Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sugar and Spice

About two weeks ago I had a bit of a revelation.  I realized that I am completely addicted to sugar.  How did I find this out?  Through the font of knowledge that is In Style magazine.  No, seriously.  I was having a really bad day at the office, I drank two full-sugar sodas, I ate full-sugar cake, and towards the end of the evening I felt like full-sugared shit.  Then I was reading my magazine, and there was this quiz to see whether you are a sugar addict (You can take a similar one here:  My answers qualified me as a serious, no question about it, full blown sugar addict.

Then I turned into a detective, to see just how much I needed to cut back.

Do you ever notice on food labels, the sugar is listed there with the carbohydrates and fiber, and both carbs and fiber have a percentage next to them - ie the percentage of carbs in the cereal based on the recommended daily amount you're supposed to have... look next to the sugar number.  There's no percentage.  So you don't know how much sugar you're supposed to have based on the labels.  J's 20 ounce bottles of Sprite have over 50g of sugar, but they only have something like 20% of your daily carbohydrates, so it must be ok, right?  Wrong.  The average American consumes more than 20tsp/day of added sugar.  According to the American Heart Association, women are supposed to have no more than 6 tsp of extra sugar/day.  That's about 30g.  So J's soda has nearly twice the daily recommended allowance in it.  Note that fruit and sugars found in milk don't count towards that total because they are nutritional - this is purely sugar for the sake of sugar that we're counting here.

The syrup to make my vanilla latte has 25g/serving (2 tbsp).  That's not even counting the frozen yogurt, the sugar I put on my oatmeal, the coffee creamer, etc etc.  Seriously, I can easily eat 100g/sugar a day, no problem.

Well, I knew I needed to do something about this, and so I am embarking on a sugar detox.  I found a couple of programs online that promised you would kick your sugar addiction in 14 days, or 10 days, or 30 days, yada yada.  Everybody seems to have a sugar-program.  I found one I liked called The 30-Day Lift, which doesn't promise that you'll be sugar-free in a month, but does help you wean your way off of sugar so you're eating less.  Every day you get exercises to do, and an audio recording to listen to, giving you ways to lower your sugar intake.

So now, thirteen days later, here's where I am:
I'm eating about 20-30g of sugar/day, which for me is amazing.  I haven't had soda in 2 weeks, and while I did drink a lot of sparkling water the first week, just to give me something fizzy, I decided I wasn't really a fan, and I mostly just drink plain water now.  That's actually the hardest part for me.  I want a diet coke so freaking bad.  A few days ago, when I realized I wasn't pregnant from the last IUI cycle - another story entirely - I told J that I deserved a diet coke.  Dammit, I had earned it.  But somehow I made it through the day without having any soda.  (And in case you're wondering, I'm avoiding artificial sweeteners as well because they have been shown to increase sugar cravings by stimulating your taste for sugar without giving you any real sugar.)

I've lost about 6 pounds.  I'm not doing this to particularly jumpstart my weight-loss again, but the weight loss is an added benefit.

I haven't had any heartburn since ditching the sugar.

I have way more energy.  I eat lunch around noon, and then at about 3pm I eat a handful of nuts, and that easily keeps me going until dinner. I don't snack in the evenings anymore, except maybe eating a few crackers when I take my nighttime fertility meds and vitamins.

The first few days were really horrible, though.  I was jittery all the time.  I could literally taste sugary stuff on my tongue.  I was crabby and had awful headaches.  In between there I was also traveling up to San Francisco and presenting at a conference, so I had some other stresses going on, too.  But I successfully avoided the call of Auntie-Anne's in the airport, and learned how to make my own soft pretzels at home, without all the added sugar (which is a different blog post...all I can say for now is that Auntie Anne can bite me - and I'm allowed to say that; I went to school with their whole family and remember when she just had one little stand at the Downingtown Market).

I still have a smaller version of my iced mocha in the morning - coffee, 1 tbsp of chocolate syrup, and some milk, all over ice.  It's yummy, and since I make it small, and measure out my syrup, it's not absolutely terrible.  That's really the only sweet thing I have all day, but I get the extra grams from bread, and the cheerios I've started snacking on (I have turned into a 3 year old).

If you're thinking about cutting back on your sugar, obviously talk to your doctor, and check out these links below.

NPR: Too Much Sugar Can Be A Heart-Stopper
Mayo Clinic: Don't Get Sabotaged by Sweeteners
141 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health

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