Making changes

Friday 11 May 2018

Many of you will have been advised to make changes to your diet or lifestyle following a diagnosis of cancer, or you may have decided to make some changes to improve your general health before, during or after treatment.

I was recently challenged to make a dietary change by a colleague and, as a self confessed sugar addict, opted to avoid refined sugar in my diet.  I had previously tried to cut down on sugar some time ago but had slipped up and the old sugary habits had returned.

My first tip for any change is to get prepared. I set a start date and read some cookbooks and planned out my shopping. (If you are receiving treatment or have any dietary restrictions, do also check with your health care team or GP). I also read up on some possible symptoms of sugar withdrawal so I knew what to expect.

That all made starting much easier and having meal plans ready and the odd non sugary snack on standby meant I didn’t falter in those ‘what shall we have for supper’ moments.

I found support from others really helpful for those moments of weakness and if you can get someone to make the same change with you all the better.

After a week I felt the sugary habits of biscuits easier to refuse, though tea without that ½ tea spoon of sugar is still hard. I met a lovely visitor to Maggie’s Bart's, who told me she had found that eased after a week or two which helped immensely. Going out for a meal and not having dessert was a challenge and also felt very unnatural.

I expected to find it hard and to have lots of symptoms but have (so far) been pleasantly surprised. As I write this I can’t quite believe it's day 10 and I'm still sugar free and noticing the benefits already!

The hardest thing over the last 10 days has been something that really surprised me - comments from friends and colleagues like: ‘but you're eating berries’ or ‘don’t you know how much sugar there is in an apple’ etc ….

Which brings me to my point….. making changes, whether you have to or, decide to, is about doing the best you can in whatever situation you are in.

You need the support and encouragement of those around you, focusing on what you have achieved rather than trying to find fault in your approach.

You also need to be kind to yourself. Whatever change you are making, set a manageable goal, focus on the progress you have made, the small steps, and keep reminding yourself how well you are doing.

If you slip up then make a fresh start without being hard on yourself.

At Maggie's we can help you to find ways to make those changes less overwhelming, so if you have a question or would like to talk things over, then you are welcome to drop into any of our Centres or contact us for more information.

Every journey begins with a single step...... And sometimes that step is to ask for help.

Best wishes,


Blog originally written by Robyn Feb 2018 

(updated 2021)

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