Friday, April 8, 2011

No Sugar Added (part 1)

There's a battle being waged in the United States, at the moment. Actually, there are several; however, it's the fat war that is probably the most significant to people on a personal level. It should be, at any rate. Me? I'm all into the fight for the environment, because that's all about what we can do for our kids and our grand kids, etc, but, people being mostly self-focused, the war against food should be more prominent. I say the war against food, but, perhaps, what I should say is the war for food, because a lot of what we (that being  the collective we, not me) eat is not actually food at all. It's just chemicals and additives, and it's destroying lives.

I'm going to get off the soap box, now, because this really isn't a post about that. Besides, you can go pick up any random package of food in your house and look down the list of ingredients and see how many of them that you actually recognize. And how many things don't start with "high fructose corn syrup."

A few years ago, my wife and I made a huge lifestyle change. Let me just make it clear that we didn't go on a "diet." Diets don't work (don't argue with me about that, statistics back up what I'm saying as an actual fact, not an opinion). Diets don't work, because people see "going on a diet" as a temporary change to reach a desired goal. Once said goal is achieved, they revert back to what they were doing before the diet, and, of course, end up back where they started. Or worse. So... my wife and I didn't go on a diet; we made a lifestyle change.

It was actually a fairly simple thing to do, although people always stare at me in disbelief when I say  this and, inevitably, respond with "I could never do that." To a certain extent, I can understand that. However, having done it, I can't. I reacted the same way when my wife said she wanted to do this, although it wasn't the thing in and of itself that was the issue for me; it was the soda. See, my wife said to me that she wanted us to cut sugar out of our diets. Not just sugar, really, but simple carbs. That means sugar, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and white flour. There are some other things, but those are the big ones.

I grew up on soda. I mean that. Didn't drink anything else. Not even water. Well, there was milk at school. Chocolate milk (which has just as much sugar). Because that was the only option (the milk, not the chocolate), but, otherwise, I drank soda. Coca~Cola, preferably, but, as long as it was carbonated, I'd drink it. Almost. So the idea of giving up soda, which had pretty much been my sole beverage for 30 years and more, was pretty daunting to me. I wasn't sure if I could do it.

It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I just quit buying it.

Now, there are a lot of directions I could take this, at this point. For instance, I could tell you about the weight loss. I could tell you about the increased health. Increased health not just from the weight loss but from eating better food. After all, when you cut everything with HFCS in from your shopping list, you have to replace it with something (for us that meant more raw foods). I could you tell you about mood improvement. However, I'm going to tell you about just one thing: taste.

I don't think you can understand how much flavor fruits and vegetables have just on their own. I never knew. We process the flavor out of everything. Or drown it in sugar. Everything! It's horrible. Carrots are sweet. Did you know that? So are bell peppers. And they taste different depending upon what color they are. I like the red and orange ones the best. I never knew they had flavor variations before we dropped the sugar from our diet. It was all AMAZING! Trying new foods suddenly became something I wanted to do rather than dreading it.

We live in a culture that wants to homogenize everything. The big melting pot. Food. People. Entertainment. Fit in. Go with the flow. Drench yourself in corn syrup and blend in. I'm not for that. I'm for cutting the sugar out of our lives. The real and the metaphorical. Don't blend in. Don't be like everyone else. Have your own taste. Your own flavor.

I'd like to say that writers have a leg up on that over other people, but I look at what's available on  the reading shelves (especially after some huge hit of a book), and I know that's not true. We are just as prone to jumping on band wagons as everyone else. What I'm saying is that it's time to find our own wagons.

And to put just one other slant on this, as writers, we often get stuck in patterns. We have our own "sugar" that we coat everything with. I could name authors who started out good (and I mean good) but had their own brand of sugar that they poured all over all of their writing so that it all ended up tasting the same. The problem with that is that you only need to read that author once and you've really read everything they've ever done.

Don't sugar coat your lives. Or your food. Be different. Change things up. Develop your own flavor and your own taste!

Next: How this all affects... coffee!


  1. That was quite the segue. There we are, humming along in third gear at a nice 30 MPH, and kablam, slammed down to second, RPMs shoot up and VTEC kicks in. Gone.

    I have to say, I agree on both points.

  2. Loved the segue! So TRUE and very insightful. "Sugar-coated," "processed," "frozen," and "deep fried" don't work for food or writing :)

  3. I agree, however....I don't think I would be very happy without sugar! I love candy way too much. I do eat a lot of fresh foods as that is how I was brought up, No TV dinners or McDonalds when you are feeding eleven children. No soda either. Great Post I enjoy reading your point of view on the subjects you have touched so far.

  4. We've been trying to cut down on white sugar and artificial sweeteners too. Soda is for every once in awhile, but I don't drink diet coke anymore (and I LOVED diet coke) because of the weirdo stuff that makes it diet. You know what's surprisingly good? Club soda (which, as far as I know, is just water and carbonation) and juice. Just a splash of juice makes a nice soda substitute. I can't stay away from hot chocolate with whip cream though :)

  5. I agree about the war for food. We've gone a different direction to start with in my house, by cutting out numbered food dyes and trying to only use natural dyes in them. You'd be shocked how many foods have these dyes in them, and the dyes have a petroleum base (used to be coal tar). In other words, nasty stuff. Sodas are out of the house and I use wheat flour for as much as possible, but sugar and refined flour aren't completely out...yet. It's a process. I also agree on sugar-coated writing, and could name at least one author I used to love who now just writes the same thing over and over again. ~sad sigh~

  6. Josh: What can I say? At least, I didn't slam it into reverse.

    Sam: No, they don't. Kick me if you ever catch me doing it.

    Jennifer: I've resorted to dark chocolate. It's actually good for you, and there's not much sugar. The kind I usually eat is 72% cocoa.

    Jess: All the studies show that diet soda is just as bad as regular soda, if not worse. The body reacts to them the exact same way. We do soda water occassionally, but, in general, I just can't bring myself to buy bottled water when I can get it from the tap. And I'll just ditto what I said about dark chocolate.

    Shannon: Yeah, the dyes are bad. We pretty much cut those out, though, by cutting out sugar. They're just now finding out that the dye used in soda is really bad for the heart.
    As for authors, I will name one (because he's dead): David Eddings. I love love love The Belgariod, but everything that came after was the same.

  7. Hi Andrew! I just discovered your blog, what an interesting post. I can so relate to your comments about soda, I stopped drinking it about a year ago and it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I've recently become more aware of what I eat, and am working on making healthier choices. I really enjoyed reading this!

  8. I just awarded you a blog award. Stop by my blog and check it out.

  9. Julie: I'm glad. I'm sure more food related stuff will pop up, since that's a fairly significant part of our lives.

    Jennifer: Wow! Thanks! I'll check it right out!

  10. This is a really great post :) I try to keep my consumption of simple sugars to a minimum, but I don't know if I could go 100%. The occasional piece of high quality chocolate or baked good would be hard for me to give up... I just try to practice moderation, not always easy in a society of excesses.

  11. Well, chocolate is sort of the exception, as long as you stick to dark chocolate. The darker you can stand the better.