In hindsight, giving up sugar for a period of time during which I knew some Important Things were probably going to happen, was probably not the greatest idea I’ve ever had.

In saying that, though, I was in the 7th and 8th weeks of this eight-week journey when the Important Things happened, so in a way, I felt like I had already succeeded doing what I wanted to do when I started this, which was to kick my sugar addiction to the curb.

Also, no pre-Christmas baking can ever occur without the baker sampling the fruits of their labor, many times over. I’m sure that is written in at least one of history’s great cookbooks. And if it isn’t, it should be.

After the Crunch Bar Crack Attack (I have never been prouder of myself as a writer than I am right now, having thought that up off the top of my head) of Day 38, I stayed pretty much completely sugar-free for a week. No worries, no dramas.

Then, at about 9:30 in the morning on Day 46, I received a call from my immigration consultant. If you read my Day 13 post, or any of my posts falling under the category ‘immigration’, you will know that I am an Australian immigrant living in the UK, and I have spent the better part of 2016 fretting over how I was going to get a visa for 2017 and beyond. Anyway, my immigration consultant called me with the news that my application for a Tier 1 Entrepreneurial visa had been approved. While I can’t say I felt the physical sensation of an enormous weight being lifted from my shoulders, I definitely felt… something. A good something, but not a something I can accurately name.

So I rang my parents to great fanfare and spent the rest of the day feeling very pleased indeed. I can’t remember if I ate any sugar, but if I did, I don’t think I had very much of it.

My mum sent me a message during the day, suggesting that I contact my immigration consultant again to check whether I was still allowed to work for my current employer. I didn’t think it would be a problem, but I figured it was a good idea to check. So, I send an email.

The next morning (Day 47), I sat down at my desk as usual and checked my emails. And there was the email from my immigration consultant telling me that as soon as my new visa was in my hand (it arrived later that day), I was not legally allowed to work for my company anymore. A quick phone call to the UK Border Agency confirmed this, and I then had to tell my manager that that day had to be my last day working for them.

Unlike Day 46, I can name what I spent the rest of Day 47 feeling without any trace of ambiguity: shock.

Don’t get me wrong – I’d wanted to leave the company for ages. They treat their employees like rubbish and I had long ago given up any delusions I might have had about being happy or valued there. I have no doubt that working for that place has done terrible things to my mental and physical health, and it will probably take me a good long while to recover completely from it.

But the thing is, I had been operating under the assumption that I would be working there for another month. That way, I would have plenty of time to tidy up some lingering jobs, say goodbye to everybody, prepare the required leaving presents every employer is expected to give their colleagues in any heavily Japan-influenced company, have my leaving interview, and whatever else needed doing. Instead I had to do as much of that as I could in about five hours. I’m sure you can appreciate why refraining from eating sugar was not high on my list of priorities.

In an effort to satisfy the leaving-gifts part of the process, I hot-footed it to the nearby Tesco and bought a big tub of Celebrations for my colleagues. I ate a few of those while in the middle of hurriedly packing up my desk, throwing out three years’ worth of notes, and creating a new roleplaying character with a friend over Facebook (because I needed something not related to what was happening to keep me grounded). I then left work for the final time, went to a friend’s house for a roleplaying session, and bought a small bag of chocolate coins to nibble on on my way home.

I think my deviance, or whatever you want to call it, was a good thing for me to have done. I’ve never been great at restricting myself, food-wise, and at times of stress restricting myself just adds to it, which is not healthy. Better to eat a chocolate coin or two and leave my mind and body to process what was going on, uninhibited.

So the remaining nine days of IQS were spent… not really following IQS. Instead I spent my time visiting friends, baking for Christmas, crocheting for Christmas, and recovering. My original plan had been to spend the first few weeks after leaving my awful job resting, maybe spending a few days with my bestie in Sheffield, and adjusting to the idea of being self-employed. It turns out that it hasn’t quite happened that way, but I have been able to use these days to reflect on what I want to do going forward, and I think I have something vaguely resembling a plan now. To cut a long thought process short, I’m entering 2017 with an ambition to be a freelance copywriter.

I didn’t finish IQS in quite the way I would have liked, but I can’t say that I feel particularly bad about it… or even as though I failed. My days of feeling bad for not following some arbitrary eating plan are, I like to think, mostly behind me. I don’t know for certain whether quitting sugar has had a tremendously positive effect on my health, but I have to admit that I like not having the horrible 11am and 3pm hunger/tiredness slumps I used to have. I also really like how, once sugar and sweet foods are cut out, my diet seems to become nutritionally balanced, through no real effort of my own. It’s almost as though my body wants to eat good amounts of all the different food groups, but the sugar addiction had been getting in the way of it doing that. I am definitely intending to continue living a low-sugar life going forward. I have no idea if that is what will end up happening, but I hope for the best.

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