Are you sitting down?
Many of my readers are of the opinion that I live an uber healthy lifestyle and spend all my days snacking on green smoothies, nuts and berries.
Close? Sure, but I’m no saint.
Because I am human, I abuse myself every now and then. Maybe not in ways that others would call abuse, but I make less than desirable decisions when I am stressed out. However, I do it mindfully (as ridiculous as that sounds) and with far less frequency than the average Joe. If I could eliminate stress completely from my life I could easily live the hippy vision that some have of me. The one with my hair down and blowing in the wind with a pretty flowered headband holding it in place. A lacy shirt loosely hanging over a flowing skirt skipping through the breeze with a basket of wild flowers. Can you conjure up that image? Lol.
Yeah, so not me. I’m a short skirt/tank top sort of gal who likes to get her hands dirty.
This winter my life fell into a super shitty place for a couple of months and well, I turned to food. There is no more pot smoking or beer drinking for me so when I want to change my state (read: reduce my stress) I turn to food. I want instant satisfaction and food is my best way to get it. Familiar with this?
GRANTED, my shitty food choices are better than the average person, but they are totally counter-productive to healing my gut and improving my auto-immune condition. Remember, I’m like you and doing the very best to treat myself right. Sometimes, I make not so great choices.
So now that I am settled into my new place and it is easier for me to be more in control of some of the circumstances in my life that were creating stress for me (just so you know, I’m still far from stress free), I am able to reel some shit in. I have two foods yet to conquer (coffee and sweet potato chips) but it is with great pride that I tell you I am 7 weeks off of processed sugar and good lawd, is that a game changer. I have also become more active than I had been in some time. I’m not sitting on my butt all day every day working from my computer. I’ve integrated some more activity (not exercise) and it has helped.
Here is the most amazing thing about removing the processed sugar from my diet. My energy level has gone through the roof. I can run circles around 25 year olds, I swear to gawd. What’s even better is not only is my energy level up, my moods are more even as well. No more highs and hysterical lows.
Many of you already know I have an affinity for Ben & Jerry’s. As I talk about this sugar detox, I’m referring to no longer enjoying a three way with them. Done. Nada mas. There were many days over the course of the last few months when I ate an entire pint. Not usually in one sitting, but over the course of a few hours. I can’t have foods like that in my house because it calls to me it is gone.
There have been only a handful of times I have reached for the gluten free cookies as well, but usually my choice is Ben & Jerry’s. Make no mistake folks, gluten free desserts are CHOCK FULL of sugar. Ridiculously full of sugar so those weren’t helping me either.
There is no U.S. RDA (recommended daily allowance on sugar because it’s not considered a “nutrient”. However, there are several organizations worldwide that have recommendations on your daily intake. The American Heart Association has one. Triglyceride increases affect your heart, and sugars affect your triglyceride levels, yes they do. The American Heart Association says that women should consume not more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and for men it should not exceed 9 teaspoons daily.
Just recently the World Health Organization HALVED its recommendation on sugar intake from 10% of your daily caloric intake to 5%. That works out to about 6 teaspoons a day for a normal body mass index. Let’s look at these recommendations and the label from this ONE food source that I was over consuming.
So let’s just look at this ONE label together, shall we.
Keep in mind that one teaspoon of granulated sugar = 4.2 grams
Let’s consider this first. There are (by their label) 4 servings in a PINT of Ben & Jerry’s. That’s just laughable. Seriously? A ½ cup is less than one “scoop” of ice cream. Keep in mind when you are reading labels that the numbers are reflective of the stated portion size, not the entire contents of the package.
The label indicates that one serving has 25 grams of sugar. If I divide 25g by 4.2g I get the total number of teaspoons which is 5.95
That means that ½ cup portion of Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream has just under 6 teaspoons of sugar in it. That’s the recommended maximum intake of sugar for adult women with a normal body mass index (from the two noted organizations above).
That’s a LOT of sugar in a 1/2 cup of ice cream. So based on the aforementioned recommendations, that ¼ pint of Ben & Jerry’s contains ALL the sugar I should consume in one entire day. Is that YOUR reality?
Here is another frightening thing to note. Look at the first line of the ingredients list. Item number 3 (liquid sugar), and item number 6 are both sugar. How come they are separated? Well, this is part of the game they play with you and it is VERY common especially with sugars. Ingredients must appear in the list by weight. That means, whatever there is the most of (by weight) is listed first. If they SPLIT up the sugars, then they get pushed down further on the list. So really, if they combined the sugars on this label, it would likely surpass the main ingredients in the ice cream which are the dairy ingredients (cream & skim milk). Frightening.
Sugar is hiding everywhere especially if you are consuming the standard American diet. I’m not talking about the obvious places that you know about like soda, candy bars and ice cream, I’m talking about tomato sauce, salad dressings, ketchup, yogurt, granola bars and bread.
So here are two important questions?
How is sugar messing up your life?
Are you aware of the effects it’s having on you?
Are you really aware of how much (beyond the daily recommendation) you are consuming?
My two month dalliance with Ben & Jerry (and some occasional sweet potato chips) cost me 15 pounds. Yes, I gained 15 pound from these two items alone, nothing else in my diet changed.
Each of our bodies are unique. Listening to them is something we learn over time. It has been a process for me. No, none of us wants to believe that what we are consciously putting in our mouths is making us sick, but the reality is different from what we want to believe.
Regardless of what any organization regards as safe additives in our foods, we as a species have not evolved at the same rate that science has and our bodies do NOT know how to deal will all of the crap we are putting inside of it. Need a sugar fix? Eat some fruit. The body knows how to deal with that. It does not now how to deal with processed white sugar or high fructose corn syrup in any way that is beneficial for the body.
As I enter my seventh week free from processed sugar, I pat myself on the back for this huge milestone. Finding the diet that works for me has been a process. I remember fondly what it felt like when I was sticking to what is best for me and I want some of that again. A couple of more tweeks and I’ll be back on track.
Stress is what throws me off every time. In exactly the same way I talk about getting to the root cause of our medical problems, I KNOW that I have the ability to make great choices, but the root cause of me not making them is the stress in my life. So what’s a gal to do? She needs to find solutions for the stress! Stress is the cause of my bigger food issues and it’s my responsibility to deal with that first. Then all the other things will fall in line behind it.
Better food choices aren’t necessarily the cornerstone of change. Reducing your stress is. That is the root problem for many of us.
You can make changes but you’ve got to start.
Today is a good day to start