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No Sugar Year - 2022

Thursday, January 6, 2022

If you've been reading for awhile, then you'll know that I attempted to go 'no sugar' over the summer of 2021. And I did great all the way up to Halloween candy. Damn that candy. I don't even like it! It's just that addicting. So I decided to tackle this goal again, and get more months and good habits under my belt before the holiday season hits. No sugar 2022 it is.

No added sugar, I should say, because some whole foods are perfectly healthy for you but contain sugar (fruit! quinoa!) and are not off the table this year. But everything else is, because sugar, namely fructose, is poison. Don't believe me? You simply must watch the most interesting hour and a half video on YouTube. There are so many obesity related diseases rampant in America and no matter how many no carb, no fat, no meat, no ___ diets people try, Americans are still fatter and more unhealthy than ever. And it's directly correlated with sugar. (And seed oils, but I don't eat much of those anyway so one problem at a time.)

The No Sugar Science

Sugar, namely fructose, is highly addicting. The more you eat, the more you want to eat - the average American eats half a cup of sugar a day. Drinking something with fructose (juice or soda) before a meal actually makes you eat more. Unlike drinking a glass of water which fills the stomach the same way, but makes you eat less. So sugar itself may not be highly fattening, but it encourages you to eat so much more, leading to weight gain. And the cycle only gets worse because, like any other drug, the more you consume sugar, the more you need to get the same high and satisfy the craving. Which is why quitting cold turkey for an extended period of time makes the most sense - it's hard to just limit intake on addicting substances.

Sugar also lowers your immune system, increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol,  heart attacks, certain cancers, fatty liver disease, depression, dementia, and Alzheimers. I'm sure there's more - it's poison. There's a lot of science behind why the glucose in fruit is necessary for humans and why fructose absolutely isn't and blocks insulin but again, I recommend watching the video because science major I am not.

My Own Sugar Issues

Here's the thing I already know - added sugar makes me feel awful. It's an absolute migraine trigger for me. I started paying much closer attention to sugar. Vegan brownies made from dates? Delicious and pain free. Conventional brownies? Sugar crash, including pounding headache, within 30 minutes. It became clear that my issues were all associated with consuming added sugar. And looking back at 2020, when I couldn't seem to get headaches under control, they were highly correlated with sugar intake. When I intentionally started losing weight and eating better (October 2020), the headaches subsided, but it still took me until mid-2021 to make the direct sugar connection.

The added sugar in just about everything makes it really complicated. Bread, ketchup, pizza, tacos, salad dressing, frozen foods, etc etc - everything has hidden added sugar. Because that's what makes it taste good and keep you buying more, so companies keep on adding more. And I need to quit it. It directly over laps with my vegan diet I plan on talking all about in tomorrow's post, but since sugar is such a specific subset, I decided it needed its own goal and its own post.

My No Sugar Year Rules

I'm a rule follower by nature (enneagram Type 1 here, and an ESTJ), so I have to have a list to refer to. I'm also an obliger and extrinsically motivated, which means I need to post about it here and have other people read it in order to remain accountable. So here's what I came up with:

1. No added sugar. It sounds simple enough but sugar really is in everything, and under sneaky chemical names, so it can be tough when determining whether something processed fits the bill. It almost never does, so that means real food - more on that tomorrow. No sugar means: white and brown sugar, cane sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane syrup, honey, agave, fruit juice, sugar alcohols, and artificial sweeteners. I'm sure there's more I forgot, so if I find myself buying something packaged, I need to research the ingredients list to make sure it's not hiding in there under another name.

2. Fruit is fine. Fruit is real, whole food, and it's good for you. It has fiber and nutrients that negate the bad effects of fructose, and fills you up before you even hit danger levels of sugar. So I'll be having fruits often, hopefully daily, but about 3 servings a day or less. (I actually don't like it that much so...) And like I said, a lot of whole, real foods have sugar, like quinoa. That's okay. Fruit juice is still the devil's drink though, no fruit juice allowed.

3. Medication and vitamins are exempted. Is there sugar in my Flintstones chewable vitamin? Sure tastes like it. But I'm not checking the ingredients list because it's the only multivitamin I can ever take regularly. Because I'm 7. So I'm giving myself an exemption for this, as well as any other medication I may need. Because almost all of it has sugar of some sort, but it's obviously not the same thing as a cup of ice cream.

That's it's, three simple rules! Simple in theory, at least, not so much in practice. But that's the point. Let me know if you think there are any hurdles or details I forgot about, so I can include them into my rules list. I love starting with a well-thought out plan.

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