Welcome to My Year Without
On January 1, 2008, I made a New Year's resolution to cut out refined sugar for one year. I cut out white refined sugar and corn syrups. My quest to be sugar-free evolved into political interest, public health, and letter writing to food manufacturers. Join me in sugar sleuthing, and learn more about the psychological aspects of sugar addiction, and those who push sugar on us.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
1. Glassy-eyed and salivating, I venture into the kitchen and peek in all cupboards, the fridge and the freezer. I look behind cans, cartons and boxes hoping to find the perfect solution to my craving. Dried cranberries, prunes, naturally-sweetened cookies or even the perfect tea. If I'm lucky.
2. Upon finding nothing that appeals, I exit the kitchen in hopes of distracting myself.
3. Unless I've found something really engaging, I typically wander back into the kitchen and hope to find something that I missed the first time.
Needless to say this routine has got to stop. My mouth has got to stop dictating my actions. My brain and willpower are stronger than this, aren't they? What on earth propels me to shut off my brain and re-enter the kitchen over and over again? It's not like a little fairy flew in and sprinkled magic fairy dust on my prunes turning them into Oreos. The worst thing is, I'm not even hungry.
So, I created a solution.
The miracle is, it's working.
I made a Bitch-Fit (BF) Book. I labeled a notebook and set it on the kitchen counter. When I have a craving I go right to the book and write. I mean, write! Everything I am feeling, wanting and needing. I write anything and everything that comes to mind. By the time I'm done leaning against the counter writing, my craving has dissipated. I write until "it" is out of my system. Some entries are so passionate and desperate that my writing is hardly legible. I'm usually exhausted by the time I put the notebook down.
But it's working.
I highly recommend it. If you create your own BF book, please let me know how it works for you.
Disclaimer: Last night for some reason (where I'm at in my cycle?) even though I wrote in my BF book I felt like if there were a pint of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream I would have eaten it. That's one reason I don't keep food like that in the house.
Image found at: http://www.librarything.com/topic/44157
Monday, November 14, 2011
My pattern is always the same: The mere thought of chewing on something sweet and I become orally fixated. Needy.
I must put something sweet on my aching tongue or I'm convinced it will wither. I fantasize about donuts and ice cream and cookie dough for a second, and visualize going to the grocery store to buy whatever I want.
I ditch that idea and consider what's available immediately: A chocolate bar, chocolate chips or my husband's pint of ice cream.
The more I fantasize how satisfying it's going to be, the more the momentum builds. As I scan cupboards, fridge and freezer the momentum speeds up. When I make my decision to take the chocolate bar and have my way with it, the momentum is unstoppable. Minutes later I have regret and begin the pattern of self-deprecating.
If I had stopped the pattern of thoughts from the beginning, I could have stopped the initial momentum.
I discovered this on Saturday. Friday was my last day of work in an office, and I decided it was time to go without sugar again. Saturday.
It's now Monday, almost noon, and I haven't had an issue with cravings. I decided to ignore them. I've also created a BF (Bitch Fit!) book to log any and all thoughts, feelings and cravings. It sits on my kitchen counter. I hope to identify more emotions/situations that lead me to desire sweets.
In the meantime, I'm abiding by the AHA's daily recommended added sugar quotient, which is 6 teaspoons for women, 9 for men. I will only be eating non-refined sugars like maple syrup, honey and dried fruit but no more than 6 teaspoons a day. So far, so good.
My goal is to someday crave only whole foods, you know, the kind nature intended.
More thoughts on Temptation:
Wikipedia defines temptation as: "...A temptation is an act that looks appealing to an individual. It is usually used to describe acts with negative connotations and as such, tends to lead a person to regret such actions."
Some proverbs, quotes and other verses describing temptation:
"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us...."
"Good habits result from resisting temptation."
"I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it," Mae West.
"Temptation is the fire that brings up the scum of the heart," Shakespeare
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I'm frustrated at all of the latest sugar information I've waded through this morning: news articles about obesity, sugar addiction and beverage company lobbyists.
Thing is, I went 3 years without eating refined sugar.
I was superhuman.
I couldn't fly, but turned down every cookie, cake, beverage, ice cream and morsel of sugar. Dang! That was then. Now I'm eating it again and all of my former issues (self-loathing, addiction, sugar blues, muffin top) are back. So why don't I just cut it out again? If it were that easy I wouldn't be scrolling through the Twelve Steps.
I'm frustrated because I'm no longer superior, no longer superhuman. I'm a mortal living among other sugar-addicted mortals fighting the urge to snack on chocolate or buy Ben & Jerry's. Dang.
Like every other addiction I know of, it seems to be an all or nothing ordeal. There can be no moderation, no matter what anyone says. But is this true, or just true for me?
According to the American Heart Association women are to eat no more than 6 teaspoons of (added) sugar per day and for men it's 9 teaspoons. What the hey? When are 6 teaspoons ever just 6 teaspoons? As if!
The main reason I am so frustrated, no, I'm freaking raging right now, is that once upon a time my cave-woman ancestor ate to live. Zog brought home leg of deer and they ate. They slept. They tidied their cave dwelling and she sewed the deerskin into a loincloth. I can't picture either of them sitting there chewing on a stick dreaming of Hershey's or the Cheesecake Factory. If Tala found a bush of berries while Zog hunted, they ate some. Some. Okay maybe all, but even if they stuffed their bellies with berries, we're talking about a whole food.
I'm aware of the influences and traditions and conveniences that ease and justify my way to the cake mix aisle, but I would love to have the primitive tooth of Tala and be surrounded with bushes of berries instead of aisles of junk food. Yeah we've come a long way, but with the nation's obesity rate soaring, we're now devolving. (If you click on this link, watch the graph change with every year. Scary.)
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
For the last few years I've really been excited about natural sweeteners, but after all I've researched and experienced I've concluded that the amount in which we consume them make the consumption of them not exactly natural.
My latest bottom line (funny how this is constantly evolving) is that the healthiest natural sweeteners are whole foods. These can be eaten in abundance--we are supposed to be eating several servings of fruits and vegetables daily. (It's pretty difficult to eat more than one apple at a time, so no real fear of over-doing it.) I include dried fruit as a healthy alternative, as well. For example, the sweet, wrinkly little prune adds iron, vitamin A, calcium, fiber and potassium to your diet. In fact, I love prunes so much I felt inspired just now...
Small, moist, sweet and soft
You satisfy my craving
Sweet lingers on lips
Saturday, September 3, 2011
After three years abstaining from the white stuff, I'm back at it.
A new problem has surfaced.
Going without sugar was the most amazing thing I've ever done in my life. So empowering. The most incredible journey of willpower, discipline and research into the food industry. What would make me want to exchange all this for a cookie?
I wish I knew.
Perhaps to see how far I'd come in my discipline..... "Of course I am self-controlled enough now to enjoy one cookie!" The occasional sugar should be a non-issue in my life at this point....
So here's the problem: Because I am super aware of my body's response to sugar now, I am noticing affects it has on me. My body had three glorious years of freedom and repair from the white stuff, and now my body feels....different when I eat sugar. I'm not talking about the sugar crash. It's like sugar is directly causing pain in various parts of my body. I have been experiencing crazy symptoms within an hour (more or less) of eating sugar.....every time. I can only attribute this to sugar because most of the time I feel healthy and wonderful. I have a few health issues but they are stabilized and don't bother me much.
For example, my gout. I've had it since I was a kid. Over the years I have learned to control the symptoms with diet. When/If it flares up, I drink black cherry juice and drink an herbal anti-inflammatory. It always works. Not sure why I have gout, but it's easy to control the acute inflammation.
Unless I eat sugar. Within a few hours of ingesting sugar my big left toe feels stiff and aches, sometimes the ache goes up my leg. Sometimes my neck, my hands or my other leg hurts.
I've noticed other symptoms that seem to be directly related to sugar.....and/or refined grains. I can't seem to eat sugar or white flour (they are usually eaten in combination) without a yeast infection, and I can count on it disappearing in a day or two when I stop eating sugar/refined crap--100% of the time.
I meant to settle down here in this new city with a new diet--a whole foods diet. That hasn't happened yet, and I feel like I am paying the consequences every time I make a bad food choice. Not lesser food choice, BAD food choice.
The body does not need refined sugar. Some have argued with me that the brain runs on glucose so sugar is helping the brain. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains also provide the body with glucose. Sugar is a lame excuse for food. I don't know about you, but I have not evolved to digest sugar without consequence.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
It was so easy in the big city to walk into the grocery store and load up on convenience foods. Life can be so fast-paced in the city that the convenient food seemed to make the most sense. Though I ate healthfully most of the time, near the end of my stay when I tried sugar I just about gave up healthy eating completely.
For example: frozen pizza, lots of mac N cheese, top ramen and a lot of chocolate (love that opiate-induced feeling in the brain).
When Jeff said that he would like to eat healthfully I about lost my senses. Since I've known him he has sustained himself on mostly these items: hostess cupcakes, chocolate syrup, chocolate ovaltine, pasta and pizza.
On our cross country road trip to Wyoming we made a list. We brainstormed what counted as whole foods and what didn't. What it amounted to is processed food is out of the question including: most breads, crackers, pasta, packaged junk, flavored drinks and sugary stuff.
It's been about two weeks and we are doing it! As a "reward" we treat ourselves to a donut once a month. It's about the worst, most delicious item we could think of that will motivate us to continue eating whole foods.
Recently, we decided to allow chocolate. Not just any chocolate but a high percentage cacao chocolate bar.
That's all I have to report for now.....
Friday, February 18, 2011
Sick of being so regimented and craving balance, I decided to try dark chocolate, and I don't mean 55% cacao. I'm talking about the 85-90% cacao.
It was wonderful! A square of it here and there, shared with my husband, was the delirium I wanted. To share in the exotic bliss of chocolate, lightly sweetened with sugar.
But one square at each sitting became, "Oh, two squares is okay," which became, "Well since we're sharing it we might as well eat the whole thing," which then became me eating entire bars of chocolate, ALONE.
From there, since I was already selling my soul to the white devil, why did it matter if it was just chocolate? Why not a little taste of an Oreo? After all, after quitting sugar for 3 years surely just one will satisfy.
It did satisfy.
The first time.
The next time I reasoned that if I enjoyed one, why not enjoy two? After all, I'm still totally in control.
I learned that Temptation will tell you anything. ANYTHING. I don't believe Temptation is some spiritual googly monster whispering in our ear. I believe it's basically the "thing" inside of our human nature that always chooses what we most want, with no respect for consequences.
Here's where things get interesting.
I had forgotten by this time some of the reasons I initially quit sugar. So upon finishing the most delicious chocolate layer cake I've ever eaten in my life, when I began to panic for no reason, it suddenly occurred to me that in past sugar binges sometimes I would get shaky and panicky.
I loved and hated the reminder. The feeling passed, but then the sugar low began. I couldn't keep my eyes open.
Which reminds me of last weekend when I decided I'd share a bag of Reese's Pieces with Jeff at a movie. I took a handful and the next thing I knew I was lifting my sleepy head off of Jeff's shoulder.
"All it took was a handful of candy!" he whispered to me during The Illusionist.
"What happened?" I asked, confused. I had just been awake watching previews.
"You conked out when you ate these!" he held up the bag of candy and jumped up. I stared at him. The movie was going. He left and came back empty-handed.
"We don't need those. Remember how sleepy you used to get when you ate sugar?" he asked and then we dropped the subject to enjoy the movie.
And there's more.
Stay tuned again for another update.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
One of only three things I've ever regretted in my life.
Things are NOT good.
Eagerly anticipating writing a nice long explanation of what happened. And what I plan to do about it.