Sugar high

March 21, 2010 at 9:06 am 2 comments

Brad was standing in front of the freezer with the door open.  “Where are all the Thin Mints?”

“Um…”  I don’t know.  They were stolen by Thin Mint thieves.  The Girl Scouts had a huge Thin Mint recall and I had to give them all back.  “Alissa ate them all?”

He looked at me with amusement.  “Alissa ate three boxes of Thin Mints all by herself?”

I nodded.  “She really likes them.”

Brad laughed.  “I don’t think so.  And I know I only had a few of them, so…”  He trailed off and looked at me, smirking.  Crap.  Caught chocolate-handed.

Yes, I ate most of three boxes of Thin Mints.  In two weeks.  I blame it on the Girl Scouts; they shouldn’t make a wafer of such chocolatey minty goodness.  You think “just a couple” as you open up the box, and before you know it an entire sleeve is gone and you’re feeling a bit lightheaded from the rush as the sugar hits your brain.  Or maybe that’s just me.

I am addicted to sugar.  I love it in about any form: Candy.  Cake.  Brownies.  Ice cream.  I adore all things classified as bread: Muffins.  Bagels.  Breadsticks.  I’ve never met a carb I didn’t like.  (I should mention, however, that there is one sugary little treat I don’t like: Peeps.  Dad loves them.  Gross.)  And I don’t just want something sugary, it’s more of a I WANT IT NEED IT GOTTA HAVE IT NOW kind of thing.

Unfortunately, my muffin-love has led to muffin-top.  Like many of the women in my father’s family before me, I carry my weight in my middle.  I’ve never had a flat stomach; even at 18 and 127 pounds (oh, those were the days) I still had a poochy-pooch.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about prediabetes and metabolic syndrome, an indicator that diabetes might be in the future.  The number one indicator of metabolic syndrome?  A spare tire.  Oh, goody.  My reading coupled with the recent Thin Mint incident has convinced me that I need to clean up my diet and come down from my sugar high.

Or sugar low, actually.  Sure, I can blame my lack of energy on the fact that I’m up with kids multiple times every night, but I know my diet is also making me feel lethargic and listless.  Not to mention keeping me pudgy.

We eat too much processed foods – we as a society in general; we as a family specifically.  I have had entire days go by when I haven’t consumed a fresh fruit or vegetable.  I rely too heavily on frozen and boxed items for dinners, because they are cheap to buy and easy to make.  My two-year-old – a born snacker, just like her daddy – would subsist on Goldfish crackers, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs if I let her.  I have to get our eating back on track before the sugar & carb habit becomes too deeply ingrained in my children.

I’ve started reading labels.  On a trip to the grocery store yesterday, I read every label of every item that I picked up from the shelf.  And what I discovered (and I know I’m tardy to this party because lots of others have figured this out before me) is that we think we’re eating healthy because we read only what the big letters on the packaging say instead of reading the fine print.  We fall right into the marketers’ tricks.  (And it’s all tricks, as someone who used to be in marketing can tell you.  It’s all smoke and mirrors and misdirection.)

For instance.  I love waffles.  I know the waffles I normally get don’t have much to offer nutritionally.  No biggie, I thought.  I’ll switch to Nutrigrain Low-fat waffles. Did you know just because they’re marketed as being made with “whole grain” doesn’t actually make it so?  In fact, if you look at the ingredients, the first one listed is enriched flour.  “Enriched flour” is code for “bleached, processed, and nutritionally-deficient.”  Before, I would have just picked it up from the shelf, thrown it in the cart, and not thought twice about shoving it in my face the next morning.  This time, though, I put it back on the shelf and we had breakfast burritos instead.  Made from real eggs and real sausage.

Real foods, that’s the key.  Processed foods have their place, but what I am now focusing on are foods that still remember where they came from.  Fruits and vegetables that are fresh or frozen (which still holds most of its nutritional value because they are processed and frozen the same day they are picked).  Brown rice and whole grains.   Learning to enjoy sugar in moderation.   Avoiding caffeine, which is also a huge deal for me.

It’s tough, I gotta say.  I’m not a good cook and that makes it more challenging for me to come up with healthy stuff for my family.  However, I attended a cooking class last week that focused on fixing healthy meals for your family.  The instructor gave us handouts with easy recipes and a list of healthy choices for snacks and lunches.  Most of the things on the list were easy and and I realized they were things that even I could make.

Grocery stores don’t make it very easy, either.  Items with a higher profit margin are those that stay on the shelves longer, so those are the ones that get high profile placement in the stores.  The key for me is to stick to the “fresh” areas of the store and only duck into the aisles as needed to get what’s on my list.  The other key (for me, anyway) is to STAY OUT OF THE BAKING AISLE at all costs.

I’ll never lead a totally sugar-free, carb-free, caffeine-free, wheat-free, taste-free lifestyle and I’m not sure I really want to.  But I’ll consider myself successful if 95% of the time I choose a healthier option over the unhealthier one.  Maybe if I shed the muffins, I can also shed the muffin-top.

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Entry filed under: Life in general.

I can totally relate. It's a miracle!

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