31 December, 2010

MiriahJane's Green Goodness Smoothie

(makes roughly 20 oz)
 


Ingredients:
3/4 cup water
4-6 ice cubes
1 cup frozen fruit chunks (I use the Wawona Tropical blend from CostCo which has pineapple, mango, papaya, & strawberries)
1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
1/2 avocado
1/2 large fresh banana (if frozen, use more water and no ice)
1 to 2 oz spinach*, depending on your green taste tolerance
Stevia to taste (I used to use it, but I've stopped in order to train my taste buds to like less sweet smoothies)

*May substitute kale for spinach

Smoothie ingredients read to blend


Directions:
Blend on high for about 30 seconds, using a tamper to push ingredients down.  If you have a less powerful blender, use only fresh/thawed fruit and add ice cubes once mixture is smooth.

      

Green Goodness

30 December, 2010

How Green is YOUR Smoothie?

A person can only eat so many salads before getting bored.  And annoyed.  There's the washing, then the drying, the chopping, and all of the chewing.  If I could get my greens intravenously, or in pill form, I'd do that four times a week and eat salad the other three days.

But sadly, the best way to get the nutrients from greens is to go through the hassle of digesting them...and the amount you need for good health would come in much too large a pill to swallow.  So I'm back to the drawing board.  Hmmmm...how do I eat greens easily and so that they taste good?  If you read the title of this post you already know the ingenious solution.  Mix up the nasty stuff with yummy fruit and drink your greens!! 

I know that fruit has sugar, but I've been weaning myself off of the sweet taste and replacing the fruit in my smoothies with more and more greens so that my taste buds gradually become accustomed to that "green" taste (aka chlorophyll).  So far, I've only experimented with red lettuce, butter lettuce, spinach, and kale in my smoothies.  But there are a wide variety greens that you can use:  beet greens, collard greens, swiss chard, parsley, and arugula, to name a few.


My mom enjoying a green smoothie for breakfast

My favorite green to use in my smoothies is kale because you can hardly taste it.  There are actually different varieties of kale, but I've only tried red kale and regular green kale.  To my knowledge, I have never eaten kale prior to putting it into my smoothie a few months ago.  In fact, the way I discovered that you can put kale in a smoothie is via a recipe book.  I had no idea what kale even looked like - I'm ashamed to admit that I had to do a Google image search so that I would know what the hell I was looking for at the grocery store! 

I'm so happy that I found this great way to get more greens into my diet - it's easy, there are a ton of different recipes, it tastes great, and it's very healthy.  While my family was in town, I successfully persuaded my mom (a green smoothie skeptic) to try one of my delicious concoctions.  And she liked it!  Either that or she lied and then poured the stuff down the drain when I wasn't looking.  But I am choosing to believe that she actually drank and enjoyed it.  You can find my own original green smoothie recipe on the recipe page.  Give it a try!

~TooSweetMiriahJane

28 December, 2010

Christmas without Chocolate

It's akin to Christmas without presents...it just feels wrong.  But I made it through.  When I told my mom that I was giving up sugar for a year, her response was "what am I going to put in your stocking?"  Well, I got what everyone else got...minus the sweets.

Yes, I successfully managed to stick to my resolution - and it was no easy task, let me tell you!  My family (mom, dad, brother & sister) flew out to celebrate Christmas with us, so they stayed with us for a week.  Now, I love my family, but having guests is stressful.  My family is extremely LOW maintenance but I'm neurotic so of course everything had to be perfect for them. 

For me, sugar is not only pleasurable; it's over-the-counter Xanax.  If I weren't on this no-sugar kick, the day before my family arrived you'd most likely find me sprawled on the couch watching a Hoarders marathon...in a food coma, with a belly-ache and copious amounts of empty chocolate wrappers double-bagged in the garbage so that my husband wouldn't see what a gluttonous mess I was. 

But I digress.

Since Christmas without sweets seems to me so utterly Grinchy (yes, I made that word up myself) I decided that I'd fill my cookie jar with cookies and my candy jars with candies.  Was I taking a risk buying these goodies?  Yes.  But I need to face it - I live in a world filled with my drug of choice. 

Have you ever taken a giant whiff of Oreo cookies?  If you have not, you should.  It's glorious.  Since I was not eating Oreos, I made sure to smell them - often.  It made resisting them a little easier because smelling the delicious Oreo aroma is almost as wonderful as eating them.  Okay, that's a flat-out lie.  It made me realize what I was missing and it pissed me off. 

But one good thing did come of the Oreos in my house.  My brother gave me an idea for a new treat to add to the list of foods I'll eat on Day 366 of no sugar.  He said he took around 6 or 7 Oreos, put them into a bowl, drenched them in milk and ate it like cereal.  Now that is something I'd like to try.

~TooSweetMiriahJane

15 December, 2010

I Love 'The Biggest Loser'

Last night I watched the season finale of The Biggest Loser.  The show has its flaws:
  • too many sappy, crying break-downs complete with dramatic psycho-babble pep talks from Jillian
  • too many "game play" opportunities forced upon contestants
  • ridiculously insulting product placement ads.  Seriously, these contestants are regular people so don't make fools out of them - or us - by having them pretend as though they are casually touting the benefits of a Brita water filtration system, or the cravings-curbing qualities of Extra sugar-free gum.  We're onto you, Biggest Loser, and we like our commercials where they belong - with all of the other ones that we can bypass using our DVRs.
BUT, I absolutely love the show because it truly changes peoples' lives!  And it saves peoples' lives by making them healthier.  What other show can claim these things?  It gives me so much joy to see people gaining confidence as they achieve greater endurance at the gym, and as they see the pounds lost on the scale. 

This show starts with people who are literally killing themselves with an unhealthy diet and an inactive lifestyle.  These people are ready to give up on life.  And, for those who stick with the program, even after being sent home, the show ends with people who are strong, exuberant, HAPPY, and ready to take on the world.  The contestants who have gotten down to, or very close to, their goal weights are just as thrilled as the winner of the grand prize ($250,000).  Okay, it's no million dollar prize, but it's still a helluva lot of money.

I actually got to meet the first female winner - Ali - who lives in my hometown.  She said her life is completely different now, for the better.  And it had much more to do with her new, healthy body than the $250k she won.  She enjoys the outdoors more because she's able to be physically active (hiking is big here).  Men are more attracted to her, either because of her looks or because of her confidence, probably both.  She serves as a role model to other people who are trying to get in shape.  She even wrote a book!

If you have never seen the show, be sure to record it so that you skip the boring stuff.  The new season starts January 4, 2011!

This concludes my rant about something that has very little to do with quitting sugar, but has everything to do with health, so I say it makes sense to include it as one of my blog posts.  This is the one place where I get to make the rules, so I'm making the most of it!  You hear that, husband-who-makes-me-put-the-silverware-in-the-dishwasher-a-specific-way?  (my husband is the absolute best and I love him with all of my heart, but he is kinda picky about certain things)

~TooSweetMiriahJane

12 December, 2010

40 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health

 It's been three weeks since I've had any sugar - but I'm not celebrating just yet.  I know that getting past the one-month mark means that a habit has been developed, and that I have beat my own "personal best" time for going without the white stuff.

My friend told me that, when trying to quit caffeine, she kept herself motivated by reminding herself that caffeine was bad for her.  If she could reinforce the fact that caffeine was doing her body and her health a disservice, then it was easier for her to pass up the dark cola, coffee, or tea.

Now, this line of thinking will only help those who actually care about their health...and believe it or not, there are plenty of people who just plain don't care.  That's a hard concept for me to wrap my brain around.  Even though I have not been the epitome of health, I've always known it and I've felt bad about it.  I'll save that topic for another post (it will be something along the lines of aligning your actions/lifestyle with your values/beliefs).

So I decided to take my friend's advice and educate myself (and now you!) on various ways that sugar can be a detriment to your body, mind, and overall well-being.  In my research, I found more than the list shown here, but I picked the ones that I thought would resonate the most with people who care about being healthy.

40 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health
  1. Sugar can suppress your immune system, which impairs your defenses against infectious disease.
  2. Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in your body: causes chromium and copper deficiencies and interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  3. Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children
  4. In juvenile rehabilitation centers, when children were put on low sugar diets, there was a 44 percent drop in antisocial behavior.
  5. Sugar can produce a significant rise in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol.  This can lead to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
  6. Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function.
  7. Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach.
  8. Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia.
  9. Eye health - sugar can weaken eyesight and cause cataracts.
  10. Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  11. Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract including: an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis.
  12. Sugar can cause premature aging.  In fact, the single most important factor that accelerates aging is insulin, which is triggered by sugar.
  13. Sugar can cause your saliva to become acidic, tooth decay, and periodontal disease.
  14. Sugar contributes to obesity.
  15. Sugar can cause autoimmune diseases such as: arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.
  16. Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections) because yeast feeds on sugar.
  17. Sugar can cause gallstones.
  18. Sugar can cause appendicitis.
  19. Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraceptive users.
  20. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
  21. Sugar can cause a decrease in your insulin sensitivity thereby causing an abnormally high insulin levels and eventually diabetes.
  22. Sugar can lower your Vitamin E levels.
  23. Sugar can increase your systolic blood pressure (the top, or higher, number).
  24. Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein.
  25. Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
  26. Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
  27. Sugar can make your skin age by changing the structure of collagen.
  28. Sugar lowers the ability of enzymes to function, which inhibits proper digestion (read:  vile & unsatisfactory bowel movements).
  29. Sugar can increase your body's fluid retention.
  30. Sugar can compromise the lining of your capillaries, leading to varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
  31. Sugar can make your tendons more brittle.
  32. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
  33. Sugar can cause depression.
  34. Sugar can increase your risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  35. Sugar can cause hormonal imbalances such as: increasing estrogen in men, exacerbating PMS, and decreasing growth hormone
  36. Decrease in sugar intake can increase emotional stability (I'm still waiting for effects of this one!) 
  37. The rapid absorption of sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese subjects.
  38. Sugar can impair the function of your adrenal glands (adrenal glands play an important role in the body, producing numerous hormones that impact our development and growth, affect our ability to deal with stress, and help to regulate kidney function)
  39. Sugar has the potential of inducing abnormal metabolic processes in normal, healthy individuals, thereby promoting chronic degenerative diseases.
  40. Intravenous feedings (IVs) of sugar water and cut off oxygen to the brain.
Source:  Nancy Appleton, PhD, author of Lick the Sugar Habit and Suicide by Sugar

Kind of makes that ice cream or chocolate souffle look a little less appetizing, doesn't it? 
No, not really?  Eh...actually, I'm with you on that one.  It still looks pretty damn tasty. 
(Must...remind...self...sugar is bad for me, sugar is bad for me, sugar is bad for me...)

~TooSweetMiriahJane

05 December, 2010

World-Wide Temptations

Today I'm officially two weeks sugar-free...and it was a little harder than the first week.  Granted, there were no awful headaches, but there were more (it seemed) temptations:
  • Maui Loa Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts - a co-worker brought these in from her trip to Hawaii.  I've eaten these before so I knew what I was missing. And it was painful.  I tried to take routes in the office that didn't pass by them.
  • Chocolate Covered Miscellaneous - another co-worker brought in candy from her trip to Costa Rica (yes...my co-workers take some pretty awesome vacations!).  There were, among others, chocolate covered espresso & coffee beans.  I am a huge fan of those...but I never had any from Costa Rica!  Oh well.  I stayed late in the office and I was tired and a little stressed.  A few of those would have been so nice.  But I resisted.
  • Cookies as Big as My Head - I actually have a pretty small head, but in cookie terms it's big.  I had a day of professional training at a nice hotel.  At lunch they had an entire table of giant cookies.  They were roughly the size of a small salad plate.  I wish I'd remembered to take a photo.  I could have used one of these cookies during the update on tax rules.  Yawn!
  • Sweets Smorgasbord - I went to a choir concert last night and afterwards there was a pot-luck type of reception with all kinds of treats.  Cookies, brownies, toffee, mini muffins, chocolates, & more (you can see for yourself the array of delightful desserts that I passed up).


One thing has made it easier this time - since, as I've noted before, I've tried to quit sweets many many times.  I have a defined amount of time that I am trying to go without sugar - One Year.  It's much easier to work within those constraints.  Before, I would try to quit and then I'd give up because I couldn't imagine going sugar-free for the rest of my life.  But for some reason, the idea that I can have a sugar-filled extravaganza on day 366 keeps me going. 

What's the point of going a whole year without sugar, just to gluttonously return to it as soon as I'm done?  I guess I'm hoping that after living without it for so long, I won't want it back in my life (at least not permanently).  Maybe a once-a-year sugar fest will be good enough.  Maybe it will make me feel so crappy that I am reminded as to why I gave it up.

~TooSweetMiriahJane

04 December, 2010

Quinoa with Veggies & Shrimp

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") is my new favorite seed.  That's right!  Quinoa is a seed but its consistency is more like couscous.  I've known about quinoa for several years, but I rarely ate it because I never used to cook.  I'm trying to prepare more of my own meals, which is time-consuming, but worth it from a health standpoint. 

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you should give it a go!  You can find it in most grocery stores nowadays. To save money, I bought a big bag of it from CostCo - don't you just LOVE that place??  But back to this stupendous seed.  Before I write out the recipe for Quinoa w/ Veggies & Shrimp, I want to tell you...

5 Reasons Why YOU Should Be Eating Quinoa:
  1. Protein - one serving contains about 8 grams
  2. Fiber - one serving contains about 5 grams
  3. Vitamins - good source of Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, and Folate (folate is great for pregnant women)
  4. Minerals - high in Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, Zinc, & Manganese
  5. Easy to Prepare - you can use a rice cooker, or just boil it using 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa.  One quarter cup uncooked quinoa yields about 1 cup cooked quinoa, so you don't need to use very much!
Quinoa with Veggies & Shrimp
(makes 4 meal-sized servings)


Ingredients:
1 cup rinsed quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I use low-sodium)
2 to 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
4 servings shrimp (about 12 oz) - sub tofu or extra veggies to make vegan
1 zucchini OR 1 yellow squash, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 oz crumbled feta cheese
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced
2 tsp lime juice


Directions:
Bring quinoa and broth to a boil in a saucepan; reduce heat to a simmer until broth is absorbed, and the white "tail" is visible (about 10 minutes).
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet; cook and stir the garlic and onion until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes).  Stir in shrimp and cook until almost done.  Add one more tablespoon of olive oil, and stir in the zucchini and tomato.  Cook until shrimp is done and zucchini is tender. 
Sprinkle with feta cheese, basil, and lime juice.  Serve over hot quinoa.

01 December, 2010

Is There Sugar Hiding in Your Food?

Say you're trying to reduce or eliminate added sugars from your diet.  But wait...what are "added sugars"? 

According to the USDA, "added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation.  This does not include naturally occuring sugars such as those that occur in milk and fruits." 

The best way to determine if there are added sugars in the (packaged) foods you eat is to check out the ingredients on the label.  How many different sugar names can you find in the label shown below?  I count five different sugars, and yet, nowhere on the label does the word "sugar" appear!  Tricky, huh?



35 ALTERNATIVE NAMES FOR SUGAR:
  1. Agave nectar
  2. Barley malt
  3. Beet sugar
  4. Brown rice syrup
  5. Can juice crystals
  6. Caramel
  7. Carob syrup
  8. Corn syrup or corn syrup solids
  9. Date sugar
  10. Dextran
  11. Dextrose
  12. Diatase
  13. Ethyl maltol
  14. Evaporated cane juice
  15. Fructose
  16. Fruit juice concentrate
  17. Galactose
  18. Glucose or glucose solids
  19. Golden syrup
  20. High fructose corn syrup
  21. Honey
  22. Lactose
  23. Malt syrup
  24. Maltodextrin
  25. Maltose
  26. Maple syrup
  27. Molasses
  28. Panocha
  29. Raw sugar
  30. Refiner's syrup
  31. Rice syrup
  32. Sorbitol
  33. Sorghum syrup
  34. Sucrose
  35. Turbinado sugar
There are more alternative sugar names than the 35 listed, but I think I got the most common names.  Any ingredient on a package that has the word "sugar" or "syrup" is a red flag for added sugar.  So take advantage of the abundance of information we have these days, and read your labels!

Good luck in your search for hidden sugars.

~TooSweetMiriahJane

28 November, 2010

One Week Completed!

Yesterday I completed one week without my beloved sugar.  I've lost two pounds this week, and I do attribute all of it to my ban on sweets.  I've found that so much of my diet was made up of sugar, that I have had little interest in food!  Isn't that just...SAD? 

I'd wake up in the morning and because my choices of food for the day did not include sugary cereal, a sweet coffee-drink from Starbucks, or a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, I was not very interested in eating.  I mean, who can get excited about scrambled eggs or squash?  Now, I do love healthy food...it's just a change for me to eat it all day long with no dessert to look forward to after dinner.   

I had expected that eliminating sweets would have the effect of making my moods more...stable.  I have a bit of a temper and I let little things get to me.  It's one of the things I like least about myself - I even like my thighs more than my moodiness.  And that's saying something!

Maybe it will take a while without sugar to get my body back in balance.  Today I went shopping (which I hate doing) for jeans because all of my nice jeans are one size too small.  The only jeans I've found that fit me are Joe's (really really expensive) and this one style at Express.  Well, they didn't have my size at Express and I was so disappointed that I got into my car and cried for like 5 minutes.  Very weird, even for me.

So, tonight I will have no dessert and I have no new jeans.  Hopefully next week (1) Express will have my size in stock and (2) I won't be so emotional.  Sheesh.  I don't know how my husband puts up with me sometimes!

~TooSweetMiriahJane

27 November, 2010

The Thanksgiving Day Diet

Have you ever woken up the Friday after Thanksgiving Day weighing less than the day before?  No?  Me neither...until this year.  That's right - I lost a whopping 1/2 pound on Thanksgiving Day.  For me, a 1/2 pound is pretty incredible since that's usually my weekly rate of weight loss when I'm really trying.  How do I account for this weight loss?


  • Culture:  My in-laws are British (they are US citizens now and moved here about 27 years ago) so Thanksgiving isn't really a big deal since it's not a holiday in the UK.  With my in-laws, we do more eating and drinking on Christmas Day where breakfast is a ham with champagne.
  • Tastes:  My mother-in-law didn't want to cook a turkey because a) filet mignon tastes better and b) turkey lasts too long as leftovers.  So we ate a small shrimp salad for a starter, then filet, mashed potatoes, asparagus, & brussel sprouts for dinner.  Delicious!  Did I mention what a fantastic cook she is?  There was also a cheese fondue, but I didn't care for the cheese.  It's a very strong cheese (Gruyere).
  • No homemade dessert: Can you believe it?  My mother-in-law skipped making her glorious apple crumble.  I was thrilled.  My sister-in-law did bring an apple crumble (yum!) and a lemon meringue pie (eh...not a fan).  However, I'm pretty sure they weren't homemade, so I tried not to get too excited about it. 
  • Timing: We didn't eat until 7:30 so by the time dinner was finished, my husband and I were tired and full.  We left around 9:00 and at that point dessert hadn't even been served.  So I avoided having to sit there while everyone ate dessert. 
We went home and went to bed early so that we could get up at four in the morning to start our Christmas shopping.  I hate shopping.  But I LOVE getting good deals.  So I do the Black Friday thing. 

So, I didn't have dessert on Thanksgiving and it wasn't so bad.  However, in sticking with my motto "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" I did have a dessert idea lined up in case I got the insatiable urge for sweets.  Check it out on my Recipes page.  

~TooSweetMiriahJane

25 November, 2010

Cocoa Ricotta Crème Dessert

(makes 1 serving)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
2 tsp baking cocoa (ingredients should say "cocoa" - no sugar)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
stevia to taste (don't use too much or it will taste bitter)

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  You can eat it cold or warm it up (I like to put it in a freezer for a few minutes to get it nice and cold).

24 November, 2010

Are YOU Addicted to Sugar?

It's the end of Day 4 of no sugar and I am beginning to feel better.  No headache today.  A co-worker brought in apple danishes today; even though they looked yummy (they had icing AND cinnamon!) and they were only 6 feet away from me, it wasn't that hard to resist them.  Probably because I'm still all uber-motivated.

I've known that I have "issues" with sugar for quite some time now.  I remember eating stack after stack of cookies after school when I was 15.  But I was only about 98 pounds then, so I didn't really care if I couldn't control my sweets intake.  (Just in case you are curious, currently my BMI is at the very upper end of Normal.  Yes, I could stand to lose 10 to 15 pounds.  But I'm in no way obese.) Even if I don't lose one pound this year, I truly believe that I will be a happier person having sugar out of my life.

Maybe you are wondering if your sweet tooth is out of control.  Take the quiz!  (This is not scientific.  Basically, I looked up an alcohol addiction quiz and adapted it to relate to sugar consumption.  See the link at the bottom of this post for the original quiz).

SUGAR ADDICTION QUIZ:

  1. Is your sugar consumption making your home life unhappy?
  2. Do you eat sugary foods in order to be more sociable?
  3. Have you ever felt remorse after eating sweets?
  4. Has your motivation decreased since you began eating too much sugar?
  5. Do you crave a sugary snack at a definite time daily?
  6. After indulging in too many sweets, is your desire for sweets increased the next day?
  7. Does eating too much dessert cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  8. Do you eat sweets to escape from worries or trouble, or to relax?
  9. Do you eat sweets alone because you are embarrassed by how much you eat?
  10. Do you hide sweets from others (do you have a "stash")?
  11. Have you ever tried to stop eating sugar and found that you couldn't?
  12. Has your physician ever treated you for something that resulted from your poor eating habits?

If you answered 3 or more of the questions with a "Yes," there is a strong possibility that your sugar-eating patterns are detrimental to your health and that you may be sugar dependent.  Under these circumstances, the authors of this tool suggest that you should get an evaluation of your sugar-eating behavior by a healthcare professional.  (Johns Hopkins Alcohol Addiction Quiz)

I answered "Yes" to 9 out of 12!  How did you score??

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! I'll post how I get through the holiday without sugar...ugh.  No fun.

~TooSweetMiriahJane

23 November, 2010

My Friend - Over Six Years Sugar Free

I actually know one of those sugar-free freaks. My good friend Robyn. I met her at work 5 years ago and at that point she'd been sugar-free for about a year. And she's still going*. She didn't quit sugar because she doesn't like it - totally the opposite. She was enslaved by it. She tried to cut back to eating one dessert per week. But then she was a crazed sugar-fiend all week until she made it to the day when she allowed herself one dessert - and so the cycle continued.

She decided there was a better way - to cut out sugars & sweets completely. And that's what she did...you see, by totally eliminating the substance, she eventually stopped having the cravings. Now she is truly sugar-free - she's not a slave to her own temptations.

I've admired this in her since the day I found out that she doesn't eat sugar. When she told me, I couldn't even comprehend the idea.

Me: "So you never eat candy or cake or cookies or ice cream?"

Robyn: "Right."

Me: "But what about on your birthday, or at Christmas-time? Not even then?"

Robyn: < laughs > "No, not even then."

Me: "But you can't do this forever. I mean, how do you have fun on vacations? What do you do at parties? Life must be so boring."

Robyn: "Actually, life is much better since I stopped eating sugar. I don't even want it anymore. And there's more to vacations and parties than eating sweets. Besides, I think I've already eaten every possible form of sweet food out there."

Me: "True...well, I could never do it."

Note that I didn't say "True....well, I would never want to do that." I said that I couldn't do it. I'm hoping that by writing about my experience, it will keep me honest.  I'm so not the type of person who writes a blog. Well maybe I am now, technically.  I guess what I mean is, I'm not the type of person who thinks the whole world gives a crap about what I'm doing.  But I am the type of person who likes to write, and I'm hoping that eventually a few people will read this and offer some tips or encouragement.


If you're trying to quit eating sugar, or if you've been successful, I'd love to hear from you.  Just knowing that other people can do it really inspires me to keep going.

* In the interest of full disclosure, I have been informed that Robyn ate Cold Stone (ice cream) about 6 months ago!!  But she's allowed a treat every few years, I think!


~TooSweetMiriahJane

22 November, 2010

Sugar Works Better than Excedrin

It's been two days since I've had any sweets.  This has been me for the last two days:
 
At first I thought it was caffeine.  So I had some hot black tea - no change.  Then I thought, maybe I'm dehydrated, so I made sure to drink plenty of water.  That didn't help so I went to bed with a headache.  Then I had a Twizzler, and then two more.  Then I ate some chocolates, gummy bears, some kind of pie - not sure what kind, but it was really sweet and really delicious.
 
No, I didn't give in already, but I did have sugar-filled dreams.  I woke up so upset, thinking "oh no! I couldn't even last one day!"  And I was so relieved when I realized it was a dream.

So Day Two wasn't that bad...but I still have a terrible headache.  I took some headache medicine this morning (and just to be safe, had some hot tea with caffeine).  But to no avail. 

Now, I can't be 100% positive that it's the lack of sugar causing my headache, but I've never had a headache for two straight days.  Except for the time that I quit caffeine for a while. 

Has anyone else experienced any "withdrawal" symptoms after quitting sugar?  I'd say that so far, the physical symptoms aren't really that bad.  I'm expecting that the most difficult part of quitting sugar for me will be the social/psychological aspects.  Thanksgiving, for example, will be tough.  My mother-in-law makes an amazing apple crumble and I'm sure she'll wonder why I'm not having any.  I'm hoping that I'll be too full of dinner foods to want dessert. 

But I'm also thinking that maybe I'll just make something and bring it with me...maybe apples and cinnamon and nuts.  I'll have to look up some recipes. If anyone has any all-natural, sugar-free, artificial sweetener-free, dessert recipes please let me know!  "Healthy" or fruit-based desserts are a foreign concept to me.  I've always thought "why? When I can have some Haagen Dazs or a fews squares of caramel-filled Ghirardelli?"

Next time, I'll post about how I get through Thanksgiving without sweets (I'm thinking wine will be involved somehow). 

~TooSweetMiriahJane

21 November, 2010

Avocado Quinoa Salad

(makes 4 servings)


Ingredients:
1/2 cup quinoa (uncooked)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 avocado
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 large tomato, diced
1/4 cucumber, diced
1 stalk celery, diced


Directions:
You may want to rinse the quinoa in a sieve before cooking to get rid of any bitter-tasting saponins.  In a medium saucepan, cook quinoa according to package directions, using brother in place of water.  Let cool.  Cut avocados in half, remove pit and peel.  Cut into chunks.  Toss with lemon juice.  Add avocado and all remaining ingredients to quinoa and toss gently to mix.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Chill until ready to serve.

The First Day is a Piece of Cake

Today will be my first day without sugar - my goal is that there will be 364 more sugar-free days ahead.  It kind of makes me sad.  But I have to remind myself that I'm better off without sugar.

[Disclaimer for my husband: the following analogy is being used for entertainment purposes only - it's not based on personal experience]   Sweets are like that bad boyfriend who is so much fun you're with him, but then afterwards, you feel disgusting and guilty. 

Of course, I had to have my "farewell to sweets" day yesterday.  I started out with a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats.  The best part is the Frosted.  I love it when the wheat part gets all mushy in the milk, but the sugar is still crusty.  Cereal is fantastic.  Then I went to the local coffee shop and had a (small) caramel macchiato, which I mentioned yesterday, but it was good enough to deserve a second mention.

When I got home it was late afternoon, so I had some leftover quinoa & veggie salad (see Recipe tab).  Then I had a cold, frosty glass of organic 1% milk and a little piece of heaven masquerading as a Safeway brownie. 

Yes, I am a total hypocrite - I eat quinoa & veggies and organic milk, but I follow it with a brownie.  But seriously, these brownies must be made with crack because they are totally addicting.  If you aren't trying to give up sugar, and you love chocolate, you have got to try these brownies.  They are at Safeway in the bakery section:

20 seconds in the microwave = pure bliss

There are still two of these bad boys sitting on my kitchen counter.  I am pretending that they don't exist. 










Okay, now to get to the point of today's post:  what are the specifics of this endeavor?  Here is a list of things that contain sugar, but I am going to continue to eat.  I'm also including my rationalizations.
  • Fruit - I'm not going to eat a ton of it, but I think this should stay in my diet and here's why:  fruit is a whole food (not processed);  it's got vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants;  I've never binged on bananas or strawberries...I don't think fruit is a "problem" food for me. 
  • Stevia - This is a natural sweetener that does not contain sugar and does not affect your blood-sugar (which causes moodiness and energy crashes). 
  • Trace sugars that aren't obvious - this is mostly for when I go out to eat.  Using common sense and my own knowledge of foods I'll steer clear of things that I suspect contain sugar.
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Red Wine - because I'm going to need a drink after a week without sugar.  Really, though, I'm not a big drinker.
Here's my "no" list:

  • Refined sugars/HFCS - that's a "duh"
  • Maple syrup - only because I can totally see myself eating waffles drenched in maple syrup until my tummy hurts
  • Honey
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Agave nectar - because it's very concentrated and totally delicious (I could see myself over-doing it)
  • Artificial sweeteners
We'll see how this day goes...I've done a week without sugar before.  I've even done a month....but at some point I "just have one" of anything sweet.  Next thing you know, I'm eating pastries & mochas for breakfast. 

I wonder why there's a stigma against having ice cream or cookies or chocolate for breakfast when eating a doughnut is acceptable?  Just a thought.  Mmmm...doughnuts.

~ TooSweetMiriahJane

20 November, 2010

My Last Day with Sweets

"Quitting...is easy, I've done it hundreds of times." ~ Mark Twain

Well, Mark Twain was talking about his smoking habit...I don't smoke, but I do have an unhealthy habit. I eat too much sugar (most of us do, actually). And I too have quit sugar many many times in the past 5 years or so, only to quit quitting and go back to the evil (and seductively delicious) stuff.




It feels like an addiction - the mere fact that I've tried and failed to quit eating sweets (even though I really really want to) seems to be evidence that sugar, at least, is addictive for me.

In fact, I am drinking a creamy, delicious caramel macchiato as I type this right now, but it's not for the caffeine! I drink it for the sweetness. I think coffee without sugar is gross...but that coffee-flavored sugar that they peddle at Starbucks...mmm...so delightful. My caramel macchiatto is so sweet, it almost hurts. Almost.

So, who am I and why do you care if I give up eating sweets or not?


I'm an otherwise healthy person who is addicted to sugar. I recently turned 30 and last year I married a man with a sweet tooth almost as big as my own (it's hard to compete with my love of sweets). 

When I'm not seeking out or eating candy, cakes, or ice cream, I like to do things that are good for me like reading, doing yoga, and hiking (I'm very lucky to have a trail only a two-minute walk from my house!  I love it).

Why do you care if I quit eating sugar or not?  Maybe you don't, but if you're like me, you have considered giving up sugar and you wonder, "Can it really be done?". You may know one or two people who have given up sugar, and you may think they are freaks...seriously, who does that??  BUT you may also secretly wish that you were one of those freaks. One of those people who are presented with an array of cookies, cakes, chocolates, etc. at a party and politely decline; and when pressed to "just have one" these freaks reply with a serene smile, "No thank you, I don't eat sweets."

A part of me thinks these people are missing out by being too strict with their diets.  Live a little, right?  However, there's another part of me who is jealous of that person because she doesn't have any trouble turning down these evil treats.

So tomorrow will be my first day. I'm only doing this for one year, then I'll re-evaluate.  Maybe after a year I won't notice any improvement in my health and I'll decide that eating sugar is totally worth it.  Maybe (and I'm hoping this is the result) I'll feel fantastic and I won't even want sugar anymore.

As far as sugars go, what "counts" what doesn't?  Some sugar-free freaks give up fruit because, obviously, they contain sugars.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep eating fruits...but what about honey?  What about agave nectar?  What about artificial sweeteners?  I'll figure it out and put it in tomorrow's post.


~TooSweetMiriahJane