Love my garden

It suddenly hit me like a slap around the face; I do actually, really, truly love gardening. I couldn’t quite believe it actually. No, I said to myself, it’s not true. This is just a phase. You’ll grow out of it.


Sugar blues

Image supplied by Cadburys

OK, so I’ve been off the sugar for almost 2 months now.  I wont pretend that it’s not been tough – it’s been very tough indeed but the more I read the more I find out about the detrimental effects of sugar on one’s health and the more convinced I am that this is the right thing to do, at the very least for the sake of my ear itching dilemma. It’s this, and other benefits (see below) that I keep in mind when I reluctantly refuse yet another custard cream at the mother and toddler group.

I know you’re dying to ask me if avoiding sugar has had an effect on my ears – I have to say that I think it has. Although I do still have to have a little dig in there every now and again, not nearly as much as I used to so I definitely think that sugar was the main culprit, unless there is something else in sugar that I am allergic to. The trouble is that it’s really tricky to avoid sugar completely. I tried sugar free ketchup and mayonnaise and they taste not too dissimilar to baby vomit so I gave in and continued with the regular brands which do contain sugar. I also eat sugar free jam, but the very fact that it has fruit in means it has fruit sugars in, and I think fruit sugar has much the same effect on my poor lugs.

So there you go. I know I have to some extent failed in my quest to eliminate sugar from my diet completely but I have stuck to my guns when it comes to cakes, biscuits, cereals. I’ve not had one measly biscuit now for as long as I remember, well a couple of months anyway. I have however been making the most delish sugar free banana and sultana cake and is about the only treat I give myself, well that and lashings of sugar free jam on toast.

I can’t say I don’t miss the goodies though – I really, really do but I’m slowly building up momentum and I can even let a chocolate bourbon pass by my nose now with hardly a whimper from my lips. Eventually I hope to be at the stage where I gag at the sight of a bar of Dairy Milk – I think cows might fly before that actually happens.

I have noticed other benefits to not eating sugar, others have too. I’ve actually lost about 5 pounds in weight. Yes, that’s right, completely unintentionally but because I am avoiding all those little nibbles of biscuits, cakes and chocolate my weight is slowly but steadily decreasing, well that is unless the scales are playing a very sick joke on me!

A friend said to me just last week “have you had something done – you look so much brighter” Cheeky cow – what are you saying like? But then I realised it was the lack of sugar, it has made my complexion brighter – I definitely feel it in my skin too, it’s softer, on my face and body. My legs used to be like crocodile scales, (do crocs have scales? Note to self – must check this!!) but now they are as soft and moisturised as a pan of melted chocolate – hmmmm.

I have to say that I’ve not been quite as strict with my boys as I have myself – the way I see it, why put my poor children through the torture of not eating yummy treats just because I’m stupid enough. I do feel though that they should eat fewer sweet treats, especially after all the stuff I’ve been reading about the harmful effects of sugar. I am, slowly, reducing the amount of tempting lovely chocolatey, sugary treats that enter the house. The bonus is that they just love my banana and sultana cake!

So there you have it, I’ve (almost) given up sugar and as a result, my ears itch much less (damn ketchup!) I’ve lost weight, my skin is nicer, and I’m a right grumpy cow 24/7. Didn’t I mention that last bit? oh, I do apologise!!!

Supermarket sweep

The first thing I have to say is that ‘Damn this sugar giving up lark is not easy’. Not only have I had to resist the hundreds of chocolate eggs (given to my boys by well meaning relations) that still litter my house from Easter but just trying to buy any food product in a supermarket that doesn’t contain sugar is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Let me just clarify what I mean by sugar; I’m talking about refined, added sugar which includes glucose, sucrose and any other ‘ose’s but which doesn’t include fruit sugars because they are counteracted by the other nutrients,  apparently.

In a bid to feel less of an outsider I’ve also partially roped in my husband and two little boys on my no sugar quest – that’s no easy task either, I hear you shout. No you’re absolutely right, it’s not but my husband being the supportive type (except when it comes to bacon, but that’s ok because bacon doesn’t contain sugar), and my boys being only two and three years old and therefore having no real choice in the matter, it’s not actually as difficult as you might imagine. So, off we go to the supermarket, shopping list (and discount vouchers) in pocket.

Ok, first up fruit and veg; that’s easy, fruit has only natural sugars so I stock up to the gills with fruit, as a pre-emptive strike against those sugar cravings. Meat, only unprocessed contains no sugar. This will be a doddle, yes? Milk, butter, cream, cheese no problems. Yogurt – well now it gets a bit tricky. After looking at every product in the aisle I can find nothing in the way of yogurt that doesn’t contain sugar, except of course natural yogurt. I’ll have to be a bit creative here as my boys love Petit Filous and I can use it as a kind of bribe to make them eat their dinner. So, it will have to be natural yogurt mixed with honey for them, fruit for me. I think honey would have the same effect as refined sugar on my ears.

Onwards down the aisle I come across ham, nothing without sugar. I buy corned beef instead. Pasta and curry sauces all contain sugar. I stock up on the tinned tomatoes and decide to make my own sauces – oh how virtuous I feel. But I need stock cubes. Low and behold if stock cubes don’t contain sugar too. There’s not a hope in hell of finding cereal that doesn’t contain sugar. I opt for oats and resolve to make porridge every morning. Hmm I wonder how the boys will like that. Snack foods – well other than dried fruit and nuts, and even then most will have some kind of sugar related coating, there’s not much choice. Alcohol – sugar, sugar, sugar. Toast spreads, ditto – I opt for peanut butter, the really expensive kind that doesn’t contain sugar, and Marmite (thank the lord). Bread, that all important staple that my boys would perish without. Could I find one single loaf of bread that doesn’t contain sugar – could I heck.

I think you get my drift here. This no sugar quest is going to be hard work but will my boys become mutinous and demand sugar engorged treats? And more importantly will it stop my ears itching? Watch this space.

Sugar Free

Cake with icing and raspberry on top

Image from

I have a cotton bud in my hand and I am standing at my mirror watching myself vigorously scratching at the inside of my ears with it. It is quite painful but it brings relief at the same time. I know it’s bad for me.

‘My doctor always said never put anything in your ear that’s smaller than an elbow’, my mum always said to me, despite herself putting anything vaguely small and sharp in there, mainly Kirby hair grips. She always suffered with ear problems too.

The reason I’m scratching at the inside of my ears so forcefully? Quite simply, because they itch like hell. Why else would I do it but for the relief it brings. And why do I have incredibly itchy ears in the first place? I have no idea, neither does my doctor. It’s not an infection. I’ve had ear infections, although not as often as you’d expect, and this is not what it is. He also said that it’s not eczema. I do know that it seems to occur whenever I eat sugar, chocolate to be precise. This, as some of you may imagine, is a bloody nightmare. I absolutely love chocolate, more than sex. It is one of life’s pleasures and I can imagine nothing more lovely than sitting down in the evening, after putting the kids to bed, film just about to start, lovingly opening the wrapper to a bumper size bar of Dairy Milk, my choc of choice.

So, I have this awful reaction to something I absolutely love. It’s like being allergic to lie-ins, or something as equally ironic and unjust. (I would say a free pair of Jimmy Choos but I’m not really a shoe person, but you get my drift.)

In an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of insanely itchy ears I decide to do something about it. Yes that’s right, I decide to give up sugar. There I’ve said it and that means I have to stick to it otherwise I will have millions of people banging down my door telling me I’m a failure and nobody wants that. So, I’ve decided to give up sugar. Not for lent. Not to lose weight, but simply to see if it makes any difference to my ear itching dilemma.

Methinks this is not going to be an easy project but for the sake of my poor abused eardrums, I have to, at least, try.  First stop then, the supermarket.