Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eliminating Sugar


We're in the middle of the last Purposeful Conception course of the year, and several of us have decided to reduce (and/or eliminate) added sugars from our lives.

It's something that's been stirring around in my mind for a while now. When I was pregnant, my midwife advised me not to eat anything that had more than six or so grams of sugar. Basically, the only exceptions I made on a daily basis were a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice and a cup of plain yogurt for my green smoothie.

During that time, I felt completely and utterly amazing. I'm not sure if it's because I was napping every day, walking 2.5 miles every day, drinking green smoothies, taking vitamins religiously, being overrun by hormones, or not eating sugar (or all of the above or some combination of the above--who knows! Life is an imperfect science experiment). I do feel gross immediately after I consume large quantities of sugar, so I definitely know it has adverse effects on me.

The thing is, when I was pregnant, I didn't really crave sugar. It was definitely hard at times, but I was able to forgo all kinds of sugary goodness (or disgustingness?) that I normally would have consumed. [Editor's Note: Those of you who teach in K-12 schools know how much crap is out and about on a daily basis!] The fact that I didn't crave it then (when I wasn't eating it) combined with the fact that I seriously crave it now (and I have no willpower when it comes to saying no to sugar) makes me believe that I might have a sugar addiction.

So I'm experimenting with staying off the sugar for a bit. It's definitely not easy. I went to a potluck and had to turn down homemade fruit cobbler. Then Matt had his '80s Girl-themed Slumber Party birthday with rootbeer floats and candy. But it's actually not as hard as I thought.

My wise friend, Angie, says I'm being extreme and that it makes more sense to reduce rather than eliminate my intake. In general, I absolutely agree with that thought. But when it comes to what feels like an addiction, I might just have to eliminate it for a while and see how it goes.

This New York Times article has some interesting information, and this e-book about how to eliminate sugar looks fascinating.



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11 comments:

jami said...

I struggle with this too. I think I've come to the conclusion, though, that what I struggle with most is moderation. I'm an all in or all out type of person. I've found that for me, what is most helpful is playing to my strengths. For instance, eating clean all week and taking a day off to eat whatever I "like" (junk food or treats) or eating clean unless there's a social event, etc.

Unknown said...

I have found that complete eliminations works best for me. After 3 or 4 days of no sugar (in any form) my cravings disappear. Whole9 posted an interesting article on this:
http://whole9life.com/2010/05/sugar-tantrums/

Ingenue said...

Sugar is oh-so-good AND oh-so-bad. There's a great cookbook called "Get the Sugar Out" - it's filled with dessert recipes that exclude sugar completely! The carrot cake with pineapple juice to sweeten the icing is my favorite!

Anonymous said...

pineapple juice has lots of sugar...

Anonymous said...

I never quite understood why you cut out sugar while pregnant, and I'm not sure you ever clarified as well. To not eat fruits or drink fruit juice while pregnant seems silly to me unless there is a grand justification. I think elimination of anything is not prudent (well, smoking, etc would be good to eliminate, but you know what I mean!). While things may make us feel good in the short run, we don't really know how they will affect us in the long run. I just think your wise friend is right and moderation is best. Seems like your body went nuts with sugar after pregnancy-who is to say that is not a physical need and not necessary all mental desire?

Anonymous said...

p.s. I mean, turning down FRUIT cobbler? I can understand not eating gummy bears, but there are so many wholesome sugary foods. Fruit is nature's best example...

Anonymous said...

About 5 years ago, I had a similar relationship with sugar -- loved sweets, had a really hard time controlling my intake. What really helped me was eating macrobiotically for about 9 months. Macrobiotics is a food philosophy that emphasizes the effects food has on your body/mind/energy, and uses the concept of yin/yang to do so. Foods that create expansive energy are yin; foods that create more centered, focused energy are yang. The goal is to balance these energies with the foods you eat, and avoid foods that are on the extreme ends of the yin/yang spectrum.
Sugar, as you might have guessed, is extremely yin, in all its forms: fruit, honey, white sugar. The more refined the sugar, the yin-er the impact (so eating an apple will not have as extreme an impact as eating a brownie).
This concept really helped me to become more intentional about the foods I eat, and listen to what my body really needs -- not just what it craves.

These days, I eat sweets occasionally, but rarely crave them. And that feels really good.
If you're interested in reading about macrobiotics, some of my friends kept a blog for a while: http://agrainaday.com/.

HealthProfChris said...

Eliminating added sugar is tough, but I think it's a laudable goal. I'd love to hear what you have to modify/eliminate to make it happen. And are you able to pull it off completely, or do you make some exceptions on occasion like you did when you were pregnant?

I'm not convinced by the data presented in the NY Times article (at least not yet), but I think it is clear that high intakes of added sugar are a very good indicator of poor dietary habits in general (which broadly contribute to heart disease, some cancers, obesity, and diabetes).

Good luck! I'll be excited to read updates!

Dee M. said...

Lisa Byrne from Well Grounded Life (http://www.wellgroundedsite.com/freeresources/) has some excellent resources on this subject. She has a "Break the Sugar Habit" workbook at the link above that you can download for free. It really helped me understand what refined sugar does to our bodies and why it's so addictive. All the best!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link to the NY Times article. I'd love to hear how you feel if you eliminate some of the sugar in your diet.

My husband and I have been avoiding sugar for a few months. I find that I have fewer cravings.

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Unknown: I definitely find that it reduces my cravings. I also find that when I do eat sugar, I'm able to notice how gross it makes me feel almost immediately.

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