Tag Archive | sugar

Hot, Or Not?

Alright! Well, time to update you guys on my progress now that I’m on day 10 of my coconut oil experiment…If you read my last post, you’ll remember that I mentioned suspecting that I have a sluggish metabolism/under-active thyroid, and that I’ve noticde my body temperature is consistently a bit low (no higher than 97.1).

So, for the past week and a half, I’ve added 1-2 tablespoons of organic, virgin coconut oil to my diet. Specifically, I’ve been using Trader Joe’s brand:

Now, let me start by telling you, as a reformed restrictive dieter, I never imagined I’d be downing tablespoons of high-fat, high calorie OIL. But, as I touched upon in last week’s post, all oils are not created equal, and organic, unrefined coconut oil is supposed to have many, many benefits. That being said, I’ve been eating this stuff every which way for the past 10 days: stirred into my coffee, for cooking, spread onto fruit, and even straight up on a spoon (don’t knock it ’til you try it…it’s actually really yummy!).  As a side note, I didn’t eat the coconut oil at any specific times, just whenever I could incorporate it into my day.

Before I tell you about changes I’ve noticed, I’ll also mention that since starting my coconut oil study, I’ve also been very strict with staying gluten-free. I know I have a sensitivity to gluten, but I’ve been kind of lax in sticking to a gluten-free diet. I just wanted to mention this, as I’m sure it contributed to some of the positive changes you’re about to read…

Okay, enough with the teasers…I know you’re probably anxious to read some results!

Here goes:

  • Less food cravings overall, especially sweets and between-meal snacks
  • Improved digestion (less bloating/flatter stomach, and much more…regular)
  • Noticeably clearer skin (I was getting breakouts on my upper back and chest that virtually disappeared)
  • AND I took my temperature this morning, and it was 97.9 (still not 98.6, but up significantly from 97.1)

All in all, I must say, I feel pretty great!  And definitely great enough to continue with the coconut oil and sticking to a gluten-free diet. I’m curious about what another week will do for the body temperature, so I’m going to go ahead and monitor results for another update next week. Stay tuned!

Ciao for now,

-E

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Honey, Aww Sugar Sugar

Due to the craziness that is the holiday season, I’ve been slacking a bit on blogging. Last week I did a bit of a cop-out and re-blogged a post, but I cut myself some slack since it was such a well-written piece. If you missed it, check it out here.

Anyway, I thought that since we are in the thick of the season of sugary indulgences (and you thought it was just about presents! Ha!), we should talk about our friend (and I use that term VERY loosely): SUGAR.

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Looks delicious, right! Everything in moderation 🙂

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The holidays tend to be the sweetest time of the year –candy, cookies, cocktails, and pie…oh my!), and all of those sweet little treats we consume during the holidays might taste great – but the damage they do when consumed in excess is becoming a serious issue. Sugar-related problems range from depression to mood swings to hyperactivity and chronic fatigue. Even worse are such disorders as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

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Now, I’m not saying that you should switch over to artificial sweeteners because, as I mentioned in one of my first posts, those are even worse for you! And I’m also not saying to pass up Aunt Mary’s signature holiday brownies or Mom’s homemade apple pie if you truly enjoy eating them.

What I am saying is:

  • Don’t forget to eat a balance of nutritious, whole foods along with a few holiday sweets.
  • Stay on track with your fitness routine as much as possible. Not only will it keep you fit, it can keep you sane!
  • Get plenty of sleep! Lack of it = increased cortisol, less sensitivity to insulin, & more cravings for sweets.
  • Stay hydrated. No elaborate explanation here. Just do it. Water is good for you.
  • Don’t under-eat in anticipation of a holiday party/get-together. When you try to ‘save’ your calories for a party, you are more likely to overeat and go for high carb/high sugar options.
  • Eat mindfully. Savor the taste and texture of each bite, and you won’t need a bunch to feel satisfied.
  • Don’t have an “all or nothing” mentality. Allow yourself to eat and ENJOY some holiday treats, and you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel and eat a whole pan of brownies just because you indulged in one or two. Remember, it takes 3500 extra calories to gain one pound, so a few treats at the holidays really won’t affect you in the grand scheme of things

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Most importantly, while our holiday gatherings do tend to be centered around food and drinks, I like to focus on the joy of the season. I love getting together with family and friends and celebrating that we get to be together. Plus, the more you’re talking with family and friends, the less you’ll be shoveling food into your mouth mindlessly…unless you talk with your mouth full, which of course, you don’t ;-P

If you guys have any tips on how you stay healthy during the holidays, I’d love to hear them!

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Kwanza, etc…Wishing you all the happiest of holidays ❤

Ciao for now!

-E

The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners

It started out as an innocent way to save some calories…I put Equal or Splenda in my coffee and tea, used sugar-free creamers, sugar-free syrup on my pancakes, and dumped sugar-free flavored packets into my water (I’m cringing now thinking back on it). Even after I started really focusing on my health mid-way through 2006, I’m a little embarrassed to stay that I continued to use artificial sweeteners…partly because my body had become addicted, partly out of sheer habit, and partly because I was afraid that I’d blow up like a blimp if I started using real sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.

Now until recently, when I’d heard negative things about artificial sweeteners, I pretty much swept the information under the rug. And honestly, so many people I knew used them too, so it wasn’t like I stood out like the yellow packet-toting renegade that I was…

sweeteners in coffee
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But as 2012 was coming to a close and it was time for resolutions, I started thinking about this dirty little habit I’d held onto and decided to be honest about how this crap was affecting me. I’ll start with some personal observations:

  • The more artificial sweeteners I used, the more I needed to use…what started out as 1 Splenda in a mug of coffee had turned into 3, and virtually every liquid I consumed had artificial sweeteners in it.
  • I was craving sweets all the time, and when I indulged, I was never satisfied.
  • Instead of giving in to every craving, I would just drink more coffee (with Splenda of course) or diet soda, or suck on some sugar free candies…it was becoming a vicious cycle.
  • My metabolism felt sluggish, and for the amount of exercise I was doing and as clean as I was eating, I felt like I should have been in better shape.
  • Most of the people I knew who were naturally thin and seemed healthy to me used real sugar, not Splenda (or artificial sweeteners).
  • With most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, you should probably check into it!

Now for some of the information I finally decided to listen to about these super sweet, non-caloric chemical packets of doom:

  • Studies show that artificial sweeteners stimulate high insulin levels in the blood which promote storage of body fat (especially around the mid-section). Your body is pretty smart and prepares for the arrival of food/nutrients before anything even crosses your lips. When you trick your body and give it fake food (non-nutritive or non-caloric sweeteners), it gets understandably confused. Your taste buds sense the sweet taste from artificial sweeteners, and the pancreas secretes insulin unnecessarily. Over time, your body gets used to this and basically goes on strike (i.e. insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc).
  • Artificial sweeteners may save you calories but there is strong evidence that they promote hunger and increase your appetite–so you many end up eating more food throughout the day. You ingest artificial/calorie-free food with the intention of reducing your calorie intake, but this does not satisfy your body’s need for nutrients and energy. So, you end up feeling ferocious about eating more and more until you satisfy that need. Think about it—we’re currently surrounded by low-calorie, “health conscious foods” and diet soft drinks that contain artificial sweeteners, yet obesity is on the rise.
  • Aside from weight gain and insulin resistance, other health issues include: headaches, gastrointestinal problems, toxicity to the liver and kidneys, and increased cancer risk.

Taking into account my own personal observations, combined with the endless information on the internet and in medical studies about why artificial sweeteners are bad, I decided to give them up in 2013. I went cold turkey.

artificial is bad
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Here’s what happened:

For a week or so, I went through withdrawals—headaches, stomach cramps, mood swings, etc. But rather than making me want to go back to them, this further solidified that I’d become addicted to a poisonous chemical that was likely wreaking havoc on my insides. I stuck with it. I started using a reasonable (2 tsp or so) amount of raw sugar in my morning coffee, using honey (if anything) in my tea, and drinking plain old water. After a couple weeks, I noticed that I started craving less sweets, was eating less overall without feeling deprived, and could actually taste my food better than ever. I had more energy and actually started to feel my metabolism revving again. Now, 7 months later, I can’t believe I ever even used the fake stuff. I’d never go back…

feeling great!

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Now I’m not suggesting that you start dumping mounds of sugar in your coffee, drowning your pancakes in syrup, and eating pastries for dinner. And if you’re diabetic, you should talk to a doctor or nutritionist about managing your glucose levels and sugar intake. What I am saying is stop confusing your body. If you are craving something sweet have a little sugar, but stay away from “fake” foods. Eating a whole-foods, balanced diet and occasionally indulging in a few real sweet treats is a better alternative than tricking your body with artificial sweeteners – which ultimately leads to a sluggish metabolism, obesity, and a host of other issues.

Do yourself a favor and put down the yellow (or blue, or pink) packets of fake chemicals that are doing damage to your precious body, and eat real food for a while. Take it from a former addict, the change is SO worth it.

Ciao for now!

-E