Monday, April 29, 2013

trying to avoid eating sugar... well, except for dark chocolate

I decided last Monday to give up sugar... to eat healthier.  My sister decided to do it long ago (a few months).  Somehow, knowing my own sister had the will-power, discipline, desire to do it, and that she had been successfully accomplishing her goal, made me feel that I could do it also.  I read this article a few weeks ago and was really shaken up: It's the Sugar, Folks.  I was eating a lot of sugar, and my kids were too.  I wanted to change... really... but I didn't know how and my attempt to decrease (not cut out) the amount of sugar in my family's diet only lasted a few days.  "Let's make cookies!" I said after only two days.  But after talking with my sister last Monday, I decided that it was time.  My motivation was powered by the fact that I knew I was not eating healthy, and I wanted (really wanted) to be healthier. 

The first day of "no sugar" was great.  No problems.  A few cravings (especially when my kids were fighting, whining, etc.) but I got through it just fine.

Day #2 was... absolutely horrible!  At one point I was pretty certain that whatever the reason for my new goal, (I couldn't quite remember what it was any more), it was NOT worth it.  Luckily I was driving my kids around to activities and did not have access to any sugar - I would have given ANY-thing for a chocolate chip cookie at one point.

Day #3 was not as bad... only difficult for my children, whom I also determined would cut sugar out of their diets (I told them that we had decided as a family, although it was entirely me who had decided - while my husband was working).  Z almost lost it when we walked past a Cold Stone Creamery.  Well, okay, he did lose it.  We regrouped later while eating some strawberries.

Note: I did decide that I would continue to eat dark chocolate (in moderation, of course).  I discovered recently that it has zinc in it, which aids in the production of progesterone.  That is important!  Too important for me to give up... okay, okay, plus I love it and I need some little sweet thing every once in a while (extremism doesn't really work, I think).  And the kids, or course, get sugar constantly.  A few examples:  E went to a birthday party on Saturday night, ate cake and came home with a goodie bag filled with candy; friends brought a plate of chocolate cookies to our house after church yesterday; Z and C went to a pre-kindergarten Teddy Bear Tea this morning and received gummy bears, Teddy Grahams, and rice crispy square treats; and chocolate cake was offered at an end-of-season soccer party this evening for E (luckily I swept them all out before the cake was cut).  All of this happened within a two day period.  There is sugar everywhere!!  So, I don't think I'm being "mean" as my kids keep saying, for eliminating sugar from our diet at home, because they still get sweets every once in a while.

I just read an article by Mark Bittman, the writer of The Minimalist food column in The New York Times for many years.  The article is titled, Healthy, Meet Delicious.  Here are a few thoughts from his article:

“What’s left to eat? I feel like nothing is safe.”  (I have honestly thought this same thing multiple times during the week.)

"Things are changing, and fast. Only 5 percent of Americans define themselves as vegan or vegetarian, but almost everyone believes he needs to eat better. What does “better” mean? ...much less junk, fewer animal products and more veggies. Could not be simpler."

Bittman concludes with: "...the primary challenge [is] to discover how to satisfy those cravings while staying as best as I can within the boundaries of what we know to be sane, or conscious, or well-informed — call it what you will — eating..."

For some reason I have substituted cheese as a way to satisfy my "cravings" for sugar... but I am not sure if that is actually better?  I don't think so.  I am trying to substitute fruits and veggies but my food bill is going out the roof!  

Day #8:  I have definitely noticed a difference in my body and mind.  It has only been a week but I feel better, everything feels better.  I sleep better, I wake up feeling more energetic, I feel stronger and happier inside, I handle stress better.  

Sugar really is evil, I guess.  Or rather, 'toxic', as it says in the first article (referenced above).  Can you believe that they have found sugar linked with diabetes (irrespective of whether someone is overweight or not) just like cigarettes are linked with lung cancer??  It is mind-boggling!  Particularly when you consider each thing that you, your spouse and your children are eating (and/or are encouraged to eat) - every single day.

Now the challenge is to continue eating healthy, as well as to convince my children of the benefits of eating healthy.  But, seriously, who would turn down a rice crispy treat?  I never would have before this week - they have always been one of my favorites!  But knowledge is power, as is experiencing the benefits of a new habit over and over again.  Hopefully, my kids will start now to make healthy choices in their eating habits - before they get set in their ways, like I am!


Jamie Lamb said...

Interesting post, this has been on my mind a lot lately! Do you read This was his topic recently, too. I cant believe how much sugar my kids are fed at school, it's so frustrating!

I'm trying to talk myself into cutting out sugar for these last 3 weeks of pregnancy I have left...I'm sure it'll help me feel a little better, and I could certainly use that!

Anonymous said...

What food do you buy/eat? There is also sugar in ketchup, meat or`s frustrating. Do you buy whole-food products? All the best for trying to eat healthier!

From A Doctors Wife said...

Sugar is a drug, or at least that is how I use it. Especially after a long day with the kids, there is nothing like a bowl of ice cream, or chocolate chip cookies to take the edge off. I have given it up before and it is hard. So hard that it scares me from trying again - but I know that I need to. I am going to read that article. And you are right, sugar is everywhere for our kids they don't need it at home too.

Britt-Marie said...

Have you tried Amber Lyn chocolates? They are SO good. When they do a road show at Costco I always buy a box for my mom (who has diabetes) and one for me.
Good luck!

shax0r said...

I just gave up sugar 3 days ago and the cravings were bad but tolerable. I'm glad to know it gets better!