Thursday, January 20, 2011

When Is It Too Much Sugar?

There is much in the news this month about sugars in our foods. Just check out the Huffington Post, New York Times, TV News shows . . . The reports discuss types of sugar, physical reactions to sugar, cravings for sugar, addiction to sugar and the seeming need to reduce sugar in the average diet. 


None of these reports has a clear cut answer to how much sugar is safe or healthy. Short of going into a diabetic coma, most people do not listen to medical suggestions on reducing sugar anyway.  It would not matter what they suggest because this is something people decide for themselves. 

Yes, it exists
At home I have ketchup that is made with Splenda. The bottle lasts forever because I have put it on only two foods that I eat. Perhaps when I am not home I can just not eat those two foods? Maybe I can just eat them without ketchup and let the ketchup go. I know you are reading this thinking "Come on already, it is only ketchup," but really it is more than that. Like it or not, this is life or death. I am a food addict. Losing over 220 pounds does NOT mean I am cured and it does not mean I have built up any immunity to the physical and mental reaction my body has to certain substances. 

Patiently waiting . . . .
I lost almost all but the last 8 pounds of my current weight while still having sugar in my diet. The amounts were greatly reduced from the sugar I ate when I weighed 385 pounds but still, sugar was in my food plan. If sugar was listed on the label I could still have it. I did not add sugar to foods and I gave up food with high fructose corn syrup (or anything corn sugar) years ago. If I needed to add a sweetener to a food I used Splenda or Truvia. Eventually I had to accept that sugar in occasional items was leading me to want sugar in other things and I made the decision to remove most forms of sugar from my food plan, just as I removed most milk fat from my food plan two years ago. 

It is not easy and I am not perfect at it. When we away from home and I have ketchup on something, I know it has sugar or horrors of horror, hfcs. Does the relatively small amount of sugar in certain foods when added to my normal plan of eating cause me to begin to crave more sugar? If so, then what about the natural sugars in raisins or grapes? What about the natural sugars in skim milk? Will I become someone who is so addicted to sweet taste that I have to refrain from artificial sweeteners along with sugars. I am feeling fear about this. I do not want my life to be lived in fear of food. There are enough real things in the world to fear without being afraid of a grape.

Two years ago I made a decision about milk fat. I accept that for me to eat mozzarella or cheddar or brie or any fatted cheese will bring me back into the addiction of compulsive overeating. At the same time I do not believe the small amount of cheese in a meatball mixture or the small amount of milk fat in a waffle will trigger my addiction. Maybe I am wrong and someday I will stand on street corners weighing 400 pounds and carrying a sign that reads "Milk Fat Kills." But for today, I am simply not having food where milk fat is obvious: butter, cream, whole milk, cheeses and baked items made with milk products. 

Applying that same principle to products containing sugars, I do not eat products with obvious sugars: jams, syrups, glazes, candies; or processed foods where the added sugar is more than 2 grams per serving. Oh wait - regular ketchup contains more sugar than that. . . . and there is my answer. 

Yes, it is only ketchup to some. For this food addict it can be life or death. Right now it is the answer to how I will continue keeping the pounds off today and hopefully tomorrow. 

What food do you think puts you on a slippery slope today?



Fat Girl Fights Back said...

My slippery slope foods are "whole" dishes - not necessarily specific ingredients. Perhaps as I continue on this path I'll narrow down what it is in those that cause me temptation days after I've consumed them. But for now it's mostly the junk foods. . .(obviously). The pizza, burgers, fried foods, donuts, cookies, sweets type foods.

Now, I do have some kind of mental thing where I can eat a vitatop muffin (deep chocolate) with a cup of skim milk, be satisfied at the end of the day and move on. However, I plan for this snack and eat it every night. The benefit is the vitatop does have lots of nutrients (50% of many vitamins for the day). As you know, we evolve as we do this. What works now may not work later, etc.

When I first started on my journey, it was Weight Watchers frozen desserts. However, I soon decided they were empty calories which prompted me to move to vitatops. I'm sure I'll move on from here eventually.

I love following your blog. You write about issues that hit so close to home for me.

Jane Cartelli said...

I cannot have the sugar or milk fat in the chocolate Vitatops or I would be trying the tomorrow. I am such a food addict - I want to try all the newest things but the honesty means i have to read that ingredient label and then make a choice. . . . and I already know where the wrong choice will lead me. Sometimes I hate knowing but on the other hand I am grateful I have a choice.
Today I choose to survive.


Fat Girl Fights Back said...

I haven't looked at the ingredients but are the sugar-free chocolate vitatops an option?

Jane Cartelli said...

Sugar free is not necessarily milk fat free. (think about the chocolate chips). Seriously, for me, I am better off not starting adding something that I may not want to give up later. But I appreciate you thinking of me!


Anonymous said...

I've kept off 65 pounds for four years by addressing sugar: but not in the usual way. I realized my slippery slope was a certain time of day: tea time - when I return home from work. Instead of beginning dinner prep (and overeating) I sit down with a pot of tea with milk and sugar. 75 calories later I am filled up and can approach dinner prep later more calmly. My 3 teaspoons of sugar are the only sugar I normally allow in my diet and this indulgence seems to be doing the trick: it gets me out the door to exercise.

eDiet said...

My slippery slope food, or I'd rather say drink, is white coffee with two spoonfuls of sugar. I have to admit it is hard to keep off this habit, and I really can't help waiting for the time to come and enjoy my coffee. The bad thing is that I started with just a cup a day, then it went to two and now I feel sleepy if I don't have three cups of my favorite coffee in a single day.
It needs a great deal of discipline to lose weight, but the hardest thing is to keep it like that. Maybe online diets can help with giving some support to this direction.

Jane Cartelli said...

Anonymous - you are certainly in the minority. Congrats on finding something that is working for you today.

eDiet -

I make it a point not to drink my calories. I really do not drink my sugar. Even before I took most sugar out of my life I removed any liquid sugars - and this includes sugar that I would dissolve in hot or cold drinks. Take the sugar away from the coffee/tea. Someone I support in reaching for weight loss agreed to do it for 1 day, then three days and now is has over 100 days without sugar in her tea or coffee. Her mood swings are no longer huge arcs.

Unknown said...

Hi Jane! Great post. Sugar begets sugar. The more you have, the more you want. I do better with less sugar, but I still include a little brown sugar in my baked beans, for example. Sugar is in most spaghetti sauces. It's hard to get completely away from it.

:-) Marion