The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

How my “no sugar” month is going so far. March 12, 2010

Filed under: experiment,Food,green angst — Alden @ 4:02 am
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Not very well.

What I’m trying to convey with the quotation marks in the title is that there actually has been sugar. In fact, there has been an embarrassingly large amount.

At the beginning of the month I went about 5 days without sugar, except for a little corn syrup in some pretzels. (Sneaky bastards.)

Then the St. Patrick’s Day fiasco happened.

Ok, sugar happens. But then I got right back on track, right?

Wrong. On Sunday Vicki offered me some sugary candy, and I accepted. In fact, I did her the favor of finishing the bag. Then yesterday Vicki offered me a cookie, and not only did I eat it, I got off my butt and poured myself some milk to go along with it. Oh the shame!

You know, I say those words a lot.  “The Shame!” I know all this stuff is bad for me. Fast food, sugar, processed food, crappy hamburgers…it all sucks. So does not recycling, taking a cab, buying new clothing when I have a closet-full, and accepting plastic bags at the grocery store. Yet, I threw my food container in the trash today, took a cab home, and bought a t-shirt and skirt at H&M a couple weeks ago.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being eco-friendly is like going on a diet that impacts every part of your life. It takes practice to change your lifestyle. It also takes courage to say to your roommate, colleagues and friends “No thanks, I’ll walk to the subway.” or “I would rather not have pizza, I’ll order something else for myself.” or “Could you hold on a minute? I need to go find a recycling bin for this.”

But I’m going to keep trying! I want to be that “green girl” in the office. I want to be the one who elicits comments like “Oh, Alden won’t go for the pizza. She doesn’t eat processed food.” I will embrace freaking out when I see my boss dump a perfectly good gift basket in the trash, and I will yank it out of the trash and say “I’m sure someone would love this.” (I did that, and he looked at me like I had two heads. Oh, well. I’m embracing it.)

So in that spirit, “No Sugar Month” is still on!

It takes three weeks to break out of a food addiction. I only have two weeks left in the month, so I’m going to start over. My new goal? Make it to Easter without any sugar. I’ll have a whole bag of Reese’s eggs on Easter, but until then, consider it a late-comer’s Lent against sugar.

 

Oh man, this is going to be bad. March 4, 2010

Filed under: Food,green angst — Alden @ 9:24 pm
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St. Patrick’s Day is still almost two weeks away, but no worries, Hoboken is celebrating early this Saturday.

And I will be there.

I’m on this horrendously long email chain between a big group of people from my touch football team. The words “epic,” “huge,” and “ridiculous” have been used. Mentions of Jameson, a leprechaun costume, Bailey’s, and mimosas (my idea!) are sprinkled throughout. Here’s the plan: Breakfast with eggs, waffles, sausage and alcohol starts at 9 a.m., bars by 10 before they get packed, the parade at 1, and then who knows.

Remember when I wrote that post about how my life falls apart when I drink too much and all my good intentions get chucked out the grimy bar window? Well, I would say 75% of the drunkfests I have been involved with in the past three months have been with these people. I love them, I really do. They are hilarious and fun and wonderful people. However, they do not take no for an answer.

“Take a shot!”

“No thanks.”

“DO IT.”

“No really…”

“STOP BEING A SISSY AND TAKE THE SHOT!”

“Alright!”  And then I scrunch up my face and take the shot and ask myself, for the 20th time, why on earth I ever agree to pour Jameson down my throat. That stuff is awful.

In short, this impending festival of drinking scares the hell out of me. How will waffles  fit within my resolution not to eat sugar for a month? How about those sausages? They will ruin my aspirations to only eat “good” hormone-free, organic, local meat. Let’s not even discuss what will happen when I get the drunk munchies in Hoboken. Ouch. And then, of course, there is the hangover the next day.

I’m just an all or nothing type of girl. Unless I am in the presence of my boss or my mom, I am not a sip-beer type of girl. I’m a “Hell yeah, bring it on, this is awesome!” girl. And this tendency seems to conflict, just a tad, with my lofty aspirations for eating well.

Here is the most important question of all: Is being concerned about the environment making me an un-fun loser? I used to LOVE all day drinking fests. I loved to “Do it for the story.” But now all the super-fun-ness seems almost – ALMOST – overshadowed by the possibility of passing out and getting trampled by drunk people dressed in green, the three pounds I will put on before Monday consisting of processed crap, and the hangover. It’s like this one day could unravel everything I’ve done to be healthy over the past six months. I mean, it’s HOBOKEN. on ST. PATRICK’S DAY. ‘Nuff said.

This questions of whether I’m fun anymore really bothers me y’all. I will give this some thought….

 

FAIL: I ate sugar. Kind of.

Filed under: experiment,Food — Alden @ 3:01 am
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Corn syrup to be exact. You might remember that I am trying to go a full month withou sugar. But I broke my resolution on the second day! This is how it went down:

Yesterday afternoon I had fruit for lunch, with some coconut water. I wasn’t in the mood for anything else. Of course when 5:00 rolled around, I was hungry and needed to put something in my stomach before my personal training session at 8.

I stretched out my sore back, and wandered down to the cafeteria to look at the options. This was what they had:

  • cupcakes
  • jelly beans
  • cookies
  • candy bars
  • malt balls
  • flavored drinks and sodas
  • cob salad
  • bananas
  • hummus with pretzels
  • flavored organic and conventional yogurt
  • Starbucks coffee
  • cheesecake
  • coffee cake

Yup, almost all of the options, save for the cob salad and the bananas, had added sugar. I had had my fill of fruit. I didn’t want a gross cob salad with iceberg lettuce. So I got the hummus with pretzels. And guess what? The pretzels had corn syrup.

It kind of made me angry. How have we gotten to the point where 85% of the food available as an afternoon snack has sugar in it? It’s hard enough to spend 8 to 11 hours sitting at desk staring at a computer. Please do me the favor of providing real food that will power me up in the afternoon. Not jelly beans and soda, thanks. How about some nuts? Almonds or cashews anyone? Maybe a larger variety of fruit? Salads with dark leafy greens like spinach and arugula? How about snacks bars made with whole ingredients like Raw Revolution or Kind bars? A wrap with veggies and chicken? Oh man, or a smoothie bar that serves real fruit smoothies with agave. That would be awesome!

What makes it more frustrating is that my office is located in a food desert next to the West Side highway in midtown. If I had the option or time, I would be more than happy to duck out the door and get something else. Alas, not possible.

And let’s be honest, it’s not just my work. I remember during college the sorority would provide study snacks during finals. You know what they were? Doritos and cookies.

People who are in charge of making food decisions should take into account what actually improves performance. Not sugary stuff, but real food that fills up the stomach and can fuel brainpower for hours and hours, without a crash. You know, like fruit, nuts, and vegetables?

Sigh. Anyway, I did do much better today as far as staying away from the sugar. I started with a smoothie flavored with agave for breakfast, crab cakes and black bean soup for lunch with the boss, hazelnuts (which I brought from home to address the afternoon snack issue) and chicken and polenta for dinner. That makes three days without consuming (too much) sugar.

 

Another reason to not eat sugar March 3, 2010

Filed under: Cool sites,experiment,Food,shoutout — Alden @ 5:26 pm
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I saw someone tweet about a new blog called “A Month without Monsanto.” That’s right, April Davila is trying to go a month consuming food that is “outside the grasp of Monsanto.” Dude, I admire this girl’s courage.

Do you know how hard it is to go a month without eating anything that profits Monsanto? If not, just read, say, two of her posts where she describes her herculean efforts to avoid Monsanto food, and you’ll get the idea. It’s not only fast food that contain GMO’s grown with Roundup. It’s even organic food, which is distributed by subsidiaries of Monsanto. In short, it’s almost impossible to know where that any of our food comes from. And that includes sugar, which is made from Roundup-ready beets and is found in products like Hershey bars.

This poor girl has been confined to eating:

Seaweed
Eggs from free roaming, grass and bug eating chickens
Wild caught fish
Organic dried fruits and nuts (except papaya, mango and melons)
Maple syrup.
Coconut meat/juice.

Really? That’s it? It goes to show how much our food decisions aren’t really our decisions. One of the takeaways from the blog, at least to me, is to hit up the farmers market, where you can look your farmer in the eye say, “So, where do you get your seeds from? Do you use Roundup?”

Just in case you are saying to yourself, “What is Monsanto? Why should I care?” Here are some links to reasons why you would want to avoid Monsanto:

Millions Against Monsanto

Suit Seeks to Bar Genetically Modified Sugar Beets

Ethical Investing on Monsanto

GE Alfalfa Threatens Organics

More US Weeds Found Resisting Monsanto Roundup

Growing Evidence that Chemical Agriculture is Killing US

 

Three things that are currently satisfying my craving for sweet March 2, 2010

Filed under: experiment,Food,Tips — Alden @ 7:29 pm
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Scott and I were discussing Reese’s. Suddenly I needed something sweet! So I went down and got coconut water, grapes, and pineapple. Whew, crisis averted.

 

Can I go a month without sugar?

Filed under: experiment,Food — Alden @ 4:30 pm
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Oh man did I binge on sugar this weekend. Scott had promised me a big bag of Reese’s, which are my weakness. I can walk down a candy aisle with no problem, ignoring all the brightly colored packaged happiness, until I see an orange and brown wrapper. Then I’m a goner. He had bought a huge bag of Reese’s eggs, and since I know he doesn’t eat them often, I really thought it would be a shame to see all those delicious peanut butter and chocolate goodies go to waste! I must have eaten… 15 of them in two days. Ok, honestly? At least 20.

And the week leading up to this weekend I spent baking cupcakes and trying to dispatch  all the extra icing I made for it. You know, butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla? All in my belly.

So now I’m paying penance. I’m going to try and go one month without having any sugar. That’s right. No sugar.

That doesn’t just mean candy bars. That means no soda (which I never drink anyway. Please.), no ketchup, no sweet salad dressing or creamer in my coffee, no flavored organic yogurts or Smart Start cereal, no granola bars or yummy things from the bakery. Sugar hides in all of these things in the form of “corn syrup”, “malt powder”, and “dextrose.” Yup, it’s all sugar. Or, they just tell you right on the label it’s sugar, and you never think to look because it’s organic yogurt! Why look at the label on organic yogurt?? Because sugar is everywheeeeere.

So why am I going through all this trouble? Check out some facts from an article by Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D:

  • Sugar constitutes about 25 to 35 per cent of the American diet.
  • Some brands of ketchup have more sugar per ounce than ice cream.
  • Sugar makes you fat. It weakens the enzymes of essential fatty acid metabolism.
  • Sugar has no vitamins or minerals to offer in its digestion.
  • Common knowledge on the scientific evidence concerning food is largely influenced by the industry.
  • Sugar makes you dumber. A study by Schoenthaler that studied one million school children from 800 New York schools over a seven year period when sugar intake was eliminated, found a 15.7 per cent increase in learning ability compared with other schools. Of 124,000 children who were unable to learn grammar and math, 75,000 could perform these skills after dietary changes alone were introduced. In another study, 68 juvenile criminals’ anti-social acts diminished by 80 per cent within seven months. In a follow-up study with 276 children, one group stayed on the junk food diet while the other group received healthy foods. And the difference in anti-social acts between the two groups was almost 50 per cent.
  • People addicted to substances like alcohol react similarly to sugar, even experiencing withdrawal effects when taken away from sugar. Researchers have found that there is a strong correlation between alcohol or other addictive drugs and a strong craving for sugar.
  • Diabetes is absent in primitive communities, but after 20 years of eating sugar, North American Indians, Eskimos, and populations in India and Africa have started developing instances of diabetes.

And from another article from health.discovery.com with an interview with dermatologist Nicholas Perricone:

I believe that inflammation is at the basis of aging in all organ systems, including the skin. One of the reasons inflammation occurs is from a rapid rise in blood sugar, which causes biochemical changes in the cell that result in accelerated aging.

Of the internal causes of inflammation, one of the big ones is diet. In addition to biochemical changes, sugar causes damage to the skin in another way: When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar can attach itself to collagen in a process called “glycation,” making the skin stiff and inflexible. Losing this elastic resilience of young skin will give you deep wrinkles and make you look old.

The best thing a sugar addict can do to deal with their cravings is to very carefully control their blood sugar and insulin by staying away from the bad carbohydrates and eating more protein for just a few days. At the same time their skin is becoming firm, their blood sugar will stabilize and their cravings will go away. They’re free! Then they might have a piece of chocolate once in awhile, but it’s based on their free will instead of “I have to have it.

So if being healthier isn’t enough to convince you, having beautiful skin should!

Will I make it through the full 30 days? Will I resist the siren call of Reese’s? Will I power through 3:00 slumps using just green tea? Or will I come slinking back here to write of my terrible will power while the taste of high fructose corn syrup lingers on my tongue?

So far, 1 day without sugar.