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