Falling Off The {Clean Eating} Wagon

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

In general I have been doing quite well with my revised way of eating – i.e. cutting out the majority of refined sugars, gluten and dairy whilst introducing more fresh and organic fruit and vegetables. I think I mentioned before, I try and do it 80% of the time, which leaves 20% for when I simply don’t have time to cook from scratch and the odd Kit Kat. And maybe a couple of gin and tonics. Oh and um….a few fondant fancies.

Here’s the thing, just because I cut out the sugar hasn’t meant I don’t “crave” it as such. I simply don’t buy many naughty treats – if there is a tube of Oreos in the cupboard then I will possibly spend the majority of the day thinking about it, whether I have a batch of raw brownies at the ready or not.

Am I doing something wrong? Is it because I need to cut out the “bad” foods completely?

When we went on our first family holiday recently I didn’t adhere to any particular healthy eating plan, for one it would have been nigh on impossible (unless I was prepared to not eat much at all, or carry around some pre-made clean snacks in tupperware). I didn’t choose to consume complete rubbish for the sake of it, I enjoyed some delicious salads and fresh fruit along with the cream teas and the (multiple) ice creams. I assumed when I returned home my 80/20 regime would resume. But it was REALLY sodding hard. I could have almost cried so all encompassing was my burning desire to leg it to the One Stop and buy a packet of Penguins.

Ok so I might be exaggerating. But only a bit.

Was my measurable increase in sugar, even for just a short period, the reason behind my lapse? If it was then it just goes to show how addictive it is.

I’ve gradually worked my way back to a more healthy outlook but it takes dedication, and a distinctly hefty dose of willpower. Plus I’m still unsure on this whole “to use honey or to not use honey” conundrum. My porridge would be bland without it, but is it actually encouraging my sweet tooth?

I didn’t change my eating habits in a drastic bid to lose weight, I just want the associated health benefits, more energy, less bloating….talking of which. I can’t quite get over just how crappy I felt when I did fall off the wagon for a few weeks, I went from having a relatively flat stomach to becoming really quite uncomfortable. And it’s not as if I all of a sudden started wolfing down thick sliced white loaf, I have only ever eaten granary and wholemeal for years (bread is not my friend, I do my best to avoid it full stop.)

It’s what gives me the willpower, the motivation that I look and feel heaps better. I also notice I have dark shadow under my eyes and drier somewhat greyish skin when I increase my dairy, gluten and sugar intake. Yep, it’s as much the vanity aspect as much as anything that’s got me back on track.

How are you lovely folks doing on your clean eating mission? Have you got any advice on how I may actually quash this sugar craving altogether? (Yes Charlotte, maybe not stuff your face with Mr Kiplings finest quite so often eh?)

Have you noticed the negative effects when you’ve “fallen off the wagon”?

I’ve listed a couple of things in the box to the right that have helped me get back into the healthy swing again, please do share yours in the comments section below.

You can follow my cooking (and cake) adventures on my personal instagram

{Useful Tips}
  • Frozen raspberries are nice to chomp on (a bit like ice lollies), plus they (obviously) keep much longer than fresh.
  • A good bread alternative is Deliciously Ella’s banana version, it’s not too sweet. I don’t have anything spread on it but you could do, it’s full of nuts so an almond butter would work well.
  • Pukka “revitalise” organic, cinnamon, cardamon and ginger tea is actually very pleasant and does curb my incessant need for 25 cups of coffee a day that are often accompanied by some kind of wafer biscuit.
  • Did you see my pepper recipe the other day? I always try and keep a variety of peppers and tomatoes in the fridge at all times, you can do so many things with them. Great to snack on raw too.
Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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18 thoughts on “Falling Off The {Clean Eating} Wagon

  1. I make my porridge with a very ripe banana if that helps… Basically mashed banana, soya milk, oats and some cinnamon (sometimes also nutmeg). That way it’s sweet without needing to add an official sweetener. I have a massive sweet tooth and badly crave sugar in the morning, so this is the best I can do but I fell like if I have to worry about fruit sugars as well as all the others then it’s not a way of eating that I could ever hope to stick to!

    I’m trying to get back on the wagon after majorly falling off during a holiday to Sicily last week (cake and croissants for breakfast, canoli for dessert – very much adapted a “when in Rome” attitude for the). It’s tough. I notice the bloating a lot, and dry skin along my jaw line for some reason! And a burgeoning throat infection thanks to my increase in dairy. Eurgh, so tough!

    1. I am exactly the same Anna, you know the saying ‘cake for breakfast’? Well in the morning is when I could eat a Victoria Sponge. A whole one.

      The fruit sugar thing is difficult to make a call on, how much is ok? If I couldn’t have fruit either it would be so boring.

      Currently in France, may have had a pain au chocolat with my coffee…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Have you found yourself feeling a bit short (grumpy that is – not vertically challenged) I find if my diet consists of eating crap I’m really tired and a bit grumpy to be honest.

    1. Yep, but I wonder if that’s related to tiredness? As in, eating crap makes me lack energy and what to have a kip at about 3pm every day.

  3. Sugar is definitely very addictive and it’s in so many foods! I watched this documentary about sugar the other week, it was very good and made me even more wary of eating sugar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEjUGNi-Mlg

    For months I’ve pretty much avoided wheat and refined sugar, and I haven’t eaten chocolate in years, but I still do crave something sweet every so often. I’ve read that women do find it much harder to quit sugar.

    My own personal rule is – if it’s not natural sugar, then don’t eat it. So if I do want something sweet I’ll usually have a banana, some dates or dried apricots (but even they have preservative stuff that’s not good). It would probably be best to cut it out completely, but like you say it would take a hefty dose of willpower!

    Fianna x

    1. Fianna, you have not had chocolate in years?! Goodness, can I have some of your willpower please?!

      I’ll have a look at that clip you sent, thanks for the link x

  4. I have no willpower. Never have and resigned myself to the fact that I never will. I’ve tried every healthy eating regime there is but somehow I still succumb to the sweet stuff. I think honey is ok and have that or agave syrup in my cup of tea or on porridge. I also try to keep dark choc in the cupboard to curb my cravings but sometimes find half a bar (ok a full one!!) is gone rather quickly. The only time I managed to be really good was about 6 years ago when I found out I was intolerant to wheat, dairy and garlic amongst other things. I was so strict and nothing passed my lips that contained any of the dreaded ingredients. Mainly because I had been really poorly, hence finding out what was causing it, but also because I was getting married and so didn’t want to be ill and it had the added benefit of making me loose weight! Stupidly on the first day of honeymoon I started stuffing my face with bad stuff. This resulted in me spending most of our time in Bali deliriously ill in bed. It may have been a bug but I’m pretty sure it was overindulging in the bad stuff and my body rejecting it after so long of not having it. Now I try periodically to cut it out but know straight away when I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t. Dairy is the worst for me and I find myself really tired, pasty and very wheezy and short of breath. Still doesn’t stop me munching on cake though!!! x

    1. Sounds like me! I was in and out of hospital a couple of years ago and the consultant said “Try cutting out dairy” which I thought was a bit presumptuous at the time – considering I hadn’t had any intolerance tests. But perhaps it is so negative for so many folk this was why he automatically recommended removing it from my diet?

      Have you tried Koko milk substitute? it’s made from coconut water but isn’t coconut milk (it’s too um…coconut-y for me!) I often use it in porridge and tea x

  5. I’m currently on the same mission as you & I suspect EVERYONE falls off the wagon from time to time, I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself especially just after you’ve had a baby. My husband is on board with me so that helps, he has amazing willpower (I think men just do). I have SUCH a sweet tooth, I would eat chocolate morning, noon & night if I could. A couple of things have really helped me:

    The Clean & Lean Diet book by James Duigan, I love that he suggests alternatives for everything e.g. with honey he suggests it would be better to have Manuka honey or raw honey. My eldest won’t eat porridge without honey so we’ve gone for the Manuka option, she loves it & at least she’s eating her porridge. It’s expensive though like most healthier options. The book also has a few recipes in it. I use the book as my healthy eating dictionary as it has a bad, better & best option.

    Secondly, I’ve just discovered a blog called 100 days of real food. She’s just produced a cook book which I’m about to buy as I REALLY need recipes the children will eat. They’re pretty good on the most part with our new eating plan but obviously they want treats from time to time so we let them at the wknd.

    One thing to keep you going is that once you are good pretty much all the time you SHOULD have a cheat meal once a week where you can eat what you like. This helps you keep on track & it also helps you lose weight (YES!!! I KNOW) because when you follow a healthy diet all the time your metabolism stays steady but when you eat more than usual it goes into shock & starts working overtime to burn off the extra food.

    Thirdly I eat quest bars as my sweet treat (if I didn’t do this I would crave sugar SO much).

    Sorry for the long post, hope it helps & despite going on with myself like I’m a really healthy eater – I’m probably 60/40 aiming for 80/20 ;-))

    1. Hi Grainne! thank so much for all of your advice, I do have the James Duigan book and have been reading it recently (I’ve bought the “Flat tummy fast” version away to France with me!)

      I did read the bit about a cheat meal – Yay! and I’ll definitely invest in some Manuka honey (the price is scary but I guess you can’t ever spend to much on your insides…)

      I’ll take a look at the 100 days of real food blog too, love discovering things like that so thanks. I do tend to make a lot of Deliciously Ella stuff (it seems the easiest and quickest) but would like a change and to try new things x

  6. One of the parents of a child I teach came into school today to wish me a happy belated birthday. She said she would have liked to have bought me a present but didn’t know what to get me. At which point the said child piped up by saying ‘you should have bought her crisps. She’s obsessed with them.’ How the hell did she remember this and how does one stop such an obsession! I don’t eat them very often but my brain literally thinks about them on a daily basis. I can take or leave a chocolate biscuit but when it comes to salty snacks it’s a whole other story! Xx

    1. I shouldn’t laugh but this made me – out loud ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m honestly not bothered with crisps (although we had a meeting the other day and Becky brought some amazing ones from M&S so I could be swayed…) isn’t it funny the different things we love? if only it was cucumber!!!! x

  7. Our grandparents and great grandparents didn’t have all these obesity and high sugar etc related health problems, but neither did they really do all of the organic stuff and I don’t think they worried themselves with cutting out entire food groups. I would never be able to cut out sugar as a) I don’t have the willpower and b) I don’t think we’re meant to! My nan says everything in moderation and that’s what I try to stick to ๐Ÿ™‚

    There was a really interesting Horizon on BBC2 a few weeks ago looking at why people nowadays (and specifically people in Western/developed countries) have waaaaay more intolerances and allergies to well, everything. Worth a watch if it’s still on iPlayer.

    1. Thanks Kitty, will take a look. My Nana used to make the make the same comments – about our “fads” and the processed crap we eat. I think people are a lot less active than they ever were too which doesn’t help with the obesity issue.

      Having enjoyed so many lovely dishes whilst I was away I can’t imagine ever being able to cut out sugar entirely!

  8. You’re right our grandparents didn’t have the obesity issues that we do but at the same time, neither did they really have access to processed foods, they ate lots of fruit and veg and did much more activity. They also didn’t live in a culture that idolises/fetishises food and made it available all the time everywhere.

    Without a will of iron and a propensity to not watch TV, read the papers or go outside ever, its basically impossible to avoid stuff that’s designed to make you want to eat. Think about any high street and how many places there are to buy food? How many TV programmes there are about etc etc.

    OK I’m slightly ranting and I do love to cook and eat good food but no-one can be good all the time.

    She says having just eaten (half) a pecan maple swirl

    1. Exactly Claire, it would be a will of iron! I do think a lot of these cafe/fast food-ish places are making an effort to provide more healthy options though, I’ve noticed it with Pret – they do all sorts of pressed juices, salads and fresh fruit (doesn’t mean I”m not tempted by the banana cake mind….)

      I don’t expect to be good all the time (it’s got to be a bit boring hasn’t it?) I just need to be a bit more prepared during the week so I can eat healthily. x

  9. A friend of mine is a personal trainer and a couple of years ago I did a few months of an outdoor fitness programme and supporting diet with him that cut out almost all sugar, dairy and gluten. The effects were amazing (over a stone just fell off in a less than 4 weeks) and so many little physical things I put just put down to having a busy lifestyle stopped.

    It was really hard work keeping it up so not surprisingly I fell of the wagon after a while as you really have to prepare and plan food and do a high level of exercise. I enjoyed it at the time but found it very hard to maintain a balance.

  10. I am on this wagon too! I find working late into the night whilst Ethan sleeps is my biggest trouble. That’s when I ‘need’ something sweet with my tea. I’m almost entirely gluten & dairy free, but sugar is my Kryptonite.

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