Thursday, July 22, 2010

get the SUGAR out!

I've recently had a few "Ah-Hah" moments when I said to myself "She was so smart!" and "He knew it all along!" They were moments when I remembered someone or something that at the time seemed insignificant to my life, but now means so much more. The first was triggered by my father-in-law: he doesn't eat sugar. He just doesn't. The second was a simple memory of my college roommate, Megan, who minored in nutrition. I always knew she was a genius. 

These newly appreciated memories surfaced when I opened this little book that had been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read.  What book is it, you might be asking? Get the Sugar Out, by Ann Louise Gittleman.
photo taken from

It really started with my father-in-law, bless his heart, he gave me the book and I need to thank him for it. His quest to eliminate sugar started several years ago when he was searching for the cure to the headaches he had been suffering for years. And you know what--it worked. And his example over the years has caused me to pay more attention now. There is no better time than now! This newer edition of the book has a different cover than mine, but that makes no difference--the content is life-changing. Life Changing.

It took several years of the book sitting on my shelf before I opened it and read it. I was dreading the experience; another nutrition book that would tell me I was doing things all wrong and that would tell me to make drastic changes that I couldn't maintain or enjoy.

Nope, I was wrong. Imagine that. :) And thank heavens!

Here are a few key things I am learning and why they are so important...

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs, or simple sugars, are digested quickly, enter the blood stream quickly, and cause both a fast rise in blood sugar levels and an increase in insulin levels, resulting in a drastic drop in blood-sugar levels. Complex carbs, however, are digested more slowly, enter the blood stream more gradually, and do not trigger intense fluctuation in blood-sugar levels and insulin production. How does this translate into everyday food? Like this:

Processed foods, including granulated sugar, white flour, white pastas and breads, etc. equal simple sugars.

Whole wheats, grains, and natural sugars such as pure maple syrup and honey or fruit, equal complex carbohydrates and sugars.

Ann Louise Gittleman goes into more detail (but is so easy to understand) and gives an amazing explanation of the extensive health research surrounding sugar in the body--but I'm not qualified to expound on all that information. Just know that reading about it will open your eyes and inspire you to make better choices. When you're ready, read it.

So here are a few of the changes I've made

Whole grain rice instead of white rice. And wheat berries quickly available to be ground in the wheat-grinder when called for.

My cupboards have been cleaned out and are now filled with beautiful jars of nuts, seeds, whole grain pastas and seasonings. I LOVE the bulk section at the store that allows me to buy nutritious food for a much more reasonable price. When my kids want a snack, if it's not fresh fruit or carrot sticks, we have nuts--cashews, almonds and pecans--sunflower seeds and dried fruit.

These are a few of the natural sweeteners and other sugar-free things I am learning to use. Molasses, Honey, and pure maple syrup are the easiest sweeteners to use. I don't have it in this photo, but I also picked up some sugar made from evaporated sugarcane juice. A few other choices I am hoping to try soon are date sugar and brown rice syrup. You can also see Balsamic vinegar and rice vinegar in this photo because...

One key to getting rid of unnecessary and unwanted sugar is to read the labels of condiments and dressings. There are so many places where sugar is hidden in the things we eat and I did not even realize it (even in lunch meat!). Using oils and vinegars and lemon juice or other natural seasonings is just a much healthier choice.

The whole point is to eat less refined, processed, simple sugars. And when you do eat sugar, eat the kind that still has some of it's natural nutritional value--yes, sugar can have some nutritional value. Eating more whole grains, balanced with the right fats and protein is vital.

A large part of this change in how I eat and cook and think, has been motivated by my recent realization that wanting to lose weight and actually trying to lose weight are two different things. Even with regular exercise, without the right diet I was steadily putting on the pounds. Using self-control to regulate portion sizes and cravings has made a huge difference, in addition to the benefits of my new food choices. I am losing weight (almost six pounds in just two weeks) and feeling great. This is how I want to feel all the time. This is how I want my children to feel--healthy and able to run and play (and think) with all the energy of a healthy life!

I am so glad to be surrounded by people like my father-in-law and my college roommie who know about important things that I have missed before now. I am sure there are more of you geniuses around me who know a whole heck of a lot more and I'm just too distracted to notice.  How I wish I had taken at least one nutrition class in school! How I wish I had read that book sooner! But how glad I am to know what I know now! :) It's crazy how a little knowledge begs for more... I am hungry for more knowledge but I don't have a single sugar craving! Yes! :)


  1. Great post! Amazing how we are told to store sugar, but I think it is for food preservation, that to eat. I'll have to check out that book, might be a keeper :)

  2. Whoa did I just get a mention as a genius!? You're too kind. Good job on the switch from white and simple grains to whole grains. I probably should eat my own words more often cause I certainly do enjoy sweets. Hope you are well!!!

  3. Have you heard of soaking grains? It is so awesome and it makes whole wheat breads/brown rice taste similar to white. Not to mention how HEALTHY and vitamin rich it becomes by doing this process...