If you’ve been here a while, you know that I’ve long struggled with my weight and I’m usually on some diet or another. You also probably know that a while back I was diagnosed with insulin resistance…a condition for which I have to take medication and one that if I don’t get under control, will turn into diabetes. The medication works ok and brought me back from the precipice of diabetes, but at my last doctor’s appointment, it wasn’t working well enough and my doctor was still issuing dire warnings.
Around the spring I was also starting to feel really crappy. Despite the fact that I no longer had to commute, I was always totally exhausted by the end of each day. Hell, most days, I was totally exhausted by the time I walked up the stairs to my office! I had no energy…ever. Everything hurt all the time…especially my knees. More and more often, one of my ankles would swell for no reason that I could ever determine. I had headaches all the time. And I will spare you the details…but I was having such severe stomach issues, that I was beginning to worry I might have Crone’s disease or something.
To make matters worse, when Allyson was here in May, she took a lot of pictures and man, were those pictures awful. I mean…seriously awful. I didn’t even want to look at them. I was mortified and disgusted and I knew I had to do something…I just had no idea what. I’ve tried pretty much every diet out there and they all work for a while, but then I either get bored with the food I’m eating or I get tired of counting points and measuring everything or I simply reach a plateau and I get frustrated. Whatever the reason, every single diet has failed eventually and I just had no interest in going on another diet.
A friend of mine recently began studying nutrition following a cancer diagnosis a few years ago. She was determined to beat the cancer so she did everything…surgery, chemo, radiation, acupuncture, energy healing. At one point she said that if someone told her that licking the pavement would cure her cancer, she would do it. But the most radical change she made was to her diet. She stopped eating processed foods and white flour and sugar…among other things. It was amazing…but once she changed her diet, she just melted away. And it wasn’t the cancer or the treatments…she lost the weight before she even started treatment. She went from a size 12-ish to a size 2 in a few months, with no exercise…just by changing her diet.
So I sought my friend’s help. She suggested I read books by Dr. Mark Hyman. Some of you might know who he is, but for those who don’t, he wrote a book called The Blood Sugar Solution (among, others) all about how sugar and processed foods are killing us and also are the devil. I’ve seen the books at Costco before and have always passed on them because 1) I don’t like to be told not to eat sugar because I really like cake and 2) it seemed like just another fad diet to me. But I trusted my friend so I bought Dr. Hyman’s latest book The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet. I can do anything for 10 days, right?
Right…so I bought the book, read a couple of pages and then put it on my nightstand where it sat for roughly two months. Around the same time, I was perusing the book aisle at Target and I came across a book called The Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub. Eve is a blogger and a mom who watched a video about the evils of sugar on You Tube and decided that her family, including her two little girls, were going to quit eating all added sugar for a whole year. I was intrigued. The thought of going an entire afternoon without sugar was daunting to me. This woman managed to convince her husband and children to join her on an entire year! How did she do it? Why did she do it? How did it all work out? I bought the book and I read it in about a day and a half.
The stories in the book are largely anecdotal, but there is some really interesting information in there about sugar. For example, regular table sugar is made up of half glucose, which our bodies use for energy and half fructose, which our bodies use for nothing at all. Fructose can only be metabolized in the liver…like booze. There is fructose in fruit, but it’s minimal and it’s accompanied by a bunch of fiber and other nutrients that are so good for us, the fructose doesn’t matter that much. However, eating food with a bunch of added fructose in it is just as bad for your body as going on a bender.
Know what else I learned? High Fructose Corn Syrup is about 55% fructose…not great, but not really all that much different from regular table sugar. Agave, on the other hand, is about 90% fructose. Agave…the supposedly healthy alternative…is basically horrible for you. Also, things like Sugar in the Raw and organic sugar are less processed than regular white sugar, but that doesn’t make them any healthier. Sugar, it seems, is still sugar.
So I started paying attention. Guess what has a ton of added sugar? EVERYTHING! Pasta sauce, salad dressing, bread and crackers, deli meat…it’s everywhere. Cereal is one of the worst offenders. I’m not talking about Fruit Loops or Frosted Flakes either. Corn Flakes and Special K both have almost two teaspoons of sugar per serving. And foods that are low-fat? Usually filled with sugar. They have to put something in there to make up for all the tasty fat they took out. I realized I was eating a ton of sugar and I didn’t even know it. Worse, I was drinking a boatload of fake, chemical sugar in the form of my beloved Diet Coke. Aspartame has recently been linked to Alzheimer’s and it also causes stomach issues. Hmmm…maybe I was onto something.
I picked up The Blood Sugar Solution again and did some more reading. Almost everything that was ailing me could be traced back to sugar. So the day I finished the book, I got some delicious takeout and had two or three Diet Cokes. The next morning, I cleaned out my pantry, went grocery shopping and drastically cut my sugar intake. I also stopped drinking Diet Coke.
It was a huge change…but a necessary one. That was the middle of June. It’s been almost four months and I’ve had only three sips of soda since. I’ve been drinking water and the occasional unsweetened iced tea. But that was just the first step of a pretty drastic transformation….because at the end of the summer I did the 10 day detox diet. More on that tomorrow.