Friday, January 21, 2011

Going sugar-free

It's been one week and I'm feeling great. No cravings and not tempted by the aisles of stuff in the grocery store when I shop. I know that facing my Mom's caramel cake is going to be the real test, but luckily that won't happen until the next family gathering and my mind should be acclimated totally by then.

It's not so difficult I suppose as I was sugar-free for many years before going off the wagon about seven years ago.

Why sugar free? It started years ago when I went to my dentist in North Carolina. He had a display in his waiting room showing sugar consumption growth over the years. He had a baby food jar with a teaspoon or so of sugar in it from way back when... next to it was a bigger jar, then a bag of sugar, then 2 or 3, increasing until the stack was my height and at least a couple of bags deep, a number wide. I was probably snacking on a candy bar when I saw it... well, no, I was going to the dentist so I wouldn't have been eating anything. But I certainly didn't have a problem with sugar!

It kind of stuck with me and made me curious. I picked up a few books on sugar. Statements like "if sugar were discovered today it would be banned" and "it's addictive" had me thinking more about my sugar intake. I started watching labels.

What a shocker! So many of the foods I ate had sugar in them. Things you wouldn't think needed sugar. Mayonnaise? hot dogs? spaghetti sauce? I started looking for products that didn't have sugar listed as an ingredient. Pretty soon I was completely sugar free and I felt great. I didn't have afternoon crashes or slow-downs. I slept better. I had more energy. It was enough to keep me on a sugar-free diet for many, many years.

I can still remember when I went off the wagon. Not sure why, either, but when I went, I went wholeheartedly. I ate almost a full plate of chocolate brownies, with icing no less! I was hooked. I almost got a rush...

Since then I've kind of tried off and on to go sugar-free but haven't been committed. I've lasted a day or so always using some excuse like "I don't want to toss all that good food in the freezer" or "I don't have time to cook". I'm the queen of microwave dishes these days....

But my son went carb-free to lose weight and as I was going on a long trip with him I decided to stick to the same diet. Once I got through the first few days, which was surprisingly easy, my body started remembering how good it used to feel. I decided to stick with it when I got back, especially since I'd already gone through what's usually the worst part.

Now I'm cleaning out the fridge and freezer. I've been shopping and am trying to remember all the great foods I used to eat. I'm learning to eat more veggies already! For some reason eating processed foods just takes away the enjoyment of fresh or even frozen vegetables on the plate. They're starting to have more flavor, be more satisfying.

One thing that saddens me is having to give up my Morning Star Farms products. They all have sugar in them. Talk about a surprise! I'm a vegetarian of sorts, have been since my teens. I don't eat meat or poultry. I will drink milk, eat cheese, have an occasional piece of fish so I'm not a true vegetarian by most definitions. I've enjoyed my meat subsitutes from Morning Star. No more. Next time I hit the grocery store I'll be looking at some of the other meat substitutes to see if they have sugar in them.

One thing I've learned is that saying I'll just eat a little bit of sugar on rare occasions is like saying I'll only do crack once a year. It just doesn't work like that. Why do you think they're now putting some form of sugar in almost every food? I dare you to try and fill your cart with foods that don't have sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose or similar listed in the ingredients.

I'm heading to the kitchen to make breakfast. Plenty of choices ranging from cereals to oatmeal to eggs...and even pancakes with fruit on top. I haven't added fruit back into my diet yet, waiting to make sure I'm well settled into sugar-free before adding fruit.

I'll try to keep you posted on how I'm doing off and on. I suspect I'll probably drop a few pounds along the way, which won't hurt my feelings at all! -  jmd

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