Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happiness and its Causes - Do you want sugar with that? Part 2

David Gillespie is among many people who believe sugar is an addictive substance and that we should consume significantly less of it than we do. But is it easy to break an addiction when the substance is crammed into most convenience foods which are so readily and enticingly available?

I mentioned here how sugar, MSG and other salts are being added to a greater variety of foods and in grossly larger quantities than ever before in the history of mankind. And we’re paying the price of a fast food lifestyle with obesity, depression, type two diabetes and other damaging and costly health effects.

A number of people have mentioned to me how difficult it is to break the addiction to convenience foods. So, how do you begin to break the vicious cycle?

I'll mention some today, and share information about "The Happiness Diet" later on.

Jan Morrison over at This Crazy Writing Life (here) has been talking about Kaizen – adopting small, achievable steps to change.

In contrast, one of the moderators at the conference talked about removing all sugars from her diet in the space of a week. She suffered horribly the first week, found it really hard for the second week, but after a month she began to feel better than she had for years. It's not something I’d encourage without sound medical reasons. Not only are you going to have withdrawal effects, but your brain will likely panic, have a bit of a hissy fit and retaliate by craving more - just in case it's going to be deprived for ever! That seems to be how it works all too often for most of us, and the result is yo-yo dieting and grumpy mood swings.

I’m more comfortable with the Kaizen path. Instead of munching on a whole Mars bar, choose a smaller one, or leave a bit and keep the rest for later, or throw it away if possible! If you’re used to chewing through a museli bar (they’re packed with sugar, but appear innocent) for morning tea, try eating 2/3 of it and wrap the rest for another time.  Celebrate every mouthful not munched with a loving pat on the back and a verbal "Well done!" It might seem daggy, but it's worth it, and your brain will enjoy the novelty.
Bush turkey finishing off some ice-cream in Noosa QLD.
If it's not good for us, it's not good for other creatures, and should be in the bin.
I've been known to suddenly realise I'm scoffing something sweet, mouthful on mouthful, not really conscious of what I'm doing and suddenly notice what's happening. My choice at that instant is either to swallow or not. I try to remember that even one mouthful not swallowed is worth it. And occasionally if I've chosen to spit out one mouthful, it's easier to put the rest aside.

That's a pretty good feeling. I celebrate with a pat on the back and sharing with someone who cares. My husband and two friends have offered to support and celebrate with me. We don't talk failure, we share the success of a mouthful not eaten, or a smaller portion consumed. Every tiny step is worthy of our attention.

Check out the labels on the foods you habitually consume.
I’d become quite complacent about checking labels and had been encouraged to use low fat yogurt (which I don't like at all) instead of the full milk style I usually enjoy. A house guest was scathing about the low fat version, and said his wife wouldn’t touch it, but had no idea why. When I looked at the label, I found that the unpleasant no fat yogurt had 4 times as much added sugar as the full milk one I usually buy. (Handy chart here) There is a big difference between brands too, so it's worth checking.

In the previous post I mentioned that David Gillespie's goal is to have no more than 2 teaspoons of sugar per meal. Yet in one very small 100 gram serve of yogurt, which it's possible to eat in seconds, you can consume twice that. And you’re not even had a sweetened drink yet.

The above picture is from Choice, and whilst it doesn't specifically focus on sugar, you can see some of the other frequent additives in foods. The article is available here, and makes for interesting reading.

It's best to purchase your foods from the perimeter of the supermarket and do some preparation yourself. For all the clever, manipulative advertising, convenience foods packed with chemicals don't make for a balanced diet, and the massive multinational companies don't have your best interest at heart. Their bottom line is profit, not your well-being.

So, take small achievable steps, and celebrate every gram of sugar not consumed.



Anonymous said...

I've tried to go cold turkey before and you are correct, it doesn't last. Now I am in the position where I have to start again and it is not going to be easy.

sue said...

mbj, It is tough. Be kind to yourself, start small and achievable and celebrate every tiny success. (Even one teaspoon a day less is better than an increase and IS worth doing, it's not too scary and seems to be sustainable.)

Hart Johnson said...

I think that subbing sugar for fat is standard--I know it is the case with salad dressings. *sigh* Okay... I concede... time to read labels...

sue said...

Hart, it's not that bad! Once you've done it once for each product you usually buy and find a less sugary one, the job's done (unless they change the recipe)

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