“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
- Veggies at least 2 meals/day, especially dark leafy greens
- Fruit when I want it: focusing on low sugar fruits, like green apples and berries
- No allergan foods (for me): dairy (milk especially) and soy
- Water, water, water!!!!
- 2-3 grains per day, mostly gluten-free, but sometimes wheat
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: