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.