There’s this general belief in diet culture that once a person stops dieting they’ll lose control of their eating habits and fall into a death spiral of KFC, cheesecake, and loaves upon loeaves of bread. That we’re either good girls and boys on our diets, or we’re sinners gorging on cookie dough ice cream and McDonald’s French fries.Read More
I have a new favorite podcast.
It’s called “Food Psych with Christy Harrison” and it’s the most helpful resource for repairing my relationship with food and body that I’ve found yet. I’ve been listening to her non stop. If YOU think you may have a disordered relationship with food and your body or if hopping on the anti-diet train sounds appealing to you I highly suggest you check her out. You can listen here or where ever you download your podcasts.
“Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counselor based in Brooklyn, NY. She’s been hosting Food Psych since 2013.” She’s a cis-gendered, white female in a heterosexual relationship and although she’s living with chronic illness and has experienced an eating disorder herself, she’s living in an able body with thin privilege and she acknowledges this, which I appreciate. “The majority of each podcast consists of her interviewing guests—[who range in size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious belief, etc.'] and include health and psychology professionals, anti-diet activists, and leaders in the body-positive movement—about their relationships with food, journeys to body image healing and fat acceptance, and experiences of recovery from weight stigma and eating disorders.
As an expert on intuitive eating, Health at Every Size, and people's relationships with food, she's been quoted in top media outlets including The Washington Post, Self, Health, Refinery29, Men's Fitness, Bon Appetit, The Observer, and more. Her forthcoming book, Anti-Diet: Why Obsessing Over What You Eat Is Bad for Your Health, will be published by Little, Brown Spark in late 2019. She offers online courses and private intuitive eating coaching to help people all over the world make peace with food and their bodies. Learn more about Christy and her work at christyharrison.com.”
Christy’s podcast and approach to food and body gives me hope. While it’s rare to find a person or philosophy that I agree with 100% (nothing is perfect, right?) so much of what Christy explains about disordered eating an diet culture resonates with me. If you’re someone who has an unhealthy relationship with food and body (do you moralize food? do you spend the holidays fixating on calories instead of your loved ones? do you feel like your weight determines your worth as a human?) Christy and her podcast are what I would most recommend.
I’ve been trying to read Intuitive Eating, which is supposedly the holy Bible of the new anti-diet movement but my schedule has been particularly busy and so far the book isn’t grabbing me. However, I’ve been able to listen to Christy’s podcast as I drive from job to job and I actually find Christy’s way of explaining Intuitive Eating much more engaging and relatable.
Intuitive Eating in it’s pure form is essentially the ability to just eat like a “normal” person, or rather, to eat like we did before the world told us that we needed to be dieting. You know those people who can leave part of their meal or dessert uneaten or save it for later because they’ve eaten as much as they wanted, rather than scraping every last morsel off the plate and savoring it like it’s the last they’ll ever have? Or on the flip side, who can go back for seconds and eat as much as they want without feeling guilty or shameful? That’s intuitive eating. It’s rejecting the dieting mentality, being aware of hunger cues, eating until you’re satisfied (not restricting or binging), trusting your cravings, loving your body at all sizes, and being mindful of nutrition without the goal of losing weight or achieving some kind of “perfect” eating routine.
It is definitely NOT a means of losing weight, even though some sectors of diet culture have tried to distort it into another form of dieting.
Yes, you may lose weight once you start eating intuitively but you might also gain weight or stay exactly where you’re at. Weight-loss isn’t the goal.
Some episodes from Christy’s podcast I specifically enjoy include…
Food Psych #166: How to Resist Diet Culture & Build Community with Lilia Graue
It’s hard to narrow them down because literally every episode so far has been eye-opening. Again, if you’re someone who knows that they have an unhealthy relationship with food, if you think you’re in the diet-binge cycle, if you’re miserable and tired and fed up with dieting I highly recommend you check out this podcast.
Because you deserve to be happy. You deserve to feel good in your body. Right now.
Do you know the difference?
Merriam-Webster defines the word diet as
1a: food and drink regularly provided or consumed (ex. a diet of fruits and vegetables, a vegetarian diet)
b: habitual nourishment
c: the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason (ex. she was put on a low-sodium diet)
d: a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight (going on a diet)
So everyone has a diet. Like “the typical American diet” whatever that is. Maybe you’re a vegetarian or vegan. You get the idea. But when we think about the word “diet” I’m certain the first thing we think of is option “d”: going on a diet - restricting calories or food groups in the hope of losing weight.
The diet-industry is booming. Everywhere we look we’re confronted with advertisements for new workout plans, weight loss tips, drugs and pills to help us achieve the magical life of a skinny/fit person. We’re sold the idea that we should always be trying to achieve smaller waists, bigger muscles, tighter glutes, that our interior struggles will disappear once we’ve achieved exterior perfection.
But there’s a lot of science out there that says diets DO NOT WORK.
In her Ted Talk (and in her new book, Why Diets Make Us Fat), neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt explains that diet-culture isn’t helping the majority of us lose weight in the long-term. Simply put: If diets worked, we’d all be thin already. In fact, she states, “Five years after starting a diet most people will have regained the weight, with 40% having gained more weight.” That’s because most of us are “yo-yo” dieters, OR stuck in the diet & binge cycle. The way I like to think about it, we see diets as short-term, quick fixes. Diets are meant to be temporary. We make a change temporarily, see a temporary result, and then most likely gain back any weight we’ve lost and then some.
As Sandra says, “‘The brain's weight-regulation system will maintain a stable, healthy weight for most people…if it's allowed to do its job without interference from dieting and other short-sighted slimming strategies.’ Her best recommendation: Stop focusing on weight and start concentrating on regular exercise, good food choices and stress reduction instead.”
But Emma, I DID go on a diet and I DID lose weight so…you’re wrong.
Hey, good for you! I’m genuinely happy for you. But what I’m asking you to consider is that what works for your body may not work for every body because we are all different. So while a diet may have changed your life for the better, it could have a negative lasting impacting on the life of your friends, family, and children. And I’d also like to ask you this. Did you go on a diet or did you make a lifestyle change?
If fad-diets are temporary and only yield temporary results, a lifestyle change should be life-long and yield life-long results, right? That’s the idea, and it makes sense. However, a lot of “lifestyle changes” are really just diets being repackaged and sold to us with words like “clean” or “whole eating.” I like to think of it this way:
When I was in middle school, I would drink a diet Pepsi and eat a bag of popcorn for my after-school snack, every day. One day, I heard that drinking soda every day could lessen a person’s lifespan, so I immediately stopped drinking soda altogether. Whether the information I heard was accurate or not, it inspired me to make a change that was easy for me to make. I didn’t feel like I was restricting myself from soda. One I stopped drinking it, I didn’t want it anymore. I came to realize I didn’t even really like it all that much. This was a healthy lifestyle change, for me.
On the flip side, as much as I have tried over the last five or six years to convince myself that I prefer to eat only meats, veggies, fruits and nuts, I cannot make eating paleo a lifestyle change. I have spent years yo-yoing between paleo restricting and non-paleo binging. Eating paleo is not a sustainable change for me. And sustainability is the key, because if it’s temporary it’s a diet and diets don’t work for everyone.
It can be very easy to convince ourselves and those around us that our diets are lifestyle changes (especially when, again, the diet industry is full of material telling us this is so), but the truth is, the only real, healthy lifestyle changes are the ones we can sustain without harming ourselves. These are often small changes that over time yield moderate results. Cutting out soda. Adding a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood to your daily routine. Making an effort to put more veggies on your plate or switch from sour cream to greek yogurt on your baked potato. These should be changes that are easy to stick with and that don’t leave us feeling deprived, but rather, make us genuinely feel better, even though they may not be as sexy as the smoothie bowls and Unicorn toast we see on Instagram.
But when we try to implement harmful eating habits long-term, that my friends is what we can refer to as disordered eating. Restricting your calories and food options for 30-days of “clean” eating only to let yourself binge on all the chocolates and fried foods you missed during that time is disordered eating. Restricting your food groups, like cutting out dairy or gluten not because you have to but because you hope it’ll help you lose weight, only to binge on all the “healthy” GF, DF snacks and foods you can eat is not a healthy lifestyle. Just because you’re binging on “clean” food doesn’t make it less of a binge.
It took me a long time to realize this. And now that I have, I don’t want to go back. As tempting as it is (and believe me, that sense of control IS temping for me), I don’t want to be stuck in a cycle of restricting and binging. And I doubt my body wants that either.
As always, I want to make it clear that I respect each and every person’s right to do what they want with their body. If you are someone who swears that a Whole 30 compliant lifestyle works for you, power to you. If Weight Watchers really helped you keep off that extra weight and you want to share the power of Weight Watchers with the world, I understand.
Just know that if dieting HASN’T worked for you, if you feel like a failure because you can’t seem to achieve what others have, consider this: you aren’t failing your diet, your diet is failing you.
And you don’t have to keep dieting. You can stop right now. It may feel weird. It may feel counterintuitive because you’ve been conditioned all your life to believe that your body isn’t acceptable as is…but you don’t have to drink the diet Kool-Aid. You can get out. You can re-teach your body how to exist without a diet. There are therapists who want to help you, and other people out there who are going through the same thing you are, so you won’t be alone.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m only two months in, but one thing that has made a distinct impact on my journey so far is cleaning up my social media feeds.
I went through Instagram and unfollowed every “inspirational” clean-eating, weight-loss focused ‘grammer, replacing them with anti-diet, body positive influencers. My favorites Include…
jameelajamilofficial & i_weigh
So if you’re thinking you may be someone who struggles with disordered eating, or at the very least you’re tired of feeling like a failure all the time with the pressure to lose or gain weight, I recommend you check out some of these Instagrammers. You are what you eat, and in this sense I mean we are what media we choose to consume. So try changing what ideas you choose to ingest and accept as normal. Remember, the only ones who benefit from you hating yourself and feeling ashamed of your body are the ones who want to sell you a solution.
Sometimes you feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, fluctuating between two identities: the life where you’re a super human eating only the “healthiest” food groups, restricting calories, working out extra hard at the gym, basically going “all out.” Then there’s the other life: the life where you eat less healthy foods or junk foods, and you eat them in excess because “I was so good all week and I’m going to get back on track starting Monday. Soon I won’t be able to ice cream again so I might as well finish off the pint, right?”
Sound familiar?Read More
TG: eating disorder, disordered eating
You don’t have to read self-help books, see a therapist, or do self-work on a regular basis to be familiar with the term “perfectionist” or “perfectionism.”
t’s not uncommon for someone to refer to themselves as a perfectionist with a sense of pride, however whenever I hear someone use this term to describe themselves, I cringe interally and make a mental note to buy them a copy of the “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.
New York Times bestselling author and self-described shame researcher Brene Brown might be most commonly know for her viral 2010 Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability. It is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world. However, that same year she also released her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection; Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,” which I can’t recommend enough to anyone who has ever felt like a born failure or struggled with shame and self-loathing. It was the first resource that helped me after I graduated from college, aware that I was engaging in disordered eating and fitness habits, but unsure what to do next.
It was the first resource that helped me after I graduated from college, aware that I was engaging in disordered eating and fitness habits, but unsure what to do next.
Like many, my disordered eating started young, when I was in high school. I identified as a “chubby kid” in late elementary school and all of middle school. I was bullied, not specifically for my weight, but by the time I reached middle school I’d seen enough images of beautiful women on television and in movies, within the pages of shopping catalogues and on the covers of magazines to know being overweight made me worth less on the totem pole of society. With no “real life” friends, a lot of anger and resentment, and very little self-worth, I was a miserable, angsty teenager who pushed everyone away and found solace only in books, writing fan-fiction, and online role playing games.
Until high school. A time of new beginnings. By that time I knew I liked telling stories, and performing in plays became my main outlet. I began to make friends who shared my interests. To find acceptance. And when I was asked to the prom my sophomore year, I received “the push I needed to finally get fit and lose weight!”
I was fifteen.
It started harmlessly. I really did want to get healthy, to feel good in my body for once. I had never been athletic so I started by going to Curves with my mom. The environment was actually very sweet and supportive, mostly women in their 50s+. Then came counting calories and eating meal replacement bars or weight-loss snacks. I was a devoted follower of the Biggest Loser at this time and devoured each weight-loss tip and trick religiously. We had a treadmill in our house and I would walk on it for an hour a day, watching BL and America’s Next Top Model. When I finally got to a point where I didn’t feel embarrassed to work out in public I started going to the YMCA every morning before school, burning my calories on the elliptical and building muscle on the machines. At my lightest, I lost thirty pounds. People--cool kids--started complimenting me. Other boys started noticing me. Everyone was so proud. I got cast in bigger parts in school plays. I could finally enjoy going shopping for clothes. I became a happier person which in turn made me a friendlier person. I became kinder, soft-spoken and demure. I felt beautiful for the first time since I was a little girl. It was a Cinderella story.
Until, of course as you all know, I plateaued. I couldn’t cut my calories anymore. I couldn’t ampt up the length of my workouts. I couldn’t keep losing and I couldn’t maintain the weight loss. Enter: binge eating.
“Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.” - www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
I was a regular binge eater from somewhere during my junior year in high school to my second year of college, so just about four years. The cycle was simple: eat as “healthy” (as little and as restrictive) as possible for as long as possible, “fall off the bandwagon,” and then compulsively eat as much food as I could stomach with the promise that tomorrow I would “make up for it” by “cleansing” for a day (only eating fruits and vegetables or something light like cereal.) *Note: I am not saying all cleanses or vegetarians are wrong, just that for me in this time and place it was definitely not a mentally or physically healthy choice.
One ordinary day, second semester of my junior year of college, I was speaking with a friend about my current calorie restrictions (less than 1000 a day) and she simply pointed out, “That’s not healthy. You can’t live on that.”
Silly as it sounds, I realized she was right. That’s all it took. A little outside perspective. A reality check.
The Hermione Granger in me knew what to do next: visit the library.
Only after reading up on the various types of eating disorders, disordered eating, and unhealthy behaviors related to weight loss did I realize I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle.
All of this to say, once I finally got to a place where I could start trying to work through my issues surrounding food, fitness, and body image, it became apparent one main cause for my disordered eating was perfectionism.
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.” -Brene Brown
Perfectionism. For me perfection was about feeling like I belonged. That friendless pre-teen “loser” was still living inside me and she was terrified. I wanted to feel worthy, to be well-liked. To know I was good enough, without question. This meant getting outside validation, because it sure as hell wasn’t coming from the inside.
In college it meant being within the top ten percent of my class. Always being prepared--studying the material backwards and forward so that I would never be caught not knowing an answer, for not knowing would mean I was failing.
In regards to my body and disordered eating, my perfectionism manifested in this way:
- feeling superior for eating “clean,” “safe,” “good” foods
- feeling like a failure after eating (or binging) on “bad” “unclean” foods
- eating as little as possible for days at a time to make up for eating “bad” foods
- binging after these periods of starvation - most often on junk food
- sometimes taking laxatives to try and manage this cycle
- hating my body, constantly scrutinizing it, anxious about how others perceived it
- scrutinizing other people’s bodies, comparing myself to theirs, seeing their body as a marker of their worth
- spending a large chunk of my time obsessed with food, exercise, weight loss, and my body when I could have been making memories and trying new things
- feeling worthless, disgusting, like I was born wrong
- feeling that I didn’t belong and was unworthy of love
- suicidal thoughts* (I never intended to kill myself. I fantasized about it but never wanted to die)
So. How did I get from there to here?
A lot of damn hard work, that’s how. Work that included reading “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and “Rising Strong,” another one by Brene Brown, THERAPY, sharing my story with a select number of supportive friends, bawling my eyes out, growing up. Honestly, I’ll have to write a completely separate post to go into more detail because it’s been (and still is) a long road.
But the good news is I’m here now, past the worst of it, and I haven’t had a binge like the kind I used to have in over five years (if my memory is accurate)!
I’ve decided to share this story NOT because I want sympathy or attention, but because it gives some context as to why I am the person I am today and why I want to dedicate this blog in part to figuring out how to live a normal healthy lifestyle, without dieting.
I’ll close by leaving you with Brene Brown’s Ten Guideposts to Whole Hearted Living. It’s not quite the same unless you’ve read the book, but I love this bomb ass poster made by Leonie Dawson. You can actually download the poster, print it, and color it in yourself if you like.
Do you remember the person you were five years ago?
Twenty years ago I was six years old. I don’t remember much about that time, but I know I was happy. I had a loving family, a safe home, and plenty of space to be a child.
But I wasn’t a happy person fifteen years ago, or ten, or five. Maybe not even two years ago.
There were definitely moments of triumph, achievements I’m proud of, and relationships I’m eternally thankful for, but no manner of professional or personal success can make up for a lack of emotional well-being. No manner of outside validation can make up for a lack of self-worth.
Hi, my name is Emma and I struggle with disordered eating.
Or I used to. For years now I thought I’d moved past it, but it’s January 1st, 2019 and after eleven years of diet and exercise regime experimentation, after eleven years of bouncing from Weight Watchers to calorie counting to dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo, vegetarian, juice cleanses, diet teas, and back again I still haven’t managed to reach and maintain the body of my dreams.
And I’m tired.
So this year, instead of kicking off my year with the traditional hard core diet and exercise regimen, I’ve decided I’m just going to...not diet.
Instead of dieting I’m going to try and tackle what should be the easiest thing in the world but in our society today seems apparently impossible for the vast majority:
I’m going to figure out how to eat like a normal person.
A healthy normal person, yes, but one who enjoys treats in moderation, without feeling like she’s “breaking rules.” A normal person who can enjoy eating out with friends, instead of seeing it as a “cheat meal” or something to “make up for later.”
A healthy normal person who happens to eat all the food groups. No shade intended towards vegetarians, vegans or anyone with a food allergy. I just happen to enjoy meat and dairy as well as fruits, vegetables and grains, and they don’t make me sick, so I’m going to choose them for myself.
Some of you might be saying to yourself, “whoop-dee-freakin’-doo, Emma.” And that’s ok. Others might be offended by what I’m saying, or feel like I’m attacking their choice to engage in restrictive dieting, and I apologize if it comes off that way. Above all, I respect every human’s right to do whatever they want with their body. You know your body better than anyone, and you know what’s right for you.
But I’m guessing if you’ve gotten this far, a number of you might be feeling the same way I’ve been feeling. Maybe you have a similar relationship to food regardless of your food preferences. And if you do, I invite you to join me this year as I explore the intersection between wanting to feel good and look good (by my own standards), without sacrificing my mental health in the process.
I have a lot of territory I want to explore and questions to ask.
“Is it possible for those recovering from an eating disorder or disordered eating to lose weight in a “healthy way” without falling back into unhealthy behaviors and cycles?”
“How can we say, ‘All bodies are beautiful,’ and love our friends and family no matter their size but then turn around and judge our own bodies?”
“How do I even cook food that isn’t “diet” food?”
If you’re game to participate in the conversation, thank you. If not, that’s cool too. I wish everyone the best in your journey to “making peace” with food and your body in our body-image warping society.
My next post will include a little background on my own struggles with food, body image, and perfectionism. If you care to hear where I’m coming from, click this link, and if not stay tuned for future posts in which I’ll share videos and articles, and pose and try to answer questions about food, body-image, exercise, and the pressures of society that keep us in a constant state of feeling like we’re not enough.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this #truthbomb by Danielle LaPorte.
We DID it.
After 30 days of low-sugar eating, Javier and I celebrated with blizzards from Dairy Queen, Reeces cups, and Gummy bears. Also, I made cookies…
I hit my goal of reducing the amount of sugar I consumed for 30 days.
I don’t feel like I lost any weight, although a friend told me I was looking trim.
I don’t feel like my skin or energy levels improved, though Javier’s skin has cleared up since the start of the reduction and he lost 1lb.
Honestly, overall I did not feel any of the magical changes people generally say will come with lowering your sugar intake. Maybe this is because I didn’t pull at Whole 30 and give up dairy and gluten, or maybe it’s because I allowed for wiggle room.
But you know what? I don’t really care.
I started losing my steam for this reduction as life stressors kept piling on. It wasn’t all that hard to give up sugar until things got stressful. In my personal life, my professional life. That’s when I grew the most frustrated, because sugar was an easy comping mechanism and suddenly I didn’t have that. So, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that for me sugar is definitely something I turn to for comfort.
I guess I could say I’m proud that I stuck to it, but what I mostly feel is relief that it’s over.
Some of my friends have told me I’ve inspired them by taking on these 30 days, but really, I can’t say I’d recommend doing the same. If you want to do it, to see how your body reacts, go for it! As for me, I’m quite happy to be enjoying my sugar (in moderation) once more.
Day 18. Almost Day 19. Twelve days left. This is pretty much where I’m at.
So far I have experienced crankiness and felt more short tempered. I’ve also experienced more low days than I’ve had in a while, days where I get in a really negative headspace. On these days I might walk around imagining negative interactions with people in my head. Every mistake I make feels like a failure, every minor conflict puts my fur on edge, so to speak. I’m ready to pounce. Ready to fight or cry. I don’t like these days.
I haven’t noticed an improvement in my skin or how I feel physically. I haven’t had horrible cravings. I’ve mostly missed sugar when I’m stressed or anxious and craving comfort.
To be fair, when I’ve done low-sugar or no-sugar in the past I haven’t felt any benefits until after the 30 days had passed.
A friend suggested I consume more fat to help with sugar cravings. I would agree with her. Eating more healthy fats like salmon, pesto, almonds, plain greek yogurt, etc. has helped me feel more satisfied. Just trying not to indulge TOO much on that end.
At this point I’m sticking to this cleanse to prove that I CAN do it. And when it’s over I’m going to drink a cup of hot chocolate or eat a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie, dammit!
Phew. One week down!
So here’s the scoop: I’ve done pretty damn good this week if I do say so myself. My two “slips” were both unintentional. I asked for fruit instead of dessert at a work-related gala, and the server DID bring me a beautiful bowl of berries, but they just so happened to be coated in a light, sweet syrup. (I was not going to let a bowl of fresh berries go to waste because of a little sweetener.) Then just this morning I ordered a tea with milk hold the sugar and—you guessed it—they did not hold the sugar. And I’m the sort who feels uncomfortable sending things back.
On day three I felt sluggish. Hungry but also not hungry. Thirsty. Kind of anxious. Had a little bit of a headache. To be fair I also woke up at 5:30am and stayed awake until about 7:00am, then went back to sleep for another hour or so. My friend Kathleen suggested more protein to help with sugar cravings. On day four I started my period. lol. This could have had a lot to do with my symptoms from the day before. By day five I was feeling pretty good! Javier and I went out for dinner and had some delicious Mexican food (although we avoided the salsa for fear it might contain hidden sugars.) Then on day six I took a turn. Was feeling low emotionally, sort of stressed, angry, hopeless, self-conscious, depressed, and I realllllyyy just wanted to eat some chocolate, but I didn’t. I don’t think this mental/emotional low was due to a lack of sugar, but that I sought sugar out as a comfort during this emotional low.
Today is day SEVEN and so far I feel pretty ok. No horrible cravings or withdrawal symptoms. I haven’t noticed any significant changes in my skin, mood, or physical state. I also haven’t had horrible, all consuming cravings. So far this reduction has been much easier than when I gave up sugar, gluten, and dairy all at once.
Javier and I had quinoa pasta, zoodles & meatballs with a low-sugar sauce for dinner, and Javier even brought me a sparkling water with a little bit of artificial sweetener in it. (Again, I think wiggle room is important.) Both of us admitted to missing dessert. Javier is longing for birthday cake and myself some dark chocolate.
To distract my brain from missing sugar I’ve been drinking one or two decaf chais a day, plus other teas if I like. Breakfasts and snacks this week have mostly consisted of oatmeal with fruit, nuts and greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs on avocado toast, as pictured here. My goals for next week are to drink more water, and consume more protein and vegetables. More pictures to come…
Day Two - So far so good. I’m using PurAqua Bell Vie (offbrand Aldi LaCroix) to help curb cravings for something sweet, and eating meals without much sugar has been pretty easy so far. Today looked something like*:
B: a peach with plain greek yogurt and plain oatmeal
L: Salmon with caesar salad (1 tbsp dressing) and vegan pesto with quinoa/brown rice pasta
D: Javier made delicious enchiladas for dinner with beef, beans, cheese, and a green sauce.
A: An apple. Some popcorn. PB on rice cakes with strawberries.
I finished my day with a decaf spiced Chai to help curb sweet cravings (no Stevia, mind you). Javier and I also tried some Bai sparkling water because according to the can it contained only 1g of sugar. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Emma! The whole point is to not consume sugar!” and yeah, it is, but I’ve been a fan of Bai products for awhile now and was curious as to whether this product would qualify as something I could sip on during this sugar reduction, since it claimed to contain only 1g of sugar. I immediately checked out the ingredients list. One of the very first ingredients on the bottle is listed as “Erythritol,” and I’m going to be honest I didn’t know exactly what Erythritol was, but I knew it had to be a sweetener. So, I visited Bai’s website for more information and this is what I learned:
What is Erythritol?
Naturally found erythritol is a sugar alcohol made from simple sugars derived from plant starches. It looks and tastes like table sugar, though it is about 30% less sweet…Erythritol is the largest ingredient in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend by weight, and is used as an ingredient to provide bulk and the sugar-like crystalline appearance and texture in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend. The erythritol used in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend is produced through a natural fermentation process…In the case of erythritol, a natural yeast digests the simple sugars such as dextrose and other nutrients and produces erythritol. After fermentation, the erythritol is filtered and dried into crystals. Erythritol is small; found naturally in a variety of fruits, such as grapes and pears, as well as in mushrooms, and certain fermented foods such as soy sauce and wine.
Is it true that the stevia leaf extract and erythritol in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend are highly processed or made with toxic chemicals?
As with almost all finished food products, the journey from field to table involves some processing. The sweet components of the stevia leaf need to be extracted from the leaf, like vanilla needs to be extracted from vanilla beans. The erythritol in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend is made from a natural fermentation process. Like in other finished foods, including table sugar, processing aids suitable for use in food are used in the production of both stevia leaf extract and erythritol. These aids help either extract, isolate or purify components of the ingredients. Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, our processing aids are not subject to labeling requirements because they do not have a technical or functional effect in the finished food and because they are either not present or are present at insignificant levels in the finished product.
Now, I’m not here to determine if Bai products are “good” or “bad” or “safe” or “dangerous.” It’s juice. It’s tea. It’s sparkling water, and I’m probably not going to drink it every day, but I think having one every now and then isn’t going to kill me or put this sugar reduction in horrible jeopardy. But I’ll save it for when I really need it.
*FYI I will not be tallying calories or describing in detail exactly how much I eat. I’m embracing intuitive eating right now. Like most people, I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food in the past. Sometimes counting calories is a helpful tool, other times it turns into a harmful one. Or I just get tired of counting them!
Also disclaimer: Please know I’m not trying to convince you what to eat or not eat. I don’t mean to promote any particular products (except maybe Aldi b/c I just love that store). I’m not being paid to do this, I’m not even trying to promote my own brand. I’m just documenting an experiment.
See you on day three!
I know you’ve seen this all before...
“I Quit Sugar for 30 Days and THIS is What Happened!”
“5 Things I Learned from 30 Days Without Sugar”
“I did the 30 Day No Sugar Challenge and lost 15lb!”
And now it’s my turn. But let me make you this promise: I will not bullshit you. If I don’t feel better after giving up sugar for 30 days, I will say so. If the cravings never really go away, I will say so. I’m not interested in being another “giving up sugar really transformed my life—and it can for YOU too!” blog. No one is paying me to do this. I’m not pushing a diet or a diet plan. I’m just chronicling my journey.
5 Things You Need To Know…
1) My boyfriend Javier is doing this with me. I find any kind of restrictive diet change is easier when you have a buddy.
2) My goal: To reduce my overall cravings for sugar and lose 3-5lb.
3) Our perimeters:
we will enjoy fruit in it’s natural form, we will choose to pass on fruit drinks and dried fruit
we will choose to pass on all added sugars, even honey and maple syrup BUT I can choose to have a dash of Stevia and he some sugar-free gelatin when we wish.
We are allowing ourselves some wiggle room when it comes to prepackaged foods like pasta sauces. As long as a serving contains less than 5g of sugar, we’re good. This way we don’t have to give up all convenience.
4) According to this NYT article from 2016, no more than 50g a day is the recommended level of sugar intake and 25g is even healthier, so I’m going to aim to consume less than 50g a day.
5) I do not think sugar is evil. I used to, but now I happily, openly love sugary treats. I love donuts, waffles, dark chocolate, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, Oreos, sour patch kids, pumpkin bread, rice pudding, the list goes on! But I also believe (for me) everything in moderation is key.
I’ve done variations of a “no sugar” or “less sugar” detox/cleanse many times now. My last 30 days without sugar also included 30 days without gluten and dairy, and I’m interested to see if I see different or similar results from that detox.
So there you have it. Today is day one and so far I’ve had half a peach mixed with plain greek yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast. We’ll see how I feel by the end of the day! Stay tuned for updates. Also, Javier mentioned he might do some vlogs to document the experience from his perspective, so I may be sharing those as well!
As always, much love.