I Kicked the Habit… Kicked the Sugar Habit
For the last couple of months, our kitchen pantry has radically changed. Over a year ago, my partner found out he was suffering from a Candida overgrowth in his body. Immediately, we started to change some things in our diet. The first to go were the legumes and most of the grains. He kicked most of the sugars while for me it was a tough habit to kick. It wasn’t until a couple months ago when he went full on ketogenic that I finally kicked the sugar habit.
Earlier this week the New York Times put out an article – How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat– about the sugar industry which aligns perfectly with the documentary recently featured on Netflix, Sugar Coated.
Ever since my senior thesis in high school based on the fast food industry after reading Fast Food Nation around 2000, I have been on a food odyssey. My bookshelves are full of books about food, food politics, growing your own food, the rise of the organic industry, local food movement, slow food movement, the food gaps, food deserts, the resurgence of the artisan food movement, ethics of meat consumption, ecological impacts of our food, and finally some pretty radical texts that are definitely on the fringe of society. I knew how to read labels and actually enjoy reading labels in grocery stores. I know which aisles to avoid and which to shop in thanks to Marion Nestle.
So it is not as if I did not know sugar is not a good idea but I was operating under the assumption, I am not sick, I don’t have diabetes, and I am pretty fit so why should I care…
It wasn’t until the last year dealing with my partner’s health that I started to really look deeply at my own health. We went from a nearly vegetarian family to a family that uses pretty much only animal-based fats and proteins in the last year. A pretty radical change and one which I can already feel my vegan friends and those reading shuttering and closing the page.
After exhaustive research, books, podcasts, and documentaries for us and for my partner’s health we had to change. First went the beans, lentils, and other legumes. Next went the wheat, homemade sourdough bread, and wraps we ate for multiple meals a day. For my partner, the alcohol went by the wayside, and for me, it has become an occasional thing reserved for friends and social times. I still like a good beer on a hot day.
Finally, the last purge was the sugar. And this was by far the hardest to keep out of our diet.
Sugar is in everything! When I made the final purge we were already eating a pretty clean diet, not much was coming out of a package, but still, I was consuming the yummy energy bars packed with sugar, the condiments which sneakily slip sugar in, same with the dressings, sauces, oh and the dried fruit, because fruit is not sweet enough on its own! The maple syrup and honey in my morning coffee went by the wayside and switched to an unsweetened coconut milk coffee creamer.
3 Months Later…
Here we are three months later and the result of the radical overhaul. I am sleeping better, skin is better, my mind is clearer (this could be the lower carbs), and I have dropped 10 pounds without trying and eating a ton of food.
So getting here hasn’t been easy, I go off the rails all the time. Every time I go off the rails it tends to be on trips or when I am away from home so I am getting better at bringing the snacks with me that will help me stay on track. I still allow myself to consume some sugar in the form of whole food such as some seasonal fruit, berries, and veggies like beets and carrots. I still enjoy a glass of wine every once in a while with friends and a cold beer after a hot summer day or as a celebration. I do not beat myself up if I indulge with friends.
It is also worth noting in this process that as well as cutting the grains, sugar, etc… I also boosted my daily fat intake (like a lot) and now eat a high fat, medium protein, and medium to low carb diet. Mind you I am not full on ketogenic but some days I am close. I enjoy things like pastured butter, hormone and antibiotic free meats (including organ meats), lots of leafy green veggies, grilled seasonal veggies, and as mentioned before some seasonal fruit and berries when they were in season.
The future is open as always and as with everything else my relationship and scholarly pursuits in regards to food will continue to evolve. With that said at this point, the direction our household is going seems to be stepping back in time, eating more the way our great grandparents would eat when our choices were less abundant. Maybe they had it right all along.
Until then I will keep humming the line from Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer song… I kicked the habit, kicked the habit, kicked the habit…. and continue to forge forward on this less sugary lifestyle.
Now you can have Peter Gabriel in your head all day as well..
Have you kicked sugar?
What was your experience?
Photos other than Bookshelf are courtesy of Google Creative Commons