Tag Archives: sugar addition

Gimme Some Sugar!

So, I started Project 40 Monday morning at about 4:00. (Hey, I work third shift; I have bizarre sleeping hours even on my days off.) By 7:30 I was already having sugar withdrawals. I knew they would be coming, but that didn’t make them any easier.

sugar

While I wasn’t blogging for awhile, I was eating. And I was eating all the stuff I know is bad for me – processed foods with refined sugar. I even fell off the vegetarian wagon for several days and ate shepherd’s pie that I had made with some ground lamb that my father had left here and that I had thawed in error. (While the shepherd’s pie was tasty, my stomach issues over those days weren’t really worth it.) In general, my system has been in absolute chaos! It was anarchy, I tell you!

And, as it is with anarchy, when I tried to restore order, my efforts were met with stiff resistance – particularly from the sugar junkie cells. As you no doubt know, sugar activates the pleasure centers of the brain in ways very similar to both cocaine and heroine. Still, sugars, both naturally occurring and added, are in nearly everything. We can’t totally avoid it; but, what should we limit ourselves to?

That’s tricky because there are no USDA guidelines like there are for nutrients since sugar isn’t a nutrient. So, it depends on who you ask as to how much is the right amount. I recently found an article on the American Heart Association’s site which recommends no more than nine teaspoons of sugar per day for men and no more than six teaspoons for women. (The World Health Organization uses similar guidelines.) To translate it into units on nutritional labels, that’s 36 grams for men and 20 grams for women. Okay, that still doesn’t have much meaning for me; so, let’s look at the sugar content of some things I’ve been eating:

So Delicious Cashew Milk Salted Caramel Cluster frozen dessert (yum) – 18 grams per serving  – 4 servings per pint and, really, who doesn’t just eat the whole pint at once? So that’s 72 grams. Yikes!
Zero candy bar – 31 grams
Bojangles sweet potato pie – 28 grams
Hershey’s with Almonds – 19 grams
Kettle Chips Backyard Barbeque flavor – 1 gram per 13 chips (13 chips?! Get real!)

In the past month, I’m pretty sure that I’ve eaten three years worth of my sugar allowance. Now my brain has gotten used to it and weaning the grey cells off the white stuff is going to be a battle, any way I look at it. Still, it’s a battle I’ve won before and I won it with apples.

So, my kitchen is well-stocked with apples and for the next week or so, I won’t worry about my daily sugar intake as I reach for an apple when the cravings hit really hard. If Project 40 works like the Great Reduction, I won’t have to reach for the apples for very long. The Sugar Monster will slumber once more and all will be peaceful in the kingdom.

Well, kinda.

Changing Tastes

knit-wedding-dress-yslThat sounds so sophisticated, doesn’t it? Until you consider that the man who said it also designed this cocoon wedding dress. Hmmm. Maybe he wasn’t quite the last word on style. Or maybe the dress was a joke. God, I hope that dress was a joke. Oy.

Anyway, you know what else fades? The smell of cigarettes and the taste of refined sugar.

As I’ve mentioned, I was a smoker for a long time and, even now, seven or eight years after my last cigarette, I still say that I’m a non-smoking smoker.  When I was a smoking smoker, I smoked up to two packs a day, I smelled like a giant ashtray and I had no clue, my sense of smell having gone into a self-induced coma in protest. Some time after I laid down the cancer sticks, my olfactory nerves reanimated. Seriously. They awoke and did a happy dance. (Do you have any idea how much that tickles?!)

I began to appreciate many of the smells around me again – coffee, freshly mown grass, flowers, rain. And I began to reject others – namely, the smell of smoke on other smokers. And, after a night out with friends, I’d have to wash my hair and even Q-tip out my ears to get rid of the smell before I could sleep. It was just an awful smell that I blithely lived with for about two decades. Incomprehensible now that my sense of smell has changed.

Similarly, my previous menu choices are largely incomprehensible to me now that my sense of taste has also changed.

Just as I was (and I guess continue to be) a nicotine addict, I am a sugar addict. I spent most of my life eating candy bars, hard candy, cakes, sweet rolls, packaged foods, etc. I drank diet sodas, but, big whoop. I was eating literally cups of refined sugar every week. And, as with anything, as my body reached a state of habituation with the sugar, I needed more of it to feel satisfied. It was an endless, automatic cycle. Until I chose to break it.

Breaking it was even more difficult than stopping smoking – I had the help of pneumonia for that. Less dramatic, but no less effective, were apples in breaking the sugar addiction cycle. I bought (and ate) apples by the bag, even though I didn’t particularly like them – they weren’t sweet enough. But after days, then weeks of eating fruit rather than refined sugar, my taste buds began to appreciate the natural sweetness. Eventually, I was able to step down from eating a bag of apples every day (a slight exaggeration – only slight) to just two pieces of fruit a day.  I no longer sweeten my hot tea. I don’t add sugar to my oatmeal with fruit. And, guess what! Things are sweet enough without the added sugar.

This same  change in sense of taste comes after a while of not eating fried or processed foods. After eating foods in more natural states for just a few weeks, try a Cheeto, a Pop Tart, or a Big Mac. I dare you. When I did it, I tasted oil, chemicals, salt, and sugar – not really the flavors I remembered.  My former favorites tasted like garbage which reminded me an episode of The Biggest Loser. Jillian ate some fast food that was a contestant’s favorite. The trainer actually began to gag when she put the food in her mouth and, at the time, I thought, “How ridiculous. Such an over-reaction.” I don’t think that way anymore. Now, I get it – even without the many years of eating as cleanly as she does.

Now, that’s not to say that a Twix isn’t a danger for me anymore. Not at all. If I eat one for whatever reason, I can feel that sugar addiction beast stirring. Processed foods are convenient and I am often tempted to overlook the bad flavor and go for the easy belly fill. I am tempted and I sometimes succumb; but, the enjoyment I once derived from those foods is gone and I want to keep it that way. My body feels good now. I like feeling healthier and more fit. I prefer the taste of health to the taste of a Snickers.

Truly, tastes do change.

While I cannot attest to its veracity, this infographic appeared in Forbes. It's interesting and provacative at the very least.
While I cannot attest to its veracity, this infographic appeared in Forbes. It’s interesting and provocative at the very least.