Sugar Say, “What?”

by Jeanine Adinaro on April 28, 2011

in General Health

Are there sugar in these?

While I certainly have not generated the sort of buzz caused by the recent New York Times article, Is Sugar Toxic, my recent announcement that I am abstaining from sugar consumption has generated a bit of feedback both on and offline. Enough that it’s worth sharing anyway.

First, a bit of clarification is in order as to what I am and am not doing in my new non- relationship with sugar.

Things I am not doing include:

  • I am not eating foods or drinking beverages that obviously contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. This list includes but is not limited to cookies, cake, candy, and Coca-Cola.
  • I am not counting calories, grams, points or anything else I consume. That’s not the point of this exercise.
  • I am not acting like a pain in the ku-duck-a-duck at restaurants insisting that the chef appear at my table personally to assure me the grilled flat steak has no sugar. Common sense prevails here.
  • I am not drinking juice. That is one of those places where added sugar hides, and even when there is no added sugar, the sugars that naturally occur in fruit have been hyper-concentrated in such a way as to make the list of things I am not doing. I know, it’s a little arbitrary, but it’s my abstention so I get to make the rules.

Things that I am doing:

  • I am cursing Unilever, makers of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter. Why the frack is there sugar in my peanut butter? I want salt and fat and protein here.
  • I am consuming alcohol when appropriate. Though it is true that alcohol quickly metabolizes into something a lot like sugar as far as the body is concerned, in my personal experience it is pretty easy to tell when I have over-indulged in alcohol. A little less so with sugar. However, the other night at dinner with my gal-pal, when she wanted margaritas, I suggested martinis instead as they have no added sugar. Vodka, extra-dry with a twist- in case you were wondering.
  • I am drinking fresh heavy cream recently acquired from the local farmers’ market in my coffee. This really has nothing to do with the sugar abstention, it’s just so yummy I had to share.
  • I am thinking about what I put in my mouth, and not just grabbing a handful of Bunny Grahams because they are at hand.
  • I am eating fruit. Obviously I cannot subsist on fruit alone, but you cannot convince me that anything so perfect in its natural presentation isn’t a wonderful thing to be eating.

On day 5 one of my colleagues asked how I was feeling. I said, “Well you know, it’s been 5 days now and I don’t feel any different. I thought I would feel better. Or at least different.”  She answered, “Well it’s only been 5 days. I expect you’ll need to do this for at least 3 months before you get any big changes.”

3 months!? Did she say 3 months!? I may have included some other colorful expletives in my reply to her.  She calmly responded, “Well anything that causes you to feel profoundly different in 5 days is not something that is going to provide any sort of lasting result. Real changes take time.”

Oh snap. This sentiment is exactly what I try to instill in people all the time. Whether we’re talking health or geological formation, lasting change is a process that occurs over time, not in a quick-fix sort of way. I fear that it may be a few weeks (months? gulp)  before I can type triumphantly and announce to the world hive brain that my life is changed for the better for having eliminated sugar from my routine.

I have also been asked if it has been a hard change to make? I don’t really know how to answer that one. I suppose it’s all relative. Sugar did not play a huge role in my eating and drinking habits during most of the year (ask me again in the epic 5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas). I mean, it’s not like I am trying to stop drinking coffee here- let’s not get crazy. But it does require a conscious effort. I have to think beyond, Cookie? Yes, cookie taste good. I eat cookie now. It’s more like, Cookie? Yes, cookie taste good. But cookie have sugar. And not just a little bit of sugar, but lots and lots of sugar. And if I eat cookie, what will I blog about? Better to have piece of cheese instead.

One further note. As you may remember from my previous post on this sugar thing, I said

Let me clear on my motives here. …  It’s more about something I heard once in a theology class in college. Rabbi Denker explained to us that the Jewish custom of keeping kosher and abstaining from certain foods does not have anything to do with sanitation or disease as some rabbis from the 19th century supposed, but rather a show of devotion to God by consciously separating ourselves from food-motivated animals. In that same spirit, for me this is an experiment to see if I can behave with more intention that the average Labradoodle.

Well I did contact Rabbi Denker, with no expectation that he would remember me, to call his attention to my post and make sure I got it right. This was his response:

Thanks so much for getting in touch!   I hope you got an ‘A’ because you got it just right!!!  Looks like you are doing good things.  Many blessings!

Of course this makes me happy. Teacher approval has always held tremendous priority with me.


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