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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Yogurt's Broken Halo

Do you consider store-bought yogurt a healthy food?

Do you have any idea how much sugar companies add to yogurt?

It's maddening when I think about the American Heart Association's recommendation for daily sugar intake:

Children (age 2-18) should eat less than 25 grams of sugar daily (less than 6 teaspoons).
Women should eat no more than approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar daily.
Men should eat no more than approximately 9 teaspoons of sugar daily.

Four grams is equal to one teaspoon!

I'm so mad I'm considering Ben & Jerry's for breakfast. My neighbor made some yogurt the other day using bacteria and milk. She added nothing else (possibly a pinch of sugar to feed the bacteria?) and the outcome was incredible. It was refreshing, sweet (lactose in milk is naturally sweet) and satisfying.

So why are so many yogurt companies adding 20+ grams of sugar to each little cup of yogurt?! (And I'm talking about the healthier yogurts, organic, found at health food stores, etc.) For the same reason sugar is added to anything--we will remember how much yummier this brand is over this brand and we will gravitate towards the sweeter one. Naturally.

Examples of the healthiest yogurts I could find, but not healthy in terms of added sugars:

Whole Milk Yogurt Plain: 1 container (8oz) = 180 calories, 16 grams sugar (from milk)

Nonfat Yogurt Plain: 1 container = 120 calories, 17 grams sugar (from milk)

Organic Cultured Soy Unsweetened Plain: 1 container (6oz) = 80 calories, 0 grams sugar

Brown Cow (American Humane Certified)
Strawberry Nonfat: 1 container  = 130 calories, 23 grams sugar (evaporated cane juice)
Chocolate Nonfat: 1 container

Redwood Hill Farm (Goat Milk Yogurt)
Vanilla: 1 container (170g) = 140 calories, 5g fat, 14g sugars (maple syrup)

Wallaby Organic
Key Lime Lowfat: 1 container = 150 calories, 2.5g fat, 22 grams of sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)

Stonyfield Organic
Chocolate Underground 0% Fat: 1 container = 150 calories, 0g fat, 29 grams sugar (naturally milled organic sugar)

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream: 1/2 cup = 260 calories, 15 g fat and 25 grams sugar. This is less sugar than one container of Stonyfield chocolate yogurt. OMG.

Livid! The organic yogurts have a lot of added sugar and the sugar-free yogurts either are not organic or have scary artificial sugar substitutes. And soy? Not a huge fan anymore but at least no one is getting milked to make soy yogurt.

The ONLY brand of yogurt that I have found to be both organic and lightly sweetened is Nancy's. However, recently agave nectar has been substituted for honey in a few of Nancy's yogurts. Bad move! Sadly, this yogurt is difficult to find everywhere. I've lived on the west coast, east coast and a few places in between in the last five years and have not always been able to find Nancy's. Write or call your grocery store and request it.

Also, if you're as mad as I am about the tremendous amount of sugars added to yogurts, write to the companies. Or make your own (check out this wonderful book!)


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sugar and Sleepiness

I haven't blogged in a while (2 years...?) because I've been experimenting with sugar. Sugar as it relates to my sleep cycle. Motivation. Naps. Nightmares.

My suspicions have been confirmed, and now it's time to share what I learned. For the record, my experiences obviously don't mean this is what is happening to everyone, however, they could represent what others of you might be experiencing. I would love to hear from you either way!

I have determined that when I eat sugar at night (anytime after 7 or 8pm) I have a more difficult time going to sleep. It may be this restless going in and out of sleep and/or accompanied by nightmares. Why is this so?

I get sleepy during the day at different times so I have spent the last several years experimenting with meals, specific foods and noting when I get tired. I will most likely always be tired after a very large meal. So I have stopped eating large meals unless I'm at home and can roll onto the couch to catch a quick snore. Otherwise, especially days I have a busy schedule, I will not eat any sugar (check the label on your yogurt, my friends!) AND I'll only eat small amounts of what I do eat. For instance I will have my morning cup of drip coffee and a small dish of nuts and fruit. Then I will pack an apple or banana and more nuts and sometimes string cheese. If it's going to be a really long day I will also make a no-sugar, vegan protein shake with water and frozen fruit and bring it with. These small bits of food keep me slightly hungry and therefore less tired.

No matter what, I take an afternoon nap, but it's always a great day when I get to choose the time of day instead of my body saying, "Sleep now or you are going to collapse! Yes, right here on this bench in the west wing of this crowded museum in front of everyone! Sleep, now!"

Side note: I have memories of working at my first real job (babysitting only paid $3/hr in the 80's so not so much a real job) in an office as a file clerk. Mom dropped me off after school and I spent the afternoon filing and sharing the nice ladies' M&M's they had in crystal dishes on their desks. I wondered if they put them out mostly for visitors or for themselves, because they always seemed happy when I took some but often by 5pm the dishes were empty. Now I can say I've been in similar jobs where I've been sitting and it's the afternoon and I ate too much lunch and anything with sugar seems like a fix.

For me, sugar is directly related to feeling tired and sometimes the need to nap right away. Without exception those Sunday morning donuts with coffee gift me with a few minutes to get from the kitchen table back to bed to nap it off. On long road trips I'll stay alert and peppy if I nibble on carrots instead of Skittles. If Jeff sees me open a bag of candy on the road he moans because he knows I'll be asleep in a few minutes and all conversation comes to a screeching halt.

I'll write more later about different kinds of sugar but for now, for this article, I'll just say that any food with added sugar is a serious threat to my wakefulness. Does anyone relate to this?