Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Love Sugar


Have to admit it.

Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, English toffee, ice cream, Dunford doughnuts, licorice, cinnamon rolls, Symphony bars, chocolate cake . . . yum!

But sugar hates me. It wrecks havoc on my body chemistry, my weight, my well-being. Makes me sluggish and tired and out-of-sorts. I know it. I hate to face it, but it does.

I eat health food. I love whole grains, salads, and fruit. I eat raw nuts and drink plenty of water. I would consider myself a very healthy eater. And sometimes (well, sometimes can be often), I eat dessert.


My daughter Louisa (13) decided I'd better stop eating sugar. I've taught her enough health in homeschool for her to know it can be dangerous to your health. Being the youngest in a large family, she worries about me living long enough. I told her I agreed it was a sensible plan for me to never eat sugar, but in a big family where birthday parties and
graduation celebrations and family get-togethers are part of our everyday, I want to be part of the fun. Eating, especially desserts, is a very social connection.

So Louisa decided she'd have to be my partner. Wise girl. How can a mother say "no" to such a worthy endeavor!? That was 38 days ago! Louisa and I have not had a bite of sugar for 38 days! Are you as amazed as I am?!

We never thought we'd get this far, but with a mutual goal, here we are! A family reunion, with homemade root beer, and special brownies was a bump in the road, but we hung through it, and high-fived each other at the end of the day when we were both still sugar-free!


How does it feel? Well, the first 2 days, I had a splitting headache. Withdrawal. Sugar is actually addictive, and I am here to tell you I'm quite sure of that. Then after 3 or 4 days, I noticed that my tummy started to deflate. Sugar had kept me sort of swollen, bloated, mildly inflamed and tender. Without any weight loss, my pants are getting loose around the
tummy. At day 38, I have more energy than before, and I can feel my body sort of humming along liking what I am doing. It feels like my body chemistry is balanced. Aches have diminished. Especially headaches. I don't have that huge exhaustion (the I-can't-do-the-dishes-I'm-too-tired) after dinner that I used to have. I can bend over more easily. And the weight is starting to slowly, steadily slide off me, thank goodness. I am still eating the same health food, in the same amounts. Just the omission of sugar is enough to make changes.

One of the biggest changes I've noticed is that I feel happier! I am more emotionally even. That is an excellent benefit. I am not the depressive type anyway—I am a pretty even tempered person. But I have felt much happier, content, satisfied with life since I got off of sugar. Surprised me. I always thought sugar made me happy. . .

I found a new book and began reading it: Suicide by Sugar. Wow, what an eye-opener! Besides the ways we know that sugar harms us, there are many shocking things to reconcile in this book. I had never thought about the fact that medical "nourishment" such as IV's, Ensure, baby Ensure, and bottles fed in the new baby nursery are mostly sugar, and contribute to our poor health in medical emergencies.

The author tells about her own sugar addiction, and proves through research studies that sugar is an addictive substance.
She is a well researched and sensible writer. She explains how many of our aches and ailments in our bodies are directly linked to sugar. Best of all, she has a plan to help us break the addiction with good foods, and includes recipes for no-sugar treats. I highly recommend this fascinating book!

What do I do when I need something sweet? Well, the "need" for something sweet has transformed into "I would enjoy" something sweet. Thank goodness I don't have
the cravings anymore that used to be so strong that they would send me searching through the cupboards and driving down to the grocery store at 10 PM just to get something sweet!

Louisa and I have discovered and invented ways to enjoy something sweet without resorting to chemical artificial sweeteners like Splenda or aspartame, which have dangerous side effect
s. A peach milkshake is delicious! (See my recipe on a previous post.) We really wanted chocolate ice cream and stumbled onto a fabulous substitute: Chocolate Stevia. Chocolate stevia-sweetened raw milk tastes just like sweet chocolate milk. Louisa says it is the flavor of chocolate ice cream. It is amazing, this all natural sweetener that comes from the Sweetleaf plant. It only takes 3 drops in a cup of milk to make sweet chocolate milk! (The milk looks white but it tastes chocolate and sweet!) This healthy stevia liquid is 100% natural, no chemicals, water extracted, zero calories, zero glycemic index, and delicious. I just bought some extra bottles to stock just because I knew when I told you about it, you'd want some too! You can buy it here.

Stevia is a wonderful sweetener that is actually good for you! It only takes a little because it is 300 x sweeter than sugar! It is the only sweetener that I know of that does not raise blood sugar or have calories, but is 100% natural. Read about Stevia's health benefits here.

Having something sweet has become a "take-it-or-leave-it" situation for me. Something I never dreamed would happen. I used to go to activities that promised refreshments, motivated by the promise of treats! Sugar had a terrific hold on me. Sugar-free yummies are not so compelling. One is nice, and I stop. Often I am just not interested in any. I don't yearn after them like I used to with sugar.

I've always wanted to get off sugar. I knew it wasn't good for me, but I loved it. It gave me a lift, helped me feel better. . . followed by a crash if I didn't get another dose of sugar. I baked with honey and responsibly fed my kids well, but peanut M&M's reigned after the kids went to bed. Or chocolate chips, or ice cream, or . . .

Today Louisa announced, "we are doing this for a year!" Four weeks ago I would have said, "Impossible!" but today, on my 38th sugar-free day, it seems very possible indeed!







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20 Comments:

  • At August 19, 2009 at 4:36 PM , Blogger Henke Family said...

    you are my hero! really.
    I just recently did a post on our family blog about going off sugar. I am taking baby steps, but I am thinking your idea of going off completely is better.:) You give me strength to know I can keep going!
    Thank you!

     
  • At August 19, 2009 at 4:54 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    You are welcome! And I think you are right, complete cold turkey works better than slow torture. If it truly is an addictive substance, baby steps may not be enough to break its hold. I am still just stunned that I don't need sugar anymore. I am very aware that I could strike that addiction back up instantly, too! I am working at recipes that use stevia and are yummy. I'll share those as soon as I figure some out. In the meantime, I am doing fine, and drinking my "chocolate milk" whenever I wish for something sweet! Best success to you!

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 5:52 AM , Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

    Diane, I love your posts - very helpful, useful and interesting. I recently started a food allergy elimination diet and though sugar wasn't actually the hardest thing to give up completely (wheat and dairy have been the absolute hardest, just because they are EVERYWHERE!), it has been one of the hardest. And I can relate to all your feelings of when you go places with snacks, etc. Another sugar alternative that is completely natural, has a very low glycemic index and tastes great (without the potentially bitter taste that stevia sometimes has) is Agave Nectar. I used to buy it at my natural foods store, but I just found out that WalMart Supercenters are starting to carry it! Yay! Looks and acts a lot like honey, only thinner. Great for baking, disolves well in liquid (hot or cold) and you can put it on thing, like toast or pancakes and waffles (instead of syrup).

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 5:55 AM , Blogger David said...

    I stopped using sugar three years ago and was also surprised at how much more energy I had and how much better I felt. Nature has some wonderful alternatives for when you need something sweet, dates and raisins for example and of course there is always raw honey. Getting sugar out of our diets isn't in the WOW but it's common sense when you see all the harm it does to our bodies. It really is like a drug and most people are addicted. Thanks for sharing. By the way I am trying the enchilada recipe tonight. My oven died last week so I am putting it in the crock pot. wish me luck!

    Trina

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 6:20 AM , Blogger Becky said...

    Diane,
    Have you tried working with raw honey OR (here is one I have just learned about) Xylitol. This is a natural (not articfial) sugar that is actually very good for you.

    Becky

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 7:23 AM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Thanks for pointing out 2 other alternatives!

    I do use raw honey, but it has a high glycemic index as well, so it must be used in moderation. I can eat too much of it (in cookies, etc.) easily. Once it is baked into cookies (cooked), it is not raw anymore, but more like sugar.

    Xylitol is a good one, healthy, and I have used it and like it in some things, but it is pretty price prohibitive, plus it has a "cool" taste/feel which some people dislike.

    I thought it was interesting in the article I mentioned, that the Japanese are using stevia extensively in their commercial products. They've learned how to make it work! I heard rumor that Hershey's is introducing a stevia sweetened chocolate bar into the US market next year. Wouldn't that be fun? But then, I wonder if it would interest me. Seems the addictive substance (sugar) is what makes me want chocolate afterall!

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 10:05 AM , Blogger Cecilia said...

    Diane, just curious here - how much 'sugar' were you previously eating? One cookie/piece of cake/slice of pie/ice cream bar per day, or multiples of that? Thanks for your wonderful posts!

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 11:22 AM , Blogger Birdie said...

    I'm actually allergic to sugar and corn syrup (as is my daughter, it turns out), but did not find this out until about three and a half years ago. Since getting both of these completely out of my diet, I feel great! I wish that I had known years ago... except for the fact that hospitals now hate me! lol

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 12:43 PM , Blogger Candace said...

    I have not seen that book! But a few months ago I had some of these same realizations when I read Potatoes Not Prozac, written about sugar addiction. It is very eye opening as well, if you'd like another book to check out. :) Thanks for sharing.

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 1:40 PM , Blogger Pool Family Mommy said...

    I have wanted to go sugar-free for a while now, but did not think I could do it. Your post inspires me! Thank you!

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 9:38 PM , Blogger Tasha L. said...

    Good job! You've made it past the hardest part. One year I made a new-years resolution to stay off refined sugars for 1 year. That was 4 1/2 years ago, and I'm still off sugar. I'll never go back!

    Be careful of the new "stevia" supplements coming out (like Truvia.) Many of them are very refined, and it looks like they may increase your appetite, among other bad effects. All natural, unrefined foods in moderation is always the best way.

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 10:39 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Agave--mentioned in an earlier comment. In the book, Suicide by Sugar, she claims that agave is at least as bad as sugar. I want to research that and find out the details on it, because I bought some agave hoping to use it as a sugar substitute. Now I am afraid to use it. Anyone have any info on dangers of agave?

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 10:43 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    I just did a quick search and already found info claiming agave is not a good sweetener. If you are interested, here it is: http://stanford.wellsphere.com/healthy-eating-article/agave-not-a-health-food/737932
    I need to study it out thoroughly, but it was interesting to read this for starters.

     
  • At August 20, 2009 at 10:50 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Oops, that link did not come over. Here is the information on the dangers of using agave as a sweetener:
    http://stanford.wellsphere.com/
    healthy-eating-article/
    agave-not-a-health-food/737932

    That needs to all go on one line, but this comment section cuts it up. Sorry!

    Just put "dangers of agave" into your search engine and you'll find lots of info.

    Sigh. . . back to the search for a good, healthy sweetener!

     
  • At August 22, 2009 at 4:49 PM , Blogger madame said...

    Hi Diane,
    I just came over here from Rachel's blog (wings like eagles).
    I'm proud of you for staying off sugar. Seriously.

    The first time I read about sugar being addictive, I stayed off sugar for six weeks, and then visited my parents (who live in a different country), and felt it was just rude not to taste my mother's chocolate cake and ice-cream, so I had them and from there on I was back on the slippery slope.

    When I'm off sugars and very processed foods, like white flour, pasta, rice, etc.. and stick to whole grain versions, I also feel a lot more energy. The puffiness goes away, my moods stabilize, and I can stick to healthy eating.

    The last time I did this, I allowed myself a square of dark chocolate (think 70% or more cocoa) a day, maximum. I'd cut the 1/2 oz. square in small pieces and have them last as long as possible. By the time I was done, my craving for chocolate was over. I'll have to see if I can get your chocolate milk drops! LOL!

    You've inspired me to try going off sugar once again. I am on the road to more healthy eating, but I was allowing myself sweet treats, which invariably led to eating more of them than I had planned. Yes, it's addiction.

    Love,
    Ruth

     
  • At August 28, 2009 at 10:41 PM , Blogger Amber said...

    Hi Diane! Great post. I thought about my own sugar addiction, and the changes I've recently made to my diet. You're right- it's like a drug and I can totally relate to the "have to have it", "go to an activity for refreshments" mentality. That was me, too! Way to go for hanging in there so long. You're lucky to have such an awesome daughter for support- kudos to both of you!

     
  • At September 18, 2009 at 6:59 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

    This was a wonderful article to read. I am such a sugar addict, and I have never admitted that until now! I am like you where I eat very healthy (salmon, quinoa, and snap pea salad for dinner), but eat junk when the kids go to bed. Thank you for sharing.

     
  • At September 27, 2009 at 6:32 AM , Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

    Diane, have you done any baking with stevia? If so, have you figured out what the proportion should be? For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, what would be the equivalent of stevia? I'd love to try it and will experiment, but I thought I'd see if you already had if figured out! :-)

     
  • At September 27, 2009 at 8:05 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Hi,
    Yes, I've been trying out sweeteners, and here's what I've found out. Stevia works best in liquid. So, make a milkshake, pudding, custard, drink, salad dressing or sprinkle some on mashed up fruit to make a good pancake toppping or fresh fruit jam. It doesn't do so well in baking, in my experience. It does okay. I made a cheesecake, and also pumpkin pie, but I wouldn't say they are fabulous, just okay. I'll share some recipes soon.

    The other sweetener I have been using is xylitol. It looks like sugar and you use just the same amount, and you can bake with it. It doesn't seem to have any aftertaste to me. But the cookies I made just don't have the same texture as sugar made cookies. But I did have banana bread that tasted fabulous to me. Xylitol is pricey, the one drawback. About $6-7 per pound! I guess if you are using one cup only, and making cookies once a week, it would be reasonable enough.

    Here is the stevia replacement formula:
    1/2 tsp. clear liquid = 1 cup sugar
    1/3 to 1/2 tsp white powdered stevia = 1 cup sugar

    You can make your own liquid stevia. Use the white powdered stevia (use pure stevia, no fillers such as Maltodextrin or FOS). To make liquid stevia out of white powdered stevia, just mix 1 teaspoon white stevia powder to 3 tablespoons pure water. Keep in dropper container in the fridge. Does not last long without a preservative. This is handy to take in your purse to sweeten drinks, or have a sugar replacement when eating out of the house.

    I'll blog about my sugar-free progress soon!

     
  • At October 12, 2009 at 5:26 PM , Blogger Linda said...

    Thanks for inspiring me to try this. My husband and I have wanted to do this for some time, but your blog is what inspired me to really do it. Tomorrow will be 30 days for me without sugar. I feel much, much better emotionally than I have in a long time. Combined with other health changes I've been making, I feel like I'm finally climbing out of a dark hole for the first time in 5 years. It really helps to have a partner and know that they are counting on you to keep up your part!!! Stevia is great, we've used pure powdered stuff for about 4 years. I've not done a lot of experimenting with it till now as my first few attempts were bad. I'm looking forward to your results!

     

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