This is my third time around, doing sugar-free the IQS way. As always, it’s a fascinating (and delicious) process. And already significant health-related revelations have come to light, which I will delve into later.
But I’ll start with the food. No doubt the best place to start…
WHAT I HAVE BEEN EATING
Week 1 arrived and the program kicked off with one of the most talked about and documented recipes of the 8WP thus far, the game-changing Gluten-Free Buckwheat Loaf. It was closely followed by one of the prettiest 8WP dishes, perhaps, the Quinoa and Chia Breakfast Pot; proof that you can do IQS and eat fruit! Chilli + Lime Kebabs with Herb Quinoa, another classic IQS favourite, are so easy to prepare; a perfect combination of a few simple ingredients. And lest we forget the epic Pumpkin Pizza (I made mine sans cheese and with basil in place of sage); delicious star of every IQSer’s Instagram gallery!
Week 2 introduced me to some of my new favourite recipes. I can’t sing the praises of the Spiced Coco-Nutty Breakfast Muffins enough. They are simply delicious. And have not even a pinch of sweetener of any kind added (although you wouldn’t know it). My little boy loved them too. Just after Week 2 began, we headed off on a road trip to the ski fields of Åre, and these gorgeous IQS muffins saved me during the 8-hour drive. As it was -15°C, I was able to keep remaining muffins in the car, frozen, until we moved on again! I prepped the Curried Lentil Patties with Minted Yogurt and the Curried Vegetable Empanadas (mine morphed into spring rolls, but they were still delicious) as part of my Sunday cook-up for Week 2. When we returned home, exhausted after 8 hours of car travel, this was the meal that welcomed me. I could have cried! Literally. I loved it so much and it was exactly what I needed both physically and emotionally! The following day was my Cupcake’s 2nd birthday party, so amidst unpacking, laundry, setting up, cooking, hosting the party and celebrating my little miracle, there was no time for my weekly cook-up.
Week 3 began and my life looked chaotic, but thanks to the generous portion sizes of 8WP meals, I had enough leftovers in the freezer to largely carry me through the rest of the week! A particularly good thing, as my health took a nose dive on the Tuesday of Week 3, and I came down with a nasty cold, from which I am still recovering. One of my favourite meals was the revisited Quick Moroccan Chick-Pea Stew. And the Coco-Nutty Granola and Kale, Sweet Potato & Feta Frittata are what I would consider IQS classics. You simply can’t go wrong with them (I think most IQSers would agree)!
Our Valentine’s Day was spent at home, without plans. And I can’t tell you what an absolute gift and luxury that was for me!
Don’t buy me presents, just let me sleep in and I’ll love you forever! ;)
I made Lingonberry Chocolate Truffles for my husband, modifying the amazing (and easy) Espresso Truffle recipe from I Quit Sugar’s The Chocolate Cookbook Volume II and using Finnberry wild lingonberry powder (in place of coffee).
If anyone would like it, I am happy to share the modifications I made, but for the fabulous original recipe (these truffles take minutes to make!), head here to receive it as a free gift. I want to add quickly that I am truly honoured to have one of my own recipes featured amongst the bunch in The Chocolate Cookbook Volume II; my first recipe featured in book form! If you love to make desserts (as I do) and you are afraid that going sugar-free means depriving yourself, fear not! Check this book out! Oh, and I did try the truffles, even though anything with any form of sweetener (including berries or rms) is technically out at this recalibration stage of the program*.
I started my cook-up on Saturday evening, beginning with the Basil and Spinach Pesto. I chose to make the Paleo Veggie Bread from the previous round as I am determined to have a nutritious gluten-free loaf on hand at all times. It’s just too easy for me otherwise to reach for sour dough (albeit one of the better, IQS-approved breads) and peanut butter… truckloads of peanut butter!
HOW I HAVE BEEN FEELING
I approached Week 1 with the same enthusiasm I have had in previous rounds. Others new to the IQS community (and those returning to do another 8WP), seemed particularly enthusiastic this round. I am not big on New Year’s resolutions myself, but I am sure quite a few people would have signed up for this round in order to kick-start a healthy 2015… which is not a bad idea at all! Of course it is wonderfully motivating to be part of a community of enthusiastic, empathic and super-supportive people, which undoubtedly one of the major advantages IQS has over other lifestyle programs.
Week 2 revolved largely around our trip to the north of Sweden. The trip started, after a day at work, with an incredible amount of stress due to a) two separate car accidents taking place in front of us on the way out of the city and resulting traffic insanity b) our car breaking down north of Stockholm resulting in the emergency hiring of another car c) snow storms + poor visibility + trucks everywhere d) being delayed by all this malarkey by around 3 hours, despite leaving the city in good time.
Food-wise, there were the usual challenges, namely a lack of cooking facilities. I managed to find a café/bistro in Åre (Café Torget), that offers organic, vegetarian and locally produced options, as well as some of the usual Swedish suspects. I had a variation on an abundance bowl, with quinoa and loads of veg. They were also playing The Smiths when we arrived, and thus made a favourable impression off the bat. ;)
Our lovely hotel (Holiday Club Åre) featured a generous buffet breakfast spread (Sweden rocks for such stuff) and I was able to load up for the day on all the IQS-friendly choices (oats, yogurt, eggs, vegetables, sourdough bread, herbal tea, etc.). The hotel was well-equipped with a gym, lovely swimming pool complex and even a “Sauna World” where every sauna known to man was showcased, including an “ice sauna” which, after coming from -15°C outside the hotel, I found it rather unnecessary to try! I would have loved to go to the beauty salon for something or other of a pampering nature, but I am not a multimillionaire (the prices were STEEP!). The children took turns skiing and sledding with their father and grandparents, and in fine winter sports-challenged Aussie style, I spent most of my time bathing with whichever child was not up on the ski slope. The drive back was not as long and not quite as stressful, but panic set in when we arrived home in the evening and realised how much there was to do before my daughter’s birthday party and the working week!
Week 3 was mostly about stress in my personal life… and illness… leading to more stress. Fortuitously I was able to spend some time catching up on missed presentations for The Female Hormone Solution, which helped shed light on possible solutions to the very issues I was going through.
We are now approaching Week 4, and for the first time in 3 rounds of doing the IQS8WP, my excitement about embracing “Clean Week” is greater than any nervousness I feel about it. Let me explain why.
A few weeks ago I underwent a rather painful and unpleasant aspiration of a lump discovered in my neck. Thankfully the results proved it was benign, but the hospital doctors suggested it was caused by a lymphatic issue. I am awaiting further testing. The problem is that, in conjunction with the appearance of this lump, my immunity seems to have been seriously compromised, to the point whereby every small sniffle, every cold, every fever that my children come down with (a normal result of early childhood/playdates/nursery school), I am also getting. And each one is knocking me down. This winter has not been particularly kind to me health-wise, and I don’t know if I can or will ever completely acclimatise to months of darkness and below freezing temperatures.
Since becoming a “responsible adult”, I have always attempted to forge ahead despite illness. This has been the first time since I became a career woman (other than during my pregnancies) that I have allowed myself to take the sick days I actually need when I am sick, even if the illnesses have come inconveniently back-to-back.
A little voice tells me I could somehow sully my own reputation as a hardworking and capable woman/employee, but I try to ignore it and allow myself the rest anyway. I know things will get worse if I don’t. Sometimes I feel like I am close to experiencing anxiety over the stress and expectation I burden myself with. I don’t know how to completely let it go. I never have. I have a mental to-do list that never get shortened, merely added to as soon as one thing is checked off. I have 2 careers, 2 small children and a husband. I work, I train, I cook from scratch, I socialise IRL (though less these days) and online, I attempt to keep myself available via many channels, I plan… and plan. I stop when I am asleep (and I don’t sleep enough). And so it seems that I am really picking up this program where the last one left off.
I strive to do it all, and to be the best version of me that I can be whilst I am doing it all. I no doubt suffer from what Dr Libby refers to as “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome”**… and the combination of that and my ongoing hormonal imbalance and thyroid issues are a bad combination. Sarah Wilson talks often and openly about her struggles with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, the challenges which led her to create the I Quit Sugar movement in the first place. Her posts on the subject have been eye-opening and I have been able to see myself in many of the things she has mentioned.
For the past few weeks, at regular yet random intervals, the words “You can have it all, but not at the same time” have popped into my head. My body is not only trying to tell me something, clearly I am trying to tell me something!
In order to better keep track of things, I am starting to diarise my symptoms and things of note in my daily routines (such as whether I slept well, trained or ate foods containing gluten). Clean Week affords me the opportunity to be gluten-free, caffeine-free and sugar-free all at once… with support from I Quit Sugar experts (including Body Be Well‘s Diana Tencic) and a community of people attempting to do the same thing I am.
After doing the IQS8WP two times already, I know from experience the difference between consuming sugar and being sugar-free. I have been caffeine-free before for long periods (leading up to and during both my pregnancies) so, as much as I love the taste of coffee, I can live without it. Gluten-free is something that I have experimented with, but never wholeheartedly embraced as, with no known gluten sensitivity issue, I haven’t deemed it necessary to cut it out completely. I am, however, curious to see how doing so may or many not affect my ongoing health issues. So this coming week will be an exciting health experiment.
WHAT I AM LOVING
- The continued journey of self-discovery on the health and wellness front
- The incredible motivation I feel to “live well”
- That my husband’s tastes have also recalibrated somehow (things taste sweeter to him than they used to)
- That my children are continuing to learn more about food and nutrition and, when they are not helping me in the kitchen (or eating!), they love making up dishes using felt toy ingredients and their wooden play kitchen
- The suspicion that things I will come to learn this round of the program will make a huge impact on my life moving forward (that’s based on a gut feeling)
- As always, the camaraderie and support
- As always, the amazing recipes (it truly is incredible how many new ones there are this round… and how much I love them!)
If you want to know more about my IQS journey, you can connect with me here:
*Naughty Miss Marzipan!
**After drafting this post I took Dr. Libby’s quiz and, unsurprisingly, I scored off the charts. I am officially a Rushing Woman :P