Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Sugar Confession: Part 1

After all I've shared about sugar, the consequences of eating it, the health risks and addictive aspects of it, I am about to share something that may shock you:


Let me explain. I am not talking about the white stuff (did you really think....?!). Nor am I talking about all (though some are included) of the natural sweeteners out there that I have been very much enjoying (bummer!). I am talking about essential sugars. The "sugars" found in raw, whole foods. Fruits and vegetables and seaweeds and mushrooms, etc. These sugars are good for us! In fact, they have healing properties, anti-cancer and anti-viral properties, too.

You know there are natural sugars, right? However, what may seem obvious was absolutely news to me. I knew about natural sugars in fruit and some vegetables (it's been arbitrary to me thus far!)--but what I did not know is what kind of sugars those are, and the huge list of foods that contain essential sugars. In fact, I hesitate as I write this because I have put an entire year's worth of effort into my year without, and now I wonder if I went about it the right way. I mean, now I am second-guessing my plight. With all of the natural sweeteners out there, it's been a cake-walk for the most part, when it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth--but here is my point:


Some of you are too kind and I know what you are thinking, "But you've given up refined sugar which is hard to do and is found in everything!" That is true, but I have a confession that I am about to tell you.....



Okay....I haven't really felt a heck of a lot different than I did before I gave up sugar! There! Now you know. The changes I have experienced are relatively minor, and I expected to lose some weight (I thought that extra 15 lbs. came from all of the donuts we would chow together as free-spirited, newlyweds...and if I gave those up, the weight would naturally slide off....NOPE!).

For those of you who would like a quick re-cap of the changes that I have experienced, here they are:
  • I don't experience the blood sugar ups and downs like before. About an hour or so after people have eaten dessert and everyone gets sluggish and sleepy, I am bouncing off the walls and wanting to hang out.
  • I don't have quite the same problem with cravings like I did before. When I was eating white sugar, the only thing that would satisfy my sugar cravings was white sugar. Now, honey or other natural sweeteners can satisfy that little hellion--my sweet tooth.
  • My immune system has been going strong, but it actually has been for the past 3 years. My only bout with being sick in the last 3 years was a week-long cold--this year. I am pretty sure that in trying a series of hot yoga, my body was ridding itself of hidden toxins in the form of a cold.
  • I feel better about myself.
  • I feel superior to those around me gorging themselves on desserts. (Sorry, this is the truth--and I think anyone would feel the same in my shoes.)
  • I have an awareness about sugar that I will have for the rest of my life. I also have renewed faith in myself that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
This is a small list of what came to me as I sit here thinking about it. I may be leaving some things out, but these are the biggest changes. Anyway, my point is that I wonder if I should have given up all sweeteners that are not in the form of whole foods. In other words, I wonder if I should try another year of only eating fruits and vegetables for my sugar needs. Could I go without honey on toast...for an entire year?

In conclusion, I am saying that I have kicked white refined sugar, but I am unsure if I have really kicked the "sugar habit". When I crave sugar, I pour on the honey, or make a batch of naturally sweetened cookies or muffins. And dare I confess that often I eat just as many goodies in a row as if they were filled with white sugar. My cut-off point to eating sweets may not be in any better shape than before, if looked at under a microscope. Dang!

I had no idea that today would be this confessional-like forum. I would love feedback. Not the pat-me-on-the-back kind of feedback, but whatever comes to mind as you have been reading this.

Okay, here is what you have been waiting for. This is the article that got me thinking in this direction this morning. I have the first part quoted here, but please click on the author's name below to read the rest of the article.

"Sugar seems to be related to all things sweet in life. We call our loved ones "sweetheart," "sugar plum," "honey," and "sweety pie." Life without any sweet flavors would be challenging at best and extremely disappointing at worst. Sugar is the great reward of life and we know that people and animals perform consistently better when rewarded.

Because the term is used so loosely, sugar has become an ambiguous word. When one states the word "sugar" it could mean one of a dozen things such as high fructose corn syrup, refined cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, maple sugar, beet sugar, fruit juice, dried fruit, etc.

For purposes of this article, sugar is defined as a natural hydrocarbon compound (such as honey, agave, fruits, dried fruits, etc.) and refined sugar is an unnatural hydrocarbon product (such as high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, white sugar, etc.) made through human engineering, plant breeding, and heat processing...." --by David Wolfe, JD


tamara aka mico said...

i left an answer for you.

Joy's Journey in Weightloss said...

I have been on the same journey, except that I don't do honey etc. I have experienced the same level of relief, yet the weight loss has leveled off and I am "using" fruit and other "natural" sweetness to fill the void, as well as comfort. Unless I stop eating so many carb and quit fooling myself, I still will be held hostage by my sugar tooth. I am not quite ready yet. I don't know why!

My Year Without said...

Joy, one thing I have noticed about weight loss combined with dieting, is that I can change all sorts of things about my diet, but unless I do some exercise, I'm barking up the wrong tree. I guess I should have touched on this subject. It's so interesting! One way for me to eat healthier is to actually exercise first thing in the morning, and then I only WANT to eat healthy the rest of the day so I don't "ruin" my exercise efforts. By this I don't mean starve myself (we all just end up overeating later) I just mean eating less junk.

Anyway, what are motivating factors for you? I'd love to know!

My Year Without said...

Oh, and another thing, how about ONLY eating whole foods for our sugar needs? I am seriously considering trying this as I, too, have been abusing my honey, agave, brown rice syrup privileges. It seems like if I cannot keep something in moderation, then I should get rid of it altogether. Like white sugar.

Ryan Wanger said...

I've recently given up processed foods, and similar to what you experienced, I no longer have the same sugar cravings. It's not something I expected, especially since I'm still eating sugar (in the occasional baked good or on oatmeal), but certainly welcome!

I suppose there was a lot more sugar in what I used to eat than I realize. It can be quite addictive if you hadn't noticed. :-)

tamara aka mico said...

id like to be your friend. Talk more about your journey.
email me?
I cant get to yours....
: )