I have completed my third day of not-eating processed sugar/high fructose corn syrup/etc. This a challenge for me. I know it shouldn’t be, it is just sugar, right? I am an adult who, theoretically, has will power beyond that of a small child. However, it is difficult for me. I eat far too much sugar, I have known this for years. After reading more about the pleasure sensors sugar stimulates in my brain while also causing addiction, the fact that it hurts my liver, causes lethargic behavior, and the abundant excess is simply converted into fat–made me seriously evaluate my daily eating habit. I am not proud to mention the following, but it provides perspective, explaining how my three-days-basically-sugar -free is, in reality, an achievement for me.
I love sweets– cookies, candy, chocolate, cupcakes, brownies, cheesecake, pastries…it doesn’t matter. I love them. The problem is, I have no will power. I occasionally enjoy nutella on my morning toast, and have been known to eat oreos with my morning coffee on a regular basis. On week days, I usually eat two turtle cookies with my lunch (a healthy lunch of raw veggies). If my husband and I eat out, I always order dessert. After dinners at home, I always crave something sweet. If my husband buys cookies, I inevitably eat them about eight at a time. If left to my own devices, I easily could eat (and I’m ashamed to admit, have eaten) a package of cookies or pint of ice cream in the first several hours after bringing them into my house. I am completely embarrassed to admit, on several of those occasions,the shame and regret became so overwhelmingly intense, the only perceivable option was to make myself sick. (For clarification, I am not bulimic, this has only occurred roughly four times over the course of about six years. I know this is not healthy behavior, but I feel inclined to mention it. It is relevant and I want to be honest.) I have a tendency to continue eating something sweet even after I am no longer enjoying it. As if my mind knows I like sweet things and thus what I am consuming should taste good, even though I am already full, and my body is clearly no longer enjoying the food I continue to eat. I hate it. And I hate my apparent complete lack of will power.
Over a year ago now, I read Michael Pollen’s Food Rules. This book completely changed my perception of what constitutes foods, as well as causing me to reevaluate my eating habits. However, I had never really been able to cut out (or even drastically cut back) on sugar. During my lunch break this past Monday, I stopped by the coffee shop. I finally read the cover story (I had somewhat intentionally been avoiding) from the August issue of National Geographic magazine, Sugar Love (A not so sweet story) by Rich Cohen, with stunning photography by Robert Clark. It simply hit me, and I had to stop. I had to. Here I am on the conclusion of what I consider my their day sugar free. I do have about half a teaspoon of agave nectar in my morning coffee (or about 1/4 of a teaspoon of sugar when I am drinking coffee out). However, my after dinner sweet has become 5-10 dried cranberries (with no artificial sweetening). I am reading ingredient labels, and avoiding the hidden sugar in seemingly healthy snacks. It isn’t easy. I am still very much craving sugar. However, for some reason, my heart is really in this. Each day I am facing my dietary needs with a new conviction. I want to be healthy. I don’t want to be manipulated by food manufacturers with their corn syrup in virtually everything. I want more energy and a healthier liver. I want to eventually be content eating one cookie over the course of twenty-four hours, or forty-eight, or seventy-two. I want to enjoy a brownie without thinking the entire time about how much I want to be eating another one.
I want to be healthy–and I am working on it–one day at a time.