For some time now I've been contemplating drastically cutting my sugar intake. One friend has recently become diabetic and another has had colon cancer, which has made me think more seriously about my own health and what I eat. I've been pretty lucky so far as I've not had any major scares in that area, and I am thankful for that. The thing is, as I've moaned about before, I'm not getting any older. It feels like turning forty is that threshold where things aren't what they used to be and I have to accept that my body is not that of a twenty-five year old anymore (which it isn't obviously).
I don't think I'm obese, but my waistline has slowly expanded over the years and I don't want to succumb too much to the middle-aged spread if I can help it. I am a sucker for sweet treats and I tend to eat big portions even though I keep telling myself I can't do that anymore.
It's a bit of a struggle, to be honest, but I know I should be doing all I can to look after my future self. I might be relatively healthy at the moment, but my choices now will have an impact further down the line and I owe it to myself when I'm older to be responsible.
There's no mystery formula here: exercise and eat healthily. Even if I don't slim down massively, as long as I'm doing those things that's better than nothing. Exercise is easy enough a concept I think, but eating healthily? What does that mean exactly?
There are so many fads out there: low-carb diets, low-fat diets, paleo diets, 5/2 diets – it's bewildering, but I have concluded that reducing the amount of sugar and processed foods I eat is a good plan. It seems like sugar is becoming our generation's tobacco, as doctors and dieticians warn about the dangers it can post to our health. I don't think fats are the enemy, but invariably most fatty foods (like cake) have lots of refined sugar in them. In fact, what's really shocking is that sugar is in practically everything (even stuff that is marketed as 'healthy'), so it's really hard to avoid it completely.
So, I am trying to get into the mindset of a diabetic – regarding high-sugar snacks like cakes, chocolate and sweets as threats rather than harmless treats (interesting how adding the letter 'h' to 'treats' makes the word 'threats'). What's difficult is the fact that eating a ton of sugary food won't send me into a hyperglycemiac episode. There's no certainty that a high-carb diet will result in me losing my limbs (as would happen with a diabetic). I won't feel any short-term effects, but it's the long-term effects that are the problem. I don't know how continued sugar intake will affect me five, ten or fifteen years downs the line. I may well end up a diabetic anyway, as my chances increase with age and expanding waistline.
Whatever the long-term might be, I'm going to give this a go. I am likely to have the occasional 'extinction burst' along the way but on the whole, I reckon it's worth it.
I will report back on my progress over the coming months.