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Sugar - how to handle it in everyday life

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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I look forward to hearing more about what works for you. You really put your finger on the conflicting messages we get from sugar. Thanks!
    1629 days ago
    I think you're right, in that people have to learn to handle it based on their reaction to it. SInce I've been low carb I've been able to pass desserts by most of the time, and, as you said, if I take one bite I'm surprised at how undelicious it usually is. (Ugh. Storebought cake! Ugh!)

    On the other hand, when I'm suffering from brain drain at work it's surprising how quickly an M&M will boost my thinking power. I guess I'm starting to look at sugar as fuel more than just flavor. Finally!

    Of course, I actually do LOVE the taste of peanut M&M's too, but I never think about having any unless I have been pushing my grey cells HARD.
    1629 days ago
    thanks for the info how I crave sweets at times
    1629 days ago
  • GLC2009
    that is the one place i am lucky. i have never had much of a sweet tooth. i was talking to my mom last night and she was saying how hard it is to pass up desserts and sweets. she has always had a big sweet tooth. growing up, she was always making a pan of fudge or some such thing. fudge was the big one and it is pure sugar in my taste. never been a big fan.
    i am a carb fan and am happy i have quit eating wheat. i actually had a couple tortillas on the weekend and they made me feel awful. so, i'll be good for another 6 months--at least.
    i recently read a book that says cancer cells feed off sugar...so, i'm good not eating sugar. though i do in fruit of course.
    1629 days ago
    I have gone MANY birthdays without any of the cake. I still make it for everyone else but I don't eat it.
    I'd rather have your dog's cake any day!
    1629 days ago
    My only piece of advice here is that you stay very mindful of what happens next. Sugar is addictive - no two ways about it. And some of the recent research I've read speaks to GMO grains also having some addictive properties.

    I'm not big on "big research" since I think everyone has to find their own right way. So take it with a grain of salt. But as someone who stopped eating sugar for ten years and then tried it "just a little," I can tell you that one bite can lead to trouble.

    Just think about it.

    1629 days ago
    I am re-evaluating my carb level. I don't do sugary treats at all, maybe a few times a year, but I do love fruit! My fasting glucose was high for the first time ever last week. Hmm. Maybe its time to cut back on the carbs some more!
    1629 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1629 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Good idea of having protein with that one small bite. I have done the same..take one bite of a sugar food. Other than that I stay away from sugar. I know I am addicted to it. I use stevia for a sweet taste.

    great blog. emoticon
    1629 days ago
  • SAASHA17
    That is awesome...I am trying to cut out sugar as Im trying to have a child and Gestational Diabetes scares me...I try to drink one cup of coffee with some honey and after that take my beverages plain. And add a little granola to my greek yoghurt as this is a ",mind" of adding soemthing sweet in my breakfast which is fine as I eat 2 spoons of it..
    good habit..way to go...
    1629 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    I replace white sugar with stevia and try not to eat so much sugar as I also have diabetes 2. Not every day is a win, but I`m trying :)
    1629 days ago
    I do something similar. Whenever there is a nice desert, I will take one bite of it. My husband usually eats the rest. Lately I've been able just to throw out the rest. Who needs more than one bite of poison even if it tastes good?
    1629 days ago
    You have a lucky dog, I happen to love liverwurst!
    You are so right about the cravings. I have to be very watchful because unless I concentrate hard I will eat sweets. Yesterday for example I travelled on trains all day and packed fruit and a salad for myself. I was feeling content and proud of myself when my eyes happened to alight on a bag of peanut M&Ms in the terminal. All of a sudden I felt the blood rush through my body and the craving for the M&Ms was exactly like when I quit smoking. I could almost taste them.
    I was strong and walked away, but, wow, sugar is some powerful stuff.
    1629 days ago
    Thanks for this!!!
    1629 days ago
  • SUNSET09
    Dr. Oz had a guest speaker on his show today and he mentioned the same thing, share the desserts or take a small bite to rid yourself of the cravings. He also spoke on eating gluten-free products for two weeks, you'll lose weight. However, I feel everything in moderation. I, too feel it's about our choices and priorities. If we want it bad enough, we'll do whatever it takes! I like to use the example that if your car break down, you'll find the means to get to where you need to be, whether it's renting a car, having a second one, finding the funds or getting a car pool ride. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1629 days ago
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