Tuesday, March 17, 2009

stevia is my friend

Sugar. A seemingly small thing that infiltrates EVERYTHING.

My ayurvedic doctor didn't give me strict parameters for this 'diet'; just asking that I cut out refined sugar. She said she didn't want to overwhelm me with strict restrictions and inadvertently set me up to fail. It'll take longer to get rid of the yeast, but at least I can live comfortably while doing so. She said it may take up to 4 months.

Funny enough, even cutting out refined sugar is hard to do. And I don't really eat sugar! Or at least I didn't think I did... I don't really have sugar cravings. I can stare at a bowl of candy and never reach for one. But put a bowl of popcorn in front of me and I'm a glutton. That is until I quit eating sugar.

The first week was fine. I found the sugar cravings somewhat manageable, but then again it took me 4 days just to cut out the honey in my coffee. Stevia continues to work for the coffee... oh, did I mention that I no longer drink caffeinated coffee? I took a month to slowly wean myself off of coffee, and I surprised myself - I actually don't miss it. I don't miss the accelerated pick-me-up in the morning. The highs and lows. I still drink decaf in the morning, as I'm not quite ready to let go of the habit of coffee. The sound of the coffee percolating in the morning, the smell, the taste. Eventually I will let those things go too.

Week two of cutting out sugar didn't go as well. A weekend retreat at some lakeside cabins to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday was planned, and I knew I was screwed. I packed my stevia and decaf coffee with the best of intentions, deciding before we left that I wouldn't reprimand myself if I didn't keep true to the diet. I didn't last the first night. Hell, I didn't last the trip to the liquor store.

I suppose as far as booze goes, there are 'better' choices when you're trying to cut back on sugar. Not great, though, as alcohol is essentially sugar. Sugary sugarness incarnate. So, I asked Dr. Barr what my best choices were, and she said wine spritzers and gin and club soda would be ok, but to drink in moderation. Moderation meaning one or two glasses a day. I smiled, knowing full well how cabin weekends went, and knowing my friends.

Needless to say, I enjoyed 'several' glasses of robust red wine, a few beer, and some gin and tonics (realized I hate gin and club soda!). I had no idea tonic has 42 grams of sugar per can. Note: I just found diet tonic water, and you can barely notice the difference....

The weekend was a hit and I was happy with my choice. That was until Monday afternoon when the sugar cravings hit. And they hit hard. I have never experienced that kind of physical and psychological NEED to have something. I imagine that's what smoking might be like? It was driving me crazy. All of a sudden I wanted chocolate, wine, pop... anything sweet. Anything sinful. After relentlessly pacing the kitchen and googling sugar free dessert recipes, I finally found one that made sense. Simple yet effective.

1 cup yogurt strained for half an hour to thicken
1 mandarin orange
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of stevia

It was great. Took the edge off - like taking a drag on a fake cigarette and getting smoke.

Every day after that has been easier. I still cheat on weekends occasionally when I want a glass of wine with friends. But I'm finding it easier to resist. I can now recognize my danger times (mid-afternoon, Saturday night...) and have ammunition to deal with them. Most of the time. I always was a B+ student, so I'm comfortable not getting an A. Maybe I get an A for effort.

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