a little while ago i went on a few dates with a man and i told him i'd once weighed quite a bit more. and he told that he'd once weighed quite a bit more. and we both sort of laughed and commiserated about having once weighed quite. a. bit. more. and he asked how'd you lose it?
i ate a lot of cheese.
no kidding. that was my answer.
in fact, i'm pretty sure there was a cheese plate before me as i said it. (i haven't met a cheese plate i can't make a meal of).
the first time i really thought i'd give "quitting sugar" a college try was about a year ago. i can so clearly remember heading to brunch with two of my girlfriends and eating a small dish and being ravenous for something after. and when i say "something" i mean something sweet. i wasn't full. i needed something sweet and sugar-loaded to fill me up. but because i couldn't eat sugar i went through a list of foods in my head. and where every other food was concerned, i felt full--there wasn't room in my stomach. but for sugar--just the thought of sugar--my brain and my stomach sort of miraculously opened up, made space. it was one of the more eye-opening experiences of my life.
it was also around this time that i was eating cheese one evening when i had a very clear thought: that's enough. i'm full now. (i'd never before felt that way when cheese was around).
here's what i can tell you about avoiding sugar just as much as i can: quitting sugar was (and still very much is) an experiment.
to begin i gorged on the information that's out there (like this exceptional new york times article). and i invested in the very simple notion that sugar is bad and fat is not. i was willing to say yeah, i'll give those full fats a go. i'll start eating butter without fear. hell, i'll even cook with bacon fat upon occasion.
having learned first hand (in a full body sort of way) that diets don't work and that very often doctors and nutritionists are not well informed where weight is concerned (politics and commerce really come into play here) i was willing to invest in the notion that the prevailing ideas of what is healthy, were totally wrong.
so how did i begin? well, i started reading this tremendous blog. and then i bought her ebook. and i went from there. slowly and with great love for myself...
this is what i understand to be true:
fructose is the problem.
when fructose enters into the body it is not immediately converted to energy but stored away as fat.
anything sweet and found in nature is safe to eat. (and by safe i mean not poisonous). sweet was in fact nature's little calling card that said yup, eat this, it's safe.
thing is, very few sweet things existed in nature. a berry bush was a rare and unusual thing to come across. and so when our ancestors did they would gorge on its treasures. but they came across such berry bushes very rarely (and when they did they had usually just expended tremendous energy to get there).
there was no hey-you're-full message associated with sugar because it was so rare that there was no need for it. but now sugar is anything but rare and the rate at which it became so easily accessible far surpassed our evolutionary ability to deal with such a change.
so the simple lack of the hey-your'e-full message is a huge problem.
in fact, sugar (fructose) gets in the way of the hey-you're-full messages from other foods, which may be an even bigger problem. leptin is a hormone that regulates our satiety and fructose sort of taps down on it and confuses the message or renders it all-together-absent and so we. just. keep. eating.
high fructose corn syrup is no more dangerous than any other sugar except but for how easy and cheap it is to make. which means everyone is making it. and putting it in everything. (especially in all those no fat, low fat foods).
4g is about 1 tsp of sugar.
yoplait's 99% fat free yogurt has 27 g of sugar per 6 oz... you do the math.
just start looking at labels. forget about calories. forget about fat content. just look at the sugar content. it is startling.
i don't eat any sugar/calorie free substitutes (splenda and the like). they are dangerous because they 1. desensitize our brain to what sweet it and 2. create a deficit in our body. we get this huge hit of sweet and none of the accompanying calories and our body becomes aware of an imbalance and craves calories (food) to make up the difference.
part three coming tomorrow. (part one here).
i've been so encouraged by the responses to my most recent food + health posts and plan to answer any and all questions that have been posed in the next few days. i'm weary of doing any posts that accurately show what i eat over the course of a day or a week because knowing that it'll appear on the blog will cause me to skew my choices so that they appear "better" than they might otherwise be--that being said, i'm going to do my very best to present an accurate depiction of what i do actually eat over a given period of time. know that much as i avoid sugar and skip dessert at the end of the meal, there are still days when i can eat the whole container of ben and jerry's oatmeal cookie crunch, ya know?