Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

How to Give Up Sugar

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

If you don’t do anything else, the most important step for improving one’s health is ending one’s addiction to refined sugar.

I recognize that carbs and alcohol are sugars. But our cultural addiction to fructose is so severe that just starting there, I believe, has immediate health benefits.

There are many who’ve done the internal work that are ready to give everything all up at once. This usually happens after a moment of realization how important health is. But if you want to give it up gradually, its possible to do it in stages.

In 2004 I gave up all High Fructose Corn Syrup. During this process, I learned it’s everywhere. And that I needed to read the ingredients on every processed food I bought. Gone were Kit-Kat bars and 99% of all industrial bread. No more ginger ale. Even Orangina, which once was real carbonated orange juice, had gone to the dark side with HFCS. No more salad dressing. No more store bought marinades.

Granted, it wasn’t everything. I still ate meat fed with corn. I still could have high end chocolate. And I still drank diet soda, which while free of HFCS, still kept myself addicted to sweets. I used maple syrup and honey occasionally.

Next I took another step away from sugar by insisting that anything I was offered had to be made at home, and not from a box. In my profession, lots of my lovely elderly ladies love to show their appreciation by baking a cake made from a box. NOw I say, “is it from scratch?” If not, then I turn it down or offer it to one of my employees discreetly (“Father, thank you.”).

I realize I’m poisoning them, contributing to their addiction so that I can be in the good graces of my congregation. I confess this.

My next step was to only take two bites. Yep – two. Enjoy each one. I might get a whole piece of homemade cake, but even if I decided to eat it, I restricted myself. Sometimes I had three, but I think about 80% of the time I didn’t finish what I was offered. On my birthday I may have an entire piece (I refrained this year), and will be deliberate when I break the rule.

Strict Paleo means no maple syrup or honey, either. Or chocolate.

The physiological reason has to do with insulin sensitivity. It may also be inflammatory.

But now when I consume sugar, it feels like a choice rather than a habit.  I can see others have dessert and have gratitude it’s not me consuming that poison.  The next step – booze.  I’ll try that in Lent.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,


March 21, 2010 4 comments

I’ve been working hard on my doctoral thesis. I only went to crossfit once this week, but have procrastinated by reading all sorts of information on lifting and the evils of sugar.

Moving from sugar has been alright. My father wasn’t a sugar addict. My mother used sugar in traditional desserts and high quality chocolate. I didn’t consume much sugar, as High Fructose Corn Syrup became as ubiquitous as it is now. So making these changes hasn’t been psychologically challenging.

I do think we are all potentially addicts. Today I had sodabread and coffeecake offered to me for breakfast. I chose the fruit salad. And later, a neighbor said, “You’ve lost a lot of weight.”

Matt Baldwin and Mark Smith pointed me to the video by Robert Lustig:

It pointed out how fructose was responsible for numerous health problems.

I thought Maple Syrup and Honey are, actually, glucose (but apparently they also have fructose as well). Lustig points out that fruits are our way of getting fiber. Sugar kills the liver, without the buzz of alcohol.

Still, I’ve been good about staying away from most sugars, unless its giving me a lot of fiber.

Categories: Crossfit, Diet Tags: , ,

My first foray into sugar

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday was my first foray into some serious sugar, aside from my reentry into the drinking world.

Fan and I went into NY to see a play. She’d gotten tickets for free due to cancellations to the play, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch. It was entertaining and smart, if vapid and soulless.

Before the play my first cheat at “New York’s best” diner: half the hashbrowns with my avocado / jalapeno pepper omelette. I chose no cheese with the omelette. I accidentally put half and half in my coffee. Just one, however, and it didn’t make the coffee taste better. The coffee was pretty bad, with or without cream. The company was fabulous, and the diner was fine, but I’m spoiled.

After the play we went to City Bakery. I first went to City Bakery about four years ago, and since then I gave up hot chocolate. Because there is no other place else that could compare to the luscious, creamy liquid pleasure they served.

And I had a chocolate chip cookie.

We took an extra long walk back to the train station, but that evening I went to a wine tasting for a friend’s 50th birthday party, a distributor of high quality Australian wines especially from the Margaret River. As it happens, a well known pastry chef made a buttery cake. I’d resisted successfully until I was led by hand to the cake itself.

I’d been good around the appetizers. No cheese. Some prosciutto. I’ve been around enough cakes to have experienced the mediocre, dry, plastic in a box birthday sugar fest. Once led to the chef who was receiving plenty of praise from adoring fans, I decided to have a bite. If it were a cake of exceptional quality, I’d consume. If not, I’d leave it.

As it turned out, it was pretty amazing.

I do not feel guilty. Although I completed the challenge on Tuesday, Saturday I had my first bite of sugar. I believe that I’ve successfully changed my habits. Today, I’ve remained sugar and alcohol free, but I think I enjoyed the cheats more than before – precisely because they are rarer and for special occasions.

I don’t think I failed in these choices: they were deliberate, thought out, and even planned. It wasn’t a matter of me “slipping.” I even brought an extra piece of cake back for my brother and lady.

And I didn’t even slip a bite for myself.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

The First Grocery Store Trip

January 25, 2010 2 comments

I left the seminar rearing to go.  I’d been paid, and all the money saved by  not spending on the recent 2007 vintage of Rhone wines would be spent going to Whole Foods, the great consumer of the bourgeois paycheck.

It was on my way home.

I don’t go to Whole Foods that often.  Vegetables are cheaper at Apple Farms, and I mainly go to my local butcher for Bell and Evans chicken.  Stop and Shop usually is more economical.  Some specialty items are, however, less expensive at Whole Foods – high quality yogurt, Kombucha, and the occasional 3 pounder of strawberries.  But add a few artisenal cheeses from Vermont, Prosciutto from Italy, and Wild Salmon and a reasonable bill goes from $50 to $150.

My project was fairly simple:  get some meat, olives, and a bag of spinach for the day until I had time to go to Apple Farms, where red peppers are $.99 a pound.  Yes, they’re probably farmed using slave labor, robots, or inside somewhere.   At least the meat will be happy.

They had a few sales.  Wild cod for $11.99 a lb.  Yes, that’s a sale.  But it is wild, and the instructors ver very clear that wild is best. It was cheaper than the wild Salmon, which is probably a hundred dollars a pound by now.   A got a couple steaks, and looked for some bacon.

A few years ago, when I gave up high fructose corn syrup, I made sure I read all the labels. Just one trip to the grocery store and the educated foodie learns what an uphill battle eating right will be.  Everything has it.  It’s probably an easy way to give up most store-bought bread, because there are only a few bakeries that don’t use it in their ingredients.

The same for sugar.

I’d done some research.  One, Applegate Farms, seemed fairly reliable as a producer of organic, friendly meats, including a variety of comfort foods.    Alongside them was Niman Ranch, one of the first national distributors of heritage meats in the country.   Neither had nitrates.  Both came from happy pigs.  But Niman Ranch added one ingredient that would eliminate it from anyone following a strict Paleo diet, who intended to go 30 days on the straight and narrow.


It wasn’t corn syrup or a sugar variation.  It was a more friendly variety:  raw cane sugar; cane juice; turbinado sugar; maple syrup.  But no matter how friendly the ingredient seems, it is still the enemy.  It is still “less bad.”  It is still the toxin most responsible for our health care crisis, world-wide famine, and will bring us ever closer to the apocalypse.   Only Applegate farms eliminated this ingredient.

Sugar, the pleasurable toxin of choice, was everywhere.

Not that I’m judgmental.  I still have not yet had to resist Chocolate Chip cookies or a bar of Scharffen Berger chocolate.   Instead, I’ve replaced these decadent joys with Larabars.  Melissa, the coach, sometimes puts a health spread on them:  I might choose almond butter.   Larabars, made only from fruit and nuts, will eventually enjoy their own entry on this blog.

I was able to pass the dairy section with merely placing a dozen eggs in my basket.  I didn’t purchase the dessert-like The Greek Gods fig Yogurt.   I walked straight past their cheese station, even though I’m sure there was a block of Jasper Hill Blue waiting for me.   I didn’t pick up a six pack of Rogue, and after passing the deli for some turkey, I went straight to the check out counter.  Success for $133.47.

I might have gone a little overboard with the steaks.

But I’m at least prepared for a week.