Sunday, November 27, 2005

A serious exercise in restraint

I'm giving up sugar. For now, to see if I can do it. Today, Sunday afternoon nap, I dreamt about chocolate cake and tootsie rolls. Tootsie rolls. I am not a huge fan of the common tootsie roll, but, admittedly, I have been eating a lot of them lately as we made the unfortunate mistake of taking our kids trick or treating at the mall.

Last week I had an unusual experience with the common tootsie roll. I grabbed one out of the bucket of candy and sat down at the computer to pass some time (read: procrastinate folding laundry). It was one of the big ones, with ridges (knobs? rolls? indentations?). It was gone before I knew it, and I needed another one. Must have another tootsie roll. So, being the slave that I am to my sugar addiction, of course I ran into the kitchen and got another large, ridged tootsie roll. This time as I ate it, I got an immediate fix. Sugar coursing through my blood. That may have been the first time I have had such an instantaneous and physical reaction to sugar. Whoa. A sugar high/low right away.

Obviously, I need to get my constant cravings in check. I planned ahead for the best day to start my sugar hiatus: Thanksgiving would be bad because of the raspberry-pretzel-jell-o-cool whip number that I love so much and which I was contributing to the dinner cause. Friday was my sister's baby shower and I knew what delectable sugary items would be served at that. Saturday was the day. So, like any good addict would do, I overdosed on my drug bigtime before I gave it up completely. Friday, at the shower--three enormously huge sugar cookies dripping with cream cheese frosting. Mmmm.

Saturday, I was a champ. I passed on cranberry punch; different, although still enticing sugar cookies; German chocolate cake; cream puffs; donut holes; fruit dip; a king-size Symphony bar with toffee; Pillsbury slice and bake cookies beckoning from my refrigerator; and of course, that ominous bowl of Halloween candy. Seriously, I rock. I still wanted something sweet after my meals, but I went to the fridge and got fruit and ate that.

It's Day 2 of no sugar, and I think I'm still on the bandwagon, although maybe I cheated just a little. After that bad dream I had (man, my body is really craving sugar-- I had no idea), I made some muffins. I was planning on using Sweet N Low for the sugar, but then the darn package said that when baking, some real granulated sugar is still necessary to create the ideal texture and browning effect. So, I used half the sugar in the recipe, and half the sugar substitute. Then, I loaded the muffin with butter and honey. It was manna from heaven. Delicious. A fix for my sugar-starved body.

I'm already planning ahead for this Friday when I will be at a chichi restaurant for Steve's work party and will be offered drinks. Can I get you a Sprite? I'll take water, please. Dessert? Creme brulee? I would like a bowl of fresh berries, please, hold the cream. If that's not available, I'll just sit and watch while everyone else indulges in my favorite drug.

23 comments:

Steve said...

Back when we were living in Albuquerque, when I was clerking for a law firm there, the law firm would take us out to lunch pretty much everyday. I decided that I needed to give something up in the food department or I would get very fat, so I decided to give up meat. I had a couple of dreams like your cake dreams, but more disturbing. I dreamt we were at a bar-b-que with your family, and there were mounds of dripping, raw flesh, soon to be thrown on the barbie. I awoke disgusted. I couldn't tell if my body was craving meat or repulsed at the notion. Anyway, after the summer I took meat back up again, and haven't had any more of those disturbing dreams.

On another note. I get sugar rushes somewhat regularly. I don't have the consistent craving like you do, but every time I do take in some sugar, it opens up a temporary sugar blackhole in my universe, sucking in all chocolate in sight. My rush factor is always affected; I get light-headed, and I always promise myself that I'm not going to do that anymore. It has caused me to relfect that, were it not for the word of wisdom, I'd be an alcoholic.

Mormon Family Man said...

My hometeaching lesson for this month was on Susan W. Tanner's General Conference talk on the sanctity of the body.

She talks about an incident where her mom ate too much and couldn't pray:

"I remember an incident in my home growing up when my mother's sensitive spirit was affected by a physical indulgence. She had experimented with a new sweet roll recipe. They were big and rich and yummy—and very filling. Even my teenage brothers couldn't eat more than one. That night at family prayer my father called upon Mom to pray. She buried her head and didn't respond. He gently prodded her, "Is something wrong?" Finally she said, "I don't feel very spiritual tonight. I just ate three of those rich sweet rolls."

Just in time for Thanksgiving. Classic.

ahc said...

Hang in there-- just like anything you are trying to overcome, it gets easier.

I used to drink Diet Coke like a fiend. Every morning I started out the day with a soda and I had at least two more during the day. The only time I drank any other liquid was while I was at the gym. One day it dawned on me that I was addicted. In reality, I might as well have been drinking coffee because I was dependent on the caramel-colored, aspartame-flavored, highly-caffeinated beverage to keep me awake late at night and alert early in the morning.

It was tough to give up and sometimes I'd have the dreams like you and Steve. . . but I'm proud to say that in January I will be soda-free for FIVE YEARS. Honestly, now I don't even think about soda. It's just not even an option for me. . .

I think it's cool that you are trying to give up sugar. I support you in it. Good luck! :)

amyjune said...

Giving up sugar is one of my worst fears, and saddly anough it could become my reality with the next pregnancy. My baby was so large that the doctor thinks I may have had gestational diabetes. All the more reason to put off getting pregnant. I can't imagine life without sugar. Good luck, I wish I could be as strong as you.

neil and diana said...

will you have a kit kat with me. mofamaisape. hearts, d

pepper said...

Can I just jump in like this and post a comment? Emily, I have been reading since our little phone call about my dream... Does this mean you are eliminating jelly from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? What about syrup on your pancakes? Here's a hint, my parents don't eat much sugar and one of their favorite snacks are the healthy choice fudge bars, mmmm! And a good sugarless option for drinks is crystal light. We have stocks of both of these at the house, so if you need something for your fix, stop on by...

Emily said...

Steve-o--thanks for not being an alcoholic.

MFM--I loved that talk, and I'm impressed you chose it for your home teaching message. Kind of a feminist approach. Very nice.

ahc--I would never have guessed that you were a diet Coke addict. That's because we never lived together. Why did we never live together? And, really, you haven't had ANY soda in 5 years? WOW!

amyjune--Ouch on the gestational diabetes prospects. When you were pregnant, did you ever think about Suzie and how she always pictured her newborn babies to be a conglomeration of all the food she ate when she was pregnant? Very disturbing.

d--Make it a 3 Musketeers and I'll consider it strongly. I know I should understand your secret code. Give me a hint.

Pepper--Yes! Comment away. I would love to hear from you! As a matter of fact, tonight for dinner I made pancakes for the kids and had one myself. . . with sugar free raspberry jam on top. It was excellent. And I will be popping in for Crystal Light very soon. Thanks for the invitation.

Man! I failed my word verifcation thing again. That is a rather humbling experience.

Suzie Petunia said...

All I can say is that it takes a helluva lot more sin than overdosing on rolls to make me feel "not spiritual"... like, for instance... swearing. :)

P.S. I do not support your abstinence from sugar. It is unamerican.

neil and diana said...

I think sugar is more healthful than artificial sweetener. Also I think it's more healthful than splenda. Let me check with my dietician friend at work today and get the 411.

Emily said...

Suzie, I don't support my abstinence from sugar, either. It IS unamerican and un-emilylike. I don't know what has come over me. I think I have it in the back of my mind that turning 30=fat butt. Thus, I'm taking extreme measures to lower my caloric intake. Not really, don't be alarmed. I eat plenty o' calories. Remember freshman year when ahc and Julianne and amyjune all took food science and nutrition and felt compelled to tell me at every opportunity what poisons I was taking into my body? Those were some good times. . .

Emily said...

d -- what's the 411?

Emily said...

I am shamelessly upping my comment stats. Someone has to do it.

amye said...

Atta, girl, Emily. I was alarmed to read you're abstaining from sugar. My personal take on that is "moderation in all things", including a sweet now and then. I've been known to overdose, as is evidenced by the 4 "bags of flour" I carry around, but I sure had fun getting there! Do we all have to look like "Twiggy"? I choose not to. I think she looks pathetic. We were shocked when her skinny body came on the scene in the 60's. Nowadays, most models and actresses look just like her-skin and bones. Disgusting. I just saw Sienna Miller in the latest "People" magazine, and thought to myself, "I would have been mortified to have those 'chicken legs' at her age." And that's the truth! By the way, the lesson in RS on Sunday said the same thing: Do not be preoccupied with nips and tucks and skinniness. That focus is out of whack. Emily, you look perfect, anyway! What's the deal?

ahc said...

Emily, Neil & Diana are right about artificial sweetener. My dad, who worked as a pharmacist for the FDA for 30 years, says that it is one of the worst things that you can consume. My dad is THE MOST MELLOW guy on the planet (I know, hard to believe that I'm his daughter) and he doesn't freak out about anything, but he HATES it when my mom drinks diet soda or buys anything that contains artificial sweetener. If you are going to go "sugarless," I think you'll have to do it without an artificial substitute. Or, you could just go with the Amyjune-suggested "moderation in all things" and just cut back. Maybe cut out things that are sugary which have no nutritional value ("empty calorie foods"). I still support your efforts, though. You know what's best for yourself!

neil and diana said...

Well I talked to my dietician friend, who said sugar substitutes have less of a dramatic effect (or no effect) on your blood sugar level, which is what gets out of whack when we consume large amounts of sugar. I am quoting here; please be aware that I have zero substantive knowledge of what a blood sugar level is or what it does. Anyway, despite my lack of formal training in the area, I find sugar substitutes to be revolting. We had a patient recently in swallow group who instructed me every morning to empty three Splendas into his oatmeal. Gag me! I support ahc's dad all the way. I will report back after further research.

Sarah said...

I have to say that sugar substitutes are not good. Taste-wise or health-wise. I have been told by many who act like they know something that aspartame is quite bad for you. Some say causes cancer and M.S. Thus, I stay away from the fat-free yogurt(get low fat) and mostly sugar-free gum. It might be too late for some of us, but not for you. Don't do it. I agree with Amye. As much as I would like to ditch my sugar habit, I know I could not ever make that kind of commitment. I was hoping the juice fast (maybe a few years down the way) would at least slow my cravings down a bit, but I have to allow for some indulgence. And if I know you, you do too. Keep it up though. I'm eager to see how long it takes to lose the cravings. but, eat a little sugar, not the fake stuff.

Emily said...

The girl who is married to the guy who knows every dentist in Arizona is recommending NOT chewing sugar-free gum? Is this some sort of conspiracy to get more business for those DDS types? What about the gum with Xylitol? Is that supposed to be bad healthwise, as well?

sarah said...

I can't speak for the ADA. Nor ANY health organization. MY dentist serves homebaked cookies to patients on their way out. Pure sugar.

I can speak for my college roommate, Jen Geigle, and many others who profess to be health-food-aware. They say don't do it. The alternative med books i've read agree.

I wouldn't recommend sugar-water for infants though. Sorry mom.

amye said...

It wasn't necessarily sugar water in the baby bottle. I remember giving a baby very diluted apple juice a few times a week, to get them used to the bottle. I also, on occasion, gave an older baby a bottle of water with just a sprinkle of jello in it. None of my babies were chubby. They were all perfectly sized.

neil and diana said...

jello has horse hooves. i vote for extra sugarfree gum and feel that the minuteness of the aspartame renders it negligible.

n said...

i think my nutrition prof said that sugar subs are pretty much the most tested substances in the history of the universe, and that there's precisely zero evidence that they're at all bad for you in any way (unless you're a lab rat). yes, i think that's what he said.

Emily said...

Chichi restaurant--I had a big bowl of fresh raspberries and they were goo-oo-ood! Seven days and no sugary foods.

Elinor said...

Hi from Salt Lake. I've been very busy so haven't checked in for some time but my book manuscript is at the publishers and now we wait, even though he contacted me. On the sugar issue: Gordon, who ran marathons until just last year found out he had to keep his sugar content way down but said if he went completely off sugar then he binged, so he chooses to eat it very moderately. For myself, sugar is a staple item--after all, we raised sugar beets in Idaho and thinned & hoed and weeded a lot of sugar beets. I have found for myself if I'll up my whole wheat and other protein a bit the sugar binging isn't so bad. I love to bake, but also found lots of years ago when I had to cut back out of financial necessity that Alan's health improved. Honest. As for diet drinks, my neighbor who was on the kidney transplant-harvest team at the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake said "There are NO doctors in the kidney transplant department who drink diet drinks." Best of luck in cutting back but don't beat yourself up if you just plain need a good something sugary.