I'm back!

I'm back in town, just got a new apartment... looking forward to refurnishing my kitchen. My dear friend Anna is getting me a new ice cream maker; last summer when we shared a place doing research together, I made lots and lots of Stevia ice cream that she enjoyed greatly. So now when I make ice cream I can think fondly of her (and invite her over to eat as much as she likes!)

Things are looking up. It was tough, traveling and living out of my car, finding things to eat that worked well with me to keep my energy up. I even had to stoop to using a microwave to make nut butter cups while I was on my various externships. Hey, whatever works. What a giant relief to have a home base, a place to work from again.

The challenge now is restoring my kitchen. I am not going to have nearly what I did before, but that's ok. I bake less since giving up sugar, so some of it I don't need. Good thing! There's no oven where I live now, just a stove top. I know I eat a lot of flour, so it isn't a bad thing to adjust to. I baked maybe 4 times a year anyway- mostly in the fall and winter; and I have friends with ovens...

So. I'm back, and cookbook-less, and so I will become more creative in my endeavors. I hope you will continue to be inspired, there's more to come!



Dear friends,
My life has taken some sad crazy changes lately and I have been working pretty hard to maintain an even keel. The house I was living in burned down 3 weeks ago, taking all I owned (except for a few pieces of jewelry) with it. It has been a surreal and pretty unimaginable few weeks, full of changes and challenges. The amount of support and outpouring of love and help has been incredible, and I can stand before you now saying yes, I'm ok, I'm surviving. My kitties did not. None of what I have worked my whole life to build has survived. When you come from nothing and build from nothing, it hurts to lose it all.

So three weeks later, I am traveling on my externships in my last year of veterinary school and am faced with a spectacular set of issues. Not only am I adjusting to living with an entirely new wardrobe and set of belongings (only, by choice and design, the bare minimum of what I require to get by!) but I am also meeting a lot of new people and traveling to unfamiliar places AND trying to maintain the lifestyle I have crafted for myself. Including eating well despite stress, strife and unfamiliar environments.

The first three weeks after the fire were pretty easy. I simply did not want to eat. For the first time in my life I experienced grief anorexia. I have never ever had a problem eating before. Never. When stress rolls along, I would usually seek comfort and be in danger of relapsing to my old sugar habits. Well, folks, surprise surprise... three weeks in unfamiliar digs, totally displaced, out of sorts, sleep deprived... I was barely getting what calories I needed and not even noticing.

That has come to ease of late but I am faced with the new challenge of living in a hotel that has fridges, just not one in my room. So I am adjusting to eating in a whole new way, still sticking to my guns of not eating sugar- tempted though I may be by the ease of prepared foods. And free hotel breakfast (I allow you to guess what that might entail). Not to mention life on the road with busy horse vets. Yeah- recipe for disaster, but I'm doing ok. My appetite is returning, and I am starting to wonder what the hell I'm going to eat for the next 10 weeks, while surviving in the way I know best.

I'm sleep deprived. I'm not getting enough veggies. I have no place to put them! I don't have the money to eat out all the time... so peanut butter and fruit spread are my options. Now, fruit spread is not ideal, I know- it's pretty much sugar, but I do get the 100% fruit kind and use very little. I am at a loss. No way to cook, nothing to really cook in. Bought a camp stove and fancy camp pot (and this neato swiss army fork/spoon thingie, wowie!) I am making do with having nothing except my car and the kindness of strangers.

So. Traveling... no sugar... this is not so much a challenge here, but I imagine the deeper south I go the more interesting it will get. We shall see, that's what I know.


The argument about Agave

I have to say that I am very excited that more and more people want to talk about giving up sugar, or at least cutting down on it and finding alternatives. Recently I've had the pleasure of talking shop with a well known Vegan baker from the western part of the state. She's been getting requests for all sorts of dietary discretions- like gluten free, for example- and has also been asked to make 'sugar free' delights, or at least sugar alternative.

So we chatted in the kitchen at a friend's party about alternatives. My own journey to this point began many years ago with a conversion over to 'alternative sugar'. These consist of barley malt, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, sucanat (the stuff they strip off the white sugar), maple syrup, date sugar, and honey. There are even several cookbooks out there devoted to "naturally sweet" desserts, focused entirely on using these products. I definitely encourage people who want to break away from white sugar slowly to go down this path; it's still sugar, yes, but there are merits to the method. It worked for me to help me wean off and become more aware of what I was taking into my body.

Of course, it is easy to trade one addiction for another- you can overindulge on 'alternative' sugar as easily as the white stuff. All things in moderation. However, many alternatives are whole foods (like date sugar, for example) and take a little longer to break down, with the added bonus of some minerals thrown in. I mean, if you are eating dessert you are consciously making the choice to eat something that isn't 'food' in the sustenance sense; but you can still do it as wisely as possible. I even use whole wheat flour every time I bake something (which is rare these days) in the hopes that even though I'm indulging, I'm not completely abusing my body.

Not all 'alternatives' are equal, and not all are benign either. The thing to consider when experimenting with these where on the glycemic index they fall. What is the glycemic index? You can try this website (http://www.glycemicindex.com/); here's my description: basically, most foods have some effect on the body in terms of insulin release. The simpler the carbohydrate (or in our case, the sweetener), the faster the insulin response, the faster the body breaks it down and the higher you 'spike' in terms of reaction. Some people are exquisitely sensitive to the ensuing reaction (like me). How this fits into the sweetner scheme goes a little like this: white table sugar is at the top. It is stripped down of anything other than pure sucrose, and the body recognizes it as a raw instant energy. Insulin is released quickly, the body deals with the influx very very fast and the sugar is used up or stored away, depending on your body's needs.

So if white table sugar is at the top, something like Stevia is at the very bottom. Or, say, certain meats, or if you decided to eat clay. Honey and maple syrup are very nearly pure sucrose, and so are essentially the same as white sugar in terms of body response. Brown rice syrup falls below that, along with barley malt; and agave is lower still. I can feel the effect of agave, but not nearly as much.

Anyway, we got to talking about Agave. This is a clever sweetner, derived from the agave cactus. Lots of people are turning to agave instead of honey or maple syrup- especially those vegan folks- as an alternative to sugar. It is sweet, but not overly so; still, it would be a mistake to say "I don't eat sugar" and then go and consume a bottle full of agave. If you want to be a purist, that is. Yes, it is definitely lower on the index, no question (some bottles advertise this fact on the label).

What is the argument then? Well it goes something like this. If you are the sort that likes to wean slowly off sugar, I encourage you to explore alternatives. Give agave and brown rice syrup a try. They can be cumbersome to figure out if you are not accustomed to baking; they are wet sweetners and you need to account for that. Plus they have a flavor all their own, and it takes determination to change a palate preference. It can be done, however. Barley malt is even more powerful in terms of lending its own peculiar flavor; I liked using it with recipes that have a strong flavor already, to drown it out. Use them wisely is all I am saying, and be clear that you are still evoking an insulin response from your body- perhaps not as extreme, but it is there nonetheless. It worked for me; I doubt I could have kicked sugar instantly without knowing how to make 'alternative' stuff for myself. There are cookbooks out there that can help you if you are curious.


Another Sugar Holiday passed!

Ahhh, Easter! The glut of sugar commercialism at its finest. It is now over. And I made it through.

I was not tempted! I did not stray from my path! I made it through, unscathed, and whole! Hoooray!

Easter is one of the hardest Sugar Holidays for me, since I love Cadbury. Just love it. Instead I had my lovely Stevia nut butter cups (I have been using Cashew-Macadamia, spoiled brat that I am, love it! Just love it!) and felt satisfied.

Lately I've been getting back into the ice cream, now that it is hinting at warming up (not actually warming up, mind you, just teasing that it could happen). Sad thing is I think it isn't agreeing with my belly. I don't fully understand it since I tolerated it fine last year, but I am feeling some icky GI issues and it may be the ice cream. mmmrrpph! I need to go pout over that. Or deal with the GI stuff. Or take lactaid.

See, I'd love to get more into the nut milks but it is hard to get the right consistency with the ice cream. I will have to make comment on this at another time, but there is a book out called Vice Creams which are nut based, and I have experimented a little... but still love my formula the best...

Anyway, I hope if you are reading this that you too have made it through this holiday without succumbing to a sugar coma. If you did be gentle with yourself, it is not easy to kick the sugary shackles that hold us tight in this society.


Stevia: not for everyone

I have been having interesting discussions about my diet at school. It would come to that, as in clinics you spend a lot of time with people doing intense, stressful things- in the down time, we learn about each other and relax. People are so generous and sweet, too; bringing treats for each other as a sense of kindness (in their hearts). It makes them feel bad when they realize I won't (can't?) eat the doughnuts or brownies, or even the amazing looking chocolate mousse.


I don't want to make anyone feel bad, so I just gently explain that I simply cannot do it to myself ever again. One of the people in my rotation, E, commented she noticed the difference when I went 'off the wagon' second year... haha... and the difference now that I am back on track, one year now. There were a lot of questions, naturally, about the way that I am able to abstain and how the hell did I manage to do it in the first place? It is so interesting to me to hear someone say, "Oh I could never do it, I am a hopeless sugar addict, you don't understand."

Oh, don't I ever. Don't I ever.

I do, because, see, I am a hopeless addict too; I could not survive this without my clever stevia crutch. I fully and freely admit it. I like sweeties as much as the next girl, and chocolate all the more. If it weren't for this, I may not have gotten free. (If it weren't for cocoa puffs I might not have ever gotten snared).

But I did.

The discussions with these fine intelligent people leads them to curiosity about the things I am eating; people are often amazed to hear I make my own chocolates and ice cream. It sounds complicated to them, I imagine; but really it is no more complicated than biscuits, with the same time committment. I like chocolate a whole lot more than biscuits, anyway. In order to show them it is possible, I brought in a sampling; half my supply of cashew-macadamia nut butter cups. My favorite flavor, and best invention yet- the peanut butter version pales in comparison. It was well recieved by all but one.

E, who so astutely described my sugary fall from grace, tried it and could not finish it. It was much too bitter for her (Stevia does not assuage the bitterness of pure baking chocolate, nor lighten it at all; it is dark, fierce chocolate, not for the faint at heart). She said it burned her tongue, and believed it was the stevia that did this.

I cannot say either way. It could have been the shocking dark bitterness of the chocolate that made her tongue feel strange, or perhaps a reaction to the nut butters. I have never heard of this reaction to Stevia, which is not to say it isn't possible. If you have experienced this email it to me here, it is good to know. Me, I can eat the stuff all day long, and do (mostly in my tea, several times a day). So use it with caution, it may not be for everyone.


When family doesn't get it

Well, you can't convince everyone. Not that I'd want to. Not my job.


I do want at least my family to understand or at the very minimal respect what I am trying to do. Sigh. Doesn't always work that way, I know, and I am mostly resigned to the fact that I walk my own path and that's ok.

Anyway, my mom is... special. She thinks what she wants, no use trying to change the gal, she does her own thing anyway.

Everyone who knows me knows I am vegetarian and sugar free. That's a fact. Do I sometimes bend the rules? Yes. It's rare, but I do it. (Not with vegetarianism, but who can say no to mom's christmas cheesecake? That would be ludicrous). For the most part, though, it's known that I do not want dessert and it's best not to offer it to me- if you love me why would you want to torture me?

Now, if you've been with me since easter of last year, you know that I kicked sugar by ODing via Cadbury, the lovely Cadbury easter madness. Oh yes. Mini eggs, my own special weakness.

And she knows that.

As I said, my mom is special. One of the most giving, generous and kind souls on the planet. Also one of the most strangely vindictive- extremely subtle, but she's somewhat of a cat with a mouse. When you do (or are) something she doesn't quite approve of, she'll blithely ignore it and form you to her own special reality. I've adapted gracefully to it and know when to pick my battles.

I know, I know- you're dying to hear: what the hell did she do?

So she tells me she sent a package in the mail, and was quite excited about it. Besides herself. Well, it was going to arrive on Thursday, approximately. I was on call at the hospital on Thursday- left at 6 am, and arrived home at 6 pm the next day. That's life. Oh, and arrived home in a blizzard- yes, crazy snow... Anyway, she called and said:
"Did you get your present?"
"Oh! No- I haven't been to the box today, it's snowing like mad out."
"Well, go get it! I think it will help you, you've been so tired and stressed. Go get it."
"Mom! There's a blizzard outside!"
"What? Go get your mail! You grew up here, you shouldn't be afraid of a little snow. Go on. It will cheer you up."

So I went.

What did I get?

Yep. Mini eggs, a new variety with 'royal dark chocolate.' Wow. Yeah- they looked good, in the sexy dark purple wrapper...
And a card. A card with a lovely photo of a beef cow noshing a corn cob. The text at the bottom said:
"Corned beef in the early stages."


Ok- so how do you get back on the phone to a person who is sitting excited on her couch states away, breathlessly waiting for you to call back? I mean- she knows I'm vegetarian. She knows I don't eat sugar. I think she's trying to torture me. She's kinda sick like that. It's a test of my grace, and I can't yell at her- because she may genuinely believe she is being really kind and funny. Wow.

So- I call her and in our usual way I tell her she's sick and needs help (about the card) but tell her that although the candy is so thoughtful, I'm not eating sugar. I don't want to crush her. I tell her I'll try them (she was really excited about the new flavor) and that I am going to cheer up everyone else at the hospital, let her think she's spreading the love around.
Man 0h man, family takes patience sometimes. Whew.


One year- coming up!

As the next major Super Sugar Holiday approaches, I am reminded of how I pushed myself one year ago to quit sugar again. I walked through the grocery today and as I sailed past the 'seasonal' isle, I could see all the holiday treats trotted out long before the holiday has even arrived. Easter! A time of amazing confectionary treats! Some that I sadly do like. And will be avoiding with all my strength of will, with sanity intact.

What's interesting is that since I have not eaten any sugar in so long, I don't crave it like I did. I see the pretty packages that promise a little slice of sugary chocolate heaven, and I am not as tempted as I was when I had fallen completely off the wagon. This brings me so much relief! I never would have thought, years ago, that it would get easier. But it does. It truly does.

One year ago, I pushed my addiction until I was sick. I had to do it that wy, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten free. It wouldn't work for everyone, but I am now able to walk past the isle without wistfulness. I recall this being the case last time I went sugar free. It gets easier, I promise that it does.

Right now I feel pretty damn healthy and whole. I am more prone to choosing better foods and eat healthier all around because I am not so distracted by sugar. Oh, I've still got a sweet tooth, don't get me wrong! Using Stevia is freeing indeed, but I still want it. The sweetness. I doubt that will go away. I feel fine indulging in the Stevia version of what I want though, knowing it isn't going to uproot my moods and turn me into a crazy person.

I will stand strong and turn the other cheek as Sugar Holiday #2 approaches... I can, because I have so far, and will continue... yay!


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cherry Stevia Ice Cream

Yes! It was wild, delicious, ridiculous, and tasty!

My Valentine's Delight. Here's the recipe.

2 eggs
2 cups cream
3/4 cup milk
3 squares baking chocolate
1/3 cup cocoa powder (non sweet)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Stevia (I prefer Kal)
1 cup chopped cherries
3 more squares of chocolate
1/4 tsp Stevia for that
*Melt the chocolate on the stove or in the microwave.
*Add the cocoa powder to it- it seems awkward, just trust me.
*Add the milk SLOWLY to this mix.
*Then beat the eggs in another bowl.
*Add the cream to the eggs, whip that...
*Add the chocolate to the egg and cream mix
*Mix in the Stevia and vanilla...

Put in the ice cream maker and wait.

While you are waiting:
Chop up the cherries into small pieces.
When the ice cream is getting firm and rising to the lip of the maker (I use the Cuisinart maker with the gel cylindar, you can get it at Linen's) begin to make your 'chocolate chips'.
Basically, melt the chocolate and add stevia; do this far enough in advance that it cools a bit but is still liquid when you add it. It takes finesse and is an art, sorry- that's the best I can do to describe it.
So when the ice cream rises to the lip, add in the cherries and the chocolate; I had help and it made it go better- one person was sprinkling in cherries while I spooned in the chocolate, allowing the maker to swirl it away. It breaks up into flakes and chunks when it cools. I love the texture.

Voila! Valentine's Delight!

Stevia Chocolate Covered Cherries

It was snowing like mad out, on Valentine's Day, preventing my lover from driving out to visit me. Rather than pine we laughed about it and postponed the date, and I set about to make it a fine evening all snowed in.

There was a bag of cherries in the freezer, slated for the ice cream we were to make. I had a divine inspiration...

I took them out of the freezer and thawed about 10 of them on a plate in the microwave. Not till they were hot, but just juicy.
In my muffin tin, I put little mini muffin liners (I found some with snowflakes at Michael's... soooo cute!).
Then I melted three or so squares of baking chocolate, and added Stevia until it tasted right- about 1/4 tsp. Each liner got a little puddle of chocolate, and I let it firm up a bit; then each puddle got a cherry set down gently on top. I heated the chocolate a bit again to get it flowing and slowly and carefully covered each cherry with chocolate.

I put them on the porch to chill (a giant freezer! Use your freezer if it isn't arctic where you are) and then fed them to my poor housemate who was also stuck inside with no date...


Sugar Holiday #1: Vanquished

Having successfully glided past Valentine's Day, I sit to write the tale. The year according to Hallmark, the grocery store and the drug store is broken up into holidays. Each of which has its own special color scheme and style of gifts and candies to ply the loved ones with.

It begins with Valentine's Day. A farce of a holiday with a good idea at heart- expressing love- which originally marked the death of Saint Valentine. In college, I would wear black to demonstrate my feelings about the holiday. These days I like red and wear it if I feel like it; but still abhor the sugar-laden free for all that it engenders. Not to mention the incredible amount of stress on lovers to do the most romantic thing possible... but this blog isn't for that rant. That is found in other venues.

No, the rant lies in the drug store trap. Chocolate, my inherent weakness, bandied about like foliage- wrapped in luscious shiny red packages... cordial cherries, chocolate cremes... Yes, it makes me feel a little like the Mayor in Chocolat- I want to roll in it until I pass out.

Anyway. I got through Valentine's day without the merest desire to glance down the red sparkly aisle. Whew!

My lover A was also respectful of this and came over so we could make ice cream together. I made chocolate cherry chocolate chip... all with stevia... and my very own chocolate covered cherries. Yes! They were wonderful! I did not feel the least bit disappointed; truth be told, I have come to prefer my own brand of sweets. I like the dark rich mouthfeel of my chocolate, and the lightness of my ice cream. I will post the cherry recipe here after this blog. It was decadent.

I noticed the easter eggs are already out... that will mark one year to my return to the sugar free life. I will celebrate, I hope you will too.


Victory for Protein Shakes!

I have just made the MOST exquisite discovery...
Spirutein has finally jumped on board and made an unsweetened protein powder mix!

Also- there is a whey version for us non vegans, by Jay Robb, which is made with....
drum roll please...
Stevia! yes!!!!

My life keeps getting better and better.

Now I know that there is some argument as to the absorption of these kinds of proteins, in terms of soy vs whey vs animal meat protein. Since I am vegetarian, my choices are a bit limited. Most of the time I do ok, but lately I've been working out more at the gym and I believe part of my problem may be a lack of good quality protein. Eggs, cottage cheese, any cheese for that matter, and a little milk in my tea aren't enough; I eat tofu, but I am wary of relying on it too much because no one is absolutely certain (in terms of studies done) if it is a useable protein. I like tempeh sometimes, and eat a lot of nut butters.
But protein shakes! That is a beatiful and easy way to get protein if you are rushing, as I will be, and unable to eat properly. It doesn't replace a well prepared meal, of course, but it is at least something.

And usually a something off limits to me.

Spirutein usually has a formula that while it is high in protein and vitamins, and even some minerals, they use fructose to sweeten the mix. Fructose, you may know, is fruit sugar concentrate. In the end it amounts to being sucrose (table sugar) anyway, because it too is refined and processed and has no nutritional value. Of course, the shake itself has fiber (psyllium and so on) so one could argue that it is along the lines of eating a fruit... but I feel, if I am going to be a purist, I am going to be a purist.
There is a container of chocolate Spirutein still sitting in my cabinet, resting where it has for over a year and a half now. Probably no good. I'll drink it because it was expensive... but it's still fructose.

The new one I bought though, the Jay Robb one, has 24 g protein and not as many vitamins- but excitingly to me is made with Stevia, yay! So I bought the vanilla one, and so far have reconstituted it with milk- plain is fine, I added cocoa and that was even better. Then this morning I added it to my breakfast grains to see what would happen, and it was rather tasty! So that ups my protein intake in the morning without burdening me with crashy sugars.

Now... I will have to investigate perhaps an unflavored/unsweetened protein powder to just add to other things that have flavor. I know a body doesn't need too much protein, but one that is working out needs to be taken care of somewhat.

This is very exciting news for us non sugar folks, though! The fact that the world is beginning to catch on (we don't want this stuff!) is very encouraging to me. Years ago you would have had no options. Hooray!


Quick eats

One of the toughest things to get past when you strive to eat more naturally or whole foods based is the fact that eating that way takes time, effort and forethought. It's hard when most people you know are able to eat quickly and without much thought, and blunder on with their day... and it's just not as easy for those of us on this path. There are even moments of jealousy for me, witnessing the things I used to eat polished off with gusto by my friends.

I'm not too jealous though- I know that is not a good path to be on, and ultimately leads to worse health in the end.

If you're busy like I am though, eating well and balanced is a tough day to day challange. Compound the no sugar policy with vegetarianism and a committment to more whole foods and grains, and you have a person who is frustrated a lot of the time. I am to start clinics in the spring. My worry is this: most rotations are fast paced and busy, and don't schedule in time to eat. They even warn us in our materials that we will suffer a 'sub-optimal plane of nutrition'. Great. Most students are reduced to eating on the fly; granola bars or worse, candy from the vending machine (the cafeteria, which sells reasonably healthy food, closes at 2 pm!!!). I cannot eat that way. Granola bars are candy in sexy health food wrappers. Even lara bars, which I am a fan of, are high in sugar content in general, being made largely of dates. What is a girl to do?

A few thoughts I have are trail mix, which is cumbersome and messy sometimes. And it takes up a lot of room for the amount you need to consume to feel satisfied. 1/4 cup of nuts is a serving; that has protein, but also a lot of fat as well. Many dried fruits have sugar added in the drying process (not to mention sulfer, hello fart city). So it is an option, but not one to be overdone. There are of course Lara bars, but that is not entirely nutritious on the whole- and cannot be relied upon daily. Protein shakes are tough. Many are made with sugar or aspartame. I'm suspicious of that stuff. The one I like best are the Spirutein shakes, but those are made with fructose- on the whole not a bad form of sugar, but it's sugar nonetheless, and thus has the risk of crashing built right in.

I also found a raw cashew cookie recipe (from the Sweet Stevia cookbook) that requires no cooking, made with cashew butter, ground up sunflower seeds, soy beverage powder and carob; I think I can modify it to make it richer in calories somehow.


I'm going to have to be creative, it seems. In "Sugar Blues" there is a little recipe for rice balls- brown rice and umeboshi plums wrapped in Nori seaweed. I've made them with carrots (I couldn't find the plums) and was pretty impressed with how much fun they were to make; and how easy. They are pretty satisfying too.

I will have to begin to play with beans- maybe make beans and grind them up, put them in the seaweed brown rice balls? I am brainstorming here. For anyone reading this, suggestions are more than welcome. Pocketable items are key; things that can fit in the doctor's white coat and be easily accessible. I'm no good when I'm starving; I can't think straight, and get fumbly. Not characteristics you want in a doctor, you know. Not impressive to the clinicians.

So here's what I have so far:
*trail mix- nuts and dried fruits
*date and nut bars
*raw cashew cookies
*protein shakes
*brown rice seaweed balls

In all not a bad selection.

I have reservations about juicing. I know it's all the rage, but I'm not clear if juicing takes out the fiber in the items you are grinding up. If so, you are merely getting concentrated sugars and some of the vitamins and minerals; not a balanced deal. If it is grinding up the whole thing then I believe that would be convenient; most people would look at you funny if you showed up with a bunch of kale in your pocket. They already look at me funny, no need to encourage them.

The key for me is balance. I don't want to end up losing too much weight by being kept from eating lunch. That to me is unhappiness. I will keep looking...


Greater energy

One of the greatest benefits to being sugar free is all the energy I have now. It's true! When I truly think about all the things I can accomplish, with some good solid go-power, I'm amazed. Of course, I get tired and run down like anyone else might, but I have more stamina and my moods are more even (when you take being a veterinary student out of the equation, that is.)

It wasn't that way at first. When you first kick sugar, it takes your body a while to adjust. After all, your body has gotten used to cheap energy sources to get by. That makes everything run more sluggishly- including your metabolism (and in the biological, not just classical digesting food sense). Committing to being sugar free eventually allows your body to readjust and redefine how it utilizes energy sources. It's amazing how little it actually takes to run a body efficiently; we Americans certainly overdo it. Feeding your body whole foods and good high quality nutrients lets your body choose what to utilize and when.

Before I kicked sugar, breakfast was a tremendous issue. I could not last for very long after breakfast at all. No matter what I ate, I was crashing and burning by 10 or 11, totally spent and out of energy. "This can't be natural, can't be right!" It isn't. These days I can eat oatmeal and fruit and be just fine until late morning- when I might feel hungry, but still have my focus and ability to complete sentences and so forth. When necessary, I can even make it until lunch, without the crashing stupidity or hangriness setting in. It's devine, it truly is!

These days, having been sugar free once again for nearly a year now (after a year hiatus... live and learn), I am relieved to see just how much energy I do have. After all, I am in a program that takes a lot out of me. Lab sessions that run hours and have me on my feet on concrete; long days of lectures or studying; learning surgery- going 6 hours without anything at all (which to a sugar addict is a long time, being unable to 'graze'!) and coming out of it all tired but with my wits intact. It is only on rare occasions now that I find myself unable to function or create whole intelligible sentences; most of the time, I am just genuinely tired but coping. That, to me, is amazing! Just amazing!

I feel like an infomercial for some grand new pill, or like a snake oil pusher. All I am really saying is, trust your body- you don't need that crap, if you allow your taste buds to come back and align yourself to eating what you need, you'll be amazed. You won't need liposuction. You won't need that new pill that supposedly burns fat while you sleep (magically, it seems). All you need is to pay attention, stop buying that stuff, and treat your body right. That's it! Really!

I know it's hard. A lot of what I hear from people is that they just can't give up sugar, it's too hard, it's impossible, what will I eat? I can't imagine it... that sort of thing. What I am saying is that I was raised on that crap and I did it. You can only do a thing if you really want to, if you really believe in it, and yourself. No one can do it for you. No one can change you except you (a concept that was key to learn when picking boyfriends... no one can be 'helped', unless they help themselves!). I'm just saying, it's a process and it can be done. It can.

Just look at the benefits! I have lots more energy and focus. My stamina is great. I'm able to accomplish a lot more in a day than I used to- and this shows at the gym too. I ache less, I'm never ill (when all my classmates are dropping like flies with the latest flu!), I recover quickly from what does ail me, any emotional turbulence I do have doesn't last very long.

It gets easier to resist what other people offer you, after a while. I don't even miss the stuff now. Someone offering me a sweet doesn't have the pull it used to. That is the epiphany moment I was waiting for, months back. Oh, it's so hard at first! So damn hard! When you're not 100% committed, and then the offers start... oh sugar, sweet sugar... but when you cross over that hump, you make it here, and wow. It just gets better and better.

Off to bed now... for sweet dreams... to start the day anew, refreshed. Good luck in your journey. Feel free to write or comment if you need a boost along the way... it's not an easy road, and you aren't alone.


Don't hassle me, man!

It's funny how people react to things they don't understand. I mean, most of the time when someone hears that I am not eating sugar, they're just curious.

"Oh, yeah? Why's that? How do you do it, what do you eat? I couldn't do that."
That sort of thing. I take all that in stride, and gladly share my expriences. Especially if it helps, if it opens someone's eyes. And all the better if they are wanting the information, and willing to hear it and be open to it.

The people that are the toughest are the ones that feel personally challenged. As if my way of life is a personal affront, or a personal attack of some kind on their way of life. My own biological family reacts this way a lot to many things, such as vegetarianism or non smoking. (How dare people ask that their health be spared? How dare they make me smoke outside! they say.)

It seems sometimes that when certain people are confronted with a new reality, their fear response kicks in. Most of the time I see it for what it is; and I generally say, when explaining I don't eat sugar, that I don't care if anyone else does- it just doesn't work for me. Same for being vegetarian; it's my own choice, my own way of life. You can do whatever pleases you, whatever lets you sleep at night. These kinds of reactions, fear reactions from people who find their own reality being tested, are to be expected. You just have to be ready, and have your wits about you.

I don't have any specific examples for today; this is an issue that has cropped up in my mind from time to time. The best example I can give is when someone offers a sweet and they find it turned down. This is a rare thing! Who doesn't eat sweets? Sweets are love. Sweets are kindness, sharing, giving, caring... right? Who turns down love? You are turning down my gesture of friendship? Wow. Who are you, anyway?


Of course, every situation and every person differs, but it's all essentially the same; you are challenging someone's world view, or perhaps challenging them on some level, on some trait they consider weak in themselves. Not that you are offering a challenge; but by simply being who you are, you are challenging them to look at parts of themselves they are not comfortable with and that can be hard! Perhaps you are speaking with someone who always wanted to give up sugar themselves, but found it too difficult (and it is difficult! I won't lie!). Perhaps, then, this person has always felt guilty, or weak, or bad as a result. Then you walk in, successful in your quest... well, that is just downright insulting, isn't it!

All I can say is that I try to live my life by my own principles. I lead my life as an example- to myself. I am my own role model, my own leader. If other people are inspired, great! I am not out to make others feel bad about themselves. I am the first to admit, I have my faults and I slip from time to time... it is I, after all, who will buy Endangered Species chocolate a few times a year. Yes, it's sugar! I think that knowledge goes a long way for people. I'm not saying I'm perfect, not to anyone. That's the key. It's a day to day, week to week, month to month challenge, to live by one's own highest values and principles. It is something you work at, perfect, and practice. Every single day.

Tomorrow, I will not eat any sugar. I didn't eat any today (except fruit, let's be honest), nor did I the day before; and if I have my way, the days and years to follow will show the same tale.