And so for this right now I'm talking about sugar.
Sugar. Oh, sugar.
I have always enjoyed sugar. I assume all my life. Certainly in my mind - all my life. Trips to the corner store, saving allowance for candy, all of it. Sugar. It's always been my jam.
And I mean it's not as if I've ever been told that sugar was "good", you know? I've always known it was sort of, I dunno, naughty?
When I was a kid it was that sugar was bad for your teeth. I don't remember what I was told about it when I was a teenager, but I know as a young adult I started hearing more about it being not great for your health but hey whatever!
Over the years I have tried to reduce my sugar intake. Heck, some years I even give up chocolate for Lent, without being religious! But always, I go back to my consumption.
I'm one of those people who if you have a cup of tea with me, you'll see me putting enough sugar in my tea you'll probably comment. (And I'll just laugh it off)
And yes, if you've been around here, you'll probably know of my love of Cadbury Creme eggs which are sugar filled sugar blobs. There are days I'll eat a stupid amount of them. Really. Because sugar.
Sugar, sugar, sugar.
I've always had a thing for sugar and most of my adult life I've known it wasn't healthy.
And especially as I started to pay more attention to my health I learned all of the ways sugar is bad for the body. Like, really.
And then with things in the last year or so in the realm of family heart issues and pre-diabetic blood work levels, I really did think I should work on reducing my sugar. But... well... sugar. (sigh)
For reasons I've never fully understood, sugar has always been something that settled my stomach too. So if my stomach was upset? A sweet would settle it. Or a can of 7Up would settle it. And there were days when I thought I'd put so much sugar in my tea I was really just drinking warm sugar water but hey, I didn't want to be out of bed, this was a morning treat, you know?
Last month, Amazon gave me a month free of their streaming video service. Near the end of that time, I started trying to watch some of the documentaries on there, and one that came to my attention was an Australian movie called "That Sugar Film."
I'm sure I've heard of it before, maybe even watched the first part of it? But I sat down a few weeks back and gave it a watch. In the film (super quick summary) an Australian fellow sets out to eat as much sugar as the average Australian eats in a day (they suggest this is 40 teaspoons) and see what it does to his body in two months. (He led a sugar free life before)
Predictably (if you've seen the trailer or been aware of the movie like I was) he gets sicker, fatter (puts on like 22 pounds), less happy, and nothing good comes out of it at all.
One of the things that really hooked me was that he chose in the film NOT to eat the sugar like I do, the chocolate bars and pop drinks, but chose to get those 40 teaspoons a day in so called "hidden" sugars. The sugars that companies put in their foods to make up for the reduced fat or whatever else (there are some political issues in the background of all this...) So he gets his sugar from, say, cereal, or yogurt, or sauces, or prepared ... whatever.
And to get his daily amount, he takes the amount of sugars in a label (grams) and divides it by four to give a teaspoon amount.
And this, I thought, is something I can do!
I initially thought I'd just track for a few days to see how many teaspoons I was having, and I looked up the suggested amount and for women, it's suggested not to have more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. Hmmm.... ok.
Well that first morning, I measured out the amount of sugar I usually put mindlessly into my morning cup of tea.
And, well, I kind of had, um, I'm embarassed to say, like, um... all six teaspoons of sugar in my tea.
*hangs head in shame*
And when I put jam on my toast (a treat some days) I just... you know, spread it on. Spready spread spread! Well, a teaspoon of jam is a teaspoon of sugar, so I figured I'd start measuring out a smaller portion.
And I told myself that I'd only count sugars in things that were pre-packaged and labelled. So I decided that for now I wouldn't count fruit (or veg) or anything "natural" and not packaged. And that I'd start trying to pay attention to how much I was consuming without thinking. Those hidden sugars.
I joked with Jason and C-Dawg that everything was "betraying" me. My gluten free bread had sugars in it. Not a lot, but some... the gum I chew on as a treat (Juicy Fruit!)? Sugars (duh but not duh). My mini can of 7Up? An entire day's worth right there. Damn.
My protein bar snack? Sugars. Same amount as my cookies. And when something is a third of your daily sugar allowance, you start to re-evaluate.
There have been days where I've tried (since watching this movie) to eat a chocolate bar I had on hand and my brain revolted. I didn't make it through the chocolate bar. And I haven't bought sweets like I'd usually do.
A couple of days I've sort of said screw it and put all my teaspoons in my tea. And then I've tried to pay attention and wondered if that lead to cravings for the rest of the day (I feel like it did.) And while a lot of days I've either hit or been under my "suggested sugar amount", a couple of days I've hit 20 teaspoons, which is the amount they say most Canadians hit a day. And this is all WITHOUT eating flat out sweets. These are on days with no chocolate, no candy, no dessert, no... whatever. No knowingly sweet item. These are just days of eating what I would have called a "low sugar" day... sugar in my tea, jam on my bread, maybe a gluten free cookie or two. (Sure all sweet things, but not sweets, if you get the distinction I've made...)
When I had the sore throat, I allowed myself some orange juice (while gasping at the sugar amount). And even though I told myself it was fruit and so I wasn't tracking it, I tracked it. Same as on the day I had fruit cocktail... I tracked it because it was packaged. Shrug.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this, if anywhere.
Have there been dramatic shifts in my health? Maybe?
My aches and pains are maybe less? But that could also be the weather. Have I lost weight. Not particularly. My stomach MIGHT be less upset and sore... not sure. I've been tracking my sugar for a couple of weeks now and trying to keep it under that 6 teaspoons a day. (I think it's 9 for men FWIW).
I'm not sure what it was about seeing that movie at that time that shifted something for me. It's not like it was any new information... it's not like I didn't know how sugar negatively affects your body and health and waistline. But I guess it was the right thing for me to see at the right time. Somehow.
As I said, I'm not sure where I'm going, and maybe this won't be a long term change, but for now, the tracking is giving me something to focus on and think about. I've got a list on my kitchen counter that I add things to so I don't have to do the math every time.
And right now my body isn't in love with sugar like it usually is. And when I do have some and then want more and more it's not like I'm particularly enjoying it... which is weird.
I haven't yet managed to track a "normal" day because I haven't had a normal day since I watched the movie and starting tracking my sugar intake.
So, yeah, I dunno. For now it just is what it is.