So I’m late for Happy New Year. No surprise there. This year, I’m making several changes (NOT resolutions…who has EVER kept a resolution longer than a few weeks?) relating to health. Who isn’t, right? Which is a good thing, because most of us are unhealthy to some extent.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve slowly been changing the way I eat. But for this to mean anything, you should know a little about how I used to eat.
Growing up, Little Debbie was one of my closest friends. We had a cabinet full of sweets…Star Crunch Bars, Zebra Cakes, Swiss Cake Rolls, Oatmeal Creme Pies. And then there was the candy cabinet (yes they were separate. Our sugar supply needed lots of space!) Some of my friends looked forward to coming over to my house for the sugar bennies alone.
My parents tried their best to get me to eat healthy stuff too (I believe there’s a story about a stand-off between me and cole slaw. Nasty, vile stuff.) But when I met my husband, who eats about anything, he was a little appalled that my entire vegetable repertoire consisted of corn and lima beans (but not together!)
So the changes, which were brought on by a couple of holistic healthcare doctors…I started focusing on eating more whole foods, less processed foods (which I’d already cut way down on out of necessity. When I went gluten-free and dairy-free 6 years ago, that cut out almost all convenience foods.) I attempted to eat more veggies and I’ve actually doubled the list of ones I like (yeah, I know, that’s still only 4…)
Because green veggies are hard for me, I started drinking “super greens” which is a powder you add to water and slam down. There’s something like 5 servings of veggies in it. Not the preferred way to get the vitamins but better than I was doing. I began taking enzymes, since years of a crappy diet had pretty much wiped out my ability to digest good food properly. And I started eating fresh spinach daily. All of these made a big difference in the way I felt.
But I still had my Major Downfall. Yep, my “good” friend sugar.
I adore sugar. Have been addicted to it for as long as I can remember. Yes, I mean addicted — it’s an addictive substance and one I couldn’t and didn’t want to live without. Even when I went on Weight Watchers after I had my babies and lost 25 pounds, I worked the WW system so that I would have plenty of room for a fulfilling dessert every night. Approximately 30-50% of my daily calories were full of sugar. And before you go gasping, the average American’s daily diet is about 30% sugar as well. (Now you can gasp.)
I started reading about sugar addiction and learning all of the bad things sugar does to our bodies. It has NO nutritional value, spikes blood sugar, which leads to insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes, which is becoming an epidemic. Sugar leeches the minerals out of our bodies and causes mineral deficiencies. It suppresses our immune systems. One can of regular pop suppresses the immune system by 30% for 3 hours after we drink it. One can! And we wonder why so many of us get sick so much. This is just the beginning of the list of what sugar does on a cellular level. The book I’m reading right now (Suicide by Sugar by Nancy Appleton) lists 140 bad things that sugar does to us.
So you’ve probably guessed my next big change. Yep, I’ve given up sugar. No refined sugar, no evaporated cane juice, no molasses, no honey, no agave nectar…basically anything that affects the blood sugar because of the speed our bodies break it down…it’s out of my diet. I can use Stevia as a sweetener (but I haven’t yet.) And I’m eating fruit in moderation, no more than 2-3 servings a day.
I’ve made it 8 days so far and though weight loss isn’t the reason I gave it up (though weight gain and inability to lose pounds is on the list of Bad Things Sugar Does), I’ve lost 3 pounds already. I feel less bloated, have less brain fog, and I feel really good and empowered by making this change.
When I feel tempted (like when my son dragged me by the dessert counter at Barnes and Noble so he could get a hot cocoa) I repeat to myself that sugar is poison that eats away at my body. And repeat. Like a mantra. And then once the temptation is gone, I feel great because I didn’t give in.
Other changes I’ve made in the past 2 months: daily activity (walking for 30 minutes M-F), several new supplements that help with quitting sugar (since usually there are underlying imbalances in the body that make us crave sugar in the first place…if you want to learn more about that, read Beat Sugar Addiction Now by Jacob Teitelbaum), and cutting down even further on grains. I’m also drinking 80 oz of water a day and getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. (I used to get 5-7.)
I eventually hope to get to the stage where I could eat a dessert every once in a while and A) not go overboard B) not fall back into the addiction cycle and C) not beat myself up. But for now, it’s black and white. No sweets. No foods that have any form of sugar in the top 3 ingredients.
And you know what? Overall, I’m doing okay. Better than okay, actually. I’m feeling great.
Anyone else making health changes these days? Giving bad-for-you stuff up? Making an effort to eat more veggies, exercise more? Fess up here. We can get heatlhy together!