How I Beat My Sugar Addiction

sugar enticingDear GreenSmoothieGirl: Please do an article on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. I am trying to stop eating sugar, but am SO weak!  I’ve been reading some recommended books, and trying to exercise willpower, and I still struggle.   I’m curious what your process was, that led to success, and how you’ve been able to stay off sugar.  I could do it before I had kids, but now it seems SO much harder. I’d love to hear your tips of how she was able to enjoy family time, birthdays, holidays, etc, without the sugar.

–Dixie

Answer: You got it, Dixie. First, today, the “how I did it” part of your question. Then, tomorrow, some data download on the artificial sweeteners and why they’ll kill ya. I’ll review aspartame (Nutrasweet), Truvia, Splenda, saccharin, maltitol, and stevia.

HOW I BEAT MY SUGAR ADDICTION

I really believe that to truly kick the sugar addiction, you have to go off it permanently, cold-turkey. Can an alcoholic just “cut back?” Can a cocaine addict do lines “just on the weekend?”

no sugar pleaseI’m not saying you will NEVER eat sugar again. (I can’t handle that thought either. I have come further than most, though, to say, “I will not eat it for a year.” Don’t think too far in the future. Think about a long period of time, though. Something that hurts your brain a little. Something challenging.)

What I AM saying is, as long as it’s going to be a casual indulgence, it’s going to be an addiction.

It doesn’t work like that, casually. Addiction to chemicals hijack the brain. It makes us less than we are. It makes us feel we have no “willpower” and aren’t in control of our weight, our life, our health.

Is it worth it? Is sugar worth the price we pay? Academically, we all know it isn’t.

One day, I got completely out of the sugar rat race. It was Sept. 11, 2011. Matthew Flinders and I bet $10,000 that we wouldn’t eat sugar for a year.

When the option was off the table, I stopped thinking about it. It’s so incredibly rare that I even think about sugar now. Seriously. It takes a matter of DAYS before you just quit thinking about it. (Why think about it? Is there a cookie that’s worth $10,000? There isn’t, right?)

comboI have other treats I *could* have. I love COCO MOJO in hot water with COCONUT MILK POWDER. (So much that I put it in my store.) I have a mug full at my computer nearly every day in the winter. After I have my green smoothie or veggie juice.

I have agave-sweetened coconut-milk “ice cream” in my freezer, and a fruit-juice sweetened dark-chocolate hot fudge in my refrigerator. It’s legal, I could eat it every day if I wanted, but sometimes it’s there for months and gets freezer burned. Ditto a case of maltitol-sweetened cookies that are in my closet, haven’t touched them in months.

It’s important to know I COULD IF I WANTED. I just don’t really care, most of the time.

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “now you’ve lost me. You’re not like me. I really don’t see the point in living, if it doesn’t involve my daily treats.”

sugar thoughtsNo, listen. I get it. I don’t know if anyone was a bigger sugar addict than me. Writing that treats sit in my freezer and closet are a big triumph, since I was a lifelong sugar addict. I have deep fillings in all my molars to prove it. Did I fight it more successfully than most? Yes, by sheer will. Like a daily arm wrestle. But in MY OWN RESEARCH, 65% of green smoothie drinkers have fewer cravings for sweets and processed food.

I, my friend, was in the 35%. I still wanted my damn treat.

But here’s something true. A weird thing happens when you get off REFINED sugar. All sugar seems less interesting.

I’m just not interested in brownies anymore. (OMG! Thank you for asking me this question, Dixie! I’ve been thinking about so many MORE INTERESTING THINGS THAN BROWNIES the past 18 months, I hadn’t even realized…….brownies aren’t interesting anymore, and my brain is occupied by better stuff now!)

At first, I’d go to a family birthday or Christmas or any number of other holiday parties, and just not dare LOOK at the dessert table. Now it doesn’t matter. I might look, but I don’t feel the cravings. Now when I look at mint chocolate brownies (my former favorite), it looks like a bunch of chemicals and food colorings and stuff. While I do have lots of memory of pleasure associated with that food, it isn’t particularly tempting.

readers-favorite-healthy-recipes-vol-1-350x350I enjoy celebrating, still. I eat the dinner, just not the dessert. If I were still in a place of feeling deprived, I’d take my own (raw, yummy, chocolately) treat. You can do that. Get our READERS FAVORITES books, or check out Ch. 11 of 12 STEPS TO WHOLE FOODS.

I’m over halfway through Year 2 on the Sugar Bet. Matthew did Year 1 with me as a test of his willpower–he loves games and contests–and didn’t want to do it forever. So I had to get Natalie Harris to do it with me as my first bet ended.

This year, I’m allowed to have sugar one day a month. Honestly, in 2013, thus far, I haven’t seen anything I wanted to eat enough to “use” my day. I’m banking them.

happy without sugarI’m not saying I’ll never eat sugar again. If I go to Las Vegas and get to the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan? Totally worth it. Ditto a five-star all-inclusive resort in Mexico, on a vacation.

But I am saying, it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (a) have sugar cravings no longer intruding into my thoughts, demanding my brain functions I need for higher things, making me ridiculously obsess about WILL I OR WON’T I TODAY?

And it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (b) discover that not only is life worth living without sugar? It’s just better.

My life is so much better without sugar.

I didn’t lose weight when I ditched sugar. (I ate little of it anyway. But I spent far more time THINKING about wanting to eat sugar and BATTLING it, than actually DOING it. This might be the definition of ANNOYING.)

I weighed 135-137 then, and I weigh 135-137 now.  I don’t really feel any different. I felt great then, and now.

incharge(I had learned MANY years ago to never, ever do it on an empty stomach. That made me sick from the time I was a hypoglycemic kid. I finally wised up and stopped doing it by my mid-20’s. Then I had a long phase of still eating sugar, but only after a healthy meal. Then a long phase of not eating sugar regularly, but still sometimes.)

So why am I still THRILLED that I’ve been totally “off sugar” for 18 months, if I didn’t lose weight or feel any different?

Because now I am in charge of my life. Only after getting free of the sugar demon am I able to look back and realize how CONTROLLED I was by Sugar’s pushy, interruptive, bossy presence in my life.

It was a gradual process, to realizing that I don’t hate my life without sugar.

You won’t either. Promise.

 

 

 

Nutrition for pregnant moms, babies, toddlers…..part 4 of 5

Today’s topic: NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY.

Remember, what you’re eating when you’re pregnant is also contributing to healthy blood, bones, tissues, and organs—or not.

It’s so painful for me to remember back to eating 7-11 nachos, Diet Coke, a Special Burger and fries (extra fry sauce!) at lunch, and Ben & Jerry’s after dinner, throughout my first pregnancy. I didn’t know any better. I assumed my body was making good fuel for my baby, out of the bad fuel I fed myself—as illogical as that is.

I imagine that’s why I not only gained 65 lbs., but it’s also why my baby developed significant auto-immune problems in his first year of life. With my later pregnancies, I was learning and implementing good nutrition strategies, and the babies were FAR healthier.

My last baby was (and still is, at age 12) completely healthy—never once a bacterial infection of any kind, never any antibiotics or meds or even doctor visits. The labor and delivery got easier, too, when I ate the right foods throughout the pregnancy and gained only 35 lbs. instead of 65!

I can’t even count how many times a 12 Steps to Whole Foods young mom has talked to me after a class I teach, and told me this:

“I’m so thrilled that I changed my diet to eat whole foods, because this last pregnancy has been my easiest and healthiest!”

I’ve had many moms tell me about major complications they had during their earlier pregnancies, while they were eating the Standard American Diet, and how all that changed when they embraced whole-foods fuel.

One mother in Texas told me that with her first 4 children, she was on bed rest, with terrible edema, and pre-eclampsia. As she told me this, she was 9 months pregnant, and beaming ear to ear. She said, “This is my first problem-free pregnancy. I’m about to deliver, and I’m so excited I learned all about whole foods from you.”

My diet now is the diet I would eat if I were pregnant again. The “pregnancy diet” is no different than the ideal diet for life.

It’s high in greens, in vegetables, and in fruits—80% of more of them raw. I also eat cooked legumes (beans, split peas, lentils), and whole grains (organic quinoa, whole wheat, rolled oats or oat groats, spelt, Kamut, buckwheat, millet—most of them sprouted before they are baked at low temperatures). I buy sprouted-grain (whole grain only) bread or English muffins or tortillas at the health food store. But I also make my own granola.

I eat nuts and seeds every day, some of them sprouted, many of them rich sources of essential fatty acids. I soak and dehydrate nuts and seeds to add to my granola.

I use coconut oil on my skin and in occasional baking, for medium-chain triglycerides. I always have a quart of green smoothie a day. Most days, I also have a glass of vegetable juice, although at many points in my life, I’ve not had the time to make juice, and now I hire someone to do it.

I choose big salads in restaurants. I don’t eat refined sugar, ever, nor do I ever drink soda, or eat processed meats, or pork or beef. I eat a 95 percent plant-based diet, and I keep refined foods or animal products at 5 percent or less.

While I was having my babies, I was learning how to do all that. It was new to me then—it is habit now. I didn’t give up sugar cold-turkey back then. I had fits and starts in dealing with my addiction.

My changes involved bucking “the system.” Lots of systems, in fact. The medical system. The social system of parties and barbecues and family events and Easter and Halloween and Christmas. The church system of keeping kids quiet in nursery and later, in class, with junk food. The family system of generations of “comfort foods” that contributed to my babies’ health problems. It wasn’t easy. But it was one of the BEST THINGS I’VE EVER DONE. I’ve never looked back, and I have absolutely zero regret.

What I did HAD TO BE DONE.

So, what I’ve just described my diet being now is a great diet for a pregnant or nursing mom. It’s a terrible idea for a pregnant mom to eat a diet high in refined carbs. The baby does need good protein for brain health, and overall for building. There’s plenty of protein in nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and greens.

If you avoid those good food categories, eating a vegan diet, you’re likely to develop dental problems, blood sugar issues, and fatigue-related disorders. If you want more protein, I suggest a scoop of our whole-food, vegan protein powder added to your green smoothies.

Doctors tell women to eat lots of protein, and everyone’s first thought with protein is meat and dairy. Those are “perfect proteins,” to be sure. But “perfect” doesn’t meant “better”—it just mean it is protein the body doesn’t have to assemble from amino acids, because it matches human flesh very closely. Protein from greens, seeds, legumes, grains, and nuts is protein the body has to work harder to build muscle with. But it’s far more durable muscle mass.

Always eat protein when you’re eating sugars. For instance, if you have a green smoothie and yours is high in fruits, eat a handful of almonds, too, or a bowl of lentil or split pea soup. Or add a scoop of protein powder. I make my green smoothies as high in greens, and as low in fruits, as I can tolerate. Slow down and regulate impact on blood sugar, by eating FIBER and QUALITY PROTEIN. This is how you can, with lifelong habits, avoid insulin problems and eventual diabetes, which currently most of our population is heading toward.

Don’t undertake a major, radical detox program while you’re pregnant or in the first year of nursing. As toxins range your body, on their way out, they flush through a developing fetus, and through your breast milk, as well.

Again, don’t take my advice in lieu of competent practitioner care and counsel.

Tomorrow, we talk once again about WHAT TO DO ABOUT PICKY KIDS.

 

Seven reasons not to drink soda…..part 1 of 2

I watch the addiction of a few people close to me, to soda. One of my closest friends drinks it every day and calls it her “binky.” She kicks the habit but always goes back—because when she quits diet soda, she finds herself taking up sugar. Another tells me he is not addicted but seems to be in denial. I see him drink it 2 or 3 times a day. I’m not saying this to judge—just to express my concern, because soda is not food. It’s toxic acid.

One of my tennis teammates is 70 years old, athletic and quick and has never been overweight. One of the Jackson brothers, two local osteopathic surgeons, told her regarding a surgery they were planning related to her arthritis, “If you are going to drink soda after the surgery, I won’t do it. It will just quickly undo my work.”

If you drink soda, you can virtually guarantee that you will have arthritis by age 50. (Both my parents, nearing 70, have “bone on bone” arthritis problems, and neither of them drink soda.)

Oh, and guess what. I don’t care how young you are—50 is coming up faster than you think! If you’re 25 and think that when you’re 50, you’re washed up and don’t care about anything anyway (I thought this when I was 25)…..well, you’re wrong. When you’re 50, you love your life, you want lots more of it, you care about how you look, you’re a sexual person, and you have lots of goals. (For some reason, 5 years from that age myself right now, I feel the need to tell 20-somethings to care more about their future! I wish I had! I wish I didn’t eat so much sugar in my 20’s and get so much sun.)

I wonder if seven sobering facts about accelerated aging and disease risk from drinking soda would help any of my friends—including you?—kick the habit? Share this with anyone you know who loves the burn of carbonation—or is addicted to the caffeine rush—or maybe both.

I’ve been quizzing my readers who talk to me at classes about their soda addiction. I ask them what they like about it, and carbonation is a major answer. Try drinking kombucha from the health food store once a day instead. Synergy brand is most popular. Or if you need the caffeine boost and haven’t gotten your nutrition to the level where it sustains you, rather than needing the caffeine kick, drink an unsweetened, or stevia-sweetened bottled green tea from the health food store.

Tomorrow, the 7 reasons…..

Nutrition is usually a gradual process of changes and improvement!

I think it’s important you know how gradual my health changes were. Because I don’t want you to be discouraged if you like how you feel eating whole foods, but your problems didn’t disappear overnight.

I’ve written about 21 health problems I had in my 20’s that have all gone the way of the Dodo.

Aren’t people supposed to develop more and more health problems the older they get? We’ve come to think of this as normal and inevitable. I have a tennis teammate, Gloria, who will NOT divulge her age. She has a beautiful little body that any 30-year old would love to have, she eats right, and she’s never been overweight in her life. But her daughter plays with us and is 52! That puts Gloria well into her 70’s, and I’m telling you, she is an excellent tennis player, runs as fast as we do, and doesn’t have joint problems!

So, you might start drinking green smoothies and even though you’ve read the crazy-awesome testimonials people send to me on this site, you aren’t at your ideal weight with all health conditions gone.

Me neither. I started making serious changes at 28 years old, but they were gradual and hit-or-miss for quite a while. Two steps forward, one step back. I was 100% about it for my little boy, whose health crisis was desperate, but I was still addicted to some processed foods and didn’t quite give up animal products. I gradually read more, implemented more, conquered my addictions more—but not overnight. My behavior lagged behind my education. I was frustrated by that, mad at myself, sometimes.

I was diagnosed with 20/20 vision when I was 40—that was the last degenerative condition to completely resolve. That and insomnia, which resolved when I started taking amazing fulvic acid (now in the form of GreenSmoothieGirl Ultimate Minerals)—love the minerals, the chelating ability, the detoxifying ability, the power in that product. My eyesight was completely restored after 12 years of an increasingly whole-foods, plant-based diet.

All the other problems disappeared much faster than that—some were virtually overnight. Quick to disappear were all my hypoglycemia and eczema. (Seasonal allergies took quite a few years and happened when I started eating raw local honey.)

The migraines ended when I completely gave up artificial sweetener and caffeine.   Circulation problems (cold hands and feet) went away when I started to get medium-chain fatty acids in the form of coconut oil in my diet and on my skin. The weight problem went away when I quit eating sugar every day.

I quit getting sick when I stopped eating sugar every day and started eating probiotic (cultured) foods. My energy returned, more and more—what I ended up with is something I wouldn’t have had the vision to hope for. I have tons of energy, every day, from early till late.

But let me say this, and it’s important: green smoothies alone would not have been enough for me. I would have been still overweight—but just less so, and healthier.

More commitment is needed, more than just green smoothies. Take more steps!

Halloween Controversy: better to feed candy to the homeless? or nothing?

Last year on Halloween, I posted that I pay my kids $20 for the privilege of dumping their Halloween candy in the trash outside. On facebook, I have the interesting situation of 90% of my personal page’s friends being GSG readers, and 10% being people I actually know. One of my high-school friends, cheerleader Beth, who has no idea who I am 25 years later, protested:   “Awww, don’t throw the candy away, give it to the homeless!”

A few of my more vociferous readers pounced on her. She had no idea what she’d gotten herself into, poor girl. She wasn’t on the GSG page with 13,000 people who know exactly what we’re all doing there.

She was on the Robyn Openshaw page—for all she knew, I was that girl she left the high-school campus with, at lunch, to get 7-11 Nachos and a Diet Coke.

When I was at CHI spending 16+ hours per day with the same 15 people, only one heated argument broke out. It was on this topic: “Is it wasting food, to throw away candy?” A mother, Esther, and her two adult daughters, Kendra and Melinda, had apparently been “going the rounds” on this subject.

I inadvertently stepped on that land mine when I said, “I don’t want to poison my own kids–why would I want to poison homeless people?” KABLAM, the room instantly divided into two camps.

You know without even thinking what the response will be: “But homeless people don’t get enough to eat! It’s not like homeless kids are eating salad anyway, or have any options! Who cares what their nutrition is—they’re just trying to survive.”

I opt out of those conversations at that point, because they’re a little contentious. But if you ASKED me, I’d say that generally in America, the homeless are not in jeopardy of having a choice between going hungry versus eating candy.

Actually, I could go on all day with my more indirect arguments to that line of reasoning. (If I thought anybody cared.) Okay, just a little academic argument here, acknowledging right up front that I know the homeless aren’t academic—they’re real people, trying to survive. I get it.

But for instance, did you know that the #1 factor related to longevity is LOW-CALORIE DIET? Yep, when people are calorie-suppressed for many, many years, they live a long time! Really thin people have minimal disease risk. Whenever I say this, I just about get strung up from the nearest tree. Check out my report on what the weight charts should REALLY be–this is John McDougall’s stuff, okay? Not mine. But it’s interesting and (sorry!) really valid:

http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/nutrition-manifesto/healthy-height-and-weight-chart/

I realize it’s not politically correct to advocate for extreme thinness! I am just making an observation: the low end of our weight charts are the UPPER end of the weights of cultures who have impressive longevity.

My points are, related to whether we give the Halloween candy to the “less fortunate” families/kids, or do the whole world a favor by throwing it away:

  1. Kids who eat candy are HUNGRIER as a result. Sugar just fuels food obsession and cravings. So you fill their belly with fun-sized Snickers. Guess what: they then want MORE of it, not just in two hours, but the next day, and the next day, and the next. They are little addicts. Poor kids are America’s fattest kids. Sure, the poorest among us are the most addicted–but is it my job to feed the addictions?
  2. IS IT REALLY better to give them candy, than nothing? Pretty sure going without—(within reason, of course, I’m aware we do have to eat SOMETIME)—would be better. Less comfortable, but much healthier.
  3. It’s a matter of principle for me. I’m just not going to feed people toxic fuel. It goes against everything I believe in. It was HARD for me, at first, to throw candy away. I compost everything, for crying out loud! I grow my own food! I buy very little stuff in boxes and cans! BUT. If it’s poison for my kid (and it is!), it’s poison for everyone. Bottom line: I feel more guilty feeding someone else’s child candy than I do throwing out “perfectly good food.” Read about 1,000 books on the nutritional-deficiency health crisis in America as I have, and you will never look at candy the same way again. You will not see it as “food.”

I think I will make a new rule for myself, in honor of the reflecting I’ve done writing this blog entry.   From now on, for every $20 I pay my child to throw his candy away, I will also donate $20 (or more) to our homeless shelter, earmarked for raw plant foods. In fact, maybe I will come up with a fund to start making sure they have leafy green salads, and veggies and fruits at the shelters here.   Hmmmm, I’m glad I wrote this blog…..now I’m thinking about a plan……

17 gallons of green smoothie!

That’s how much green smoothie my daughter, Emma, made for nearly 1,000 people who came to my local classes in Orem, Layton and Sandy a few weeks ago! It was a cases of the fishes and the loaves—-thanks to Dixie cups!

My favorite moment besides the AWESOME return-to-health stories we heard was a lady on the front row. She’d already confessed when I asked for a show of hands, “Who has no idea what this racket is, and got dragged here by someone who loves you?”

I read a few pages from my children’s book, The Adventures of Junk Food Dude, where Green Smoothie Guy suggests to his new friend, Junk Food Dude:

“Try not eating sugar for four days!” (“Then good food will taste great!”)

Upon that statement, the lady on the front row gasped, “OH MY LORD!”

As if 4 days without sugar might kill her. I cracked up. It is what it is. That white stuff is the most addictive substance on Planet Earth.

And then, out of 300 people in the room, she won the 12 Steps to Whole Foods course and whooped it up, which made my night.

Check out an excerpt of this email from Kim Newhouse in Arizona, with the photos she sent us:

“I won the [12 Steps to] Whole Foods Course when Robyn came to Tucson and I wanted to show you all what I’ve been doing with it! My birthday was coming up so I decided to do a ‘Green Smoothie Demo Party’ with my friends. It was so successful that I did another one the following week, opening it up to the first 15 people who signed up from our buying club (we order Azure Standard, Frontier Wholesale, local honey and other foods together–there are a couple hundred on our yahoo group from all over Southern Arizona. In fact, one of our members was your volunteer who ate the plate of greens!) Everyone had so much fun that we’ve decided to have GSG parties every Friday and Saturday night of the first weekend of each month!

My husband made a list on the web where individuals can sign up for an ingredient to bring to make a recipe that’s featured in the selected videos we’ll be watching. We obviously made the smoothies the first time and this time we’ll be doing super salads, 2 dressings, and the almond joy fudge! We’ll do the fudge first and stick it in the freezer while we watch the other videos and assemble salads…by the time we’re done eating those, the fudge will be ready to enjoy

You’ve got many new followers in Tucson now! Here’s a testimonial from a 21 year old who attended my first party (she has 7 siblings):

“We all love the green smoothies and are making them at least once a day with ginger, bee pollen, kale, collard greens, chard, spinach, cabbage, chia, flax oil, and fruit. My brothers think they are dessert and say we haven’t made a green smoothie they didn’t like yet. Thank you so much for opening your home for green smoothie night and we are looking forward to the next one!”