashing. FML.

Today was the first day that we decided to get off our butts and be productive members of the household. Working together as a team (me measuring and marking, David drilling) we hung two large artworks on the wall, and two macramé potplants from the ceiling. I’ve gotta say, so far, being house-bound kinda rules. Shit = getting done!

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Measure twice, drill once (argue fifteen times).

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Plant more coconuts.  Excellent advice.

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About time this beauty took his rightful place on the wall.

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Ivy loves her new, sun-drenched perch.

I also managed to find the time to give my ficus elastica (his name is Peter, say hello everyone) a shower. He absolutely loved it. And continuing on with the plant care, I made one last ditch effort to save Lillian (my peace lily – get it?) from the brink of death. I repotted and trimmed her down to the bone. I think it’s going to be touch and go there for a while, so… thoughts and prayers please.

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Splish splash.

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Lillian doesn’t look so good.

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Short back and sides.

PS We’ve started playing records.  Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Stooges

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Progressive krautrock band, Can

DAY FIVE
Today started off with a pretty nasty hangover and, after a short spurt of activity (sweeping and mopping the balcony), mutated into yet another lazy day. Lots of lounging around and drinking coffee (and Berocca).  I started reading a new book, chilled out on the balcony, played Tetris on my Nintendo Game Boy (31 years old and going strong!) and listened to more records.

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A little bit of light reading, entertainment (and hair o’ the dog).

David is a bit bored, but I’m absolutely loving it. I could one hundred percent (no problem whatsoever) get used to this. No appointments, no responsibilities, no parties, no dinner dates, nowhere to be in the morning, no work concerns. I’m at home with my best buddy, surrounded by a beautiful lush forest of houseplants, listening to awesome music with the doors flung open, enjoying the beautiful weather before Dubai turns into a fiery summer inferno. This is my idea of bliss, people. I feel like I’ve been preparing for isolation for the last 11 years of my life and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

We were intending to cook dinner tonight, but just couldn’t overcome the inertia of the day so we ordered Indian takeaway from across the street. Tomorrow we’ll be better. Promise.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Kishi Bashi

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John Grant

DAY SIX
Today we got busy. The house got cleaned, but good. We stripped the beds, dusted every surface, vacuumed, tidied, swept, sorted, mopped, scrubbed, made the beds and then proudly patted ourselves on the back (and rewarded ourselves with a glass of rosé). Of course we always clean up after ourselves, but I’ve got no qualms admitting that we usually get someone in about twice a month to do the real dirty work for us. This time, we did our own dirty work and while I found the result very rewarding, let’s just say I’mma be tipping my cleaner a helluva lot more from now on.

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A hard earned thirst deserves a nicely chilled rosé.

Hey, so we cooked today. We threw together a very delicious chili con carne, garnished with crushed blue corn chips, diced avocado, coriander and sour cream. No reason to starve, just because the apocalypse is nigh. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’re binge-watching Ozark on Netflix. You’re welcome.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Fall

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Spiritualized

DAY SEVEN
Once again, I woke up feeling kind of flat. I was a bit short with David this morning, and when he asked me why, I snapped, “Because my Mum is dead”. To be honest, I hadn’t consciously realised it was weighing on me until it burst out. But you know what? It’s OK. It makes sense. It’s been almost a year since my Mum unexpectedly died, and it’s only natural that the imminent anniversary of that day will have some kind of negative impact on my state of mind. Particularly now, stuck at home with not much else to do except ponder these things.

Even though I had all sorts of plans for getting shit done around the house today, I tried to be gentle with myself for not having the motivation or energy to get much shit done around the house at all. I gave myself permission to just watch some TV, stare out the window (a lot), sit outside in the fresh air, listen to music and just chill. What else is there to do anyway?

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought you by…..

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Tricky

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Lil Louis & The World

DAY EIGHT
We got up early today to go for a walk before the crowds hit the park. It was really serene and peaceful and so good for my state of mind to be out of the house, and also to exercise. I have to say though, the number of folks who have no idea about personal space – fuck me guys, are you even aware that there’s a viral contagion sweeping the globe right now? A little bit of space, please.

The rest of the day was, I hate to say it, a bit of a bust. I had such good intentions to do stuff. But alas, not a whole lotta stuff got done (there’s a theme emerging here I think). So, let me tell you about this coffee table I had big plans for. It’s been sitting on our balcony for a while. Backstory: I started sanding it in late 2016 with the intention of staining and reviving it and making it a beautiful centerpiece for our living room. Did I mention it’s been sitting on our balcony for three years? Anyway, I went out there today, armed with some 100-grit sandpaper, a brush and a can of cherrywood stain only to discover that the table was beyond salvation. Bummer.

Even though not much happened, today wasn’t a total bust. We did have a nap between 2pm and 3pm. Thank you, I will take a bow. Look, you’ve gotta take the wins with the losses. Also, guess what, I made sauerkraut!! Yes, I did. I’ve made kimchi before, but this is my first shot at sauerkraut and I’m very excited for it to work out. Keep your fingers crossed for me. We’ll find out in ten days. Oh, and we had nachos for dinner. Yes, I am going to be very fat when this is all over. I reluctantly accept that.

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Yum!  And good for you.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Björk

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(Early) Foo Fighters

DAY NINE
We intended to go for another walk today but when we woke up it was raining pretty heavily and thunder was clapping pretty loudly, so we just stayed in bed a bit longer. Good story, right? Sorry guys, but this is what it’s come to. This is quarantine life. Headline: NOT MUCH GOING ON. The highlight of my day was finally getting around to making some hot sauce using the dried chillies from my Mum’s garden that I’ve been holding onto for a year. Not sure if you know this about me but I am a hot sauce afficionado. A hot sauce connoisseur, if you will. AKA Hot Sauce Freak. I fucking love my hot sauce.

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A few of my favourite things.

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My Mum’s dried chillies.  Potent.

The last time I saw my Mum she slipped some of her homemade hot sauce into my suitcase, which I discovered when we got to Dubai. It was amazing, one of the best goddamn sauces I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot). And I’d been meaning to ask her for the recipe. I was literally leading up to it, days before she died. Look, in the ultimate scheme of things, the loss of a recipe doesn’t really scratch the surface of everything else that I lost when my Mum passed away. But it’s something that just hasn’t stopped bugging me. My sisters and I went through every single one of Mum’s handwritten recipes last year, but sadly we never found her hot sauce potion. Today, I just bit the bullet and searched the internet for the simplest, easiest recipe made with dried chillies, and I am so excited to tell you that the result tastes pretty fucking good. I’m going to give it a few weeks to really infuse with all the flavours but I’m very hopeful that the result will be something that at least approximates my Mum’s sauce. That would make me so very happy. That would make today a very good day, indeed.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Blondie

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M83

TO BE CONTINUED…

Ejo #112 – Dear Mum…

Sometime in mid-March I wrote a bunch of cards for friends and family around the world that would be celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries in April. One of those birthday cards was to my Mum. Sadly, I never got to give it to her. Not when she was alive, anyway. While I was enjoying a spur-of-the-moment long weekend in Tbilisi, my beautiful mother died in hospital, getting ready for emergency surgery. She’d been ill with an aortic aneurysm for a while but I guess I didn’t realise just how serious it was. Maybe she downplayed it, or maybe I just didn’t want to realise it. Whatever the case, her death hit me like a freight train.

This ejo is going to be a rambling rumination on the process of grief (mine anyway). As I said in my previous post, the last thing I feel like doing is writing and publishing my ejos, but I KNOW my Mum would have wanted me to keep doing it and so I will try. I can’t guarantee the next few will be any good, or that they’ll be about anything other than my deep love for my Mum and the profound feeling of loss I have now that she’s gone. But hey, it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Grief is weird, it truly is. As most of you know, this isn’t my first rodeo. Oh yeah, grief and I go way back. I lost my Dad to cancer in 2003, so I’ve been around the block as far as losing a parent goes. But the thing you need to know about grief is that it isn’t an emotion, or a feeling. Grief is actually just a process. So you can’t define how it feels. It’s different for each person, and different each time. So yes, I was familiar with grief, but I wasn’t prepared for how I would feel when my Mum died. I actually had no fucking idea how much it would hurt. Losing my second parent has been exponentially more painful. I loved my parents equally, but in the fifteen and a half years since Dad died I’ve developed a deeper emotional relationship and bond with my Mum. Plus, she’s my Mum, you know. I still cannot fully comprehend what it means to be without the woman that gave birth to me (after 36 hours of labour – sorry!), the woman who gave me life and who loved me so fiercely, and so unconditionally. I still cannot really process a world in which that is a fact. I feel lost, and the feeling is awful and lonely and devastatingly sad.

Grief is weird. Part of the weirdness is that I judge myself quite harshly about how I’m actually grieving. Sometimes I feel like I’m not sad enough. I function enough to go to work (which requires a pretty high level of functioning) and I appear fine, but on the inside I am ashamed that I’m not a blubbering mess. I am ashamed that I am even able to function. Other times, it’s all I can do to remain standing when the waves of grief hit. And they hit hard. And I bawl and wail and curl up into a little ball and I miss my Mum so desperately that it physically hurts. It’s genuinely how I feel but part of me thinks that it’s all a bit melodramatic and over the top. That I should be better by now. That other people don’t carry on like little babies when their parents die. But you know what, maybe they should. And maybe we should expect them to. Because it sucks and it’s sad, and even though time heals, it doesn’t heal linearly. It heals like a fucking mess.

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I’ve had some well-meaning people tell me to be strong. But I’ve never understood that. I’m strong the rest of the time. When my Mum dies, I’m going to be destroyed. I’m going to be confused and bewildered and emotional, and I’m going to cry myself to sleep. Every single night. And that’s OK. Because the fact that my beloved mother is dead is absolute fucking agony. I recently discovered that I was capable of sounding like an animal while crying. A wounded animal. I forgot how visceral and guttural grief can be. How your heart can physically ache, as though it’s been punched. Sometimes I cannot breathe from the pain. It’s so raw, so intense, so monstrous. My Mum was my favourite person in the world, and now there is a big empty hole in my heart and in my life, where she used to be.

Sadly, I have so many regrets. The two saddest words in the world are, “If only…”. I try not to beat myself about it but there are so many things I wish I had done, or said, or asked. I try to be gentle on myself, but it’s not always easy. Regrets are sneaky little fuckers. On the other hand, I am grateful for so many things, and I try to keep my focus on that. I am grateful that she knew how much I loved her (oh, she knew). And I’m so, so grateful that I got to spend some time with her in February. I’m grateful that my sisters were with her when she died. I’m grateful that in the last couple of years she taught me how to make some of my favourite meals. Her best recipes. I’m grateful to have a couple of her rings, which I wear every day. And I’m grateful that I brought back her pink jumper, infused with her Mum smell. She might be gone, but her essence is still here, for now. And so, a part of her is still here. With me. It’s weird to get so much pleasure from something that leaves you with so much pain but I’m grateful that my brain can be tricked into thinking she’s still alive, even for just a second. I bury my face in the soft, pink cotton, close my eyes and inhale deeply, and her scent just brings my Mum back and I am there, hugging her and smelling her, and being enveloped in her warm embrace. And then I open my eyes and the only thing I’m holding is her pink jumper.

 

Ejo #107 – My Diary: I’m Sweet Enough

DAY #1
Today was supposed to be Day 2 of giving up sugar but yesterday I caved in and ate all the chocolate in the house after dinner. It’s best to not have chocolate in the house if you’re trying to give up sugar and so it just seemed like a good idea to start today instead.

So why am I even giving up sugar in the first place? Listen guys, I’ve known for years that sugar is bad for me. Not just because of what I’ve read about it, but by the way my body responds when I eat it. That shit is pure poison!!! It creates so many health problems and the fact that it is so devilishly addictive should ring alarm bells for anyone who’s unable to resist it. It’s basically the legal version of cocaine. If you’re not sure about that, take a look at this PET scan of the brain after dosing up on both drugs. They stimulate the EXACT same regions of the brain, dumping dopamine galore into your system – that’s the reward neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. Only problem? You feel pretty shit, pretty soon afterwards with both substances. And… you always want more.

sugar coke

Is it just me or is sugar even MORE potent than cocaine in this picture?

But just like a coke addict that decides to go clean, if you make the choice to give it up then you can. I’m sure it’s not going to be super easy, but I know I’ll reap many benefits. Come along for the ride, why don’t you!

DAY #2
Not a bad day. My sugar weakness tends to rear it’s disgusting head mostly on my days off work. But I worked today so it just wasn’t a problem. I got home from work at 10.30pm and the sugar danger moments have usually passed by then. I’m glad I have another afternoon shift tomorrow because I think Day 3 is when the cravings start, if I remember correctly. Eek!

I have given up sugar before, a couple of times. The longest time, by far, was in the early 2000s when I went on a pretty strict Atkins diet. For a couple of years I didn’t indulge in much (if any) sugar at all. I remember not even eating birthday cake on my birthday. I mean, REALLY!!!! I would go to fancy restaurants and either have the cheese plate for dessert, or ask them for a bowl of strawberries or even go without (GASP!!!). This kind of behaviour seems a lifetime ago now, but I sure would love to get back to a place where it’s totally natural to not even crave sweets. That’s my end goal here. Wish me luck!

DAY #3
So, I’ve decided to give up booze at the same time as I give up sugar. Yay!! Life is fun.

I’m not sure if it’s because of the lack of booze, or the lack of sugar, but I am experiencing insane energy. It’s nearly 1am in the morning, after a long-ass day, and I’m writing this post bouncing around like an Energiser bunny listening to disco music. If I could harness this shit, I’d be fucking queen of the universe! It’s an amazing feeling. Especially as whenever I do drink alcohol and eat sugar regularly, I just feel like shit. And so lethargic. You’ll find me napping constantly. It’s such a drag. Why the hell do I put myself through that?

DAY #4
For the record, even though I am probably the chubbiest I’ve been in several years that’s not the reason I’m giving up sugar. Of course I am also working on losing those extra kilos, but the sugar thing is 100% to do with my health. Over the years I have become hyper aware of the effect it has on my body and my state of mind. When I eat sugar, my heart starts racing and I feel jittery. Shortly afterwards my mind invariably fogs over and I can’t think clearly. I become irritable and unmotivated. Things slide. I wake up puffy and achy every damn morning. And I just can’t say no to more.

Look, I know there are conflicting studies regarding what sugar does inside our bodies. And I know which ones I believe. I believe them because I’ve seen the undesirable effects of sugar on myself. And that’s good enough for me.

DAY #5
I am really tired today after working a night shift last night. Like REALLY tired, but I’m still up at 11pm and not feeling the brain tiredness that sugar gives me. I’m tired, but my brain is still switched on. The sugar tiredness is something that totally overwhelms me, like my body is shutting down. And why wouldn’t it? You realise when you give something like this up, how delicately balanced your internal systems are, and how much you can really fuck them up with what you put in your body. I really do hope that this challenge is paving the way for me to permanently give up sugar.

In case you’re interested, I’m avoiding all types of sugars. I’m not eating anything processed – no white flour, no white rice, no breads or cereals (all of which are converted into glucose in the body if not immediately used for energy). No chocolate, no lollies, no cakes or cookies. No fruit, even. And certainly no fruit juice. No soft drinks. Nuthin’!!!! As I mentioned earlier, I’m even avoiding alcohol right now. That’s how fucking dedicated I am to doing this. And I need to be. I simply can’t do moderation. I’m an all-or-nothing girl and I always have been. Nothing half-assed for me! I do plan to reintroduce alcohol at some point. Natch! But I don’t need to eat ice-creams or chocolate. Not ever again.

DAY #6
When I’ve given up sugar in the past, someone might offer me something sweet and when I politely decline, they’ll say something like:

“Go on, one won’t hurt you.”

“Honey is natural, it’s not like processed sugar.”

“But it’s fruit! Fruit is good for you.”

“Everything is OK in moderation.”

“But it’s Easter/Christmas/your birthday!!!”

But when you give up sugar that means ALL sugar. Including honey – once it’s down your gullet, your body can’t tell the difference between sugar and honey anyway. And including fruits, especially the high fructose ones like watermelons, bananas, cherries, apples and mangoes. Why do you think they’re so delicious!! Coz they’re packed full of evil sweetness is why! Just because something is natural doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Or that it’s good for you. Every single date has 4.5g sugar. That’s over a teaspoon. A medium banana has the equivalent of nearly four teaspoons of sugar. Mangoes? They come in at over 46 grams of sugar each. So every time you feel like eating a whole damn mango you might as well put down the fruit, shimmy on over to the sugar jar and dip your teaspoon into that about eleven times instead. ELEVEN!!! Isn’t that craziness?

Listen guys, I don’t expect you to listen to me – I’m doing this for me, not you. And I’m no expert on the matter either. Also, this is not a “wellness” blog. This is a Chryss blog. I’ve read a lot on the matter. I’ve experienced a lot on the matter. And I know that sugar is bad, for me (I also know it’s bad for you but I’m not here to kick any heads in – you’re old enough to make your own decisions).

DAY #7
OK, so it’s been a week now and – well, it ain’t no thang! I’m yet to experience any withdrawals or weird symptoms. Nary a craving to be seen. What’s going on? Is it yet to come? I’ve been reading other people’s accounts of giving up sugar and they talk about headaches and visual problems, light-headedness and irritability. I’ve had none of those things. Others complain of muscle aches and pains, cramping and nausea. Even confusion and fever. I mean, for fuck’s sake – how much sugar were these people eating???

I binge on sugar, when I do eat it. But I don’t eat it often. So maybe that’s why the symptoms haven’t come. When I indulge, I’ll usually slam down a three or four day free-for-all, feel like crap afterwards and then come off sugar for weeks at a time, if not months. Then I’ll do it again. So while the amounts of sugar I do in those binge periods is A LOT, perhaps the irregularity of it means that my body doesn’t physically become addicted to it?? Of course I’m speculating. Maybe I’ll be hit by a semi-trailer of muscle weakness and confusion tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get pounded by a meteor of diarrhoea, chills and depression. All common symptoms of sugar withdrawal, apparently. Doesn’t that sound fun kids?!!! Who says sugar’s bad for you.

DAY #8
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Guess what happened this morning??

Yep, grogginess, puffiness, muscle aches, fatigue, headache and light-headedness. Oh yeah, and irritability. Oh my god, the irritability. I was a fucking nightmare all day long. Poor David, I don’t know how he put up with me. Hey, I just experienced sugar withdrawals, folks. I guess I’m human after all.

DAY #9
Well, thank fuck that’s over!! Yesterday was not fun. I actually got a little depressed. But you know what? Being armed with the knowledge of what was going on with my body and my mind really helped me deal better with all of it. I am certain now (and no longer in denial) that in the past I have experienced these withdrawals and just not known what they were. Just figured I was having a shit day. Now, I know.

DAY #10
Well, I almost feel back to normal after that major slump a couple of days ago – though my energy levels, sadly, still aren’t as high as they were before I got pummelled by the withdrawals. I’m hoping they do get back there because I was totally flying high on the amount of energy I had. It was supernatural!!! Certainly not the normal level of energy I’m used to operating with. Does everyone walk around with such an insane amount of energy? I bet the answer is NO! Because most people eat sugar in one form or another. It’s an epidemic guys!

DAY #11
Not much to say today. I did think about what a colossal commitment it is to give up sugar forever, and to be honest, after delving deeply into my psyche, I’m not sure that I can give it up forever. But I know I should. I feel so much better for not having had any sugar for eleven days. Why wouldn’t I want to keep feeling this way? I guess this is the psychological addiction kicking in now. It feels sad to think about never having my Mum’s galaktoboureko ever again. Or my mother-in-law’s coconut ice! I can’t reconcile living the rest of my life never eating another dessert. It’s just a bit depressing having to say goodbye to that stuff. Less for the sugar part of it and more for the ritual, social, celebratory aspect of it. I know I’m going through a phase of mourning. I can’t wait until I get to the acceptance part.

DAY #12
I had a shocker of a headache today. A real motherfucker of a headache. And no, friends, it wasn’t a hangover. How do I know? Because I haven’t touched alcohol in thirteen days. So what caused it? I go to bed early, I get up early. I’m not eating sugar. I’m eating a varied and nutritious calorie controlled diet (and actually sticking to it). I am exercising three to four times a week. SO WHY DID MY HEAD HURT SO BAD?????

David has suggested that perhaps those sugar withdrawals are still at play and I guess that seems to be the most plausible answer. I suppose this is the price you pay for giving up an addiction. But it’s a small price when you think of the myriad of health problems I’ll potentially be dodging down the line – diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, dementia, tooth decay, inflammation, obesity and (according to some studies) increased risk of some cancers. I’ll take a headache any day of the week.

DAY #13
I am still avoiding sugar. BUT….. today I had a flat white made with coconut milk. Is that cheating? I dunno. You know what else I did? I had wine. Is that cheating? Again, I dunno. If you want to be all technical about it (which, incidentally, I don’t) then yes, I fucked up. If you want to look at it from the point of view that I didn’t eat any goddamn gummy bears or a whole tub of Häagen-Dazs ice-cream then no, everything is cool. Make up your own minds.

DAY #14
Here’s what I found out while researching sugar addiction. You know when you eat a lot of something, eventually you have enough and just don’t want anymore? That’s called satiety. In other words, you’re satisfied. Nature, in all of her wondrous glory, designed the human body that way. So that we eat only as much as we need. But guess what? Way back when nature was shaping us, sugar wasn’t really something that was in large supply. A berry here, a fruit there – and it was good for us to gorge on the stuff. Mostly because there wasn’t that much around. So in those quantities, it was beneficial to eat as much as we could. It gave us the energy to outrun those sabre-toothed lions on the prowl. But, as an evolutionary result of that, the human body never developed an off-switch when it comes to fructose. Your body simply does not tell you when you have had enough, because it doesn’t know. And the sneaky thing about fructose is, when you have it you actually crave more. And in today’s world of sugar, it means that most of us are having WAY more of it than is good for us.

I honestly think that one day we’ll look back on sugar the way we now look at cigarettes. A ridiculously dangerous and addictive product marketed as something harmless. And we will shake our heads in disbelief.

DAY #15
I generally eat a healthy diet. I don’t eat a lot of fast food or candy or sugary desserts. Good for me, right? Not really. There are shitload of hidden sugars in food generally considered “healthy”. We’ve already talked about the fruit myth. But I’m talking about other stuff that you might not even realise is packed full of sugar. Don’t believe me?

A small tub of flavoured Yoplait yoghurt packs a ridiculous seven teaspoons of sugar. How about we stick to plain Greek yoghurt.

Some muesli bars are sweetened with up to three TABLESPOONS of sugar. Let’s grab a handful of nuts instead.

Instant oatmeal contains up to 14 grams of sugar. Better make our own.

Fruit smoothies might sound like a healthy choice but may be loaded with up to 70g of sugar per serving.  I’ll have a glass of water, thanks!

What this means is that if you truly want to avoid all sugars, you need to check the label. In an ideal world none of us would be buying processed food anyway. Stick to the fresh veggie, meat and fish sections and it’s much easier to really eat healthily.

DAY #16
I have fallen off the no-booze wagon a couple of times since giving up sugar. I’m not super thrilled about it, but I am pretty happy that even though I’ve been tipsy I haven’t succumbed to the lure of sugary treats. That’s usually when I slip into those binges I mentioned earlier. And that makes sense because, let’s be honest, when you’re drunk you don’t really make the best decisions. Your inhibitions are out the window, and suddenly you can find very logical reasons for doing things that you know you probably shouldn’t. What I’m proud of this time is that even though I did drink alcohol I didn’t even think about having something sweet.

DAY #17
Fuck you sugar!!! Who’s the bitch now???

DAY #18
Big Sugar. That’s what the sugar industry is known as – part of the Big Food behemoth that influences governments, writes their own policy and publishes studies that are skewed towards showing their products in a good light. Whether you agree that sugar is bad for you or not, you should probably be aware of the role that the sugar industry plays in your life.

Thirty-one countries have implemented a tax on sugar drinks in the hope of reducing what is now a global obesity epidemic. Australia? Not so much. And I wonder why, because we are now amongst the fattest people on earth. Yep, I said it. Australians are fatties.

sugar graph
So, let’s look at the reason that Australia hasn’t even considered a tax on sugary drinks when experts project that a 20% hike in sugar drinks could net a $1.73 billion dollar saving in healthcare costs over the current population’s lifetime. That is an enormous benefit that seems relatively easy to achieve! So why is the government not jumping on board the potential $500 million dollar tax windfall (being the tax-hungry entity that it is). In Australia, the Beverages Council spends millions of dollars every year in political donations, lobbying and wooing politicians. What do you think they want in return for that investment? What’s in it for them? Guess! All those dollars are spent so that they can control the politicians who supposedly represent us, the people. And the people are getting more and more obese and sick as time goes on. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark (or Australia, as the case may be).

Sure, it’s a free world, and we can all stop eating sugar if we want – no-one is shoving the stuff in our gobs. But so many people don’t even know the health risks that sugar actually poses. Or how addictive it is.  What’s sickening is that the government does know.

DAY #19
So, I’ve avoided sugar almost completely for 19 whole days. But… I have started drinking wine again. Does this mean I’m consuming HIDDEN SUGARS????? Am I a big fat hypocrite? Who am I trying to fool? Am I fooling myself? What’s going on? I don’t know!

I decided to do a little research.

Turns out that wine, beer and most spirits are actually OK to drink if you are avoiding sugar because all the fructose they started off with when they were grapes is converted into alcohol during fermentation. Huzzah! That doesn’t mean they aren’t high in calories or carbs or whatever other thing you might be counting that day. But it’s good to know that it isn’t affecting your blood sugars. Or mine, anyway. Fortified wines, champagne and sparkling wines on the other hand – I need to stay away from those. It’s a small sacrifice to pay. I’m not saying I’ll never drink champagne again – we all know that would be a lie. But for now, I’ll steer clear.

Day #20
So tonight, David and I went on a walking food tour of Dubai (stand by for an ejo about it). Unbeknownst to me when I booked this tour, it was extremely dessert heavy. Which was a shame; but also awesome. Because I actually managed to say no to all the delicious sweeties that were offered throughout the tour. I am so proud of myself that I didn’t succumb. I’ll be honest – I almost did give in to temptation. I even rationalised that I could write about my transgression and kind of dissect the reasons why I succumbed. But then I thought about how the biggest test of giving something up is not when it’s easy to give it up, but when it’s hard. And I feel amazing for it. Yay, me!

DAY #21
Only three more days left of this challenge and I’m really feeling like it’s something that I will continue with. Unlike giving up alcohol, which never feels like it’s going to be a permanent thing for me, this one feels good to give up for good. And of the two evils, sugar is definitely the one that I think is the eviler.

The evilest??

The mostest evil!

DAY #22
I’m so excited to have broken (or gone some way towards breaking) the spell that sugar had on me. I don’t think it’ll be worth it to slide back into eating it. This is a better way of life. I have even (accidentally) lost a couple of kilos along the way.

DAY #23
Writing a blog about giving something up definitely helps keep me in check. I’m wondering if I’ll be as disciplined once this experiment is over. I intend to be. I’m at the age now where I really need to start thinking about what the quality of my life is going to be like over the next twenty or thirty years. And I know it will be a lot better for giving up sugar. It’s decision time.