Disclaimer warning: If you start reading this post only to ask yourself why the heck am I putting this out here, please know that one of the purposes of this blog is to keep myself accountable. If it’s out there and I fail you will be my judge.
I’m not sure what it is that prompts people to commit to a New Year’s Resolution around this time of year, but the sudden desire to better myself at something come January 1st has overcome me as well this morning. You could say that we are being bombarded by the media telling us from every corner of the house that a new year is beginning and hence we should work on our resolution lists. However, my TV is never on – I hate the constant blaring of TV so unless there is something specific I want to watch it stays off, I only listen to the radio on the way to work in the car – and it’s the public radio for that. In fact, the only way I know what time of year it is is because I am not waking up every morning to go to work, and even then I need to look it up in the calendar to see how many days left til we’re all back to reality. So, what is it that makes me want to hop on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon? Maybe I’m just sick and tired of this lala land without any schedule whatsoever, getting up whenever I feel like, skipping gym or washing my hair, maybe I just want back into the real world…. Now, this makes me think: Is this what retirement is like?
Whatever the reason, I’ve decided that I too should show my allegiance to the millions of people trying to make their lives better this coming year and change something about mine. Given my last post, it only makes sense for my resolution to revolve around food. Yes, there is one thing that I am still working on improving as far as food choices are concerned – sweeteners.
If I was to pick one vice, one weakness that still plagues my life it would be my sweet tooth… well maybe also not wanting to leave the house after dark, but that’s not food related ;-)…. I’ve been known to skip supper and instead make myself a sweet treat – lately I’ve been on a coconut pancake kick. But I go through phases of different treats – a long time ago it used to be protein ice-cream…
then I couldn’t stop making mug cakes….
There was even a time when I’d eat this delicious store bought no-sugar added So Delicious coconut ice-cream. Notice that these were from an era of IIFYM when sugar was an accepted ingredients of my deserts as long as it fit my macros – the ice-cream was sugar free, but the toppings were certainly not. Hard to believe I these were my nightly treats.
and for the past little while it’s been my beloved big ass pancake….
Every night, like in a Swiss clock, I’d be at my stove going through the motions of preparing for yet another pancake. I now have it down path: whip the eggwhites in the food processor until stiff peaks form while I measure out the coconut flour and my various toppings (nut butters, nuts, coconut flakes, cocoa powder with stevia and few drops of water to make it into a paste – you name it I can whip it up). It’s become a type of a tradition now, but I’m getting sick of it. A tradition that makes you feel like a slave to your urges is not a good tradition. Sure, I make it by myself – the pancake is not store-bought, there is no sugar in it – I use pure Stevia extract drops to sweeten my pancake batter, it has minimal ingredients that I weigh out, I also track every gram of every ingredient in my food tracking app – MFP. Granted, I feel better about my pancake than I would if I was sitting down to a bag of Doritos, that’s true, but is it really that much better?
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not that much better after all. I have become enslaved to my little tradition and I seem to be unable to stop. That one night treat will go down every single night regardless of whether I’m hungry or not – I just simply have to have it or I will feel deprived. And that feeling of deprivation right there has nothing to do with food or hunger – it has to do with the hold that sweeteners have had on my life for quite some time. I’ve gone through an array of safe to consume, better sweeteners :
Truvia (I was careful enough not to buy the big bags as those are blends that often time contain sugar as a bulk agent),
VitaFiber IMO (Isomaltooligosaccharide),
Just Like Sugar,
You name them, I’ve probably used them. There is a chapter of my life that I recently managed to close permanently in which I craved the sweet stuff so much that you’d be hard pressed to see me without a huge piece of aspartame sweetened chewing gum in my mouth – hardly able to speak. I thought since my gum had no sugar in it, I was safe to chew it to my heart’s content. Same happens to an artificially sweetened nightly treat – it does not contain sugar in it, so what’s the harm in it, right? That’s exactly what the manufacturers of all these sugar replacements will have you believe – they are better than the obvious white poison, but are they really?
Even after reducing my sweetener of choice to the one and only, better-than-all-the-rest-of-them – SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia – I still find myself strangely drawn to the sweet taste, like an addict to her poison. In the morning I might actually resolve myself to not making a sweet night treat, but as the day goes on my resolve weakens and I find myself planning for the pancake anyway. I hear myself saying : “Just this last time and then I’ll be done with it forever”. And by the time the evening comes and we are quietly awaiting some TV viewing I start going through my well known steps to make yet another sweet treat.
I now believe that it’s the case with all sweeteners (good, bad, natural, artificial etc.) that there is much more at play than just their caloric value. Sure, when you look at the package, most sugar replacers will claim 0 calories and 0 carbs or very close to 0 – this is supposed to make them better than sugar – but calories and carbs are only part of the equation of the relationship with sweeteners that we have developed. In fact, I’ve learned to believe (based on my own experience) that those calories and carb claims on the packages make us more likely to overindulge. We have come to think that if the package says there is no dietary repercussions to consuming a given food we can gorge on it and there will be no consequences for us. Finally, we can have the cake and eat it too! And I’ve been eating it way too much.
It might not be a physical consequence – even though that’s a point of debate – but there certainly is a mental consequence. When you can’t go a day without your favorite aspartame sweetened soda or gum – or as is now the case for me, a Stevia sweetened nightly treat – there is a problem : you have got yourself hooked on the sweet taste. If addiction doesn’t scare you, because supposedly you are not consuming calories let me remind you that the research on all these sweeteners is still in its infancy and we know very little as to how they affect our bodies. It matters very little that you are not consuming calories when you sweeten your coffee with Sweet ‘n Low if your blood glucose might still be going up as a response to the sweet taste? If your blood glucose is up, the insulin is released to deal with it, couple that with a pasta dish and a fat storing process begins without you even realising.
So this time is good as any – my New Year’s Resolution this year is to say no to the sweet stuff and learn to live without even the good sweet stuff.