“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. “

– Margaret mead
Change does not happen in a vacuum, or simply because we want it to be so.  Believe me, if that were the case, sugar would be a non-issue for me, as it would for most of us who struggle with the refined carb kunundrum. Change happens because you first begin by altering the way you think and perceive your food experience.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer.

First, knowledge is power and can be a catalyst for making positive changes. Here are a few things you should know about sugars and carbs:
Did you know that simple sugars are not biologically required? Sugars are a type of carbohydrate and carbs are required to live (small amounts are essential) but simple sugars are those carbs which are small in size (like a sucrose molecule which is a glucose+fructose) and they digest very quickly, raising blood sugar.

Essential Off-White vocabulary:
Off White food terms you need to know:

FIRST AND FOREMOST: sugar is sugar at the end of the day. Organic sugar is no different in its digestion than white C&H sugar.
Honey, which is a natural sugar, is high in fructose and thus should be minimized. If you are really trying to cut sugar, don’t cheat yourself by eating organic sweeteners and thinking that it will be better for you.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): a highly sweet, highly addictive, cheap sugar substitute made from corn. Oddly enough, normal corn syrup is only about 10% fructose and 90% glucose. HFC is usually 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Why is this a big deal? This does not digest like other sugars, but is processed by the liver: very bad, indeed. The free fructose molecules digest rapidly without having any internal ‘breaks’ like glucose metabolism has. Thus, it may not raise blood sugar but it does get converted quickly to fat. STAY AWAY!! HFCS is considered by some to be more addictive than cane sugar because of how it is digested.

Where it loves to hide: cereals, soda, ketchup, salad dressings, frozen entrees, candy, baked goods sold in the bakery of a grocery store, juice, bread (even whole grain bread). Luckily a lot of brands are moving away from it because of it’s negative press.

*** UPDATE (9/20/08): please be skeptical of the new HFCS ads on TV touting HFCS as ‘okay in moderation’ because it’s made from corn…….SUCH A SCAM.  See my blog entry for more info

Enriched White Flour: picture this: a beautiful wheat plant, swaying in the wind and soaking up the golden sun. Beautiful. Then, imagine said plant being sprayed with chemicals, a plant bred to contain more gluten than its ancestors so bugs won’t eat it, and then being stripped of its golden glory. Mill it, bleach it, and then artificially pump the vitamins that were stolen back in (hence the term enriched) and then use it to make all sorts of foods, like Little Debbie’s snack treats, donuts, bread, cereal, and pizza. You get the idea.

Gluten: the best way I can help you understand gluten is to take you back to kindergarten. Remember making paste out of flour and water? Well, what holds the dang past together is gluten. It is the protein that makes flour foods gooey, soft, and chewy. When consumed frequently, that same paste-like experience happens in your gut and makes you feel bloated, constipated and causes weight gain. Some people are even sensitive to gluten, and have an immune reaction. You can have this, even if you do not have celiac’s disease.

Gluten-containing grains include:

  • wheat, spelt, oats, barley
  • wheat has the MOST gluten of all the grains

Gluten-free grains include:

  • rice, corn, amaranth, quinoa, millet, rye, kamut, buckwheat

Wheat-free: contains no wheat/white flour or grains. May still contain gluten. Oatmeal and spelt products are examples of wheat-free foods, but not gluten-free. Don’t assume wheat free foods have more fiber, check to see.

Sugar-free: usually refers to a food that had the sugar removed and replaced with an artificial sweetener, such as Splenda or aspartame. There is just too much research showing the negative implications of sugar free foods for me to suggest them or to eat them myself. Sometimes, which I’m really craving something and don’t want to eat sugar, I’ll opt for diet soda, but not often. I *know* that sugar is usually considered better than artificial sugar, but not if you are addicted to it. I can personally consume Splenda without sided effects, but asparatame gives me a weird headache within 15 minutes.

Stevia: my saving grace! Stevia is an herb from S. America that is 30x sweeter than sugar, and does not have calories or chemicals. I use it to sweeten drinks, cereals, and sometimes fruits. I’ve never baked with it but apparently you can. It comes is powdered or liquid forms. You need very little to sweeten things. Nowadays there is a product called Truvia, which is made with Stevia. I enjoy it on occasion because it doesn’t have a bitter after-taste. I’m not sure of any research on any side effects.

Irradiation: A process of exposing a food to high intensity microwaves to make it more shelf stable and kill any potentially harmful bacterial.  Exposure can be thousands of times more potent than an X-ray.  Imagine, if our bodies can’t tolerate that much radiation without being harmed, what is it doing to our food.  Most common food irradiated in the USA:  WHEAT.  Organic wheat is not irradiated.

Gluco-opiod: A word I learned recently from the work of Dr. Kalish. This is a phenomenon whereby glucose (sugar) binds with some neurotransmitters in your body to create something similar to an opiate. This molecule then goes into your brain and creates a pleasure response. There is suggestion that the gluco-opoid is responsible for why some people feel “high” from sugar and become highly addicted.

Update: 9/19/09 – additional research discovered (by me, not by scientists – they did this stuff years ago) showing in fact that the opoid response for sugar lovers mimmic s that of heroine addicts and that consuming sugary foods can create an endogenous opoid effect that activates the pleasure centers of the brain.  This may make people eat when not hugry, or when they are emotionally ‘motivated’ to consume sugar despite awareness of its ill effects.

Building a sustainable diet

Finding a healthy food plan that kept my body nourished and cravings to a minimum has been KEY.  I must treat my food plan like a lifeline, because it essential is my bridge to freedom from sugar insanity.

Roughly, my foodplan looks like this:

  • Protein at every meal: eggs, beans, lean meats, quinoa, protein supplement
  • update 1/2/12: protein sources and plan still the same after all of these years. I feel best when I eat 2 eggs/day about 4 days per week, a mix of meats (less chicken, more fish and organic beef and even some pork, like pork chops). I don’t consume a lot of protein powders due to cost now, but when I do, I consume rice protein like this one.

    • Veggies at least 2 meals/day, especially dark leafy greens

    update 1/2/12: yep, still on the path here. Recent faves are green beans, Trader Joe’s bags of chopped greens, mushrooms in everything and, of course, kale.

    • Fruit when I want it: focusing on low sugar fruits, like green apples and berries

    update 1/2/12: I have broadened my fruits to be totally inclusive, but I do notice that fruit alone mid-day triggers carb cravings and munchies. It’s best for me to eat fruit with something else, like some raw nuts or an energy bar or in plain yogurt.

    • No allergan foods (for me): dairy (milk especially) and soy

    Update 1/2/12: Still no milk, but I’m eating yogurt about 4x/week. It’s a balance for me because it’s a convenient protein source and I love the taste, yet I don’t digest the casein well. If it’s the only dairy I consume, I’m okay. I prefer a more liquid yogurt as it presumably has less casein.

    • Water, water, water!!!!
    • 2-3 grains per day, mostly gluten-free, but sometimes wheat
    • Update 1/2/12: These days I consume a lot of oats (not technically gluten-free but no complete gluten protein), wasa bread, quinoa and rice.

    Was information enough to change my diet……um…no!  The emotional connection to sugar turned out to be MUCH deeper than I realized.  I needed help.  Here are some of the non-food tools I’ve used to help me cope:

    • Exercise: can’t think of one ailment exercise doesn’t help, including sugar cravings
    • Hypnosis – sort of helpful for tapping into old patterns but didn’t stop cravings
    • Emotional Freedom Technique: Kicked my gum habit completely
    • Food journals – helps me see patterns and learn about what kind of diet works for me
    • Overeater’s Anonymous
    • Talking about cravings, food, emotions with friends and family
    • This blog

3 thoughts on “Tools

  1. Michael December 13, 2008 / 11:38 pm

    Hi Rebecca, I am on the same quest than you. All the white stuff is cause of much suffering.
    I have some comments:
    first, as you know, gluten is a cover term for protein in cereals, and the gluten in spelt and oats is quite different from the industrialized gluten in wheat, so many people who are sensitive to wheat can actually eat spelt or oat products;
    second, irridation uses gamma-rays, not microwave radiation. However, talking about microwaves – microwave ovens destroy a lot of nutrients (probably on a subtle level and not recognized by mainstream science). I have thrown my microwave out ten years ago, and I don’t like the idea that a lot of restaurant food probably gets cooked with microwaves.
    The white stuff together with microwave cooking could be the cause of the obesity epidemic.
    And I do avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, including ‘Splenda – made from sugar’ with chlorine added. Stevia is great.
    Your point with weight is spot on – with the right food, unrefined whole foods, possibly organic, raw or cooked properly, only small amount of meat, particular red meat, a person’s body weight should normalize to a healthy level, which does not need to be in the ‘normal’ range of the BMI tables.
    Keep campaigning.

    • offwhiteliving December 14, 2008 / 12:17 am

      Thank You, Michael! I especially appreciate somebody in the health profession in support of the off-white campaign. I am in agreement with you about the microwave, as I try my best not to use it. I’d rather eat my food cold and heat my water for tea on the stove and take a little longer for the food than use the micro regularly.

      My hope is that more of us in the wellness community will support each other for the crusade to help people return to whole foods, a positive relationship with food, and learning to listen to their bodies in place of just following the latest fads, etc.

      Take care and have a healthy, happy holiday,

  2. Hill August 30, 2011 / 10:28 am

    Finding this blog is like a “EUREKA” for me. I am a woman in my early 20s. Despite having always been relatively “thin,” I have long suffered from the addiction to the white stuff (yes, it IS like a drug!!!) as well as problems with compulsive eating; I can trace it back to childhood. My most recent attempt to abstain from the white stuff did not last very long; my initial goal was to do so for at least a year and I successfully did so for about a month and a half before I gave in during the holidays because I felt “deprived” as I watched family members partaking of it (plus I was pregnant at the time so I justified that I could stand to eat sugar). Now I do want to give it up for good for my overall long-term health, but I don’t want to do so with my primary emphasis on “weight loss” or a quick-fix all-or-nothing approach…I have had the tendency to think in this way and it has driven me into cycles of deprivation and then a fierce return to the addictive consumption of food, namely sugar. I want to cut out the “white stuff” (I love that you call it that) in a healthy way with a healthy mindset that doesn’t worry so much about body weight/image…I want to learn to how to give up emotional eating for good. I know this is a process; it has frequently been difficult for me to accept it as such as I want to be “healed” quickly. I believe that as I continue to develop more healthy ways of thinking to change my beliefs and behaviors regarding my relationship with food, I WILL naturally feel and, of course, look better. I so need help doing this. It is so wonderful to find someone else who has taken on this quest and is sharing insights with others. Where do I start? I’ve read that starting cold turkey is the way to go. Cut out white flour and refined sugar first thing…but then be sure to implement the good proteins, fats and carbs into my daily food plan. I am often so scared to cook meals and even be in the kitchen because I fear I will overeat or eat hastily before I finish cooking the meal, and thus I sabotage the opportunity to enjoy a meal with my husband because I have already eaten impatiently (due to a compulsive drive to eat as though I am going to starve or something.) I’m even afraid to shop for food sometimes. This is not good. I have a young child and I don’t want him to grow up with fears about not having enough to eat (due to me being fearful about preparing meals) and in turn develop a negative relationship with food. I want to cultivate a positive environment in which the all-or-nothing (or “feast or famine”) mentality cannot thrive. I currently attend a support group based on principles similar to those in AA. I am a very spiritual person with the belief that God can help me overcome my weaknesses, but I know that I have work to do. I also have OCD, and it has the tendency to manifest itself in my eating patterns. I do believe that I can overcome this and I just want freedom. I need someone to help motivate and support me who has trudged a similar path and is in recovery. I think/hope this blog is yet another stepping stone in that direction. Any insights or advice you have is appreciated. Thank you!

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