Last week, I ate a chocolate chip cookie. A warm, gooey and totally processed chocolate chip cookie. God only knows what was in that thing.
But after an entire month without any refined sugars, that commercial concoction of additives and white refined sugar tasted so good.
The ironic thing is, after 30 days without sugar, I looked at the cookie being offered to me and I thought “hmm…not that enticing.” I thought to myself, “hey, this no refined sugar thing is actually pretty easy — I could just keep going for another month! And maybe another…”. That cookie had nothin’ on me!
And herein lies the mistake: after my month-long hiatus from refined sugars, I justified it with that all-too-common diet-wrecker: “ah what the heck, I deserve it”. And as soon as that sugar-packed cookie hit my taste buds — I wanted another one (thankfully, the cookie event was really for kids and my social etiquette prevented me from bellying up to the snack table and screaming at all the children to back off).
They say that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine — setting off the same pleasure sensors in our brain as the toxic drug. Just like I have no desire to do cocaine, after a few weeks of sugar withdrawal, I had no desire to eat sugar either! Until I ate that cookie.
Damn you cookie!
Which leads to me wonder — perhaps the answer to not being owned by sugar (because believe me, you are owned by sugar…just try going without ANY sugars for a week and see what happens!) is to just never have it in the first place.
But is that even possible?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet
I have a few friends with digestive disorders who are now following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) with great success. A diet that completely bans ALL sugars (even natural ones) except for honey. In doing some research on the diet, I found myself really intrigued by the science behind it all and the lists of legal and illegal foods. Most of the illegal foods are already on my black list and the others that were a bit odd to me, made sense from the standpoint of a digestive disorder. Rebuild your good gut flora, starve out the bad.
Created by a doctor and a biochemist, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet takes the Paleo movement to a more scientific level. I’ve always struggled with believing in Paleo because I don’t think we should follow diets that omit an entire food group that’s been around for millennia. What I found interesting about the SCD is that it doesn’t outlaw an entire food group but instead, gives a very scientific explanation for why some foods are allowed and some are not. For example, most dairy isn’t allowed but certain aged cheeses are permitted and the diet is built around eating your own homemade culture-rich yogurt every day (so yummy!). Eat monosaccharides carbs (single molecule structure) which are easily absorbed by the intestinal wall and avoid complex carbohydrates (disaccharides [double molecules] and polysaccharides [chain molecules]) that are difficult to digest. Again, starve out the bad flora, build the good.
If we remember that 80% of our immunity is based in our digestive tract, it makes you wonder if everyone should be following this type of diet. I think it’s safe to say that most people in today’s world have horrible gut flora, evident by the fact that our disease rates continue to worsen with more and more people affected by Alzheimers, arthritis and cancer at younger and younger ages.
But no sugar?
At all? I mean, not even maple syrup?
Thankfully, I don’t have a digestive disorder so I can afford to tweak the diet a bit and make it work for me. What this past 30 days without refined sugar and grains has taught me is that it is possible to live life without following the “norm”. That it is possible to still have fun, go out with friends, and enjoy food, even without buying into the “moderation” lie of such a toxic substance like sugar.
I’ve never been one for deprivation and it’s not uncommon for me to suggest that we enjoy all foods in moderation — even the bad ones. But after being off refined sugars for the last month and then adding a few in, I am now hyper-sensitive to just how crappy my body feels when I eat that stuff. And I probably felt that same sluggish, tired, and depleted response to it before I did the 30 days but didn’t even realize it was associated with my sugar intake. So it leaves me wondering — should refined sugar be in our diets at all? Ever? Are we just kidding ourselves thinking that it’s okay to have it “in moderation”? What price are we paying for that “moderation”?
Tough questions. But ask anyone who has omitted refined sugars from their life for good and I keep hearing the same testimonials — that they feel amazing. That their skin is glowing and their energy levels are high. That they are mentally balanced and their emotions are more stable than ever before. That they can’t imagine going back to a life of energy slumps and emotional outbursts.
I want that. But do I want it bad enough to say good bye to sugar for good?
Stay tuned for some fantastic no-sugar recipes that I perfected over the last month. I know saying goodbye to sugar will be much easier with great recipes like my Banana Bread Cookies, Grain-Free Cinnamon Granola, and Homemade Vanilla Lattes!