conquering addiction

Humans are habitual. We have our routines, our cycles, are paths we wear down every day. We depend on them, they keep us sane and whole. And so it is not so farfetched to imagine that we have our addictions. I think every single human alive has an addiction of one sort or another. Most are benign, which is why you don't hear of it- some people are addicted to exercise, some to tea or coffee, sugar or what have you... the ones you hear about are the ones who got snagged by something more insidious and harmful, something harder to shake like hard drugs or acohol.

I have heard a few times the theory that alcoholics are sugar addicts who find their sugar in a bottle instead of a candy bar. It makes a lot of sense to me. There is also the companion theory that alcoholism runs in families; runs in mine, in fact. That's something everyone knows. Now think about sugar. That addiction runs in families too. Runs in mine. Take a deeper look and you'll see that both of them, sugar and alcohol, run in the same families all the time. There are people in alcoholic families that refuse to drink... but they hit up dunkin' donuts every day, prove me wrong! I'm one of those; I refuse to drink- so Johnny Walker was no friend of mine, but I invited Ben and Jerry over all the time.

Think about it. What do alcoholics do when they are trying to quit? The eat candy. They suck on suckers, chew on gum, eat ice cream and snickers, whatever they can to keep their blood sugar up, keep their mouths working... it is all the same demon. Only no one talks about sugar addiction because no one thinks it's a problem.

I do.

It was a problem for me. Is it a problem for everyone? Probably not. But I think sometimes how 'hangry' I get when I am crashing off sugar; how much road rage are we seeing? How much teen violence, domestic abuse, the list goes on and on- society is raging, and why? I have a lot of questions and ideas; is it because they are all crashing off sugar? Is it because they have nothing to believe in? Is it because we are working so hard and getting nowhere? I have no answers; all I can say is, you can control what you do to your body and your environment; your own actions, reactions, and so forth- so you might as well make what you are given as good as you can. As healthy as you can. So you can deal with the rest...


Meena's Stevia Peanut Butter Cups

I made this one up myself... after a vegetarian 'natural sugar' recipe, that I have broken down over the years. They are rich, the chocolate is intense, so you may want to use mini-cupcake liners for a tinier taste sensation.
I don't usually measure anything, but I'll do my best for your benefit, you will find you won't need to measure either. Have fun!

Stevia powder
18 liners in muffin tins (more if you use mini)
6 oz unsweetened chocolate (I prefer Ghiardelhi, Baker's sucks, Hershey's is ok)
1/2 to 3/4 cup plain old peanut butter (natural, no additives, no sugar)
Almond or hazelnut meal (ground up nuts, I found mine at Trader Joe's); 1/4 cup?
little bit o butter, one pat or so

Do it:
Melt 3 oz of the chocolate on a double boiler/ small pot over LOW heat.
Stir well!! Add Stevia to taste; I use the little tiny spoon it came with, and usually use 4 or 5 of those... between 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Go slow... keep tasting until you like it. Should be smoothly sweet.
Pour a little into each liner, enough to coat the bottom of each of them.

In another little pot, melt a little butter (for lube sakes) and throw in the PB. Use whichever amount you like, want em full and gooey? use more then. Sorry, but I cook instinctually... like a granny, you know?
This is where you add Stevia to the PB mix; again, go for your taste, go slow, a little bit at a time. Cooking should be about tasting as you go, so here's your chance.
Add the nut meal slowly until the consistency is mushy, like cookie dough.
Yank those little guys out of the freezer and spoon a little of the PB mix on top of the chocolate, spread it out a little with your pinkie.

Make some more of the chocolate, same as before.
Ooze that chocolate on top of the PB cups, yum!
I put them in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up, so I can eat one right away. Why wait?

You need to store them in the fridge, they will melt like mad at room temp (you have some finger licking ahead of you) because real chocolate melts in your hand you know... enjoy!
Send me some feedback if you try this out.

Stevia, my dear...

When I realized that I had merely traded a white sugar addiction for a 'natural' sugar addiction, I became interested in kicking the whole deal altogether. But how could I possibly live without chocolate? Wasn't it enough that I was suffering the cruel fate of not being able to handle sweets like some other folks could?

So I was turned on to Stevia. It was so mysterious- still is; cloaked in a sordid past because of how this country is run- by beaurocrats who don't know their asses from their elbows, much less what the good of the commonfolk might be. How is it that a powerful lobby of chemical sweeteners could dump the health of the american people into the garbage by making claims that something proven to cause cancer in lab rats is SAFER than something indigenous peoples have been using for over a thousand years? All those Japanese can't be wrong... Stevia is not the big bad boogey man, that evil little blue or pink packet is.

It frustrates the hell out of me! What it comes down to is this: you want to avoid sugar, you either have no sweet nothings (tough call if you were raised on Oreos, like me), or you eat cancer powder in the form of "Lite" or "Sugar Free!" (which, by the way, is not healthier... they have to kick up the fat content to make that crap edible... 'why am I fat, when I eat diet cookies?'). Can you have a Stevia cookie? Nope! You can buy Stevia as a dietary supplement, which means YES you CAN consume it, but you can't buy it as a sweetner... I mean, come on! Who are they fooling!

The down side of all this crappy red tape is that yes, it's out there and amazing, but does anyone really efficiently know how to use it? No, because the market has stayed tiny as a result! And boy is it easy to screw up Stevia cooking. Just ask me. I have one cookbook, by Jeoffrey Goet?something, and the peanut butter cookies came out like dog buscuits. I have heard somthing like Stevia concentrates are better now than they were, so you have to use more or something, can't remember... either way... you almost have to cook on instinct. I have been experimenting, slowly and carefully for a couple of years; I will post my success stories here. But man-0-man it is easy to make it taste like ass!

So do like I did, research Stevia on the 'net, it's out there and all over the place. I like the "Kal" brand (red and white bottle) of powder, they have none/barely any aftertaste. I am keen to try the others and compare. I want more recipe books, I want to be free to buy products marketed with it as it is meant to be- a non caloric, safe sweetener!
Fuck the man. That's all for tonight.


Focus and clarity...

One of the best parts of eating well is how I feel. Your food intake is the way you alter your body chemically every single day. The way I am eating now means I am clear and focused, a huge bonus for me to get through vet school and retain something.

I think it's amazing that you can personally modulate your heath and mood just with what you put into your body. So many people in this world just don't know that and when I look around and see the general state of ill health and sadness, I know that it comes down largely to the fact that people are increadibly disconnected; to the earth, to their people, to their own bodies! How can you be so disconnected to your own body that you ignore the warning signs?

But we do, I did, we all do these days. We lost our connection so long ago that most people don't even have it as part of their culture anymore. And those that did- the Native Americans- are losing it as well (think of the alcoholism in that culture now, as a result of what has happened to their social structure...) Wherever we go we bring our poison, and leave a trail of ill health, ill feelings and ill being.

Is it any wonder?

I have almost magically relinquished a lot of the phantom sadness that has plagued me for so long. Could it really be that simply eating better can have this much of an effect on me? It can. No amount of chemically produced candy can give the kind of happiness and high that just feeling good can. Now granted a lot of this is hidden under the stress and strain of the unnatural vet school vibe I reside in... but when summer comes, and I can enjoy the heath and wellbeing I have crafted, I am certain that I will bask in the good times to come.


Sugar poison in my history...

I decided to create a new blog solely for my pursuit of health and happiness; that way what I need to rant about doesn't interfere with all the fun loving stuff I have been doing elsewhere...

My life experience thus far has been one long argument with my body chemistry, and it has been an exhausting ride. I hope that what I have learned along the way can be of help to someone else.

I grew up eating crap. "Cereal" consisting of processed flours with sugar is the first or second ingredients. What you eat as a child is forever part of your psyche as a positive and calming thing; I have a deep fondness for Count Chocula, Honeycomb, Lucky Charms... all for breakfast! It's no wonder I learned nothing in math class and couldn't pay attention... I was crashing off that shit after an hour.
I ate a lot of Wonder bread, Oreos, all that stuff... when I was a teen trying to eat better, I ate sugared yogurts, white crackers, soda, juice... on and on.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I fought my attitude big time. I knew I was way too sensitive, defensive, crabby, and had intense mood swings. I began to try and figure out why, and realized as early as 17 or 18 that I had a sugar addiction and that it couldn't be good. It didn't make sense then to try and stop. I ruined relationship after relationship with wacky mood swings, bouts of intense anger and sadness; when you experience such a strong emotion, you have to find a reason or go mad. So unfortunately I always chose boyfriends to blame the emotions on, and didn't learn to have a good functional relationship for a long long time.

I grew tired of crashing eventually. I started looking for answers. I read a few books, started talking to people; I started with Protein Power and learned about hypoglycemia. I began to realize that if I couldn't control the hypoglycemia and mood swings, at least I could see them coming and utilize food to help me get it under some sort of control. I helped my friends and boyfriends recognize the signs of a 'hangry' person. They could see the crash pattern and know that when I was silent and unable to talk, unable to choose what to eat or even cranky and not wanting to eat, that eat was exactly what I needed to do.
I was scared... diabetes is right around the corner from that stuff!!

I was frustrated and trapped.
Then one day, after laying on my bed alone with Ben and Jerry, a friend came to visit; one of those amazing earthy crunchy folks that I love so much. He said, why are you eating that poison? And recommended the book Sugar Blues by William Dufty.
It changed what I thought forever.
I had already been moving towards living and eating more naturally; I was vegetarian, even vegan for a time; this pushed me to a new dimension, but even so I was still not ready.
I took the first step, which was to replace all the shit in my life with natural alternatives- I took out white sugar and white flour, and began to experiment with whole grains and alternatives like barley malt, brown rice syrup, maple syrup and so on. I learned through the invaluable advice of friends how to make my own ice cream, among other things.
The thing to realize though, was that I was still eating sugar. Oh, it was healthier sugar, but sugar nonetheless... and still leading to the road called Diabetes, eventually.
It did help the hypoglycemia though. The crashes were less, and not as bad. I was eating alternatives, and in general trying to cut down.

I discovered Stevia after a while. At first, it was a frustrating experience, because it is unwieldy and difficult to use; but I have been getting the hang of it. I went completely sugar free for a few months; no alternative sugars at all. It was amazing!

Then I fell off the wagon, so to speak. I got into vet school, and discovered the worst stress of my life. Sugar, white sugar, was copious and free, all over campus.
Now, I am the worst chocolate fiend that ever was. This made the fight intense and tiring. Not to mention that I had left where I was living, a place where alternative lifestyles are supported and even expected; and moved to a place where it is tough to find the resources I need to feel comfortable and free to maintain myself in my own version of health. So I took a huge backslide, back beyond 4 years... all undone... I was still using alternatives, but dipping into the white stuff like a crack addict.

It came to a head this spring. I was just wild with Christmas, Valentines, and Easter candy. It was like I was reliving that dream I used to have as a kid- the one where I had a giant goblet of candy in my room that was never empty no matter how much I ate, and that I could eat chocolate for every meal and never get sick.


Oh it made me sick alright. So sick. It crept up, and I barely noticed. My skin went wild, I broke out like a teen; my normally slender frame started bulking up; I was puffy, soft, my belly hurt, I was a bitch and a basket case- crying all the time, upset, unable to stay focused and calm. I tried a few times to kick, this is the amazing thing! I tried, and COULDN'T! It was pretty stunning... because I know better. But the siren song of sugar was so strong.

I had to wait and hit bottom, so to speak. It finally happened, and I knew in my exhaustion that it was time. I went to the library and took out Sugar Blues again for inspiration. I got rid of the crap in my kitchen and went shopping. I was gentle with myself, forgiving, understanding...
Detox was intense. I was unconciously tricking myself- Oh, so what if I have a little? We can resume this experiment tomorrow... but at last, I persevered. I have won, I have conquered the monster again.
But I have come to realize that this is not a battle you fight once and win. It is inexorably part of my being, something I will always have to guard against. Addictions and nervous behaviour run in my family, and this is meaningful; I can't drop an addiction without something to fill the vaccuum or void that it leaves behind. Something must be there to fill the space or else it is all for naught.
So, obsess with being the anti sugar nazi I once was... I was there, I can do it again, and I am determined this time.

If you have held on and read this whole thing, good for you; I hope that I can inspire someone else. Stick around, I will be posting all sorts of goodies and tidbits, tips and encouragement... in hopes that someone else wants to do away with this widespread drug and poison that is in everything in diets these days.

blessed be.