Thursday, September 16, 2010

What could you give up?

It's not Lent, but I recently decided to go cold turkey on the sugar.  Why, you ask?  Well, I think I was a little out of it at the time.  :-)

Seriously, though, I've been doing a diet, or rather, a different way of eating, for about 40 days now.  Let me say that I hate dieting.  I don't usually diet.  Diet is a dirty word to me.  The few times I have attempted to diet it lasted until about two o'clock in the afternoon, and I swore I'd never eat another plain broiled chicken breast again.  Bring on the chocolate!

But I was walking through Borders one day and saw a book, The Belly Fat Cure.  The title sounds obnoxious, and the blurb line : "For people who don't have the time or energy to exercise" should probably more truthfully read "For people who are too lazy to exercise", but I paged through a bit and landed on a recipe for macaroni and cheese.  An eating plan that allows macaroni and cheese?  I'm in!  I bought the book and started reading the seemingly complicated instructions, but really, after a day of it, I had the plan mastered.

And this is what I learned the first day:  I'm a sugar addict.  I realize that sugar hides in almost everything we put in our mouths (fruit! bread! milk!), but for some reason those M&Ms I'd toss down all day, everyday, never really seemed substantial.  You know?  It's just a few M&Ms, and heck, they have those healthy almonds in them!  And so what if I just ate six chocolate chip cookies, they were small.  And that rich chocolate dessert me and the hubby snarfed down after dinner?  We shared it.  And juice, don't get me started on fruit juice.  Juice is healthy, yes?  Especially since I was so careful to buy the stuff without the high fructose corn syrup.  But I'd drink a couple glasses a day, everyday.  Juice, my friends, is my heroine.

So, I ventured on to this new way of eating.  The plan is very low sugar (15 grams a day; so you're not entirely giving it up) and low carbs.  The first day I didn't think I'd be able to do it.  15 grams of sugar?  There's 25+ grams in one glass of juice! And then I started mentally adding up all those glasses of juice, and M&Ms and well, yep, the addict choked.  So, anticipating an extreme rough time giving up sweets, I warned the hubby that he may come home and find me sprawled on the floor in a catatonic state.  If that should happen, just pour juice down my throat.
Sugar skulls!

But you know what?  The rough time never happened.  I'm still knocking on wood because cutting back on the sugar didn't bother me at all.  I didn't crave chocolate (I still have the emergency bar of chocolate I bought at the beginning; half left), I didn't drool to watch the hubby drink that delicious juice, my tummy didn't complain that I wasn't feeding it sugar.  Could it be my body was pleased I had finally started to treat it right?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say today is, sometimes we are more afraid of giving something up than we should be.  We make excuses (in my case for over a decade as I avoided changing my eating plan), we covet that which we adore most (give me sugar!), and we ignore the things we should at least give a try.  I gave it a go, and it's still working for me.  I feel...better.  A little more clear.  A little lighter (lost 14 lbs so far; no exercise!).  A little happier because I know I did something good for myself.  And that puts a bounce in my step.

So what about you?  Have you given something up lately that made you feel better about yourself?  If not, what would you like to give up, or change, that would affect your life in a positive way?


Cindy Gerard said...

I've read for quite a while that sugar is really, REALLY bad for your general health and as a rule do try to avoid it. As in - no sugar from the sugar bowl, no soda, no juice. But other than that, I probably take in way too much.
As for giving things up, after a recent, nasty bout with Diverticulitis (it's not for sissies, net me tell ya) I've had to give up nuts and popcorn and fruit with seeds - like strawberries and raspberries - or face the consequences. I miss them. But I'll do without which tells me I could probably do without some other things ... thanks for getting me thinking about that, Michele and wow, congrats on the weight loss!!
I've lost 5 pounds - but being so sick you can't eat for a week will do that to a person. LOL

Angi Morgan said...

Congrats on your life change, Michele. I too have given up sugar and for me, there's no sugar substitute (I'm pretty much allergic to all of them.) Several things happened in March to make a drastic in September, I realize that I can actually taste food again. Thanks for the reminder that I can stick with the change and meet my goals.


Michele Hauf said...

Oh, Cindy, that sounds awful! Is it the small seeds that get stuck in the intestinal tract and create infection? I love nuts and seeds (but strawberries are off my list with too much sugar).

Angi, have you tried xylitol or malitol? I made brownies with malitol and they tasted great. And I found some great candies with xylitol that I love.

Jo-Anne Kenrick said...

Congrats on giving up sugar! I feel your pain -- I had to give up salt for health reasons! Well, I didn't 'give it up', rather limited my intake. I mean, EVERYTHING has salt in it. Things that really shouldn't have salt in it, like puddings and cakes? Funky! So I do more baking now, and less buying ready made products.
I also had to give up caffeine, which is killer first thing in the morning, but I don't get that 3pm lull that I used to get. So must be healthier for it? No?

Michele Hauf said...

Jo-Anne, congrats on giving up salt! It is in everything. I find I crave more salt now, but have never been one to salt my food. I've never liked coffee but I imagine the whole caffeine thing would be VERY hard to give up. I've heard it's good for your heart (to drink coffee), but as well, watching Dr. Oz the other day, it's not good for women because it gives them insomnia and (other issues with health I can't recall).

Leanne said...

Michele, you're amazing! I can't imagine giving up sugar! I have, however, reduced my soda intake to about one per month. Many years ago, I gave up bologna and hot dogs, but that was primarily because I learned how they were made.(yuck!) I also wish restaurants would serve more wheat bread. Congrats on your weight loss!:)

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm another sugar addict. It really is a physical addiction, something those of us who haven't partaken of the obvious addictions like nicotine and narcotics don't understand until we go cold turkey. It's hard! They say it takes about 2 weeks to get over the auto-reach (going to the stash at the regular craving hour).

I've been trying to wean myself lately, but I know that doesn't work. Gotta get serious.

Our bodies need a little salt, and salt does bring out the flavor in everything. But it only takes a pinch. You can tell the difference between pasta boiled with a pinch of salt and without.

I'm using sea salt exclusively these days. Costco sells a pre-filled sea salt grinder that I love, but I've had to train hubby in the art of grinding just a few grains and convincing him that's all it takes.

Helen Brenna said...

Wow, Michele - 14 lbs! That's amazing. I've never been a huge sugar nut, but I'm probably getting a lot more than I realize. Even though I consciously try to stay away from it. Don't know what I'd do without my daily glass of OJ or cranberry juice!

Cindy, my MIL had diverticulitis and had to have surgery to remove a chunk of her intestines. It is extremely painful. So sorry you went thru that. :(

Michele Hauf said...

Thanks, Leanna! Pop wasn't difficult for me, but once in a while I like that sweet taste so found something called Lifewater with no calories or sugar. It's got artificial sweetener, which I hate, but one flavor isn't so bad (think it's Grape Syrah, something like that)

Luck with going cold turkey on the sugar, Kathy! I was surprised it wasn't harder, but seriously, I can watch the hubby snarf down a candy bar and it doesn't bother me at all. So strange.

catslady said...

In my case it's kind of the opposite. I had to start drinking water. I also added yogurt (with live cultures) to my diet. It's made a world of difference. I've had stomach problems all my life and these two things really cleared it up. It kind of runs in my family about not liking water so I make a point of drinking either lemon water (no sugar lol) or concentrated dark cherry juice in a glass of water (lots of antioxidants).

Cindy Gerard said...

sorry folks - hadn't intended to make this into a pity party for me (but thanks :o) And now, it's nothing to take lightly. My news mantra: water, water, water, fiber, fiber, fiber. chew, chew, chew.
You all would be wise to do those three little things and save yourself some major issues in the future :o) Gust sayin'

KylieBrant said...

I'm a candy fiend. Not the normal chocolate stash either but things that appeal to a twelve year old's palate . Skittles, Lemonheads, Jujubes. What sucks me in is the 'hey it's no fat!!'. Yeah. Doesn't mean there's no sugar. And I can tell in two weeks around my waist if I've had too much sugar. Sigh. Everything seems harder at this age!

Michele Hauf said...

Catslday, I love what yogurt does for my system, but I have to find some without so much sugar. What kind do you use?

Kylie, I discovered some great sugar-free candy (sweetened with xylitol) called Sparx. Look it up on Amazon. It's fun to eat and tastes great, and is sort of like skittles, but without the chewiness.

catslady said...

I use Activia because I know it has the live culture but I'm not sure of the sugar content because I already threw the carton away but it's only 4 ounces so hopefully it's not too bad!

Michele Hauf said...

CHeck the sugar count, Catslady! Those yogurts are high!

Debra Dixon said...

I'm trying to give up sitting on my butt too much every day.

Trying to just get up from my desk and walk in place while I read something or stretch.

So far it's not going well. I concentrate really hard so before I know it the day has evaporated with my plan.