'; Filippa Fälth | Flekke Glocal
A (soon) 18 year old from Sweden, studying at UWC Red Cross Nordic. Passionate about too much in this world to fit into a box of this size. Very excited to take on this challenge to see how it affects my health, thoughts and surroundings!
My challenge
Sugar free food for 30 days

Day 24: A lesson follows every failure

So, I let myself down in two ways last week. Firstly, I haven’t posted in 9 days despite the fact that I made a deal with myself to update this page at least 3 times a week. My intention was to really prioritise these reflection because I consider them a valuable part of the experience. However, I overestimated my own commitment. I feel like this has given me another insight in how I approach things though. Being a little of a perfectionist and not very efficient as a person I easily make a big deal out of things that are in reality quite simple. For every post, I felt like I had to have an interesting idea, a nice picture or video which I now realise implied unnecessary pressure. 

 

Secondly, and probably more importantly – I failed my challenge. Yes, I did have some chocolate, the other day. I felt really bad afterwards, of course because I let myself down but also physically. Instead of being energised by the sugar I consumed, I felt drained in an odd way. This sensation was much more palpable than I thought it would be, because what’s the big deal of having a few extra grams of sugar? I suppose it could be a placebo effect, or at least an exaggeration of my own feelings towards it, but perhaps it was because I was not very used to it.

 

What I’ve learnt from this is that even though it’s really disappointing to give up on something and feeling like a loser, I now know that I feel better when I don’t eat sugar which will motivate me to keep up the challenge even beyond the last day of cChallenge. I will try to elaborate on what made me give in to temptation in another post.  

Day 15: Half time and a ‘no-cake birthday’!

15 days of the challenge has officially been completed, and I will have to say that I am quite proud to have come this far! Since I haven’t updated in a while, I’ll start on an interesting note: I celebrated my 18th birthday, which became the first ever without eating cake (at least counting those I remember). I cannot express how grateful I am for my amazing friends who made me carrot sticks, hummus (!!), sugar free pancakes and made my day by just being who they are – for reference, see the picture taken by Hari. 🙂

 

Another positive piece of news: I have recruited another fellow friend to try out the no sugar challenge. Something I’ve noticed is that people usually tend to get interested and sometimes even inspired when they hear about my challenge. However, some do not see the point at all and dismiss it with a comment like “Ouph, I could never do that”. What I find interesting is that the people who respond in the respective ways are usually quite similar in terms of lifestyle and approach to health. Of course, this is an overarching view and there are exceptions to the trend, but in general, those who already care about what they eat and exercise regularly show significantly more interest that those who do not. It is almost as if there are the “healthy lifestyle trend followers” and then there is a reaction movement to that group. It is peculiar how staying healthy has become so unattractive and “uncool” to many, like it is a simply a pretentious idea. Therefore, I have become more conscious of how I portray the fact that I don’t eat sugary foods. To further investigate people’s approach to this matter, I’ll try to send out a questionnaire or interview a couple of people about their relationship to and knowledge about sugar. 

Day 7: Cravings…?

The first week of the challenge has officially been accomplished (yay!) and for the first time since I decided to shove sugar our of sight, I experienced cravings. Until now, I assume that I’ve simply been to preoccupied with paying attention to what I eat and enjoying the change. However there are always several stages when in it comes to change and I believe that what I like to call the “wow this is great” stage has begun merging into the adjustment period, where my body and mind will have to get used to it for real. This might include facing a little more resistance than before.

Why do we crave sugar in the first place though? This video explains that it’s dependent on the hormones that are released into our brains. Out of interest I would like to do some more research on this topic, since it is really fascinating! I went for a run with some teachers and students (and a dog!) in the afternoon which kind of made the cravings go away. This phenomenon can be explained through the fact that exercising can also release dopamine in the body which satisfies the brain. May be a good strategy to deal with any other future cravings!

Day 5: Reading and running in the rain

The title pretty much describes my day, a Saturday spent recharging the batteries after a hectic school week.

Two days ago, in the reflection of day 3, I explored the aspect of making one change in life creating a domino effect. I feel like my personal experiences these days continue to feed that notion with evidence. Quitting sugar has not only incentivised me to take better care of myself, but also to control my actions and decisions more deliberately. Of course these are – sometimes life long – processes and not changes that happen over a day, but at least I don’t have the perception that I’m imagining these small progressions in how I view myself and my well being. This day has been a sort of example of this, investing time in things that I usually do not prioritise, however essential to life they may be. 

Day 4: Natural Energy!

Day 4 of this challenge turned out to be a sunny day, as opposed to most days here in the Flekke bubble, and to celebrate, I spent the afternoon hiking in the forest. It’s incredibly recharging to spend time in nature, which is something I’d like to do more often here.

 

Since I started the challenge I’ve noticed that instead of feeling tired for a significant period of the day, I feel energised and even have to come up with ideas of how to spend my energy, like a few hours jumping over sticks and stones outside. I find this particularly curious, as I always thought the reason behind my exhaustion was sleep deprivation. I think this is a common perception among people, especially students, who try to make up for it by drinking coffee while not paying particular attention to their diet.

 

Anyhow, it’s a great feeling and I’m excited to find out if it persists. The picture is of Asta, me and Matthew (all of us undertaking a different challenges this month) enjoying the much sought after sunshine!   

Day 3: Sugar is everywhere! (+ a range of other reflections)

The first Realisation with capital ‘R’ after starting this challenge has officially hit me – sugar is EVERYWHERE! And when I say this, I mean it. Before I put anything into my mouth I have to think twice: “Is there by any chance sugar in this omelette?” I have also made a habit out of checking labels on all types of sauces and cereals, which often turns out to be kind of a disappointment (yes, I am a despicable mustard lover…). Quite possibly, I have not adhered to the guidelines of the challenge to a 100% because I had some beetroot inlay yesterday – and inlays usually contain about 10% sugar. Oh my, am I already becoming a maniac?! Nevertheless, I’ll just conclude that it is impossible to avoid it completely.

Since I decided to also avoid refined flour (i.e. no bread or pasta) during this challenge, and including the fact that I’m also a vegetarian, I found myself in the cantina, pondering what there was left to eat except for vegetables. There was a mixture of rice and beans, but how healthy is rice really? I did some research, and according to this source, eating 2 cups of cooked rice equates to consuming about 22 teaspoons of sugar! Full disclosure: I still had some rice.

 

Yet, I believe that ‘facts’ like this help me to resist temptations, because trust me – this task is not a piece of cake! Rather, it takes quite some discipline not to eat the cake. Only today, I was offered cinnamon buns, cupcakes, hot chocolate, marshmallows, brownies (you name it). Saying no to all these things in itself is not that hard, but declining someones kind contribution is a little bittersweet. For example, me and some other students at RCN have been organising activities for a few children in rehabilitation for cancer. Today was the last day and they have put a lot of effort into making beautiful cupcakes for us. It made me feel kind of bad not tasting one since I’ve become really fond of these kids. Which brings to mind how many moral and emotional customs and “obligations” we associate with food. But that’s a post for another time! 

 

On another note though, the sense of accomplishment that I experience as a result of keeping up with my challenge acts as a kind of reward. I’ve noticed that it has influenced my self-esteem in a positive way already, and motivated me to do other things – such as completing homework on time, or being more enthusiastic about activities that I engage in. Perhaps taking control over one thing in your life can initiate a domino effect? I’m curious to find out! 

Day 1: What does it mean to go sugar free?

At first thought, I was slightly bewildered by the idea of trying out a sugar free diet. Even though the thought has been hiding somewhere at the back of my head for quite a while it has not occurred to me until now that it was something I would actually commit to. In the past, I have made a few feeble attempts to eat less sugar. However it has always been restricted to sugar in its perhaps most straightforward form – like candy, cakes and coca cola.

To sort out the confusion about what I would be able to eat and not eat during the next month, I found this very comprehensive poster at furtherfood.com.

To keep it short and (not so) sweet: I will refrain from eating any forms of added sugar or sweeteners – often found in cereals, jam, juice etc – as well as refined flour. Instead of bread I’ve decided to eat hard bread, “knäckebröd” in Swedish, which is made of wholewheat and rye flour.

During these 30 days, I will try to take some time out to reflect upon how I’m feeling, both physically and mentally. I see this an opportunity of moving towards a healthier lifestyle; where overeating, irresistible cravings and stomach problems will no longer be elements of worry in my life. I also aspire to discover links between humanity’s addiction to sugar and our impact on societies and the environment. In that way, I hope that this individual challenge will be able to contribute to the dialogues on climate change and public health.