I Quit Sugar!

Larson’s Bakery, just down the block from where we stayed in Seattle, is full of fresh, sweet treats. Cookies, cakes, donuts, tarts, the delish local Norwegian pastries. We stopped by every day; it was hard to chose just one treat, so lots of times I’d get two. Or three. Yummiest vacation ever.

I’d already bought clothes in a larger size for the trip. Most of my jeans were in a pile headed for a donation box, and many of my cute tops were on the way to the same pile. I kept my rings on the entire vacation, as they were hard to pull off my puffy fingers. I thought I’d need to get them re-sized soon.

None of this bothered me. I’m 64. I’m not going to worry about dieting at my age. My grandkids love me just the way I am. They’re still too young to attach labels to people based on looks. My husband, too, loves me for me. He still sees the slim young woman he married, or at least he’s never mentioned my weight or made me feel ashamed of it.

On the long flight home to Detroit, we bought sandwiches for the plane and chocolate too. After I ate my Snickers bar, I craved some of those M&Ms Al wasn’t eating. Al loves sweets, but he’s not addicted. When I asked, he handed me the M&Ms. He wasn’t happy about it, as he knew I had a bad sugar habit, but he indulged me. Then we got home and I looked at my calendar, just to get my bearings. What did I have going on in June besides Al’s birthday?

There it was, at the end of the month. An appointment with the doctor to test my blood sugar. I flashed to what she’d said two months before: if my numbers didn’t go down, she’d be putting me on medicine to control my blood sugar, and probably something for cholesterol, too. I had been in denial for the past two months. Maybe I subconsciously believed that having to take meds would be the thing that finally made me quit sugar. But now that the reality of sugar addiction was looking me in the face, I wanted to fix it.

I’d gone off sugar before. I’d done no carb, even. Those were the happiest numbers my doctor ever saw. She said “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up.” That was about ten years ago. I was afraid to tell her I was doing South Beach. It could not be healthy to consume that much meat and dairy. Plus I was so sick of eggs and bacon for breakfast! Over the next several years, I tried to eat more healthfully, became vegetarian and then vegan. My sugar numbers slowly but surely crept up again.

My solution to all problems is to read up on it. I needed a book that would help me quit sugar. I found Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” and read a lot of things I already knew. Like that processed foods contain sugar. And I learned some new things. Like that a whole wheat hamburger bun has more sugar in it than a candy bar. Or maybe that was from “Wheat Belly” the next book I read.

Ten years ago, I didn’t have the health problems I am now confronting. Insomnia. Excema. Lactose intolerance. Caffeine sensitivity. The inability to eat a healthy vegan diet because beans and legumes made my stomach churn and worse. Pretty much, I had IBS. And it is not pleasant. The last thing on the list of food items that are thought to cause IBS is wheat. And I had saved that as the last thing to eliminate from my diet, because I just didn’t want to know.

Then one day after my morning cereal, I made the familiar rush to the bathroom. No doubt about it, on top of being addicted to sugar, I had a problem digesting wheat. However, the two books had shown me a path forward without sugar or wheat. So two weeks ago, I decided to try to quit sugar. I cleaned out my pantry, getting rid of most of the offending foods. Both books had simple recipes. Sarah’s even has a shopping list.

My new diet is part South Beach, part vegan/vegetarian. Veggies are of primary importance, so those years as a vegetarian and vegan were not a total waste. It’s not a weight loss diet. It’s a diet that breaks sugar addiction, including the sugar in our modern genetically modified wheat. It might be too late to impact my sugar numbers this round of blood tests, but I will continue to eat this way anyway. If I do have to go on medication, I will soon be able to get off of it if I don’t eat sugar or wheat.

I’ll let you know how this latest diet goes after I hear from my doctor. Meanwhile, I’ve not had any wheat or sugar for two weeks. The IBS that started five years ago and has progressively gotten worse is gone. My bloated wheat belly has settled down into a regular pudgy tummy. Most of my jeans zip again. The rings on my fingers slide easily on and off. Best of all, I have no sugar cravings. None.

Day #2 Holiday Diet

I think I did pretty well yesterday considering I hosted a dinner party. The main dish was Beef Burgundy, so I didn’t partake of that. Just some noodles I served on the side. And salad. And 2 or 3 glasses of wine. Possibly four. I did well on  the appetizers too, only having one mini-quiche and 1 salmon dip cracker. Didn’t care for the dip. That always helps.

But the Ritz crackers Al insists on serving with the dip were pretty good, so I had 4 or 5 of those. Maybe 8. No more than 10. Had leftover pizza for lunch. OK calories not great there but I really dislike throwing away food. Al might have eaten it, but he didn’t get a chance.

Cereal with banana for breakfast. And lots of coffee with fat free vanilla creamer. I think there’s lots of sugar in that. Should read labels more. Oh and then I had a mid-day snack of chips and salsa. Tortilla chips. Whole wheat tortilla chips. Healthy.

I know before I can get serious about this I need to count calories. What bugs me about that is I can only eat 1200 a day to lose a pound a week. A friend of mine eats about 2,000 calories a day and is not overweight. That’s almost double my food! So then the slippery slope of how unfair life is begins. Maybe everyone gets to eat 2000 calories a day. Maybe I am the only person in the world (besides my dad, also a perpetual dieter) who can only have half of what everyone else is chowing on.

Life is not fair! My friend does exercise daily. Not yoga, sigh. Walking and weight lifting. Hello Treadmill you sadist you.


Expecting a Miracle

The other day I picked up my special journal, the one I paid $30 for at Papyrus in January 2013. I don’t usually spend that much cash on special journals. They’re kind of a pain to write in; I prefer spiral topped lined notebooks with strong backs. But I was compelled to buy the journal and decided I’d only record special events in it.

I read it the other day and was amazed at all the changes I’ve gone through in 2013 and how random and careless my entries seemed. One factor stood out: I had tried to lose weight, and bemoaned almost every entry that it wasn’t happening. But when I added up all the pounds, I saw that I had lost 15 pounds and kept it off…until Thanksgiving. Now my jeans are tight again and I need to reign myself back in. I rather liked being medium instead of large.

Of course it’s complete folly to go on a diet during the holidays. I am terrible at depriving myself. If there is chocolate, I will eat it. If there is wine, I will drink it. If there are potato chips, well, that’s my preferred trifecta of gluttony. The way I lost the weight was to not have any of these things in my house. Well, I always have wine, but I left it corked. And I took to eating two squares of dark chocolate most days. The taste is so intense I had no urge to binge. As for the chips, I just said no. (Whereas right now I write the word “chips” and want to devour a bag.)

I have been reading books about the brain and impulse control. I know that I need to train myself to say no to certain trigger foods and all will be well with the weight and health. The longer I train myself to say no, the more I succeed. It’s that simple. However…

Yesterday, my complete list of food included every bad thing plus pizza. Not a vegetable passed my lips. Well, the mushrooms on the pizza. But I am determined to do better, no matter how hopeless or inconvenient it seems. Christmas is a time for miracles and I’m asking for one now.