Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Alexander Days = sugar sadness

I'll admit it: today I want sugar.

It's not bad.  It's like wanting to call an ex-boyfriend that you broke up with for all the right reasons, but you had a crappy day and you just wish you could talk to him for a little bit.
But you don't.
Because you're a grown up.
blah blah blah.

So I had kind of a low-grade, crappy day.  The kind of day where things all go just wrong enough for you to be annoyed, but not wrong enough for you to be able to wring any real sympathy out of it.  The kind of day that a half pound of chocolate would make so much better.

(honestly, the worst thing that happened with my day was that I tried to make gazpacho from scratch and it turned out unpleasant, and the bread that I baked had been rising for too long and it kind of tasted like alcohol)
kitchen fail (ps I just google imaged that and it made me laugh, here are some of the images I found:)

Anyway, I didn't eat any sugar, but it's not all guns and roses.

Here's hoping FEAR THE WALKING DEAD will fix everything.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I'm Confused... but pleasantly surprised

Here I am at work.  It's just after 3

and I'm not hungry.


It's pretty normal that round about this time of day I want something to eat (preferably something chocolate).  Normally I'm usually of this mindset:

I even have a very healthy snack waiting to deal with the afternoon hunger.

I'm not hungry.

I'm so confused.
I keep thinking "How about now, do you want to eat your snack now?" and my body says "nope. we're all good."
I don't know what to do with myself!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

End of Week #1

The big, splashy news at the end of week one is that I'm down 4 pounds.

But it's weird, I don't feel slimmer and usually I would with dropping that much weight, because usually it would happen because I would be starving myself.  But I haven't been focusing on losing weight, I've just been focusing on not eating sugar; and the way Sarah Wilson suggests you do this is by Crowding Out the bad stuff by eating more of the good stuff -- particularly by, initially at least, replacing sugar with fat.

Good fats, obviously, not just heading to the closest "Yellow M" (what madeleine calls mcdonalds).

And that's what I've been doing.  Lots of eggs and almonds and cheese.  I made this "Cashewy Chia Pudding" (chia seeds, cashew milk, vanilla, stevia) that is massively filling and sort of like dessert (I put raw cacao nibs on top so it smells like chocolate though it doesn't really taste like it as there is no sugar).

I learned how to poach eggs this week (way easier than previously expected since not all restaurants will do it) and ate them for breakfast on top of all sorts of leftovers: salad, chopped orange peppers, rolls, mashed cauliflower, whatever.  It's incredible the difference I feel after eating eggs and vegetables for breakfast instead of cereal or pancakes or sweet-based things.

For me, though, the biggest difference is just... feeling simply a little better.  Nothing riotously different, just a little more energy, though a lot less sick.  Every day I was eating sugar (as in most of the 16,000 days prior to the previous 7) I hated how I felt as soon as I was done eating it -- it makes me nauseous, it makes my stomach cramp up, it makes me tired, it makes my throat hurt.  I would sit there eating it wondering why I was eating it but feeling absolutely unable to stop.

And I'll admit, it feels genuinely sad to think about a life with no sugar.  When I think about years stretching in front of me with no cake or caramel I do want to cry.  But the thing I'm really aware of is that I don't want any right now.  And there are all kinds of recipes on the website and in the cookbook for low-fructose sweets to have as treats now and then.  Not that I've ever done "now and then" well with sugar.  Here are some:



But before I get all weepy about not eating 7 candy bars a day, let me focus on a few cool things that happened this week:
1. I found my fitbit charger and got 10,000 steps in every day (often taking a long walk through the gorgeous natural areas around the campus--putting the Park in Parkside)
2. I didn't eat any crap sugars.  At all.  Didn't even really want them.  I still had a little bit of fruit, I had one lemon pelligrino soda, and I had a couple of chocolate Bel Vita crackers because I'd bought them from the store before I knew what I was going to do this week

3. Yesterday at the farmer's market I saw a lady selling fruit bubble teas at a chinese food stand.  I asked her for one (assuming she actually put fruit in it, and thought "it's still week one, I can have some fruit").  As she started to assemble it I saw her put in milk, ice, and then try to open a jar of a clear liquid.  I asked if that was sugar water and she said yes.  I asked her to leave that out.  She got very concerned but I confirmed my request.  She said ok and then opened a box of orange powder (I had ordered the mango kind -- silly me for thinking there'd actually be fruit in it) and put in a few tablespoons of what I can only assume was powdered mango dust.  She blended it up and gave me a small sip to make sure I was ok with no sugar.
It was lovely.  It was like a cool, ice-y milk with a tiny aftertaste of mango but without any cloying sweetness.
I really, genuinely liked it.
I also got some empendas for us to eat.  So with those and the bubble tea I felt fantastic!

4. Madeleine and I had dinner at Applebees last night.  I ordered steak and shrimp with broccoli and potatoes.  Without any sort of deciding to, I ate all the broccoli, some of the potatoes, all of the shrimp, and a bite of the steak.
and was DONE.
My body was very clear -- in a way I am not used to -- that I had eaten enough and should stop.

I think this is what life is like for some people, but for me it's usually just: eat until the food is gone.

so that's been my week.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll wrap some turkey meat in a piece of kale for a snack and head off into the day.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I am hesitant to talk about this because I don't want to be all Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah's-couch about it,

but the truth is I've found something that makes sense to me.

Last weekend Madeleine and I were walking through the local Target and I saw a book that I had seen before but hadn't bought because it was $25 and I am apparently incapable of leaving Target without spending less than $100 so why add to that.  But I saw the book again and had only put a few things in my cart, and I was at the end of the store, so I bought it.

Also, because I can't stop thinking about how I have a real problem with sugar.  A real problem that I can't seem to figure out how to control.  Like I don't know how to eat a few cookies, I can either eat the entire bag, or until I feel like I'm going to throw up, or not at all -- no in between.  I know other people struggle with drugs or alcohol or cigarettes; I have no problem with these things.  Drugs and cigarettes, obviously not my thing and if I never drank another sip of of alcohol in my life I could really care less (though margaritas with The Empire or Mr. Asthe were a lot of fun).

But sugar.  For so long I have just struggled.

And it's so stupid!  I feel sick when I eat it, I hate that I'm overweight, and yet I can't stop eating it, I can't even stop thinking about it.

Earlier this year I signed up for Weight Watchers for a few months.  I lost close to 20 pounds and was pretty excited about it, but then I just stopped.  I don't know why, and I couldn't seem to start again.  I went to the meetings with a friend and we snarkily commented on the things the section leader was saying, but I didn't get any help from the meetings.  I just hated knowing that I would have to add up too many points so I avoided bad sugars for awhile.  Though sugar is still such a huge part of WW (or sugar substitutes which are even worse!) that I would make one of their "acceptable" desserts, only to find myself eating the whole tray of it (though, really their Rocky Road Bars are unreal delicious, I challenge you not to eat the whole tray yourself).

So I keep meaning to go back to weight watchers, even went to one meeting in Vermont this summer.  But it never clicked with me again.  It bothered me that I would go to these meetings and that there was a set agenda, that was never about what I was struggling with.  It bothered me that they were always giving out free samples of some incredibly sugary, low-fat WW treat that they wanted you to buy (which I always ate because I never ate before my weigh in and I was starving!!).

My weight has gone up and down throughout my life, though the weight I gained with the pregnancy (most of which still sits on my frame like a 50 pound wet down pillow) took me significantly higher than I'd ever been.  In the past it has mostly been exercise that kept my weight someplace healthy, and it has usually been some kind of heartache (read: boys leaving) that got me too sad to eat anything tasty and thus set me in the direction of not eating junk long enough to start dropping pounds.  I have gone long stretches where I ate little to no sugar, even a few super healthy times when I could occasionally eat sugar then get back on plan with no problem.  But mostly I've just wanted to eat as much sugar as possible, then I run a bunch, or take a bunch of dance classes to battle back the caloric intake.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the 80 hour a week job and the single parenting make it a little tricky to squeeze in 2 hours at the gym on a daily basis.

I have been wondering on an almost daily basis why I can't seem to walk away from the sugar unless I white-knuckle it for a day or two (the entire time wanting to eat sugar pretty much every second).  Why the one thing I continually wish for -- to have my pre-pregnancy shape back -- is the very thing I sabotage while I reach for whatever chocolate is closest (and as much of it as possible).

This has been going on since I was a teenager.

So there I was in Target, and I decide to get this book to see if there's anything in it that might help me in my struggle:

and there was.
Obviously or I would not be writing about it.

This is not a diet like any other I have read about.  This book simply says: human beings, metabolically speaking, were not designed to eat much sugar.  In fact, we are designed to be able to recognize when we are full if we are eating proteins, fats, and non-sugar carbs, but that back when our current metabolism was developing sugar was so rare that our bodies did not develop the ability to know when enough was enough specifically so that we would eat as much of it as possible to store fat (sugar pretty much entirely being in the shape of fresh fruit or the odd honeycomb).

This book tells me that we actually don't, as humans, possess the ability to stop eating sugar naturally.  I know that some people have learned this, and that some people don't like sugar, but 36% of the people in this country are overweight or obese so clearly I'm not the only one who has a problem with this.

The author, Sarah Wilson, goes on to say that we're not really designed to take in more than 6 teaspoons (or so) of sugar a day -- and children even less.
For perspective a can of coke has just over 9 teaspoons of sugar in it.

So this book says that you should spend 8 weeks not eating any sugar of any kind.
Including fruit.
The fruit part surprised me.

She goes on to say that you can add fruit back after the initial 8 weeks, but that it takes between 30-60 days for a true habit to form, and that the sugar in fruit is still recognized by the body as sugar.  So no sugar for those 8 weeks.

There's a great deal more to this, as you might guess, it is a book.  And I am really engrossed in the reading of it.  But as soon as I started reading this on Sunday I knew that I was going to follow it.  Sadly, I had already been to the grocery store and had bought a lot of fruit, however, she kindly says week one is really just to cut back on the processed sugars -- she thinks we should go slow.  She also says that deprivation goes against human nature, that if we starve ourselves our bodies kick into famine mode and become fixated on food.  So she recommends replacing the calories of the sugars, in the beginning, with proteins and fats.

So I've been doing this for 4 days now.
Not exactly 20 years of marriage.
But I feel... better.
I don't feel sick all the time.

I find if I can avoid looking at sweet things (looking up that WW recipe was a bit of a mistake) and I can stay on top of eating regularly, I really feel fine.
The few (very few, really) cravings I've had, it was much easier to silence them with this understanding of sugar craving/addiction.

I don't know if this will last.  But it's working today and I feel strongly enough about it to want to write about it.

I can also say this for certain: normally at work I often start having terrible headaches around 3:30pm.  I never once thought it might be related to what I was eating -- I always assumed it was stress or sleep-deprivation related.  Two days ago I had a lemon pelligrino soda (there was one left in the fridge) and a package of chocolate bellvitas (again, it seemed like a reasonable "treat" at the grocery store before I opened The Book) at lunch time, and by 3:30 I had a raging headache that lasted until I ate dinner.  I might not have made the connection even then, but I remembered reading about it in the book.  Next day at work I didn't have any sugar at lunch and 3:30 came and went and I felt fine.

One more thing: I still had energy after I cooked dinner (tortellini salad from the Super Natural Every Day cookbook) and after doing the dishes so I walked with Madeleine to a nearby playground (something we have NEVER done after work) and I even played with her on the playground (as opposed to my normal slump on the side bench).
It's a little different.

So I'm gonna see where this goes.
Wish me luck.