Sugar: Take it Away Marjory!
Do you remember that show where Oprah comes out on stage pulling a wagon full of blubber to celebrate her weight loss?
Years later I saw her in an interview where she said that she had fit into those jeans for only a couple of hours after that show. Now, her normal, heftier frame shifted on the couch, emphasizing that she would probably never be that light again.
I am not especially overweight and my diet is exemplary. I have been working to make slow deliberate dietary and exercise changes over time. First I started eating organic foods for the increased mineral content that is often lacking in commercially produced foods. I am careful to buy and grow high quality, “clean” meat, grown pesticide free, with no GMO feed, and free-range grass fed when possible; also not given antibiotics that would end up in my body. I have cut out wheat and rice, and for the most part, pies and cakes thankfully don’t interest me. I am becoming immune to cookies and brownies, although I do succumb sometimes. I rarely eat any grains or legumes, except my homegrown corn, of course!
I regularly consume extremely high quality, nutrient dense foods (many of which I have grown myself). This includes organs and meats (both raw and cooked), green juices, bone broths, fermented foods, fresh and dried herbs and teas, lots of fresh vegetables, wild foods, sprouts, raw butter when possible, olives and avocados. I also take some supplements just because.
Now I have one last area that needs some cleaning up.
Chocolate. I just love eating the cocoa, cacao (dried bean-like seeds used to make cocoa) and sugar in chocolate bars. And I don’t mean just a little bit. Many of you have written that 1 or 2 squares of high quality chocolate are all you need. I am just not the “oh just a bit” kind of person, not when it comes to sugar. I am all-or-nothing, whole hog, deep end jumping kind of person. I eat (confession time) at least one of those big bars and sometimes two a day! I am not saying I am proud of myself.
And even with those levels of sugar and chocolate coming in, my health is superb. I am getting stronger and more flexible. I move more joyfully and with clearer focus every day.
Why worry about this last thing? I mean my health is improving and I am getting stronger each year.
I went to my dentist and she told me I had at least one major infection going on in a tooth, at the root. I had no idea that with almost no symptoms, anything was really wrong.
Do you recall that in my Alternatives to Dentists video I talked about how I healed up my abscessed tooth? I did. That infection swelled up, was huge and painful. I used the simple techniques and got it all down to what I felt at the time was complete healing of the tooth. I certainly had complete use. I am concerned now, years later, that I did not heal the entire infection and a low level of infection may have stayed there all these years. Or even that the tooth may possibly be dead. My dentist told me it is surprisingly common for people not to know and have a dead tooth in their mouth, sometimes for years.
But apart from the tooth health issue, you know what? I love the rushes I get when eating chocolate! But I am not happy at all about how my energy level swings. I intend to get a blood sugar meter to see if there is a correlation. My guess is “yes”.
So I want to quit eating sugar and chocolate. I want to see what levels of excellence in health that I can reach. That tooth was a message that this is the next step in my personal quest for excellence.
I can quit sugar; I have done it a hundred times before! Well that may be a slight exaggeration. The point is, ultimately I failed, and the more times you fail at something, the harder it is to believe you ever can succeed. So I am feeling like I need to have a better plan, to do things differently this time than I ever have before.
I am taking the plunge, and writing out my full plan here. I have pieced this together from a combination of all the responses you generously shared on my other post, as-well-as from my own experiences and intuition. This is my plan; let’s hope it works!
I believe the key to success will be to slowly and gradually introduce supportive habits before cutting off the supply.
1) Show myself the truth. I am signing up for a free account on www.myfitnesspal.com and developing the habit of journaling everything I consume. I think it will take about two to three weeks for this journaling to become an established routine. I will not put any pressure on myself to quit eating the sugar yet, but just watch. I am thinking also that recording how I feel after eating various foods will make smart decisions easier to make later on.
2) Create a little ritual for myself to acknowledge this change I am seeking, and to connect with a greater power for support and guidance. (I encourage you too, to seek and find a spiritual practice to encourage you mentally. But please remember, you can just make one up to use mentally, that resonates with your own belief system and wishes.)
Maybe we will share favorite mantras and prayers in some future post. This will be a time to be open-minded and to go easy on yourself and others. The journey into the spiritual side of a life is a very personal one. Part of the journey is to learn not to harshly judge yourself or others.
3) I have noticed that I feel really good when I do short bursts of intense exercise. I do get a fairly sizable amount of walking, lifting, and general moving just in the process of growing my own food. But I have a reluctance to do sprints, even though I feel really great when I do them. I really do not understand what testosterone is, but the way people describe it, I believe that you make it inside of yourself when you do sprints. It feels good and produces a sense of physical power and confidence. I am going to need that!
When I heard Joe Mercola speak, he talked about a system of intense exercises called the Sprint 8 System developed by Phil Campbell, which fits the bill for me. I want to spend another two to three weeks establishing the routine of doing Sprint 8 on Mondays and Thursdays every week.
If you do not have an exercise machine, you can use similar timing and frequency (interval training) with any form of exercise you can do, such as walking, jogging, swimming, stair stepping, or bicycling. No matter what your level of fitness or un-fitness :-), you start where you are and build up with intervals of greater intensity and distance, i.e. walk all the way to the mailbox once, then twice, then at greater speed.
HERE is a good article for beginners, seniors, or someone who just has marginal current fitness, on how to step it up a notch and create your own interval training routine.
While I am getting the habits going for the journaling and exercise going, I will also work on these items below.
There were so many comments about HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), fruit, honey, etc., that I am going to write up an article on exactly what I mean by sugar, since it is a confusing topic. For example, while honey is a much better choice than refined white sugar, especially raw, never heated honey with its enzymes intact, it is still sugar. And, as so many of you pointed out, eating white flour is the same as eating sugar. So just to make sure we are all on the same page, I will write up an explanatory paper on sugar. Much study in this area comes down to low glycemic index, doesn’t it? If you have some personal experience with this, please share it below, mentioning “Step 3, Low Glycemic”.
4) Find an accountability partner and/or support group. Now I would not really recommend that you publicly declare your intension to quit sugar publicly on the internet (like me), as it does sort of add some accountability pressure!;- But I will find and choose an ally to report to, and to be able to call on for help (hopefully day and night). But of course, I am never going to need help! LOL But I do know that sometimes just making it through that next moment, like the after church coffee time, is all that counts. I, You and I can do it!
5) Research the program Dr. Mark suggested on destroying the yeast bacteria in the gut that contribute to sugar cravings. He mentioned “Laurisidin or herbal products” and I want to find out more about what these things are. If anyone has any experience with either of these, or links to useful sites with good information, please write them in the comments section, referring to “Step 5”.
I have just learned that Laurisidin or “monolaurin is a natural, plant-based medium chain saturated fatty acid extracted from coconut oil.” It has an average of 4.25 out of 5 stars given by 62 Amazon reviewers, and HERE is a little summary of what it does and how it is used.
I look forward to hearing your results if you have used it for addressing your sugar addiction, referencing “Step 5”.
6) Research a nutritional supplement program that would support the transition from sugar. Lynn wrote in mentioning chromium picolinate and cinnamon. I have heard of some other mineral deficiencies correlating to sugar cravings and I hope to find which those are, to be able to remedy the situation. I have learned that many supplements can be harmful if not combined with certain other synergistic minerals, so I think it would be best to get a real nutritionist involved here. Anyone having good links for information please do post them with a reference to “Step 6, Supplements”.
7) Snacks: Start implementing Leana’s suggestion to get set up with alternative snacks like Paul’s pickle idea, and I have heard that soaked (and gently dried on low or no heat) nuts in very few numbers (3-6), chewed well, can add important fats and proteins, and quell cravings. You just cannot go overboard. This would be a once a day or every few days thing, if you are seeking the weight loss aspect especially. I have noticed that occasionally licking a lemon or lime has helped me reduce cravings. Kitty suggested substituting fresh fruit or veggie sticks for chocolate and candy bars, and Jan envisions the spoonfuls of sugar in desserts she is tempted by and instead grabs small amounts of fruits with nuts. If you have a favorite, please add it to the comments section and reference “Step 7, Snacks”.
8) Visualizations: Tracy suggested “seeing a cube of Sevin dust” (i.e. poison of some kind), instead of the pretty, tempting sugary sweets in your minds eye. It would be good to understand exactly what is going on when you eat sugar—like to the blood stream, the cells, etc. How does it cause damage? I wonder if it is like giving meth to a bunch of derelicts living in my gut. If you know the process, can describe it in specific visual detail, and can write a brief description of some aspect of the effects for all of us to use as a tool, please do so in the comments section, referencing “Step 8, Visualizing”.
Beyond that, I will plan to piece together a more detailed report on the damaging effects of sugar as I find more pieces of the puzzle.
9) Resting/Diversion: Something I have noticed about my use of sugar is that sometimes I hide it (hide that I am using it—speaks to its addictive qualities, doesn’t it?), and that I use it to keep myself going when I really should rest. So what I am going to do is declare a date for the sugar to be cut off and I will plan a light schedule for the weeks following, allowing myself to rest when I need to rest. Now I have never been good at laying down for long, so I will get a couple of really good books for my iPod that will help to keep my body down when it needs to rest. Has anyone read “50 Shade of Gray” yet? I have been intrigued by the vague descriptions I have heard. Hmmm, or maybe I should get a few lighthearted and fun titles. If you’ve got a suggestion, let me know, referencing “Step 9, Diversion”. Thanks!
10. General Hints and Tricks:
I know from experience that coming off sugar can be depressing at times, so I will set it up so I do not have to make any major decisions (wish me luck with that!) or have any public appearances for the week or so once I start.
Stephana and Anita also reminded me to keep myself hydrated; I agree. We are talking water, not soda or juice, obviously. And Mary suggested going mostly raw; veggies can make great natural, low sugar, super charged juice that would be very acceptable.
Remembering to breathe deeply is one of those “duh, yes” things that just seems too simple. But feeling tired can be a direct result of not having enough oxygen going in.
I am thinking of wearing a special bracelet for a few weeks, to help to remind myself to drink water and breathe deeply.
Others recommended to reduce or eliminate caffeine and eating more protein. (We will have a future report on what constitutes quality proteins.)
Recognize you have a problem, clean out the pantry of the temptations, avoid the church or community supper snack table and have cherry tomatoes, celery sticks and carrots, good oils, fish and poultry ready and waiting at home.
Use limited amounts of healthy or healthier sweeteners such as stevia, xylitol, and raw (unheated) honey (enzyme rich), avoid artificial sweeteners; make fresh green veggie smoothies or green juice to up your nutrient profile.
Watch how what you eat makes you feel. Be observant: do you need a nap right after eating? Try eliminating those things, reintroducing them one at a time, and see what happens.
There were so many books you wrote in and suggested. Here is the list and I will see if I can pick one or two to read:
Tom recommended Super Immunity and Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman
Kate suggested The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates
Many titles on sugar being poisonous such as:
Sugar Blues (William Dufty, 1986)
Sweet Poison: Why Sugar is Making Us Fat (David Gillespie, 2008)
Sugar Suicide: Why Sugar is Killing You and What You Can Do About It (Robyn Jantzen, 2013)
Tami suggested numerous titles by Suzanne Somers in a lovely post that unlike many others does include some grains.
Collette suggested Kathleen DesMaisons books Potatoes Not Prozac (her favorite), and The Sugar Addicts Recovery Program. And Collette, I am going to look at the 7 step program you mentioned.
11. Further Investigations: I invite you to further explore these other frequently suggested solutions to sugar addiction suggested by our fellow community members:
Low carb (high fat) suggested by Dr. Don and Carol; Leslie (Paleo)
Reduced or no grains/low grains by Dr. Mark and Olivia
High fat, low carb, eliminating grains and sugars, having very occasional fruit by Robert and Darlene (gluten free)
I have already been implementing some of these practices as I mentioned in the introduction.
So I am going to go for this with everything I have. Ruthetta, your comment about a 12 step program and your success since 1996 is incredibly inspiring.
The plan I’ve made I feel is a really good one which incorporates every trick I can think of.
And I take to heart the comments Baba wrote about surrender: too strong of an attachment to an outcome creates a polarization and ultimately, failure. So I am open to the possibility I am destined to be like Oprah.
I do believe in the power of good thoughts and prayer – so if you have a spare moment to offer good wishes, I and everyone else who is going on this journey sure appreciate it.
Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of “homegrown food on every table.” Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her “Grow Your Own Groceries” video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.