No more added sweeteners, including artificial ones.
From "The Skinny Rules" by Bob Harper
The desire for sweetness is a powerful deeply rooted inclination with us. “We even have special tastebuds for it on our tongue.” It is so deeply rooted that Harper recommends getting away from ALL added sweeteners because we “don’t have the physiological ammo to ‘just have a little’.” We need to get out of the whole world of “hypersweetness.” What came with the rise of the eat-low-fat diet was increased sugar consumption. Low-fat foods have been pumped up with sugar for palatability. Refined grains act much like sugar on the body’s weight control. “Sugar stimulates the liver to make new fat cells. And once you have a fat cell, you’ve got it forever.”
Harper gives his response to the “Atkins-ism” way of eating and its drawbacks. Harper seeks to find a balance between “Atkins-ism and the low-fat doctrine.”
He stresses that he wants ALL added sweeteners banished including stevia and aspartame for the reason that they skew us to expect the hypersweet. If you continue to eat hypersweet, you will continue to expect it.
But take courage! “There is a time and a place for cake, even in a rules life.”
Harper encourages to “be your own sugar police.” He does confess that he has a heart as well as a brain, and although no added sweeteners is the goal, he offers a step down of “if you can really stick to a teaspoon of brown sugar or a cube of sugar . . . indulge, but NO MORE than twice a day.” Try sweetening cereal with berries.
I agree. Artificial sweeteners do condition me to expect and want hypersweetness. In addition, there are the health concerns surrounding artificial sweeteners. So, if I agree, how will I apply this?
Well, I guess I am in a step down area. I use very little added sugar or artificial sweeteners anymore, but cannot say that I have totally banished it. What are some changes I have made in the move away from sugar and artificial sweeteners?
Oatmeal – I am trying to learn to like my oatmeal with no sugar. I’ve been working on that for about 6 months. I’ve tried it savory and . . . uh . . . it’s okay, but not something I want to eat every morning. For the sweet version that I’ve learned to love over the years, I’m trying to learn to like it without sugar. I’ve learned to tolerate it – almost like it. And I haven’t had any sugar on my oatmeal for two weeks. Instead, I am adding some vanilla flavoring and fruit; sometimes beaten egg beat in at the last to make it custardy. Some brown sugar would still be really, really, really good, but . . .
Sweet tea – my very, very favorite beverage. I have not had a sweet tea in a very, very, very long time. That’s a lot of very’s. But just sayin’ how much I really, really, really miss it. I miss it very, very, very much. I just haven’t learned to like unsweetened tea. I can drink it, but don’t enjoy it. So I usually just choose water instead of tea.
Oh, and did I say I miss my sweet tea very much!
Home grown mint tea – another favorite. One full cup of sugar sweetened that tea. And I drank one or two glasses every day in the summer. Now it is sweetened with a mild 1/3 cup of sugar, and I might drink 1 glass per week, if that. I mean, really, until I drink my 8 – 10 cups of water a day, what room is left in my body for tea?
Crystal Light – A ½ gallon pitcher of it was a frequent visitor in my fridge. No sugar, but sweetened with Aspartame. Now, I purchase the individual serving packets and mix it on the spot for an occasional treat instead of a daily occurrence. I’ve also found Crystal Light Pure which is sweetened with Truvia, a better choice than the Aspartame in my book. Frequency on this? Maybe once a month.
Fruit – as a child, we had a great deal of fresh fruit in the summer, and berries, cherries, peaches and pears were always sliced up or crushed with a bit of sugar in them. I could not tell you when I have last added any sugar or sweetener to fruits for consumption in our home, except for canning. We eat the fruit fresh, no sugar or sweetener, and with the skin when possible.
Juices – I used to think that fruit juice was fruit juice. No longer! For starters, I rarely drink fruit juice, but my husband does. Now, I always check the ingredient list for sugar content, in whatever form it may be. If it has sugar or sweetener, it stays on the shelf, the exception being cranberry juices. I look for ones sweetened with Splenda. Wouldn’t pass this rule, but it’s my step down.
Cereals – Pre-sweetened cereals used to abound in my kitchen – boxes with labels like Corn Pops, Golden Crisp, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Blueberry Muffin Tops; even quasi healthy cereals with names like Golden Grahams and Frosted Shredded Wheat made me happy that I was injecting some whole grain into my diet; then one of the cereal companies started adding whole grain into all of their cereals – hooray for health (Ahem – clears throat – and smiles in sarcasm). What is in my cereal pantry now? Cheerios, oatmeal, sometimes bran flakes – for me. My husband’s selection is a bit different – although his cereals usually contain whole grain, they also contain more sugar. Each to his own step down!
Canned chunk tomatoes – okay, this one is probably weird. I have my home canned chunk tomatoes. We like to have a chilled bowl of them as a side dish. And yes, I added sugar to cut the tartness in the past, not a lot, but maybe a teaspoon. I stepped down to Splenda. And more recently have stepped down to no sugar, only salt and pepper.
Soda – Although I have never been a heavy soda drinker, I did frequently have a soda with sugar with my meal when I went out to eat, always with fast food, and usually with a burger or pizza. I rarely have a soda these days. When I go out to eat, it’s water. But once or twice a month, we have pizza or burgers, and yes, on these nights, I have a diet soda. It doesn’t make me crave more, it just satisfies my desire for something besides water. It wouldn’t pass this rule, but for now, I’m happy with it.
Coffees – I love, love, love flavored coffees. Although I drink my coffee at home black, flavored coffees high in sugar and cream when I was out and about were not an unusual treat, but not an everyday occurrence. My alternative is coffees sweetened with artificial sweetener, and when possible, whitened with skim milk instead of cream. This happens maybe once per month, two at the most. Would it pass this rule? No, but it’s my step down, and for now I can live with it.
I’m sure there are others that I don’t think of at the moment, but these are some changes that I have made over the past three years. I understand fully the concerns of these indulgences, but I’m looking for progress and not perfection. If I take away all of my eating pleasures, I will end up regressing back to my starting point. None of the departures from this rule that I have listed here are triggers for me that I am aware of, so I’m happy with my step down. As I continue this journey, maybe I can step down even further.
My biggest breakaway on this rule is the things that can sometimes be trigger foods for me – things that are “all out” sweets like cake, pie, Little Debbies, candy, etc. I rarely buy the sugar free items in these because frequently, they just up the fat content and exchange one trigger for another. Have I made changes regarding these on my journey? Absolutely. Instead of two packages of snack cakes per day, I might have one per week. Instead of unlimited amounts of candy, until I am uncomfortably full, I allow myself three pieces. Instead of half a pie over the course of two days, I have one piece and am finished (this is why my poor husband rarely gets pie anymore). Instead of a dozen cookies when baking, I might have three. Unlike some of my spark friends, I haven't learned the art of baking cookies and not eating any. Instead of three large scoops of ice cream, I have one – in a lovely little custard dish, and enjoy every bite. Does this mean I never overeat on these sweets? Far from it! I get off on the wide road with the best of them. But I know the way back!
Would I like be in full compliance with skinny rule # 10? Yes. Is it feasible for me right now? What would happen if I did? I think that I would end up as I always have in the past when I restricted myself too severely, and I would end up on a wide road binge that went on and on and on . . .
Really, when I look over the things I’ve just listed regarding downsizing portions of these foods, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished and how I’ve changed my eating. This was a good blog for me to write because it really highlighted for me how much my eating has changed. And I have to say that I have been thinking recently how fortunate I am for my health when I consider how I have abused my body with sugar over the years.
Blessed beyond what I deserve!
On skinny rule # 10? I agree with the premise; I’d like to be in 100%. But for now, I will be selective and judicious, and I'll take stepdown.
What about you?