Monday, 19 February 2018

FIVE TRICKS TO HELP YOU KICK SUGAR


I've been doing a lot of research on gut health, skin health, and all the other types of health you can imagine, and the basis of it all is the age old adage - you are what you eat. It really is true - what you put into your body really does have an impact on the overall well-being of your body. Eating junk food doesn't just give you a stomach ache, but actually affects your skin, your hormones, your energy levels, your mental health, and your digestive system. 

With this simple, but outlook-changing truth before me, I have reached the point where I really do desire wellness for my entire body. I have suffered from a digestive disorder for over five years now, and despite my struggles through that, this has never made full sense until now. I'm ready to take a proactive approach to my health and find ways to live a better, more motivated existence. 

All this to say that I have decided to cut out refined sugar for Lent. Lent is a spiritual practice of giving up something that is meaningful to you so that you can connect with the experience of Jesus on a deeper level as we approach the Easter season. Although I have health-driven motivations to try cutting out sugar from my diet, this is very much so a spiritual experience for me too, as sugar is something that I really really rely on. Deciding to give it up has been such a hard decision for me, but the fact that it was so hard to commit to goes to show me just how much I am reliant on it. 

I eat a lot of treats. And I depend on the reward of a treat to motivate me to get things done. I have very little self control when something sweet is involved. I am eager to see what cutting this dependency out will look like in my life and my health. It will be a challenge, I know, but I'm excited to see if it will make me feel different - not just physically, but emotionally too.


To mark the beginning of this challenge, I decided to compile a small list of five tricks to help smooth out the entire process. Maybe you're interested in trying this too? In my research and preparation I have come across some tricks that may help. The following are some pointers on how to kick your refined sugar habit.

1. Still have the natural stuff.
If you are someone who has a sweet tooth, deciding to cut out sugar is not going to automatically change that for you. You're still going to have a sweet tooth. So give yourself some grace and let yourself enjoy the natural stuff. Our bodies actually need some sugar to properly digest and function, but the key is portion and type. Refined sugar is the bad stuff - the stuff you find lurking in all kinds of foods that you never would have pictured containing sugar. Natural sugars, like those found in fruit, honey, and maple syrup, are the good guys. They also contain other benefits for our bodies (like antioxidants and vitamins), so they're actually good for you to have. In moderation. Everything in moderation.

2. Reward yourself with more beneficial "treats".
For a lot of people, myself included, treat foods have become a reward. If you have a tough day but finally make it through, you deserve a chocolate. If you can just focus on this paper long enough, you can have a bowl of ice-cream after you finish the initial draft. We motivate ourselves to do things by promising ourselves something delicious that we enjoy as a reward for completing the task ahead.

Although it is healthy to find things that will motivate you in your daily life, it can quickly become unhealthy when those rewards are, well, unhealthy. Food plays a really important role in our lives, so it can really skew our understanding and perception of it when we use it in psychological games with ourselves. Try finding a sort of reward system that doesn't involve food but that feels motivating and exciting to you. Some ideas could be a bubble bath, a new experience, a quick walk, a new art supply, or a chance to read a book. Get creative with what inspires you specifically.

3. Embrace grapefruit essential oil.
Along with the billion other uses and benefits of grapefruit essential oil, it has been proven to help curb sugar cravings when inhaled through aromatherapy. Pump that through your diffuser, rub it on your belly (with a carrier oil, of course), or take a great big whiff right from the bottle. Bonus points for the fact that it smells absolutely delicious (so what do you really have to lose).

4. Get creative with naturally-sweetened treats.
This is my life work right here. Not really. But nothing inspires me more than getting creative in the kitchen. Thanks to the paleo, vegan, and all other random types of diet obsessions of so many people, the web is chalk-full of amazing dessert recipes that use natural sources of sugar. I've already made three myself (like these sugarless date squares pictured above) and they are actually pretty darn delicious.

A few recommendations on this one though. First of all, avoid recipes that use synthetic sweeteners. I'm a strong believer that those are no more better for us than refined sugar. They're often made of chemicals and have a weird aftertaste. Not worth it. Secondly, make sure the recipe you find seems fairly credible. See if there are comments, some form of rating system, or consider where it ranked in the organic Google search. Natural sugar sources can be fairly expensive, so I wouldn't want to waste a lot of it on a recipe that doesn't even turn out to be very good. Pinterest is great for finding recipes, but it can sometimes produce some duds. Just be smart before you dive right in. Guard your bottle of pure maple syrup like it's your own child. Im kidding, but also not.

5. Press on.
"Don't stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top." Have patience with yourself and take each craving one step at a time. I'm convinced that once you get used to it, you'll enjoy the benefits that easing off refined sugar can bring.

Has anyone else ever cut out refined sugar? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the process!
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Sunday, 4 February 2018

THE SUNDAY LIST (VOL. 6)


Work was finished. Plates were cleaned. Groceries were bought. Prayers were made. Kittens were pet. Kisses were given. Grace was handed out, as were apologies and forgiveness. Laughs were had. Tears were shed. Smiles were shared. All is well. This week was a good one and it's sad to see it come to an end, but greater things lie ahead in this coming week. I have a new sister to gain (hooray for a very exciting wedding) and a big giant batch of cookies to bake. It's going to be a good one.

In the meantime, this is what I was thinking about this week:

1. These wool ball car diffusers are currently at the top of my DIY list because not only am I obsessed with essential oils, but I am also obsessed with using them in every single possible way I can. Especially when cute crafts (and DIY gifts) come of it.

2. This was one of my favourite podcast episodes I have listened to all week. As per usual, This American Life does not disappoint. 

3. We have been eating so many sweets lately that by mid-week, I was literally craving a salad. The best way to eat salads? Go big, or go home. We made this one in a flash and it was seriously so good. That grilled chicken, though. Mmm.

4. Sugar & Cloth launched a party and entertaining product line this week through Amazon and I seriously felt like I could have bought everything. Talk about luxury partyware for an affordable price. It almost made me want to plan a fun soiree just so I could make some purchases and not feel guilty about it. Too bad I already have a drawer stash full of cute unused napkins.

5. I mentioned this in my last post, but I recently watched a few episodes of this docu-series called We Speak Dance. It documents the ways in which different dancers around the globe are empowering themselves through dance, as well as looking at the ways that different cultures have influenced popular dance movements. As someone who can't dance, I found it so interesting and inspiring.

Happy weekend!
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Saturday, 3 February 2018

WHITE GIRL DANCE MOVES


Dancing. Do you do it? I've spent many moments awkwardly two-stepping in the corner of the dance floor at weddings and countless more moments booty-shaking my pants off in my childhood bedroom. I've always wished I were a less awkward dancer, but I've found myself coming around to the fact that I just never will be. And I think I'm okay with it.

The other day I had this thought. I was watching a docu-series about dance and how dancers from around the world use dance as a language in their cities to have a voice. I felt so inspired by them, but also felt jealous inside that I could never have that ability to express something so abstract in such a physical way. I can't dance. In fact, let's just get to the truth - I have awkward white girl dance moves. The disco finger. The Egyptian pharaoh. The awkward booty bounce. Those are all me. I wallowed in my sadness for a while, but then it hit me that I have other tools at my disposal to share my voice. It may not be my body, but it could be my hand, or my eyes, or the way I just so deeply love the visual language. Lightbulb moment. I got to work making this fun little illustrated pattern.

I may not be able to dance, but I had to show the world my best moves. What are yours?