Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DF25: Bracing for the Sugar Ban

Yesterday I saw the acupuncture doc again for a treatment. She did a quick exam and said there is still too much "dampness" in my liver and lungs. And sinuses. She was surprised that I have been dairy-free for 24 days, and said I should be exhibiting fewer symptoms of dampness by now. She is blaming the continued dampness on my continued consumption of sugar. Which I have cut way down on, but have not eliminated from my diet completely. She also recommends eating more fruit. And barley.

If it will make me better, I'll give it a try. Dampness or not, I've noticed a big improvement in my sinuses since going dairy free. It has been easier than I thought it would be. Surprisingly, I haven't had cheese cravings. Instead, I crave stuff like creamy sauces, hot chocolate, custards, and yogurt more than cheese. Also tea with milk. Tea with either Almond Breeze or Silk in it is just yucky. However, a vegan I met recently highly recommends the Pacific Hazelnut milk to put in tea. I was surprised to find our WF carries it. But I didn't buy it because it has 14 grams of sugar per serving (from where, I do not know, since all that's in there is hazelnuts and water, I think).

To assist with making this transition to sugar-free living, I just ordered Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Diet. It has been recommended more than once on the forums at, my favorite fitness site. I previewed some of the content before ordering, and it's pretty hard-core. Also pretty grim. The reason I'm looking at this is that unless you're eating whole, unprocessed foods, it's hard to avoid sugar. And that's what her book is all about.

From the brief amount of surfing I've done, it appears there are several "levels" of sugar-freeness. Some people just cut out sugar, but use natural sweeteners (like agave) and artifical sweetners (like Splenda). Other people don't even use alternative sweetners, or foods containing "sugar alcohols" like sugar-free gum and sugar-free protein bars, as they find these can trigger "sugar cravings." And some people apparently even eliminate perfectly good foods like raisins and oranges, that are high in natural sugar, for the same reason. All I can say is, wow-- with a lifestyle that strict, you probably spend more time obsessing over sugar: what NOT to eat, than focusing on and enjoying the food you can eat. But who am I to judge? These people consider themselves "sugar addicts" and find that their health is so much improved by their dietary practices that for them, it's worth it.

As for me, I'll probably be in that first group. I've recently tried agave and found it to be fine, especially on the whole-grain, 0 grams of sugar cereal I purchased recently.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a cereal that has at least 6 grams of fiber per serving (for the blood sugar) AND 0 grams of sugar? At Whole Foods I only found 1 yesterday. The Ezekiel brand "sprouted grain" stuff, which I think also contains lentils (I'm supposed to be eating "Ezekiel" bread instead of real bread so I'm somewhat familiar with the basic idea). The cereal tastes kind of like Grape Nuts, only more boring. It doesn't taste BAD, but it doesn't taste especially good either.

Oh yeah, try that stuff with some sugar-free Almond Breeze on it and you might find yourself reaching for the Agave bottle too. Next time I have some, I'm going to see if I can avoid using the Agave (which may be sugar-free, but certainly is not calorie-free), by adding some fresh blueberries to the cereal.

Even though I'm gonna do the sugar-free thing, I do have to wonder if I'm overall doing better nutritionally. Remember, I'm also supposed to avoid refined soy products like soy milk. (Though miso is ok. Certainly not on cereal, though!)

For instance, I usually eat Kashi Go-Lean Crunch Cereal, which has 9 g of protein, 12 g of sugar and 8 g of fiber per serving, plus another 6 g of protein or so and calcium and some fiber if I top it with Silk. The Ezekiel stuff (I got the Almond kind) has 0 g sugar, 6 g fiber, and 8 g of protein per serving. Which is not bad. But the Almond Breeze has about 40 calories per CUP, but no protein at all. If not for the fact that the Almond Breeze is fortified with calcium, I might as well be topping the cereal with tap water for all the nutritional value I'm getting. Plus, the dr. wants me to eat an egg with my cereal, so I have to mess with cooking that too. Cold hard boiled eggs in the morning just don't sit well with me.

I agree with the basic ideas of the Tosca Reno Eat Clean Diet, which is not a diet at all, but a lifestyle change. One of the most important ideas is only whole foods, no processed foods-- so no bread, just cooked whole grains. Canned tomatoes are probably a no-no too. Although if my usual brand has no sugar, I don't plan to stop using them.

Tosca recommends you eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day, each with a serving of lean protein and a complex carb. When I'm weight-training, that's pretty much my routine, as I feel best that way. I'm gonna get back to weight-training this week. Really. But it's a lot easier to do this if you can eat dairy-- a Fage yogurt and a piece of fruit, and you're all set.

But holy crap, the portion sizes are miniscule, especially for the carbs. And the way she talks about them is (to me) exceedingly annoying: Two handsful of this. A scant palm-ful of that. Could you please for heaven's sake just give me an actual measurement, either by weight or volume, I don't care which, if the portion size is such a big deal?

Plus she wants you to pack a cooler full of "approved" food every day. I can see the wisdom of doing this if you work outside your home, and are going to be eating every 3 hrs. or so, but I think my fridge will work just fine, thank you. I will even do my best to prep the food ahead of time. And since I do need to lose all those pounds I've gained over the past year, portion control is probably not a bad idea.

You all know how much I love desserts. And baking. And eating out. So I honestly don't know how well this is going to go. But on the positive side, several people who've eliminated sugar from their diets have said that after the first 2 or 3 days, you no longer crave sugar. We'll see about that. The dr. also said that my palate has to get "adjusted."

Yeah... is that like when my Weight Watchers lecturer told me I would learn to enjoy liver if I kept trying it? Because that is certainly never worked for me. I cannot abide liver, despite numerous attempts. Don't even come near me with pate. The only liver I've ever eaten and enjoyed is whitefish livers, and you can only get those if you live near Lake Superior. Personally, I think my palate is in tip-top shape and works just fine.

The one big question mark in my mind is what to do about DC. Since I can barely get ONE dinner on the table most days, let alone TWO, I think he may just have to live with sugar-free, dairy-free dinners, at least for a while. DS probably won't care much, as long as I don't make him eat stuff he actively hates. Several reviews commented that the book does contain some really good recipes in it. There is also a separate cookbook available, which I may end up buying. As to how all this is going to work when I'm on the road, which I am 1-2 times a month, I have no clue.

All I know is that I have to come up with a system I can reasonably live with most of the time, that includes food that is not only nutritious, but also delicious and satisfying.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck Karen, this sounds like a really tough transition, your reasoning and intentions are good but man I admire your will power in this!


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