I Am That Girl Now

Monday, November 20, 2006

Rant day!

It's rant day, kids!

I may have mentioned (often) that I've gone off sugar. I may not have made it clear that by "sugar" I mean refined sugar, or frankly anything that contains sugar as an ingredient and not as a natural part of the vegetable matter-- i.e. I'm not eating cookies, candy, brownies, cake, and so forth, but I am eating carrots, beets, apples, pineapple, oranges, etc. I came to the conclusion that I'm a refined sugar junkie, that my system is treating it like an addictive substance, and that I've had more trouble, diet-wise, from refined sugar than from any other kind of food. Therefore, fuck it; I don't need it, I hate what it does to me, I hate the hold it has over me (well, that's getting toward "had"), and I don't like the stuff well enough to suffer this sort of treatment at its hands.

So, anyway. We had some friends over last night and one of them brought brownies. Low-fat, but full-bore sugar. I was offered one, and I politely declined. An explanation was requested, so I said that I was off sugar. After some consideration, I went to the kitchen and got a bowl of fresh pineapple; when I got back to the living room my friend was baffled. "You're off sugar, and you're eating pineapple?" I clarified my earlier statement down to refined sugars, and that seemed to go over better. There was still a sort of implication going on that I was fooling myself by choosing pineapple.

The thing is, I have a natural stopping point with pineapple. I eat, I enjoy, I'm done. Eating a brownie, on the other hand, is like putting a boulder into motion on a slight incline; my natural inclination is to eat one brownie, and then upon further consideration eat some more, and then some more. I can, if I put my mind to it, exercise enough willpower that I stop at one brownie, but it's like having to keep my back to that boulder to keep it from rolling; I have to keep my feet dug in, and I often start to resent having to hold up the damn boulder, and I figure that if things are this hard, then I might as well go with the flow and eat another one, and if I manage to avoid eating any more brownies then it's still on my mind for hours afterward. Even when the brownies aren't there anymore, I feel the pull. Days later I may find myself eating something that I shouldn't, and feel like I deserve it because I gave up the chance to have that brownie. If that's not an addiction, I don't know what is.

The other thing, as my Hub said later, is that pineapple does things for me besides just being sweet. It's got fiber, it's high in vitamin C, it has zero fat, and no tinkering with it has to be done to give it all those benefits and still keep the taste wonderful. (He can rattle this stuff off the top of his head now. I'm so proud.) But mostly, for me, it's that I can stop eating. I eat and then I'm done. The monster doesn't have to be sated because the monster doesn't show up.

My Hub had a brownie. Based on this, our friend left more brownies with us. Shortly after she left, my Hub chucked them in the trash. I'm so proud.

I think the main thing that frustrates me about this friend is that for her, food will always begin and end with calories and fat content. And, yeah, it gets complicated and brain-bending to have to hash out all the information that's out there, but it boils down to something fairly simple: moderate amounts of lean protein, moderate amounts of whole grains, moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, moderate amounts of unsaturated fats like olive oil, moderate amounts of fruit, and lots of green vegetables. Eat your beans and legumes and squash and sweet potatoes. Drink your water. Keep alcohol consumption in check. Discover the glory of vinegars, mustards, fresh herbs, and fresh-ground spices. Eat when you're hungry, just make sure you're eating stuff that will fill you up. The less your food has been processed, the better. Free your plate, and your ass will follow. And for the love of God go exercise; if five minutes a day is all you have time for, then do five minutes.

I guess the problem is that it's hard to get the hang of cooking that way and eating that way, and, weirdly, it's easier to count calories and have your diet consist of lower-fat, lower-calorie versions of the same things you were eating before. I totally understand that; I've done it, many times. The problem is that the things that made the old-school versions of those foods satisfying are missing in the new-school versions, and it leaves ya hanging; there's just no there there. Fuck it. We must move on. The fast-food nation has screwed up our bodies and the diets have failed to satisify; screw them both, eat real food.

I just wish, I wish, I wish I could convince her to move past that little box that she's put "diet" into. I don't think I can.


I'm in the midst of an experiment, I guess; an experiment to see if eating well without strict counting on anything, but with exercise, can result in slow fat loss. I believe it will work, and I have heard from other people that it has worked for them, but since I've never tried it before, I'm sort of nervous about the whole thing. I seem to be edging toward five pounds lost in about two months, which on any of my official diets would have hurled me into a pit of despond, but which I feel oddly okay with right now. My Hub has confessed that he likes this style of eating and would be satisfied with sticking to it for the long term. I hope we can; I'm enjoying it. Besides, if I keep this up, in a year or so I'll have lost all the weight I need to lose, without having to think constantly about food or count anything or pay that much attention to things. I can think of few things better.

As an extra incentive, we got our cholesterol screening results back and had a neat class from a nurse-practitioner on what all this meant. My "good" cholesterol is freakishly high-- about twice normal-- and the "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides are both on the high end of the acceptable range. They're fine now, just something I'll have to keep an eye on to make sure they don't get high as I age. Yet another reason that this lifestyle is a keeper.

My Hub has, out of nowhere, gone jogging. Since I was sick, he went on his own. Loaded up the MP3 player, laced his shoes, and vamoosed. This from the man who once declared that he found it ridiculous to go on a walk without there being a clear goal in mind. I gotta tell ya, when the guy decides to do something, he damn well does it. I am in awe.

I am weaning myself off coffee-- more importantly, off caffeine. I've currently dropped back to green tea. Still caffinated, but less so. I may make it down to herbal tea, maybe not; a step, nonetheless, is still a step.

Still no alcohol. Weird. Very weird. My Hub bought a four-pack of his very favorite beer a few weeks ago, and three of them remain in the fridge, apparently forgotten.

Still no white bread, still no potatoes, no white rice, no white... pretty much anything. My Hub has become a huge fan of the Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread, which-- bonus!-- has no sugar and no flour. I have to admit, I was very dubious but it's nutty and very filling. 80 calories per slice, which is a good deal by any standard; 4 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, zero sugars, certified low-glycemic, and dig the ingredients list: Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Millet, Organic Sprouted Whole Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Lentils, Organic Sprouted Whole Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Whole Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Sea Salt. THAT'S IT. TOTAL. I am enthralled.

Besides my rant of the morning, I want to mention that I really am starting to feel good about going off refined sugar. I hated it the first week. HATED. There were several days when all I wanted was to land face-first in a candy bowl. I relied heavily upon a hypnosis mp3 from HypnosisDownloads.com and my little carton of apple juice. Second week: less bad, although I did have some very odd dreams about stuffing my face with chocolate. The third week has produced some interesting results: I find that I care less about sugary treats, and it's a lot easier to go with naturally better-for-me options. I'm trending toward only eating when I'm actually hungry. I think about food a lot less; I mean, I love tasty foods, and I love making them, but I don't get all obsessed. (Note: this line subject to change if this turns out to be a temporary effect.) I've been leaning away from "munchy" foods that are more about the repetetive hand-to-mouth motion (popcorn, chips, etc.-- although chips are also on my no-go list). And, like I said before, I think that a lot of my problems with food come from a weird addictive reaction to refined sugar, so sticking to our chosen diet has come a lot easier to me lately. Occasionally I have been known to leave food on the plate. On my Hub's so-called "eating days" I've stopped eating before I got to the nasty, bloaty, stuffed feeling.

I'm a sucker for looking for a cure-all, so take this with a mighty big grain of salt. So far, though, it really looks promising.

2 Comments:

  • This is such a fantastic post, I wanted to comment every paragraph.

    Your description of the brownies is perfect. That is exactly the way I am with anything chocolate. There is no Off Switch for me, and I will do the same thing about rewarding myself days later for not eating that brownie. It's a drug, for me.

    And your friend who doesn't get it - the deeper you get into healthy eating, the more shocked you are at the way other people eat. I would never have thought, a few years ago, how much of an issue it can be! I feel like an absolute freak sometimes, with the things I can't or won't eat, it's like I'm the friend with diabetes or who eats kosher or completely vegan, or some special case like that. I don't want to be a pain in the ass, and try very hard not to be, but there's just such a chasm between my way and their way. I guess you just have to let your friend discover it in her own time...

    I like the eating plan or method you've described. It sounds perfect. And it's wonderful that your husband is running on his own - that really shows what a good influence you've been, and how valuable this has been. You've changed some one else's life!

    By Blogger M@rla, at 6:53 AM  

  • going off sugar is hard! I did it about a year and a half ago. I have to say that I totally don't regret it! As for the addictive nature of sugar you hit it on the head dead on. Sugar activates the same sensors in the brain as alcohol and heroin, thats why people going through heroin withdrawl eat so much candy. When I first gave up sugar I was a bit nutty for a month or so, I even developed shingles! at the time I was a teacher on summer break so the stress of the sugar withdrawl was the only thing I could think of to cause it. Keep up the good work! sugar loaded brownies be damned!

    By Anonymous Samantha, at 6:26 PM  

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