Monday, March 14, 2011

Sugar, Sugar

How sweet it is.....

Sugar.

Am I an addict? For most of my adult life, I've told myself and others that I am a candyaholic. It's really my only major vice - I don't do drugs, drink alcohol in excess,gamble, eat fast or fatty food, or spend my nights glued to the TV. Surely one should be allowed a single vice in life right?

Sigh. Unfortunately the answer is no. At least not the vice of consuming sugar day in and day out. There are a litany of reasons I should not be eating sugar (most/all of these apply to everyone), here's just a sample:

  • Packing on the pounds - contrary to popular belief, it's not animal fat we should be watching our intake of, it's processed foods, grains and refined sugars. These are the foods that are making us fat. The conventional wisdom has been feeding us the wrong line for the past thirty or forty years.
  • Tooth decay - I had braces when I was younger and I reckon I have a nice enough smile now, but my dentist has made a pretty penny off me already and I'm not keen on paying him to pull my teeth and fit me for dentures at some point because my teeth have decayed from sugar.
  • Disease - OK, my father is a diabetic (Type 1). He has to take insulin shots twice a day. He has had diabetes since he was 35 years old and has never been overweight. So his lifetsyle didn't contribute to his getting diabetes (except that he was really stressed at that point in his life), but for the vast majority of diabetics, this is not their story. Type 2 diabetes is almost always a result of poor lifestyle choices. I do not want to have diabetes or any other chronic disease and I have to take responsibility by leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • Energy and Mood - One thing is easy to never notice is the difference in one's energy levels and mood when they are eating a diet that includes grains, sugars and/or fatty foods. One of the reasons I don't eat greasy food very often is because I always feel disgusting and exhausted afterwards. I'd say I have a greasy food binge about once every four months and that's enough to turn me off for a good while. Since I first went to visit an RHN back in 2006, I've been limiting my grain intake with a few transgressions along the way. I can notice the difference in my energy and my body (bloated vs not) when I'm on/off grains. Ah but sugar....because I have it on a daily basis, I often forget what an energy drain it can be. I have given up sugar before and can recall how when I finally gave into temptation I would feel sick from the sugar and low energy. We just never realise how much better we can feel if we're eating something (sugar, grains, fast food) on a regular basis because it becomes the normal. In this case, the normal is not good.
So, with all of this in mind and ready to lose the rest of the weight I've packed on over the years (I'm 30 lbs from my goal), I've decided I have to drastically reduce my sugar intake. At some point I believe I will have to give up refined sugar completely. But I have to be realistic, I have tried cold turkey before and it's not been especially successful. I'd either end up eating a tonne of fruit, replacing sugar with too much cheese, giving in and gorging, etc.

I've decided that my best bet is to go in stages. Stage 1 started today. I will limit my sugar intake to 8pm or later and, of course, be reasonable with my intake after that time - a hot chocolate or something of equivalent caloric count (around 150 cals). Why eat sugar at night? Well, first of all by not eating sugar (or grains) during the day, I'll maintain my blood sugar levels and eliminate cravings for sugar and reduce my overall hunger. By having a treat at the end of the day, I'll avoid being having cravings at times when candy is readily available, like when I am at work. I've never had problems sleeping because of sugar in the evening either, so this is not a worry. Also, since I'm using weight watchers pointing to track my eating, I'll be sure to keep enough points for the evening so I can have my treat. I still have 7 points left for today and it's 10 pm - that means I can have a hot chocolate and half a banana with a TBSP of natural peanut butter.

So, that's the beginning folks, stay tuned for Stage 2, where I'll move to sugar elimination on certain days of the week. I know that some will say this is not the way, that the only way is to go cold turkey. And maybe those people are right, but I'm going to give this a try first!

3 comments:

Rob said...

Try 80% chocolate at night S - hardly any sugar - but gives you the satisfaction

Raeanne said...

Yay good for you! Refined sugar is definitely evil. Your plan wouldn't work for me though as I don't eat after dinner! 7pm, the kitchen is closed! :) Good luck.

Shannon Courtney - writer, foodie, eater, cook, thinker, idealistic realist. said...

Rob - I've tried 80% choc and to be honest..it doesn't satisfy :) But that's alright, last night I had a hot chocolate and it wasn't that satisfying either, so maybe I'll get to the point where I don't feel I need sugar at all. Today I did not give into temptations in the form of a smorgasboard of squares, cookies, etc. at a conference - baby steps!

Rae - Yes, I know it's evil. Sigh. But I've come a long way since the Bulk Barn days of Blair Road in Ottawa :) I don't even eat dinner until 8 or 8.30 most nights, but good tip on closing the kitchen! I need someone to lock it and hide the key on me :)