Fact: Book Review – I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson

I Quit Sugar

Hey, my name’s Sam and I am a sugar addict. There it’s out there. As if you and I didn’t already know this fact? It was proven when I analysed my diet and with my daily chocolate bar habit only the tip of the iceberg, it wasn’t really a shock to me to discover I consume way too much of the sweet stuff.

Up until now I hadn’t felt the need to do anything about it. Sure, I liked sugar. Could be worse? I could smoke, drink heavily, take drugs. Surely having sugar as a vice was OK by comparison? Maybe, but if recent health reports are to be believed sugar isn’t as innocent as its sweet taste makes out. Blamed for obesity, type 2 diabetes and even heart disease – maybe cutting down wasn’t such a bad idea?

One lump or two?

I knew I’d need help and guidance. With caffeine it was fairly easy for me to break the dependence. I’ve dipped in and out of being a coffee and diet coke addict throughout the years, so the stranglehold wasn’t too strong. Sugar and sweetness is ingrained in me. It’s part of who I am. I am known as a chocaholic. When I remember back to my childhood I remember sugar-filled cereals, Lucky Charms, Coco Pops. I see chocolate and sweets as a reward and don’t even get me started on cake. That’s not taking into account all of the added sugars in unlikely food stuffs: tomato ketchup, ready meals and even (and I always find this weird) crisps. My only saving grace is that I don’t put sugar in hot drinks at home (although I do slather them in syrups at Starbucks). Yup, this was never going to be easy and so I purchased Sarah Wilson’s book to guide me through this scary time.

The book contains some upfront advice from Sarah (who has been through the I Quit Sugar process herself), an eight-week detox programme and a host of suitable recipes. I’ll be honest I’ve only got so far as reading the book so far and really need to pencil ink in a start date for the eight-week detox programme if I’m to take this thing seriously.

Vita Coco Coconut Water

Sarah suggests replacing sugar with fat in order to keep yourself from craving the sweet stuff. At first this freaked me out, but having looked through the recipes she does this mostly by using eggs and coconut-based products. The coconut bit made me smile big time. I’m actually sitting here eating porridge made with coconut milk and drinking coconut water as I type.

The thought of detoxing from sugar does scare the sweet heebie jeebies out of me, especially given that we still have leftover Easter chocolate in the house. The other thing that concerns me is whether I’ll actually be able to source some of the ingredients in Sarah’s book from my local stores. Chefs that say ‘all good supermarkets should stock this now’ evidently haven’t visited the ‘burbs of the West Midlands.

Lindt Lindor Caramel

One thing I am keen to do is trial some the of recipes before I attempt the detox programme. At least if I can find some sugar-free alternatives that I like, it’ll make the come down more manageable (hopefully). I’m going to try to the bacon and egg cupcakes first off (definitely ingredients I can source without having to jump on a train to London to raid Whole Foods).

Would I recommend this book? It’s too early to say yet. After all the proof of the pudding is in the… oh wait a minute. What I will say is it’s a good starting point if nothing else. Instead of reaching for a high-sugar cereal this morning I opted for porridge, which shows the low-sugar (if not quite no sugar) thinking is already kicking in. The book is written superbly. You feel like it’s written with love and support, it’s never preachy or doomongering. The recipes are nicely presented, with great photography for most dishes, and they do look scrumptious.

I”m sure there will be more blog posts on this book as I attempt to source the ingredients and ultimately partake in the eight-week detox programme. Until then I’m going to give this book…

Fabulous Rating: 4/5

Fact: Lonely Plant Guide to Sri Lanka

I'll be reviewing this Lonely Planet guide to Sri Lanka on my blog soon!

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Nothing can truly prepare you for the riot of colour… the sounds… the smells of Sri Lanka. No book, website or personal recollection can truly capture how manic the roads can be, how friendly the people are, how tasty the food is, or how beautiful and endless the beaches appear.

Sri_Lankan_Beach

I say this because if you read the Lonely Planet guide to Sri Lanka, I want you to realise the country is a thousand times more amazing than the book makes it out to be. Granted the book makes it out to be pretty fabulous. But, take it from me in reality everything is brighter, louder, tastier and more beautiful than any book can convey.

Aside from that is this Lonely Planet guide any good? Well, yes and no. No because it misses out some pretty vital information, like the fact there’s a limit to the amount of Sri Lankan Rupees you can take into the country (and the fact that they’re almost impossible to come by outside of the country).

Elephant_family_at_Yala

It’s also arranged a little confusingly making you think that if you’re staying in a certain area you’re limited to the attractions listed within that section (which – so long as you’ve got a decent driver and a comfy air-conditioned car – simply isn’t the case). It’s also not as extensive as it could be in listing the attractions in the south and obviously isn’t as up-to-date as Trip Advisor. It even suggests that Yala National Park isn’t the place to go for elephant spotting. The above photo taken at Yala would seem to dispute that! With this in  mind use the guide in conjunction with Trip Advisor and the staff in your hotel, who will no doubt utter the phrase “You may follow your guidebook, but Sri Lanka is my country, so I know it better than any guidebook, so please let me help you plan your trips.”

Galle_Fort

Where the Lonely Planet guide does come into it’s own is when you’re wandering around an attraction wondering what the heck you’re looking at. See, Sri Lanka isn’t big on signage. So unless you happen upon a helpful guide you might be left using your imagination as you saunter around Galle Fort or a similar attraction. Fortunately Lonely Planet offers some historical and geographical context to your whereabouts.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but like I said before, in conjunction with the web and personal recommendation. A good starting point, but a little limited.

Fabulous rating: 3/5

Fact: Book Review: The Body Book by Cameron Diaz

So I bought this today. #CameronDiaz #TheBodyBook

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There was probably no better time for me to read this book than when I was on holiday, sat on my sun lounger exposed to the world in my itsy bits teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.*

I’ll admit, when I heard that Cameron D had written a book about health and fitness I was quick to dismiss it as a fluffy tome filled with ‘tricks and tips’ to make you look ‘red carpet ready’ without the hassle. Then I flicked through the book and saw diagrams of cell structure, anatomy lessons and a huge dose of common sense. I was sold.

The Body Book isn’t a diet book. In that it’s essence isn’t about calorie counting and getting to your ‘ideal weight’. It’s about being strong and healthy regardless of your size. Cameron admits you can be super-skinny but terribly unhealthy (something I’ve banged on about before here). She strips things back to basics and startles you with facts. Seriously, if Cameron is to be believed processed food is convenient but also pretty much devoid of any nutritional value. OK, that’s probably not a shock to you. But when she digs deeper and explains why… well I certainly experienced some eyebrow raising moments!

She doesn’t just tackle diet either. There’s also fitness and wellbeing. It’s like an old friend giving you a dose of tough love with a heaped tablespoon of fact and science thrown in, all written in that inimitable bubbly Cameron D style.

If you’re looking for a book that’s going to tell you that being healthy is easy – this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a book that tells it like it is and educates you into making informed choices for your body – jump right in with both feet (and then keep jumping to work up a nice healthy sweat!).

I was really impressed with this book and will be keeping it to hand on my kitchen bookcase to help when I’m meal planning, or simply  use when I just need a bit of inspiration. Thanks Cameron.

*It was also a good time to read this book as the extensive breakfast  buffet meant I could put my new found learnings into practice straight away. Ohhh, hello there pineapple, papaya, banana, coconut water… You get the idea 🙂

Fabulous rating: 5/5

Fact: Book Review: Running by Ronnie O’Sullivan

What I'm reading

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OK, so I’m not a massive snooker fan. Sure, I find the rhythmic clinking of the balls combined with the soft commentary supremely relaxing (so relaxing that it often results in an impromptu Sunday afternoon nap). And, to be fair, if Hubby is watching a tournament I’ll generally get caught up in the action enough to watch a few frames, understand whose playing well and whose playing badly and ultimately care about who wins. It’s an interesting sport in that it’s still very traditional and I guess I like that. The players still dress very formally with their shiny shoes, pressed trousers, shirts and waistcoats. But there’s also a good banter. Different players are renowned not just for different playing styles but also for their differing personalities. And there’s one man that intrigues me more than most.

Since way back when I’ve been intrigued by Ronnie O’Sullivan. He’s an enigma. Albeit a very talented and somewhat troubled one. People like that fascinate me. I want to peel back the layers of the onion and understand what’s made them the way they are, why they do what they do and what it is that makes them tick. I’ve wanted to read a book about Ronnie for so long and was delighted when I unwrapped this little beauty on Christmas Day.

The book utilises Ronnie’s love of running to propel the story and flow through a number of episodes of Ronnie’s life which would have otherwise seemed disjointed within the book. The book explains some of Ronnie’s mad moments (why he put a towel over his head when he was playing against Mark King, what happened when Ding started crying on him), some of Ronnie’s sad moments (when both of his parent’s are imprisoned, his custody battle) and some of his downright bad moments (disgracing himself on Chinese TV, the drink and drug fuelled binges). But the book also reveals the softer side to Ronnie. The side that dotes on his children, the side that enjoys volunteering at a local farm… And I guess that’s what people love about Ronnie. He’s the bad guy, done good. He’s a loveable rogue. They’re all cliches, but it’s so true. He’s an amazing snooker player and an underdog all at the same time. What’s not to love about that?

There are also some fascinating chapters about Ronnie’s recent work with sports psychiatrist, Dr Steven Peters. If you take nothing more from this book than what Steven teaches Ronnie in dealing with his inner chimp, you’re still onto a winner.

The book is an easy read and gives you a glimpse into the world of the unlikely World Champion. Whether you’re into snooker, a Ronnie fan, or just intrigued by human nature give this book a go!

Fabulous rating: 5/5

Fact: Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

What I'm reading

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Dale Carnegie was possibly the founder of self-help, with this tome, which he penned way back in 1936. Some of the references are dated. The writing is annoyingly repetitive in that American sales letter ‘keep telling ’em’ style. And, to be honest, unless you’ve been living on a remote island somewhere, not much of this will be new to you. If you’ve studied any psychology course you’ll recognise Carnegie’s obvious references to Pavlov and Skinner. Much of this has been rehashed by women’s magazines and other more contemporary self help books. Some of the learning are lessons which, you could argue, could be found in Buddhist teachings – although without the obvious business – make mo’ money – leanings.

The one saving grace of this book is that it does remind you of things which you know you should do, but sometimes forget as you get carried away trying to tick tasks off your never ending to do list.

By all means give this a read, but don’t expect enlightenment at the end of it.

Fabulous rating: 1/5.