It’s time. The thing I am afraid of the most with regard to my health is becoming diabetic. I had gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy and they say this gives me a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes down the road. Seems that’s the way I was headed given the results of some blood tests I had late last year. Cutting out sugar is an obvious first step in helping to prevent that outcome. However, other carbs break down the same way in the body and illicit the same insulin response. So, as I said, it’s time. I need to reduce the number of carbs I eat in a day without scaring my body into thinking it’s starving – I’m not trying to eat low carb or keto.
Baby Step Three: Limit “empty” calories to one “serving” a day.
What That Means: So many delicious foods are practically devoid of nutrients. Yummy bagels and breads as well as french fries and potato chips have so little to offer in the way of micro-nutrients for my body (I will not deny that they are very palatable and pleasurable to eat!). My plan is to limit foods made with refined flours, rice, corn, and white potatoes to one serving a day. I am not limiting other whole foods such as fruit, sweet potatoes, plantains – at least not yet. I am also not limiting sprouted bread or properly prepared whole grains at this time as these foods generally do not cause me to overeat.
The other thing that causes me stress is losing my hair. I thought that once I wasn’t eating sugar that the rate of loss would go down. It hasn’t and I’ve scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist in March to see if we can get to the bottom of it. I have already had my thyroid (TSH) tested and it was well within the normal range. I also do not suspect that I am iron deficient. Another cause of hair loss that I’ve read about is hormone imbalance, either elevated testosterone or estrogen dominance. Testosterone can be out of whack if my insulin levels are too high, thus the need to cut back on carbs a bit. Exercise also helps to balance testosterone so I’ll be kicking that up soon once I consistently get my steps at 10,000 per day. In any case, I hope the dermatologist will test these hormones so I can know for sure.
To change the subject a bit, I made my first fruit-sweetened baked good since beginning this journey – gingerbread raisin plantain muffins based on these muffins from The Paleo Mom. I used 4 dates and two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses as the sweetener, added a bunch of spices, and just a few raisins per muffin. They were not anything like a “regular” muffin which, in my opinion, is really just a cupcake without frosting that we eat for breakfast. However, I enjoyed them and my two-year old told me he really liked it! The bonus was that I ate one and then froze the rest – no craving to eat the whole dozen! Definite win in my book!
On Day One I decided not to weigh myself. I’ve gone back and forth over time faithfully weighing in every single day, to once a week, once a month, and not at all. Not surprisingly, when I don’t step on the scale at all, I tend to gain weight. I heard something on the Balanced Bites podcast the other day with guest Gretchen Rubin suggesting that daily weighers do a better job of maintaining their weight. I don’t fall into that category though. There are times when I weigh in and the number is up when I don’t expect it to be that my whole day is ruined. I try to eat less and exercise more, sometimes starving myself – not smart. I shudder to think of all the metabolic damage that caused as I strung those days together. On the flip side, when I had lost some weight I would sabotage my efforts and have a treat since I was doing so well – again, not smart. I don’t want to play this mind game any more. This time around, no more scale. I know how it’s going from how I feel, how my clothes are fitting, what I see in the mirror so I really don’t need that number to validate anything. However, it’s harder than I thought it would be. Morning after morning I get up and see the scale and want to just take a peek. So far I have resisted and my mental health is better for it.
Already Day Ten, double digits! I don’t miss dessert any more, I rarely even think about it. I have been enjoying my green smoothies and they are pretty sweet with the fruit. Yesterday’s was the best yet – water, coconut milk, spinach, Trader Joe’s frozen tropical fruit mix, banana, collagen powder. I really felt great after drinking it and it was tasty. I would like more veggies and less fruit but I made it for my whole family at once. Next time I’ll try sneaking in some zucchini or yellow squash!
I’m doing OK with the walking – over 11,500 the first day, 8,500 the next (so far a good average), but only 7,600 yesterday. I need to get back into the habit of taking breaks to walk around. As I write this, every few sentences I am getting in some steps. They all add up. 🙂
Well, that was easier than expected. My Fitbit had reset the date and time so half way through my day it was switching over to the next day and zeroing my steps. Today it was fixed and I got 11,000 steps! Still no sugar either. *TMI ALERT* I have found that I do pretty well during the first half of my cycle with exercise and diet meaning I have more energy to move and less cravings for sweet stuff. Once the egg drops I am super sleepy and I want to eat all the sugar. I’m a little anxious to see how things go in about a week or so.
Had some pretty good eats today. Started my day with a Hot Detox Tonic by Oh She Glows and then for breakfast had a banana egg pancake (just eggs and banana blended and cooked in a frying pan) with sauerkraut. Snack was a bagel with cream cheese from a local bakery and iced coffee. Side note – I have a thing for iced coffee, I really enjoy it. Like, a lot! I do suspect that it makes me dehydrated which makes me eat more since I experience thirst as hunger, sometimes extreme hunger. *TMI ALERT* When I remember to drink instead I find that I have to evacuate in less than 20 minutes which just makes me more thirsty. Ugh. Anyway, on to lunch – leftover taco meat with mixed greens and guacamole and a green smoothie. Dinner was Kalua Pork (from Nom Nom Paleo) with rainbow carrots (great suggestion from My Bizzy Kitchen) instead of cabbage. Yum!
Coming up next, more protein? Maybe. But I’m also thinking about vitamins, cutting back on carbs, amping up the exercise, or maybe something entirely different – going to sleep on it!
This is Day Five and I’m still going strong without the sugar and still hitting up other carbs pretty heavily. Overall my intake has reduced and my cravings are minimal – I am happy with the progress. I’m feeling comfortable with this change so it’s time for another baby step! I have been thinking about what should come next, so many possibilities. I want something positive this time – something to add rather than take away. I narrowed it down to two choices, getting more protein and moving more. I flipped a coin and movement won!
Baby Step Two: Move more.
What That Means: Start by tracking what my current activity level is and then slowly increase to 10,000 steps, on average, per day. Aim to increase by 500 steps every couple of days. Try to make it fun!
I actually started wearing a Fitbit again for a couple of days and almost cried when I saw how few steps I’ve been getting, about 5,000. I took the device off about six months ago because I was obsessing about getting in my 10,000 steps, walking around and around the family room at night while watching TV or reading. It was driving the family nuts, not to mention wearing out the carpet and not helping my stress levels when I just didn’t have the time or energy before bed. My plan to overcome the obsession is the average – if I’m short one day I can try to increase the next, no big deal. I’m also not logging the steps by checking in with Fitbit.com so I can’t over-analyze the data or get too competitive with family and friends. I want the extra movement to improve my health, not hinder it, so I will try to be more relaxed. I also hope to take some walks outside despite the snow-covered ground. The fresh air does wonders for my overall well-being and I think it helps me sleep better as well.
On a different topic, I made some pretty good protein pancakes for breakfast with cottage cheese, gluten-free oats, and an egg (with a little vanilla, Himalayan sea salt, and baking powder) blended in a magic bullet. I cooked them in a little coconut oil and served with butter and unsweetened applesauce and some sauerkraut on the side – yum!
I have one of those all or nothing relationships with sugar. And when I say “all,” I mean bingeing all day, every day. Here is a sample of one of the days before “Day One”:
Breakfast – starts out normal enough:
- 2 eggs
- toast with butter made with sprouted bread
- iced coffee
- chocolate bar
Lunch – don’t even bother with the real food:
Snack – not even hungry:
- a few holiday cookies
- a couple of chocolates
Dinner – try to salvage the day with some greens:
- grass-fed burger
- mixed greens
- spicy mustard
- a few French fries (have to save room for dessert)
- another chocolate or two
Snack – while watching TV:
- chocolate chip whoopie pie
- glass of almond milk
I know this sounds ridiculous, I’m a grown woman. I should know better. I should have exercised some self-control, a little willpower. For some reason, it’s not that easy. I get a craving and then I don’t stop until I have it and sometimes a bunch more. Eating the sweets leads to wanting even more treats, like an addiction. And I don’t even savor or enjoy them.
So, we needed to part ways, sugar and me. It’s Day Three and it’s going ok, I haven’t had any sugar. I have been a bit irritable though and more sleepy. Also, I had no cravings the first couple of days but today I wanted something, anything. But I resisted and instead ate a bit more carbs (bread, rice, potatoes) than usual, but I can tackle that in another baby step. 🙂
This is it, day one! The beginning of the rest of my life. Corny, no? Today is the first day of everyone’s “rest of their life” but for me, I feel hopeful that I am finally taking control and this endeavor will be a success. In a week’s, month’s, even a year’s time I want to look back here and remember where I was as motivation to keep on going. On to the first step…
Baby Step One: Cut out treats containing refined white/brown sugar.
What That Means: No more traditional desserts (cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc.), but also no more pastries for breakfast (donuts, duh!), ‘protein’ bars with sugar for lunch, or chocolate less than 88% (I’m not ready to give it up entirely). As far as beverages go, I already don’t drink soda or juice, but no more sugary coffee (Frappuccino, I will miss you). I’ll continue to drink seltzer and kombucha and green smoothies along with water and almond milk. I’m not going to be super strict and cut out sugar from everything (like ketchup or barbecue sauce or bread), at least not yet – this is a baby step after all.
I think that’s enough of a guideline to follow for the time being. Now for the why! In the past my reasons have generally been centered around losing weight as if that would fix everything. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t and in some cases made things worse! This time around I’m focusing less on the cosmetic and more on what matters most to me in life. Some of my reasons:
- To be there for/keep up with my children (and grandchildren)
- To have energy at the end of the day to spend time with my husband
- Build confidence/self-esteem
List of symptoms I’m hoping to improve:
- Achy/stiff joints
- No energy
- Hair loss, thinning hair
- Non-existent libido
- Tired all the time
- Worsening eyesight
- Brittle nails
Maybe there are more, but this is what jumps to mind. I’m convinced my issues are related to micro-nutrient deficiencies and hormone imbalance so I guess those are the ultimate goals – become micro-nutrient sufficient and balance my hormones. Easy peasy. 🙂
Welcome to Ditching Desserts! In this blog I plan to share my endeavors to kick the sugar habit, eat more healthful foods, move more, reduce my stress, and get more sleep. I fully admit that I am not a writer, disliked it strongly in grade school, and avoided it at all costs in college (dropped several classes when I found out you had to write a paper)! And yet, here I am about to spill my life to the world, with words.
A little history… I am forty-something years old, am happily married to my best friend, and have two wonderful boys ages 16 and 2. I have been a yo-yo dieter for longer than I can remember – well, that’s not exactly true, I do remember. It all started back in high school, the summer after my freshman year. I had a great job working at a campground and spent almost all of my time outdoors and being active. That was when I went on my first starvation diet, sometimes only eating a snack bag of Doritos all day – now, where are the nutrients in that?!? Not surprisingly, I lost 40 pounds that summer (and was still about 15 pounds overweight according to the charts) and managed to keep it off through high school. In college I packed on the pounds while school was in session and managed to lose the weight over the summer. Once I started working I discovered so many great restaurants, grocery stores, even little food carts and so I ballooned back up, I couldn’t even manage to lose weight for my wedding. But then I wanted a baby so I went on WW and lost about 20 pounds before becoming pregnant. Since then the yo-yo has been going up and down a bit faster. I found clean eating about five years ago and thought it was amazing – I was losing weight at such a quick pace and exercising my little heart out. I realize now what a number I was doing to my body, my metabolism plummeted and I was freezing all of the time. I actually didn’t feel hungry on only 1200 calories a day despite exercising intensely for an hour plus and being sure to get in my 10,000 steps. Then I magically got pregnant again and have been back to dieting since my second son was born. Sounds like fun, no?
Back to the present… I have recently tried a couple of no-sugar challenges. While I am doing them I feel great – lots of energy and NO cravings, but I have a tendency to eat too few carbs and eventually my body takes over and I eat all the things. My sleep also suffers during these challenges and I am one who needs at least eight hours a night to be at my best. So I need a new approach.
That leads me to today, or maybe tomorrow… I am planning to take baby-steps. First order of business is cutting out my beloved desserts (maybe this is a giant leap?). I had actually planned to start January 4th, but as the idea is to part ways for good, I am having a hard time saying goodbye. Next post will be when I officially begin!