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Sugar-Coated Enlightenment

Apr 07, 2010 - 1 comments
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The 7-day plateau has come and gone, and I am now 20 lbs down from my starting weight. The delicate balance of what foods have what effects never struck home more than the fact that I had eaten quite a lot of stewed tomatoes during the week of my plateau, which I realized only recently has a lot of sugar content in it. Almost as much as cereal.

I remember my teenage know-it-all days when I looked at the caloric content of table sugar and thought that it was so negligible, I couldn't understand what all the hysteria was about and figured I knew better because I did the math. I was eating so little overall at the time, I was fooled into thinking that sugar didn't affect anything because I was still able to lose weight (though it took a lot of work that at the time I didn't realize was NOT necessary). Obviously, the weight never stayed off, because eventually the balance of healthy food vs. sugar always toppled from the overbearing weight of sugar, because as always, I reverted to living on it, having never been able to release myself from the gripping physical and psychological dependence sugar always caused in me.

I always thought it was because of deprivation that I cracked, even though secretly I realized it was because I viewed healthy food as "boring", even as the enemy, because it did not have the power to alter my state of mind or soothe me like the junky foods did. On the other side of that same thought, however, I felt totally defeated by my inability to overcome my cravings for the foods that were making weight loss impossible.

It was while watching Discovery Health Channel that a light bulb came on. Babies of diabetic mothers are often much larger than normal because of the extra infusion of sugar in the mother's bloodstream which is transferred to the unborn baby's daily diet. My outdated, ignorant notion that sugar doesn't have enough CALORIES to do all the damage that it obviously does hit me like a ton of bricks. Reluctantly, I researched sugar in earnest and found the real answer to the sugar / weight gain dilemma:

Table sugars, or sucrose, is basically pure carbohydrate which is grouped synonymously with foods high in starches since the effects on the body are pretty much the same. The body converts sugar to glucose, which in small doses is the body's main fuel. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see what a diet comprised of 1/4 sugar OR MORE can do to a body that can only use it in fractions of a GRAM at any given time. Weight gain, obesity, insulin intolerance, diabetes II, tooth decay, & high triglycerides are just a few of the possibilities from chronic sugar overload. There's no possible way to burn all the sugar that we typically consume, and the fallout has been causing rising statistics in health crises since the 50's.

So there's my answer in a nutshell: Sugar = the full effects of pure Carbohydrates & Starch per GRAM, not calories per serving. Oh well. Better late than never. At least I figured this out while I still have teeth left! (only just, more cavities have appeared since last year)

So far my mission to learn to eat (not to diet) has been dragging old hangups and prejudices out of the closet for reassignment and putting food categories in a more appropriate perspective. It's harder to believe the barrages of conflicting advice / studies from commercials and magazine ads than previously, since so many of them seem to be designed to fail in the long run. I'll see where my road takes me...one week at a time.

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by DaynaW, Apr 07, 2010
It is amazing when you really consider the effects of pure sugar on the body. I was forced to do the research that you just did when I was told that I have hypoglycemia. When I eat sugar...or starchy foods, my insulin production goes into overdrive and counter to what should intuitively happen when you eat sugar, my blood sugar tanks and my body thinks that it needs to hold onto everything because it doesn't know when it is going to run out of blood sugar. In essence, my body thinks it is starving...so it holds onto all calories and stores them as fat. So, for me, sugary treats are even worse than for a normal person. Whenever I dieted in the past, I always cut out whatever food my fad diet said I should. It never clicked with me until recently that losing weight has to be a conscious effort to understand your body and what you cannot have, can have in small quantities, and can have as much as you want. When I cut out sodas in high school, 30 pounds magically dropped off. Now, I have to go even further. Now, I'm trying to balance what I shouldn't have and how much I can allow myself. All the diet food on the market does make it easier to find a healthier version of something that you really want but shouldn't have. (I'm in love with the weight watchers oreo popsicles...my daily 130 calorie sweet treat and since it is on a stick I would have to really be a glutton and get two in order to overindulge). I find that the best advice as always been if you can't live without it...don't try to, you just have to really cut back. I tend to pre-measure my foods. If it makes it on my plate, I don't have the willpower to not eat it.

You are right too that it has to be a long-term commitment. It isn't possible to just follow a diet, lose the weight in a few weeks, go back to what you were doing before, and still keep the weight off. Something fundamental about the way you live has to change. I've been saying I was going to make that change for a few years now, but it wasn't until December that I did. Now, like you, I'm taking it one week at a time.

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