Sugar

sugar

One of my co-workers once told me, “Sugar is the anti-christ.” And I would have to agree! I completely eliminated sugar from my diet when I was in my Paleo phase. For those who don’t know about paleo, the idea is to eat primarily meats and vegetables, and a little fruit. The claim is that our body basically sees processed grains the same as it sees sugar and uses it the same way as well. I was very strict on Paleo for about 60 days and I would read every label and not buy anything with sugar. I even bought a sugar-free ketchup which was also all natural and organic, and it wasn’t half bad (although my kids wouldn’t agree with me).¬†Since then I still greatly limit my sugar consumption, but I’m not as strict and I allow myself an occasional indulgence.

I really feel that the most important thing I gained from the Paleo phase was the firsthand knowledge about the evilness of sugar. Since then I’ve read or watched things that support this claim. There was even one study done, I believe at UC Davis, where they did MRI’s on the brains of people who had just drank a sugary drink and the MRI showed that the brain’s pleasure center lights up the same for sugar or cocaine. That blows my mind! And that’s just one example of the many crazy things scientists are discovering about sugar.

So what can you do to reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet? I know this sounds crazy, but when I was strict Paleo for 60 days, I got to the point where I didn’t crave it anymore. It was like I detoxed my system of it and didn’t want it anymore. Even now when I don’t eat much sugar and I have something sweet, I really don’t enjoy it. It just tastes TOO sweet (definitely not something I thought I would ever say!)

So the first thing I recommend is you’ve got to find a way to stay motivated, so search online for articles about how bad sugar is and also read firsthand experiences of people who have¬†eliminated sugar. The stories of how they feel are almost unbelievable. I follow a page on Facebook called Sugar is Killing Us, which is great because their reminders just pop up in my feed. Second, when you go to the grocery store, DON’T BUY IT! If it’s not in the house you can’t eat it. Avoid the inner isles and read every label. Have kids and don’t want to completely deprive them of a sweet treat once in awhile? Then buy something for them that you don’t like. I used to always buy my kids Oreos because I did not like them so I was then never tempted to eat one. Next, skip dessert, pretty much always. I know that’s a sad thought, but it really is just an extravagance that most of us really just don’t need, not for the sugar and not for the extra calories either. I usually allow myself to have cake on my birthday and then only on a handful of other holidays per year. That’s it. It’s hard to sit and watch everyone else indulge, but that’s where the mental toughness comes in. Use a mantra (see my previous post about mantras), excuse yourself for a bathroom break, or have a piece of fruit. It’s amazing how sweet and delicious fruit tastes when you aren’t eating any sugar. There are even books and programs out there that give you an exact program to follow.

I don’t know who this quote belongs to, but I love it: “Sugar? No thanks, I’m sweet enough already.”

Love Your Gut

stomachpain

I feel like I’ve striven to eat well for the past 15 years. Always trying new food plans or diets based on the latest information out there. I went through a Low Fat phase; a reduced calorie phase; a vegetarian phase; a clean eating phase; and most recently a Paleo phase. The biggest issue I have with all these different schools of thought on nutrition is how do you know which one is really best? They all cite evidence for their way of eating, but it is all so conflicting. Regardless of all the different phases, I’ve managed to strictly limit the junk food. Rarely eating sweets or fast food and completely removing soda from my life.

With all these years of pretty healthy eating, I was strangely surprised to suddenly start having digestive issues. About a year ago, I would get these strange ripping pains in my stomach occasionally, often after eating. I didn’t really pay much attention to these pains, but when I started having female issues, I mentioned it to my gynecologist. She did an ultra sound of all my female organs and found no issues. She suggested I see my general practitioner because it could be digestive. I never did this and suddenly last Wednesday afternoon I started feeling nauseated at work. The next day at work I had sharp pains in my abdomen off and on all day and kept feeling like I was about to throw up. In the afternoon I stated having heartburn. I took Tums, but they did not help. This indigestion continued all evening and got so severe that it was debilitating. Again I took Tums and did not get any relief. By this point I had reached the 24 hour maximum consumption of Tums. The next morning, the heartburn pain was less frequent but my stomach pain was unbearable. I finally couldn’t take it anymore so I went to the Urgent Care. There I was diagnosed with acid reflux and esophagitis, which is the inflammation of the esophagus. They gave me some pills for the acid reflux and told me to stay away from caffeine and alcohol due to their high levels of acid.

This is a huge blow because I love my coffee in the mornings and I regularly enjoy a nice glass of wine. In all my years of attempting to eat right, it has always been a choice. I’ve never had food or drink limitations put on me for medical reasons. I’ve now gone 2 days without coffee or wine and I’m surviving. It’s going to take some serious willpower to not have coffee. I’ve also been researching other foods and drinks that are highly acidic to limit as well as what food are good for my gut. I also just learned today about probiotics, but that is a topic for a whole other day! For now I’m just going to do my best to love my gut and make better, more aware choices of how what I consume affects my gut.