Wednesday, June 05, 2013
It's addictive, it's necessary for our body to function, it's toxic, it gives energy, it's everywhere in our food supply, some people don't care for it, some foods need it (ever tried 100% dark chocolate?), it's in most fruit and some veggies, animals in the wild seek it out...
All these things about sugar are probably true. So what are we to do about sugar. It probably depends on the person.
For people like me, who seem to have a predisposition towards carbohydrate intolerance/pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes (whether genetic or as a result of over-consumption earlier in my life) sugar is always a somewhat complicated substance to deal with. Note that I hesitate to call sugar a food, because it really does not have any significant nutrient value except for calories which can be used for energy.
I realized again just today that people who don't ever get sugar cravings tend to think that anybody has a choice if and how much sugar they consume. And of course they are right in one sense of the word "choice". This is just like anybody has a choice if they smoke a cigarette, even if they have been smoking 2 packs every day for the past 30 years. But for some people this choice is much harder to make, especially when life is stressful, we feel the need to feel good right now, if only for a few minutes or sugary foods are the only thing inexpensive nearby (the 50 cent candy bar or donut at the gas station, vending machine or convenience store). And then there are the social events that almost always offer sweet desserts or other sweet snacks. How can we celebrate a Birthday party without a Birthday cake? I make a meat or liverwurst cake for my dog's Birthday, but really, how many people would appreciate that?
So how do we find that balance between eating little enough sugar to where it does not start/continue cravings for more food and on the other hand not restricting ourselves so much that the sheer thought of never ever having a piece of cake or cookie again starts an emotional craving?
My new approach, which I have only tried after quite a few months on a low-carb diet is this: I will have one small bite (this morning it was a gluten-free scone with chocolate chips and nuts) and contemplate whether this is really much better than my favorite low-carb foods that I can eat in normal quantities (things like fruit with nut butter, yogurt, egg frittatas with stir-fried veggies and hot sauce etc.) . So far the sugary foods have never held much attraction once I actually tasted them.
The key to success is to not get in a situation where high-carb and sugary foods are the only option. Also, I would not recommend that anyone try this who has recently given up sugary foods, because the habit of eating them is still too strong.
My thoughts on this topic are evolving as my habits change.