One of the most difficult symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as it affects me (everyone is different) is the sudden periods of violent, uncontrolled movements that can occur. These are tiring and become painful. They prevent you doing anything. They disturb your balance and you have to be careful not to fall. They are socially embarrassing and though I have to say people are very kind and tolerant, if these happen in, say, a lecture hall, I get very stressed at being a source of distraction and irritation to everyone, which only makes the problem worse. It can last for 10 minutes or several hours and I never have any idea why it ceases.

Since these bouts do not invariably occur, it would be useful to discover what caused them in order to avoid them or minimise their effect. No-one has been able to shed any light on this or suggest any preventative measures. Some people feel it is a nervous reaction and suggest tranquilisers, but I do not feel that I am invariably nervous when it occurs (though stress will obviously make anything worse.) It appears to be more likely in the evening when one is tired. Being in a noisy environment can set it off. And it appears to have some connection with food. Too long a gap between meals, eating meals that are too large or rich, not eating enough in the day – these can all be triggers. Drinking some of a glass of wine before eating food causes an almost immediate bad reaction. It’s a complex business.

Over the last few days I’ve been following recipes from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s new cook book, Light and Easy (£25, but on sale at W H Smith’s for £6). He’s avoiding sugar and dairy produce. I noticed that my twitching phase, while still present, was much shorter. Then the other day Anne came at fairly short notice for lunch, and I made Eve’s Pudding to liven up an otherwise dull meal. Two tablespoonsful of sugar went into the apples, and four ounces into the sponge topping. Over the day I had two large helpings,so I estimate I consumed about 2 oz of extra sugar. Twitching was much worse than on the previous days.

Could it be that it is sugar that causes this reaction to worsen? Although I confess I do like cake and sweet things, to be free of these periods of excessive mobility, or even to reduce their time length would be sufficient of an incentive to cut back drastically. I think I’ll follow Hugh F-W’s book for a few months, because even if there is no improvement with this particular problem, I think the diet would be a good one. I find if you stop eating sugar, you don’t want it so much.

Life is still sweet but maybe it shouldn’t be sugary!