Friday, March 8, 2013

Quitting Sugar

All my life, I’ve known people who quit sugar – not forever, in most cases, but they were going to try.  They wanted to lose weight.   They wanted to get rid of pimples.  But I didn’t want to lose weight and I didn’t care about my pimples. I thought I had a free pass on sugar. I could have dessert any night I wanted. I could make cookies whenever I wanted.

About 4 years ago, I noticed my knuckles bulging.  But they didn’t hurt. They just looked funny. I didn’t think it mattered.  About 4 months ago, they started hurting.  I bought cat’s claw and drank some every morning.  And again during the day if my knuckles stabbed me.

About 1 month ago, I read my AARP email newsletter. In it an article said that most of arthritis pain is from sugar inflammation.  The article said it would take 6 weeks of no sugar to notice an effect.  I immediately quit sugar, honey, agave, anything except fresh fruit that tasted at all sweet. Within 2 weeks, I was in less pain.  At 3 weeks my hands felt almost normal.  I was still taking one dose of cat’s claw every morning, but never during the day or evening.

A few days ago, I didn’t read the label. I used an old jar of pad thai sauce.  Pad Thai doesn’t taste sweet to me. I didn’t think it could have sugar in it.  Within 2 hours, my hands were in pain.  I drank a glass of water with 18 drops cat’s claw extract.  My hands calmed down.  The label said this sauce was 38% sugar.  Yipes!  I only put a few spoonfuls of the sauce into the pad thai. I had made enough for 4 people.  So half a spoonful of a sauce that is 38% sugar is enough to cause pain.

Years ago, I went through all my cookie recipes and removed 1/3 of the sugar.  My husband wanted some gingerbread cookies.  I cut the sugar in half again, and substituted honey for the sugar.  Honey is not sucrose.  It’s a combination of glucose and fructose.  I used my small cookie cutters. I ate one cookie.  The pain was minor.  Honey is not sugar.  I used to eat two cookies. I used to use the big cookie cutters – the mermaid, the two-headed gingerbread man, the big rabbit.  Now one small cookie with 1/3 the original amount of sweetening is pushing my limits. It’s not something I’d eat every day, or even every week.

But I have discovered that fruit smoothies fill my urge for something sweet. I make those every day. I don’t crave cookies or other desserts.  They are no longer part of my regular diet.  My husband, the alien, has taken to buying extra candy bars for himself.  I can look at them in the fridge and not want even a nibble.  It’s not the fear of pain – it’s that they truly don’t appeal to me any more.   

I thought quitting sugar would be hard.  Thanks to fruit smoothies, it feels like I’m eating what I crave.  Yay for my blender!

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