Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sugar is the Devil

I recently wrote a post about why Fat is Good but it kind of ended up being a rant about sugar.  Don't get me wrong, you know I love me some sugar.  Gimme jellybeans or Mike N Ike's all day!!  But I am learning so much about why sugar is not okay for my body.

When I started this healthy food adventure with Ellen in early May, I had to write down what I ate for three days.  I was embarrassed by my food choices but felt like I fairly honestly recorded a regular food day for me.  I did skip out on sugary items a few times so I wouldn't look SOOOO bad and was still sad when she mentioned how much sugar I had in my diet (but that was me being "GOOD," I swear!).  Ellen had me record how I felt after I ate.  Every single time I ate sugar, I got incredibly tired.  It is amazing to watch that being written down on paper.  I eat sugar, I get sick.  Why would I want to eat sugar then?  I mean, except that it's really yummy.  So I started really watching my sugar in-take.  I completely cut out the jellybeans at work (with the exception of one recent slip-up).  No sour octopuses while making the long drive to Santa Maria.  I -- gasp -- started skipping donut day at work.  I hadn't picked up cupcakes in months.  I felt pretty good about it.  There was no "triggering" effect since I never felt like I was being told I couldn't eat the sugar.  I was truly deciding that I didn't like how I felt after I ate it, so why bother eating it? 

Trying to right myself on the food issues...
If you truly understand what sugar does to your body, and how it is refined sugar and carbs making us fat, and not butter or steak, then it certainly makes it a lot easier to give it up.  This may shock many of you but I have also given up my Vitamin Waters.  I don't drink coffee so the Vitamin Water Energy was my version of coffee.  I would drink it at work while I swallowed my millions of vitamins and ate pistachios (you know, because some vitamins require fat for absorption).  I never drank it because I thought I was getting vitamins out of it.  It was just yummy.  Suddenly, it tasted like chemicals.  So guess what -- gone.  That doesn't mean I haven't had a couple to drink recently (something weird happens when I drive long distances...I crave my Vitamin Water and candy, so I still picked two up while driving recently, but I DID skip the candy).  I am just not drinking them on a daily basis.  Plus, when I realized that one bottle has 31 grams of sugar -- which is more than most candy bars -- it didn't make sense to keep drinking it. 
Sugar causes major inflammation in the body.  Considering my recent CRP test, I need to bring down inflammation any way I can.  So sugar has to go.  I have certainly had times where I felt like I have needed or wanted sugar and have given in on occasion (I did a Cupkates run a couple of weeks ago but considering I used to eat those weekly and now I'm having a couple quarterly, I think that's a win.  Plus their whipped cream frosting doesn't make me sick like a buttercream would, but I digress...).  However, the resulting headache and exhaustion that follows (as well as the sweating if I truly eat too much) makes it that much easier to resolve not to eat it next time.  And it really is working for me.  For now. 

From an article about cravings and addiction:

"Most of us are familiar with food cravings, which are just as real as addictions to cigarettes, cocaine, and alcohol. Mine started in medical residency. First it was sugar. Then caffeine. I was driven by stress, fatigue, and the need for quick 'food' and comfort in the face of long, grueling work hours."

"Yet the good news is that food addiction is not simply — or even mostly — a matter of self-discipline. 'Non-food junk' is carefully and deliberately manufactured to manufacture addiction. Scientists and marketing teams work with multimillion-dollar budgets to provide exactly what our exhausted, over-extended nervous systems are craving: sugar, salt, and fat."

"What do we need to prevent stress overdrive? Really, we just need the human basics: good nutrition, adequate rest and sleep, love, and fulfillment. It all comes down to making a healthy lifestyle — which includes engaging in meaningful activities and healthy social connections — a priority. It is in our power and interest to release the unhealthy patterns and build the healthy ones that allow us to break free of food addictions."

So my quest to break free of food addiction continues.  I really have to take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  I am making most meals at home, and making better choices when I do eat out.  I am allowing myself to eat "bad" foods on occasion, then allowing my own body to make the discovery that those foods make me feel sick, which makes me less likely to eat them next time.  It truly is a slow process for me.  I should probably be working with an addiction specialist psychologist but am not ready to face that yet.  In the meantime, I appreciate Ellen's patience with me and everyone who helps me in her Balanced Table group! 

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