Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sugar Patches

My apologies to those who inadvertently landed on this post after searching for 'Sugar Patches'. Feel free to press the back button and continue your quest for more fun than should be, or possibly is, legal.

For the rest of you, let's talk about sugar substitutes.

I titled this post 'Sugar Patches' because I have a particular take on all sugar substitutes. Yesterday's post laid out some good reasoning for cutting back or even eliminating the sugar from our everyday diets. For me, the next question has always been 'What do I sweeten with now?' In the last month or two, I'm finally coming to the conclusion that I've been asking the wrong question. I should instead be asking myself how to stop craving the sweet stuff in the first place.

Now, don't panic and start thinking I've lost my ever-loving mind. I am not a proponent of throwing out all sweets forever. Some things are just too deeply entrenched in our culture and family traditions. To reject a dark chocolate bunny on Easter or birthday cake on your one special day a year is unreasonable and darn near un-American. What I am a proponent of is making special occasions exactly that, special. How special is that Easter chocolate if you've been hitting the vending machine at work every day for a peanut butter cup? And is your birthday cake with ice cream really all that big a deal when you've been visiting the ice cream shop every weekend? Somehow we've become a culture where special treats are just part of our regular sustenance. It's really sad when you think about it. Nothing sweet is special anymore.

As a result, when many of us start to look for ways to get healthy, we decide to cut back on calories and by extension sugar with as little change in our routine as possible. You ask the question I did:  'What do I sweeten with now?' It's a natural reaction after being fed the whole 'calories in must be less than calories out' method to health. We trade our cola for diet cola. Buy low fat, sugar-free everything and sit back and wait for the pounds to melt away. Interestingly enough, if you had a really high calorie diet before those substitutions, the weight just might come off, but I bet you'll still feel like doo doo. That was me on Weight Watchers. I still felt bad because I still wasn't giving my body the nutrients it needed to function properly. Like the doctor who handed me heartburn medication instead of probiotics, you're treating the symptom (your weight) rather than the problem (your body's inability to function at optimum levels).

That's why I'm calling sugar substitutes 'Sugar Patches'. They are just like nicotine patches used by smokers trying to quit. I don't think anyone would argue that a nicotine patch is healthy, but I commend anyone using them as they try to wean themselves off something far worse. That's how we should treat most sugar substitutes. They are a temporary tool for helping us lose our addiction to sugar, nothing more.

If we keep that perspective and lose the addiction, eventually we'll find that not only do we have more room in our diet for vegetables and fruit, we'll also have a better palate for them. When you no longer expect everything to taste like sugar, you will begin to appreciate the taste of real food and eat more of it. That, after all, should be the goal. Not weight loss. Not fitting into that dress for your reunion. Not looking great on the beach. The goal should be feeling good, enjoying better relationships and smiling more. Those things will only come with good health from better eating.

Knowing our objective is better health for a better life, I'd like to take look at each of the Sugar Patches available so you can make an informed decision about which ones are right for you. I might lump several into one post, but the more popular ones, I'll try to dive into greater detail. After all, if I were buying a nicotine patch, I wouldn't just buy the first one I saw and slap it on my arm. I'd want to know what the side effects will be and how it will help me break my addiction.

I'd also like to add here that any sugar substitute is only part of the process. I've been doing the 30-day Fit Kit from Arbonne for over a week now. It has done a great deal in moving me away from my sugar cravings. I actually ate raw broccoli during the big game on Sunday. I've occasionally munched on broccoli before, but Sunday was the first time I'd ever done it without feeling like I was taking my medicine. I actually found myself munching away as if those little trees were chips or peanuts. I feel comfortable only one week into the program recommending Arbonne's system. However, I'm certainly not saying it's the only game in town. There are juice fasts and other approaches such as the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD), which I am also doing. My point is that there are cleanses and healthy programs available to help you get a kick start or perhaps a final push to conquer the sugar addiction. Be sure to explore these options.

For now, I'm going to focus on the sugar substitutes so I know what I'm putting in my body while I work to remove the sugar from my daily diet. First up tomorrow will be Stevia, because it's the only readily available sweetener I'm allowed right now on the ACD. What can I say? I'm selfish that way. You'll benefit for the information, too. Stevia is the fastest growing sugar substitute on the market, mainly because of Coke and Pepsi. If you haven't encountered it yet, you will.

 Until tomorrow, take care!


P.S. I've been really bad about recording my food journal on the last few posts. I'm just not convinced anyone is interested. Just in case you are, I'm keeping my own old school journal and will create a page with my daily intake at the end of the week. That way I'm not bugging those not interested, but still satisfying those who are curious.

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