May 31, 2012

"but, I'm no addict!!"

[from Kathleen DesMaison's book, The Sugar Addict's Total Recovery Program]:

Here are the criteria the American Psychiatric Association uses to determine addiction:

~  The substance is taken in greater amounts or for a longer time than intended.
(Have you ever planned to have just a cookie and eaten the whole plate?)

~  There is a persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use.
(Does that question make you laugh because it seems so absurd?  One or more unsuccessful attempts seem sort of funny to sugar addicts.)

~  Major time is spent in seeking, using, or recovering from the effects of use.
(Do you make sure you always have a can of Coke - or your special sugar-laced coffee - on your desk?  Do you feel an inordinate sense of relief when your family is gone so you can eat what you want?)

~  Frequent intoxication or withdrawal interferes with responsibilities.
(At first blush, you may think that your sugar use does not affect your life.  But are your bills paid on time?  Is your desk cleared off?  Are you too tired to function at three in the afternoon?  Look at your behavior with a different eye and you may be shocked at how true this is.)

~  There is a decreased level of social, recreational activities due to use.
(Do you prefer to be alone so you can eat what you want, when?  Do you shy away from those friends who have given up sweet things?)

~  There is continued use despite adverse consequences.
(You know it's bad for you, you know it's killing you, you are in despair, and you go back for more.  Hits kinda close to home, yes?)

~  There is a marked increase in tolerance.
(One small cookie won't cut it anymore.  You have to eat three, eight, a dozen, the whole box.)

~  There are withdrawal symptoms.
(You may not have made the connection to withdrawal per se.  You may simply know intuitively that you feel better if you have a cup of tea and a piece of cake.)

~  There is use to prevent withdrawal.
(You know you are cranky and will feel better if you have something sweet.  You take a sugar break at 3 pm because you know if you don't you will be a basket case by 3:30.)


Hmmmm ..... some of those sound familiar.  Maybe I am an addict ... 




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May 29, 2012

sugar freedom: day 26


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)
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May 24, Thursday 
[from my post on MOMYS]


I am feeling discouraged.  My lifestyle already included pretty much all of the first five steps.  So all I had to do (thought I) was to get breakfast in a little sooner, be more aware of my blood sugar/serotonin/beta-endorphin symptoms, increase my protein, add the potato, and cut out sugar.  Breakfast has been fairly easy.  Knowing more about the mental/emotional/physical symptoms has been hugely enlightening.  The potato (or apple or toast) has not been hard to add.  Increasing the protein is not difficult, just expensive (for "easy-to-count" animal proteins). 

So I guess I thought that once I cut sugar out (as of May 6), got past days 4 & 5, I'd be home free!  And I was .... for a couple of weeks.  Is it a 5-day detox every time I eat a few grams of sugar (that cornbread breakfast....)?

This is starting to feel more like labor than liberty.

But the good days .... the focus, the energy, the feeling of hopeful creative possibility .... it lures me on.  I can do this.  No, scratch that.  You and I both know better (remember the ice cream?!):  I can't do this, but God  can do this in me.
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sugar freedom: day 25


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)
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May 23, Wednesday

[from my post on MOMYS]

So, the all-or-nothing in me is "nothing" right now.  In the back and forth of things, I am definitely in the back rather than the forth.

The food journal has fallen by the wayside.  So has my husband's participation.

Frankly, I am furious.  (am I allowed to say that?  am I allowed to be that?!)  I thought I was done with sugar.  Healed.  I felt soooo great with it out of my system, I was telling everyone I met how wonderful it is to live without sugar.  FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!

Ha.

I feel like a hypocrite.  I feel like a fool.  I feel like a failure.  (Yes, I know there's a lot of "feel" in there.  Trying to keep fact somewhere in sight.)

So.  I am remembering that [another mom] said there is a lot of back and forth mentally in the beginning.  I served the children dessert for supper (frozen birthday cake from a couple weeks ago) and my husband had some too.  I refrained, mad and martyred.  Was that beneficial?  Hmmm, probably not.

[Another mom] said "when I was thinking like you are now, I would remind myself that I was technically still on step one, and just eat what I wanted until I felt like I could move forward again" ....  So, what does that look like?  Do you just go ahead and have the cake and ice cream, knowing that it would make you feel bad (low energy, low mood, cravings), or do you hold strong (somehow with a good attitude)?  I feel like if I ever eat sugar again I am going to start a mudslide that will be out of my control and put me in a pit so deep I'll never climb out.

(low serotonin / beta-endorphin levels much?!!)

Argh.  Joyce Meyer (of Battlefield of the Mindfame) would just have a field day with me I'm sure.

I wonder how it goes for other sugarfree-ers - anyone care to volunteer your attempts at breaking the addiction?  Are you even-steven all the time?  How long did it take you to get there?!  Staying completely away from sugar?  Or giving in sometimes and paying for it but then getting back on track?  Or giving in and giving up?

It's easy to share the victory stories. Not so fun the frustrations. Thanks for listening......
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May 27, 2012

sugar freedom: day 23

(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)

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May 21, Monday

[from my post on MOMYS]

So the cornbread I had for breakfast on Friday, led, perhaps, to the maple cream I had on Saturday, which led to the ice cream I had on Sunday ..... Sugar appears to be a slippery slope indeed.  I must proceed with greater caution - and humility!!

Today is going well so far.  Our new breakfast of muesli (oats, raisins, coconut, slivered almonds, flaxmeal with milk) seems to start me off well!  The "tons of energy" may even have hit.  I kind of gauge my energy by how I feel going up our one (very steep) flight of steps.  This morning I was bounding up them, which is top energy (and highly unusual) for me!  Plus ... time seems to be slowing down.  I don't know if it's better focus and energy leading to more efficiency and productivity, but I look at the clock now and think, 'wow, we still have a lot of morning/afternoon/evening left!' instead of thinking, 'wow, it's lunchtime already and we still haven't _____!!'

Nice. I'll take it!

p.s.  [flashback] Yesterday after church (pre- ice cream-indulgence) we had a fellowship meal, which I usually dread (the setting, not the actual fellowship):  too much noise, too many people, too much to do with feeding children, to hard to carry on conversations, and yes - feeling left out, rejected, secluded, etc.  It was a youth group fund-raiser (they served a potato bar) which I had forgotten about.  

Normally I abhor last minute schedule changes, but today it felt like no big deal to suddenly decide to stay.  I enjoyed the fellowship time, despite the usual amount of noise and some occasional social awkwardness.  I'm guessing I have this plan to thank.  (and God's grace to stay on this plan as much as I have!!)

Let's hear it for sugar freedom!!
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May 24, 2012

sugar freedom: day 21


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)
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May 19, Saturday
[from my post on MOMYS]

I started my day with straight "muesli" with greek yogurt, no coffee, and certainly none of the cream-filled, chocolate-iced donuts that my Farmer brought home from work!!!!  No fruit juice, even - and we only serve juice with weekend breakfasts, so it feels like giving up a treat.  

I think I'm feeling clearer already, though.  It was so hard yesterday to eat well.  Um, actually, I guess I didn't eat well.  It was hard to even WANT to eat well, and by the end of the day I was just done with it, feeling all "done to" (low beta-endorphins) and martyr-like that I couldn't have sugar, etc.  When the children went to bed, I ate a small serving of ricotta WITH MAPLE CREAM.  Oh, man, was that good.  (I was hoping it would taste too sweet, but it was actually incredibly delicious).  But I woke up this morning furious with the world ... okay, I don't know really if that was the sugar or the fact that my son was in his crib partying at TOP VOLUME at 5 a.m. on the one morning I get to sleep in a little (i.e. set the alarm for 6:50 instead of 5:30).

I am determined to have a better day today, and somewhat humiliated that it has so much to do with whether or not I eat sugar.  And frankly, I feel angry about it, too.  "Why can't I just eat like other people?"  "Why does my husband have to bring home donuts when he KNOWS I'm a crab when I eat sugar?!"  "Why do they have to all eat them in front of me, exclaiming about how GOOD they are?!  How can he bring this poison into our home and feed it to our children?!"

Dreadful, aren't I?  It just goes to show, I think, the addictive nature of sugar for some of us.  I am going to CHOOSE (do you hear me, brain?!!) to dwell today on how much better I feel when there is no sugar in my system.

(eta:  as if yesterday weren't hard enough, today I was at a bridal tea party that was all refined flour and half pure sugar.  I didn't even look at the dessert table (to keep myself from sampling them all!!) and am hoping that I'm not sensitive to white flour.  Fortunately it started off with a green salad ... !)
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sugar freedom: day 20


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)
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May 18, Friday
[from my post on MOMYS]

Um ... so for breakfast this morning I had cornbread, greek yogurt, milk & blueberries.  This is not a low-sugar cornbread recipe, yet, so now I am having trouble with heavy eyes and some sweet cravings.

Not sure what to do......was it mentioned in the book?  Do I just ride it out until it's over or is there something to do to make that feeling go away?!  Drink water?  Eat protein?  Lie down and close my eyes?  Eat a nice fat chunk of the halva hidden in the back of the fridge?!  (heehee, just kidding)

Argh. Guess this was good for me, in a way. I think my zeal was starting to wane..... (wry grin)
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May 23, 2012

sugar freedom: day 17


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)
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May 15, Tuesday
[from my post on MOMYS]

[another mom wrote]:  "I think it's just all my life I've felt entitled to have sweets, and my thinking is just changing now, slowly."


YES - that!  I think one reason why it hasn't been all that hard to give up sugar is the mental switch:  I used to think of sugar as a "treat" or a sort of reward for all my hard work, so I associated it with pleasure and approval.  Now that I'm keeping a food journal (and yes, Sugar: The Bitter Truth played a big part in the mental switch, too), I'm beginning to associate sugar with pain (anxiety, insecurity, feelings of aloneness, sleepiness, fatigue) and instead of longing for sugar, I am longing for life!  And thanks to Potatoes, Not Prozac, I know to go to protein foods and complex carbs to keep myself even and lively.

But when, I have to ask, does the 'tons of energy' start?  I'm sooo thrilled for my allergy symptoms to have all but disappeared, and do NOT miss the anxiety or the low-blood-sugar-sleepiness that I had all the time without realizing what it was.  But I am still balking at the sight of the elliptical, and spending a lot of time doing sit-down work.  Not motivated to go weed flowerbeds or anything.
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sugar freedom: day 16

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May 14, Monday
[from my post on MOMYS]

It's encouraging to hear about [other sugarfree moms'] energy, and sweets not sounding good.  I've had that thought a few times now, too, and it is just wonderfully refreshing!

We had the grandparents over for Lil' Snip's 2nd birthday last night.  I had made a chocolate cake with PB icing (my fav, of course) and although the icing smelled fabulous, I wasn't actually craving it.  I had a few bites of cake and ice cream with the family but everyone else was so busy enjoying their own that they didn't notice that I didn't have my own plate.  Since then, I have thought about the leftover icing (sitting in the fridge) a few times, but no real cravings and no anxiety or other yuckies.  I am pleased!
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sugar freedom: day 13

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May 11, Friday
[from my post on MOMYS]

I just woke up with sore muscles yesterday; not sure what that's about.  It was just my front thigh muscles that were sore, but boy did they hurt!

Umm .... is anyone else experiencing, er ... slowed elimination?  Or other negative physical side effects?  (or maybe I am the only one not in complete bliss over giving up sugar ....)

I am still on board!  The benefits outweigh by FAR the difficulties.  Just wondering if I'm the only one having some problems ... and how to deal with them.  Anyone?

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May 22, 2012

sugar freedom: day 12


We now return to our regularly scheduled programming (i.e. my sugar freedom journal).  Hope you enjoyed the brief educational/confessional interlude!

(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, or here for the entire series)

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May 10, Thursday 

[from my post on MOMYS]

My food journal isn't showing me anything other than that potato and the eggs.  I don't have strong feelings of attachment to either food but the revulsion I was feeling is my biggest clue.  Last night I had half an apple before bed (instead of the potato) and still slept crappy, but felt better today.  No egg for breakfast, either, but whole wheat bread with cream cheese and apple butter (no sugar in either), a handful of almonds, half a banana with (no sugar) peanut butter, and my mug of decaf with cream.

Felt great this morning. AND .... (drumroll) .... our moms' group met for the last time this school year for a brunch, and even though the table was absolutely loaded with yummy desserts, honestly none of them tempted me.  At all!!!!  I felt sooo free!!  

I had thought, ahead of time, that I might go ahead and have one serving of dessert just to sort of test what the sugar would do to me, and how I would handle that emotionally.  But once I was there, I just wasn't hungry for any of the sweet things!  And even for the sake of experimentation, nothing looked worth the trouble - and the table included chocolate cookies, cheesecake, danish, lemon bars, some gooey-looking cake, sweet rolls (a friend's recipe which I had very much enjoyed in the past), coffee cake, on and on and on!  It just didn't look appealing.

If that blows your mind, let me tell you that it sure blew mine.

So I ate egg casserole, whole grain tortilla chips (0g sugar), and a black bean & bell pepper salad dressed with balsamic vinegar (which I didn't know till I tasted it - waaaaay too sweet!).

I can hardly believe that my body has actually been changed so dramatically in so short a time (week and a half).

So - no, after all that, there's no way I'm dropping the ball on this.  But.  That nightly potato is going to be occasional, with an apple or toast most nights.  I'll try to be more prompt about its consumption, and I'll be using morning eggs more sporadically too.

I'm also curious about protein - is anyone minoring in the animal products and majoring in the grain/dairy/bean category?  I think I'd like to swing in that direction, partly for budgetary concerns, and partly just because that's how I'm more used to eating.

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May 21, 2012

biochemistry lesson


What, you may be asking, is the big deal with sugar anyway?  It's natural, it's from plants for crying out loud: beets, or sugarcane.  It's a food ... right?!  Well, yes .... and no.  Check this out:

"Foods trigger the production and release of brain chemicals that control your mental and emotional responses.  Sugar exaggerates the production of serotonin, beta-endorphin and dopamine.  The overproduction results in a "high" followed by a crash, which sets up your craving for more sugar.  Your receptors also become less sensitive in order to protect against the overdosing of the 'drug'.  It is why you require more and more (sugar, alcohol, heroin, refined carbohydrates, etc.) just to feel normal.  This results in physical dependence on the drug to pick you up, but your 'habit' now results in depression instead of well-being, and exhaustion and anxiety instead of an energy pick up."
[disclaimer:  I realize the source is not scientific ... but none of the scientific sources I found were terribly intelligible to me.  If you have the brains for it, the science is definitely out there for you!]


And now, a few lists for you, courtesy of Potatoes, Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons, who posits that sugar consumption affects blood sugar, serotonin, and beta-endorphins in the following ways.

So.  Blood sugar, first. Blood sugar is affected by the speed with which our digestive systems process our food (think "glycemic index", on which low is good, and sugar is very, very, high) 

With optimal blood sugar, you'll feel:
           energetic
           tired when appropriate (at the end of long day, after hard exertion, etc.)
           focused
           relaxed
           clear-minded
           good memory
           able to concentrate
           able to solve problems efficiently
           easygoing
           even-tempered

With low blood sugar levels, caused, for instance, by the consumption of sugar, you'll feel:
           tired all the time
           tired for no reason
           restless/can't keep still
           confused
           have trouble remembering and concentrating
           easily frustrated
           more irritable than usual
           get angry unexpectedly


Next, Serotonin (affected by protein/tryptophan, sugar, and anti-depressant medications).

With optimal serotonin levels, you'll feel:
           hopeful, optimistic
           reflective & thoughtful
           able to concentrate
           creative, focused
           able to think things through
           able to seek help
           responsive
           looking forward to dessert a bit
           hungry for healthy foods

With low serotonin levelscaused, for instance, by the consumption of sugaryou'll feel:
           depressed
           impulsive
           short attention span
           mentally blocked, scattered
           flying off the handle
           suicidal, possibly
           reactive
           craving sweets
           craving mostly carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereal)


Last is beta-endorphins.  They are produced by the pituitary gland during exercise, excitement, pain, eating spicy or sugary food, and tanning (i.e. absorbing infrared rays from the sun).  Other "quality of life" experiences may also cause beta-endorphin production (i.e. stroking a pet, praying, watching a sunset, listening to beautiful music, talking with a good friend, etc.)

With optimal beta-endorphin levels, you'll feel:
           high tolerance for pain
           sensitive & sympathetic
           high self-esteem
           compassionate
           connected and in touch with others
           hopeful, optimistic, euphoric
           taking personal responsibility
           a "take-it or leave-it" attitude toward sweet foods
           solution-oriented

With low beta-endorphin levelscaused, for instance, by the consumption of sugaryou'll feel:
           low pain tolerance
           tearful, reactive
           low self-esteem
           overwhelmed by others' pain
           isolated or rejected
           depressed, hopeless
           feeling "done to" by others (martyr or victim syndrome)
           craving sugar
           emotionally overwhelmed


See yourself in any of those "low" lists?  I sure did.  You may think you don't have a problem with sugar; after all, you could quit if you wanted to, anytime!

Well then, try it.  You have nothing to lose if you're not sensitive to sugar (a week later if there are no changes you can go right back to your stash - I mean former eating habits) and everything to gain if you are sensitive to sugar: clear mind, freedom from cravings, greater physical wellness & creativity, just for starters.

Go ahead.  I dare you!  Begin now to be the person you were created to be!!


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(click here for the next post on sugar freedom, or here for the first post in my story)

May 20, 2012

confession

I have been bleating everywhere the wonders of a sugar-free diet.

My friends, I'm sure, are exercising extreme patience when they hear me getting started on The Topic.  The few who read my blog probably delete new posts from their inbox as soon as they see it's on sugar again.  Facebook friends have most likely changed their settings to "hide all by ..." until the word sugar disappears from my vocabulary.

So, given this afternoon's indulgence with my Farmer, a confession is probably in order:


I ate a bowl of ice cream.


Green's Columbian Chip, to be exact.  My very favorite.  The last half of the carton has been lingering in the freezer ever since The Big Switch.

I have been low on sleep lately (thank you, Lil' Snip) and that has always been a sugar trigger for me.  I should have been on the alert.  No, that's not quite true:  I was on the alert.  I took a nap first - an hour or more of hard sleep.  I didn't really "need" the ice cream by the time I woke up.  I wanted it.

And I ate it.

I should tell you that it was too sweet, that I feel terrible now, that that does it, I'm swearing off sugar FOREVER.

Actually, it was good.  And I feel fine.  Sorry, but that's the truth.  I love a good story as much as the next guy, but I love truth even more.

I'm back to sugar freedom again now ... and there will probably be more posts on that adventure ... but in the meantime ... I wanted you to know.

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May 19, 2012

sugar freedom: day 10

(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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May 8, Tuesday
[from my post on MOMYS]


I just read in Potatoes, Not Prozac regarding the nightly potato:  "Does it have to be a potato?  No, it can be any complex carbohydrate eaten without protein, like an apple, oatmeal (without milk or yogurt), a piece of toast or even orange juice. . .  But remember the slower the carbohydrate, the more effective the result."

She goes on to say that the potato gives the greatest sense of satiety as well as some emotional comfort, and that she'll address this more later, so I'm assuming there's more to come on why she recommends the potato.

I found this interesting and a relief because cooking a potato (I'm not a fan of them cold and we don't do microwaves in our house) every night for the rest of my life (or even for the next few months!) is not appealing to me, as much as I love potatoes.  Also, it feels like a lot to eat right before bed, when I'm often not too hungry.  Frankly, I haven't noticed much difference with the potato, and am ready to try an apple or piece of (whole wheat) toast.

(p.s. I found it sooooo interesting to read her comments about "addictive personalities" loving to experiment with things, take their own custom blend of vitamins and supplements .... hmmm - that's me to a "T"!!)

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[click here for my next post on sugar freedom]


sugar freedom: day 11

(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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May 9, Wednesday
[from my post on MOMYS]

I would love to be popping in with another rave review on how sugar is drastically improving my life, but frankly I feel yucky.  My husband, too.  We are wondering if the nightly potato is somehow backfiring on us.  Do we have even more bizarre body chemistry than just sugar-sensitive?  I've had maybe one good night of sleep since starting the potato thing, and while I will say that going without sugar has (I think) made my mind clearer and my emotions (perhaps) more stable, physically I am not impressed right now.

Maybe we've got a touch of a bug or something, but I really don't feel "sick" .... just .... weird.

Ever since starting the potato thing we've both been waking up at least once during the night.  I don't like to check the clock too much because that makes me focus on how long am I awake, etc., but it kind of feels like the same time of night each time.  Often we're having trouble falling asleep (me) or getting back to sleep after waking (him).

And the last day or two we've both dreaded our morning egg (we love eggs!!) and I have started dreading the potato (he likes it).  We've both felt that our appetites were a bit off (feeling full or even nauseated between meals) and yesterday I had a lot of "blacking out" episodes (lean over for something, straighten up and vision goes dark - I tend to have lower blood pressure and this is common for me during, say, a hot weeding session mid-summer, but not otherwise).  Low energy and shakiness/jitteriness complete the picture.

What in the world is going on?!

I will also say that I've finished the book, and felt a little disappointed that I'm already doing most of what she recommends, other than needing a bit more protein, and obviously cutting out the sugars.  We don't eat white flour, as a general rule, although of course it was there in cookies/cakes some.

So, I gave up sugar, I've increased my protein, I'm eating three square meals a day and when I snack I make sure there's protein involved, I'm taking the vitamins (although I need to get a C with a higher dose), having the nightly potato ....... What am I missing/doing wrong?!  I thought by now I should be feeling on top of the world.  The cravings are gone (I don't really even want the one square of dark chocolate daily we'd kept up with), so that's good.  But ... ?!

Is the timing terribly crucial for the protein breakfast and the potato?  I think breakfast has often ended up being ready an hour and 15 minutes after we get up, and the potato has sometimes been three and a half hours after supper......

I need some insight before I dump the whole thing!!

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sugar freedom: day eight

May 6, Sunday
[from my post on MOMYS]


In an effort to go sugarfree for breakfast, we had our trial "raw granola" (the term "muesli" is not going over too well at our house) this morning.  My Farmer and I enjoyed it - you're really aware that you're getting your fiber, that's for sure!  A lot was going on at breakfast (toddler issues) so I don't recall what the children had to say about it.  Oh, wait, Nice was gobbling it up dry and loving it.  That sounds like a "go" to me!!

What was in it?  About 2 cups oats, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup almond meal (today I bought slivered almonds for next time), 1/2 cup coconut, some cinnamon, cardamom and allspice.  Cover with milk.  . . .  I'm guessing that with yogurt, cold milk and possibly some fresh/frozen fruit, this will be a winner.  And complete protein, yes? (grain + dairy).

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May 17, 2012

sugar freedom: day seven


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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May 5, Saturday
[from my post on MOMYS]

[another mother wrote]:  "Did you know that sugar changes the acidity in your stomach, so that you don't absorb the nutrients you're getting nearly as well?  That's why it has such a bad effect on allergies and immunity."
That is yet another clue in the puzzle of my health (or lack thereof).  Despite getting ample iron in my diet, I still take an iron supplement.  The chiropractor/nutritionist I saw for a few months last year said I am having trouble absorbing iron for some reason.  He couldn't figure out why, though, and wanted me to cut out all dairy, sugar, honey, garlic, onion, pepper, and wheat.  Naturally I balked.  That's way too many things for a busy mom on a tight budget to cut out all at once!

But if sugar is the culprit, I bet I'm going to see a lot of changes, from allergies to energy to RLS (restless legs syndrome) - all of which are affected by iron levels and immune function.

I'm excited!

So grateful to be on the road to recovery. (ahhhh ... maybe that's why they call it "Radiant Recovery" ... !)


[later that day...]

My understanding from the "Sugar: the Bitter Truth" (on youtube) is that chronic exposure to sugars is the biggie and unless you're sugar-sensitive (see www.radiantrecovery.com), the occasional sweet treat is not a death sentence.

So while my Farmer and I learn to get along without sugar (mostly), we are still letting the children have the candy that somehow comes to them (grandma?!), and I plan to bake cake for their birthdays.  I will probably even have a piece, myself (although I will be recording what it does to me in my food journal, and maybe that will be the last piece of cake I eat for awhile!!).

This going without sugar ... it kind of feels like waking up to myself again.

I like it.

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[next post on sugar freedom]

open letter to sugar


Dear unfinished bag of Dove dark chocolate morsels, 
hidden in a little-used cabinet in my kitchen,


If you are feeling neglected, it is because I have forgotten about you.  

I would apologize, but I'm not really sorry.  I know we have had some good times together.  I used to count on you to give me a quick spurt of energy, and I'd come to you for reward or comfort when life was difficult.  I didn't think I could ever live without you.

But you know what?  I have been paying more attention to you lately, and I have found you out for the liar and cheat that you are.  You do give a little energy/comfort/reward ... at first ... but in the end you steal more than you give.

You stole my energy.  You stole my clarity of thought.  You stole my contentment.  You taste good but you are just not worth it.

Once I found you out for who you really are, I just lost my taste for you.  I've found some new foods (namely, protein & complex carbohydrates) that are treating me better than you ever did.

And I think I've found myself again.  

So, good-bye, Dove dark chocolate morsels.  Thanks for nothing.  I'm moving on.


Free at Last,
a recovering sugar junkie


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(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story, and here for the next post ...)


May 16, 2012

sugar freedom: day six


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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May 4, Friday
[from my post on MOMYS]

Oh. My. Word!!

I stepped on the scale this morning, very curious.  I've been avoiding (but not yet eliminating) sugar all week, but have somehow fallen off exercising.  It had been my habit to spend 20-30 minutes on the elliptical in 10-min. spurts throughout the day, and I was really noticing that when I got my exercise in, the weight was coming off (slooooooowly) and when I didn't, it didn't (and sometimes went back up!!).  No surprise there, but this week I was soooo curious to see what effect avoiding sugar would have, and here I was going to see its effect all by itself, without exercise figuring in at all.

I lost 2-3 lbs (dial scale, so never exactly sure where that needle is pointing).  After five days of avoiding sugar!!!!

(can you tell I'm excited?)

But also, that's kind of scary, that I was normally having to burn off 2-3 lbs worth of sugar consumption in a 5-day period.  No wonder it wore my body down.

And the funny thing is, I would have considered our family as using a low-sugar diet.  We never drink soda.  We drink water at meals, sometimes milk for lunch, and on the weekends I serve juice with breakfast.  We don't have dessert on a regular basis, we eat processed foods maybe once a week.  And, I'm not avoiding non-"sweet" foods that happen to have sugar hidden in them (bread, ketchup, peanut butter).

Actually, wait.  Strike that.  As I was noticing the effects of sugar (thank you, food journal) on how I felt (physically, mentally and emotionally), I did start to read labels some, and am working on boycotting peanut butter (switched to a just-the-nuts type) and spaghetti sauce (made my own using plain tomato puree for a base).  Also giving away or tossing out some of my favorite Japanese cooking supplies after discovering that they are mostly high fructose corn syrup and/or salt.

(I'm also..... still having a small square of dark chocolate with my eggs-n-toast breakfast)

So, where exactly did I avoid sugar?!  And 2-3 lbs worth of it?!!!

I used to have 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning, with about 1/2 tsp of sugar in each cup.
I used to eat granola for breakfast every morning - homemade, but not sugarfree!
I used to eat up to the equivalent of a half bar of chocolate throughout the day.  (*blush*)

That doesn't look like a ton of sugar to me, but I'm probably missing some somewhere.

Anyway, sorry to write a book on it, but I was astonished to have lost weight without exercising, half-cheating on eating sugarless.  Plus, I'm feeling better (clearer thinking, allergies are milder, more motivation) to boot.

I think I could get used to this.

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[next post on sugar freedom]


sugar freedom: day five



(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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May 3, Thursday
[from my post on MOMYS]
[another mother wrote]:  "I feel like a heroin addict, like absolutely insanely, irrationally addicted to sugar.  So much that when I first read some of the truth in this thread, I actually got angry inside."
It's interesting, isn't it, the emotions the whole sugar thing evokes in us!  ... When I first read about giving up sugar (it was to help clear up allergies, which goodness knows I was desperate enough to get rid of!) I also felt very defensive, like "hey I've sacrificed so much already, I'm NOT giving up sugar too!!"  Very strange.


Sugar is so much more than just a sweet taste.

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[next post on sugar freedom]


ode to my son

[a brief interlude from the sugar saga for a belated birthday ode to Lil' Snip, who just turned two]



My inimitable son  ...  when you are sweet, as Spice says, we can hardly imagine you could ever be horrid; when you are horrid, we can hardly imagine you had ever been sweet.  What do I love about you?  Let me count the ways ....

 ... your spontaneous and genuinely affectionate use of the Japanese diminutive at lunch today

... when we checked the poplar for fresh mushrooms, your interested little "mm!" over the old stubs, and your remembering little "cut!"

... how you held your dandelion to the sky with an "up!" when you heard a plane overhead

... the way you hold your hands behind your back when I am following you and your command to "cump!" - does it make you more aerodynamic?

... hearing you party in the middle of the night while appearing to be sound asleep

...  and especially hearing your adorable and adoring little voice say "Mommy.  Oh, Mommy" - well worth the 2 a.m. waking

...  your triumphant recognition of the insect on your ceiling, and your intent retelling of the incident to Nice as you crouched down to get in her face:  "stinkbug!  tissue!"

... how you can speak volumes in one word

 ... your insistence that everything is just as important as you think it is!





May 15, 2012

sugar freedom: day four



(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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May 2, Wednesday
[from my post on MOMYS]


It's Day 4 for me, here, and although I have not been a diehard, I really think I'm noticing differences.  The biggie for me is how I feel mid-morning (now that I have my coffee with no sugar).  Used to be that between homeschooling, toddler-sitting and housework I'd about go crazy most mornings, feel totally overwhelmed and exasperated, and often get this pressure behind my eyes that made me feel like I HAD to close my eyes.  Both the emotions and the physical symptoms have disappeared with the coffee sugar.  I can't believe it!!  My mind feels clearer and I'm better able to handle the children.  And these have NOT been easier days!!  I am pleased.

Also, when I've had a bit of sugar, it seems to me that my seasonal allergies flare up, and once (after a small piece of cake) I saw myself feeling anxious and insecure.  The food journal is really helping me to notice how I'm reacting to my meals.

This is going to be worth it.

Had the nightly potato twice.  Not sure it made a difference in my sleep, but I'll keep it up anyway.  Still waiting for the Potato book from the library.
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Day Four, according to those who have gone before in kicking the sugar habit, is supposed to be the worst day.  I think it wasn't too bad for me because I hadn't yet completely given sugar up.  At this point, my Farmer and I are still having our morning square of chocolate, although by now it's down to truly just one square!  So I think the withdrawal symptoms were, for us, much more spread out.  




sugar freedom: day one


(click here for the first post in my sugar freedom story)

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April 30, Monday
[from my post on MOMYS]

Well, last night I had my first nightly potato (a half, actually, fried with onions).  Slept well, dreamy as usual, but woke up very sweaty on my chest and back! Is that related to the potato?!  Journaling my food for day two of Operation Sugar Elimination.

I'm also trying to think through what kind of sugar-free life I want to live, and how much label-checking I want to do.  At the beginning of the year, I went through The Lord's Table free online course and found it to be soooo good.  The course reminded me to turn to God for my emotional needs instead of turning to food, and to focus on God (worship, enjoying his presence, living in the Spirit) instead of focusing on food (reading labels, counting calories, demonizing certain food groups, etc.).  Now, I realize that in this thread we are talking about having a unique sensitivity to sugar, and it looks like I might have that, but I want to keep my focus on God's goodness in my life, learning to eat wisely so that I can live fully for God.

Off to start my day with a protein-y breakfast!

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So started the first week of sugar freedom!  My Farmer is joining me, much to my relief.  I can be pretty stubborn, but I don't know how long I could hold out for sugarfree living if he was eating chocolate-chip cookies in front of me.  Having him making changes alongside of me is an enormous encouragement!

We started on Sunday by having cottage cheese, whole wheat toast and almonds for breakfast instead of granola.  No sugar in the coffee.  We did opt, however, to keep our tradition of having a square (or two, or three) of chocolate with our after-breakfast coffee.  (Now you know - yes, we did eat chocolate for breakfast.)

The big change is going to be in the afternoons, when Sugar, Spice, Everything Nice, and Lil' Snip are all resting (or reading) upstairs, and I am ready for my traditional big sigh of relief accompanied by some good old chocolate.  Or cookies.  Or chips.  Or brownies.  (Now you know - yes, I was in the habit of snacking on mostly junk food many afternoons.)

The rest of the day looked pretty healthy:  almonds and lentil sprouts for a snack, ham and swiss on whole wheat for lunch, turkey frankfurter (I think "frankfurter" sounds healthier than "hot dog", don't you?), popcorn and apple for supper.


According to my food journal, I didn't feel too extraordinary that first day, yet.  I felt heavy-eyed mid-morning (as usual) and needed Zyrtec to keep allergies at bay (I'm sure you don't want a list of my allergy symptoms, but I'm going to give it to you anyway, because it makes their disappearance look all the more spectacular:  sandy, gunky eyes; ferocious sneezing; itchy rash on face, neck, inner elbows & knees; congestion and a drippy nose).  

I did sleep well that night.  Is the potato helping??


sugar freedom: the potato factor


April 29, Sunday

I got back on MOMYS to ask more questions about the potato part of Potatoes, Not Prozac.  It sounds like eliminating sugar provides the wellness benefits, but the potato is what really enables us sugar-junkies to stay away from sugar.  

The author, Kathleen DesMaisons, explains that sugar-sensitive people have a naturally low serotonin level (or possibly, people with a naturally low serotonin level are sensitive to sugar.  See her website and book for more of the science behind this).   What does serotonin have to do with sugar?  Here's an excerpt from the Radiant Recovery website:



When your serotonin is at an ideal level, you feel mellow and relaxed, hopeful and optimistic. You have a sense of being at peace with life. You are creative, thoughtful, and focused. You also have a lot of impulse control, which enables you to "just say no" more easily.
People who are sugar-sensitive have naturally low levels of serotonin. As a result, you do not have good impulse control. It is almost impossible for you to "just say no" because there is such a short time between your getting the urge to do something and then doing it. The insufficient serotonin level in your brain isn't giving you the time you need to make good decisions.
Besides being impulsive, you may feel depressed and find yourself craving foods such as bread, pasta or candy. This craving is the work of your brain, not your ego, because your brain knows that getting you to eat such foods will temporarily raise your serotonin level. Unfortunately, it will also have a devastating boomerang effect and cause all sorts of negative feelings. Having low serotonin can cause these feelings:
• Feeling depressed
• Acting impulsively
• Feeling blocked and scattered
• Having a short attention span
• Feeling suicidal
• Craving sweets and simple carbohydrates


To increase serotonin, Kathleen (affectionately referred to as "the potato lady") recommends eating a potato every night before bed, or about three hours after supper.

How can a potato help?!

According to the author (and again, please excuse my laywoman's language, and check out her website and book for the full scientific explanation), we need tryptophan to trigger serotonin production in the brain.  Tryptophan is one of the amino acids resulting from the breakdown of the proteins that we eat.  Because it is a smaller amino acid, it cannot so easily cross the blood-brain barrier, and gets left behind.  No serotonin.  

If, however, we eat plenty of protein during the day, and then have a potato before bed, the complex carbohydrate in the potato triggers insulin production, re-routes the larger amino acids to the muscles instead of to the brain, and clears the way for tiny tryptophan to enter the brain, produce serotonin, and release all of serotonin's calm, hopeful, creative, impulse-controlling benefits.  And you thought potatoes were bad for you!  (caveat:  Kathleen insists that the potato must be consumed with the skin.)

Hmmm ... it had been a few decades since I'd sat in any biology classes.  I'd have a lot to think about......




May 14, 2012

sugar freedom: the set-up


I'm not sure that my previous posts entirely captured the emotional angst that I've been dealing with.  There have been tired teary days, full of self-pity and hopelessness, echoingly empty of healthy human connection.

I pounded on heaven's door.  No response.

I read the Bible.  Dry as toast.

I took Zyrtec and oil of oregano, and sneezed anyway.

I talked with friends in endless angst-y circles.

I read blogs and only saw glib perfection, victory, or at worst, decorating problems.

And then, my daughter left the freezer door open.  It's a little hard to see a connection, at first; I'll grant you that.  But when God sets about freeing one of His children, He uses whatever material is available to him, and what was available was a forgetful child and a mama just looking for a reason to be furious.

I went online to find out if we had to pitch the entire freezer's worth of food, or if something could be salvaged.  I didn't trust the general population - too cavalier.  I didn't trust the government - too litigation-minded.  Who could I turn to?  [or, "to whom could I turn" for my fellow English majors crippled by years of grammar study, still unable to end a sentence with a preposition.]

I turned to MOMYS, an online forum by and for mothers of little ones, who have answered many a question for me in the last few years, regarding sleep, nutrition, housework, discipline, or pretty much anything.  The MOMYS would know which foods to discard and which could safely be used.

Thus begins my journey out of a pit, to freedom .....

[He makes me lie down in green pastures . . . he leads me beside quiet waters . . . he guides me in paths of righteousness for his Name's sake . . .]

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April 28, Saturday
[from my post on MOMYS]

Wow.  I haven't been on MOMYS for months, and just popped in today to ask about the safety of refreezing partially-thawed frozen foods ... and saw this thread on the benefits* of giving up sugar.  I'm kind of thinking it was God-ordained.

I have had terrible seasonal allergies since I was little, and recently read that eliminating sugar can help.  Frankly, I didn't want to do it.  I've tried everything else and yup, really like my sugar.  But this thread ... I reserved the Potatoes,Not Prozacbook from my library, and am considering trying this.  Also attractive is the mental clarity issue - I've really been struggling with depression, anxiety, fear, muddy thinking, etc.  Would LOVE for that to be cleared up, and who couldn't use more energy.  Any effect on libido? (maybe that could get my husband on the bandwagon with me!)

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* benefits some of the MOMYS noticed when they cut sugar from their diets (excerpts from about a dozen different mothers on the sugar thread):

physical:
- no more headaches
- no headache after running errands and dropping off/picking up kids
- greatly reduced joint pain and arthritis
- no more joint pain
- can sleep through the night without tossing and turning, no longer have numbing in my hips
- blood sugar levels stay below 100 (with sugar I am a Type II diabetic)
- chronic yeast problems went away (yeast growth in my inner ear area causes swelling and dizziness when I have sugar)
- no more fatigue 
- more steady energy
- increased energy levels
- generally feeling better and less sluggish
- tons of energy
- no more weight gain
- acne clears up
- no sickness all winter
- my skin is so much nicer (less dark circles under my eyes)
- no more achiness
- less bloating, less gas, less need for nap
- fewer CRAVINGS
- lost 22 lbs since February (cut out most refined carbs)

- When I was a kid I had brain cancer. It was caught early and we used a naturopath who had us taking apricot kernel tincture, alfalfa tablets, and cutting out sugar and white flour. We used honey and occasionally fructose. My sister had leukemia and my mom had colon cancer too. My mom also had ulcerative colitis and had had that since she was 19 years old. We were all 100% healed. 

PMS
- fewer PMS symptoms (irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, acne, spotting)
- stopped PMS chocolate cravings after about six months (I don't think about chocolate much at all now)

emotional:
- no mood swings
- no more depression or anxiety
- steady moods

mental:
- no more brain fog
- more calm 
- clearer thinking
- able to think clearly while shopping at Wal-Mart (usually feel weak, almost dizzy, after a while, and have to really focus on just getting the things on my list and getting out of there. All the blip noises, the commotion, the stuff everywhere, just seems to overwhelm me)
less addicted to the internet (There appears to be a relationship between breaking other addictions and quitting sugar. Many testify that they never really kicked their alcohol and nicotine addiction until they also cut sugar and healed that part of their brain that feeds the addictions.)

pregnancy:
- no heartburn while pregnant
- no morning sickness while pregnant
- pregnant, I nap 2-3 hours every afternoon with sugar. Without sugar I can be up at 6:00 AM and to bed at 9:00 PM without a nap.

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If that doesn't whet your appetite (so to speak), well ... it sure did mine.  "No more brain fog"?!  "No more depression or anxiety"?!  No more headaches or fatigue, and "tons of energy"?!!  

Sign me UP!!

Meanwhile, the Farmer and I watched this video from 2011 on YouTube, only to see the local paper quote him a week later.  "Quantum consciousness", as my friend says.  Stay tuned for more on the Sugarfree Frontier!

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