Tag Archives: no sugar

Everyday It Is Simply About Making Better Choices

Little choices go a long way. Last week I decided, as I was drinking part of an afternoon Pepsi, that I would give up sodas for the month of March. It’s not a big thing. And as I was amazed to learn from the container, the entire 20 oz drink only has 250 calories. I don’t know what I thought it had, but that number didn’t seem scary. Still I am off the sodas. And this one is going to be easy for me.

I’m taking a step towards my fitness and health goal and away from the bad habit that put the Pepsi bottle on my desk in the first place.

I love a coke every now and then. But the rush of sugar is really what I’m craving. And sugar cravings are the enemy. One coke during the day and I’m going to be craving sugar for the rest of the day. Nope. Not this month.

I find ways to substitute other things for the things that are less beneficial. For example today I wanted my Pepsi but instead I am having a bubbly water. Same ice, same cool drink, same bubbles, zero sugar. That’s an easy substitution. And while 250 calories doesn’t seem like a lot, over the course of a week, drinking say 3 of them… That’s what I’m cutting out.

250caloriesI’ve had success before, going cold turkey on things like sugar, caffeine, so this is not going to be hard. But it is a step towards my fitness and health goal and away from the bad habit that put the Pepsi bottle on my desk in the first place.

Now, what am I going to have for lunch?

It’s always how much and what you eat. Yes, exercise, but watch your intake. You can’t out exercise a poor diet. Not possible. Eat better. Drink better. Walk further. And keep going.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

Pancakes for Everyone Else But Me

I love pancakes. But I need the butter and syrup to make them extraordinary. So, today, at breakfast I made a smashing round of Pumpkin Spiced pancakes (organic ingredients only) and fed them to my kids. Yes we had the organic maple syrup. And I had two eggs over easy.

What I’m really craving, most of the time is energy. The afternoon sag in my physical energy is more pronounced if I stayed up late the night before.

This is one of the lessons I’m learning about being a parent AND watching what I eat: I don’t have to force my regimen onto my kids. Sure, it’s easier if I start restricting everyone from sugar and processed foods, and I do, but there’s no reason for them to have pancakes.

When I am by myself (I’m a divorced father) I don’t keep tasty treats or fat-filled foods around the house. That has been my strategy for curbing my cravings and access to unhealthy food. However, there’s no real reason, other than *my* will power to keep those things out of the house. With kids you often have to put your “program” on the side, and still provide them with pancakes from time to time.

What I learned this morning (and have been learning the last two weeks since I started this blog) is I can make them whatever they want. And then I can make what I need. My willpower has firmed up. Perhaps it’s all about changing habits, and creating a brick wall of permission that allows me to cook tasty treats to perfection and then not even taste them

kirbylane-pancakesOur relationship to food is 100% personal. Emotions and cravings around food are more about us and what’s going on inside of us. Sure, if we’re craving salt, we might want to look at our electrolyte levels and make sure we are getting all the minerals and supplements we need. And in my newly restricted eating plan, I’m certain I can use a little support from a wide-spectrum multi-vitamin supplement.

I listen to my body and take note of my cravings. Then I have a number of choices: 1. do I give in to the craving and indulge; 2. is there some other activity I could do rather than eating (if it’s boredom or a craving that is not supported by actual hunger); 3. do I need to make sure that I stock up on some alternative foods for this particular craving.

I’ve been doing a bit of both since I rebooted. I noted my salt cravings and I stocked up on organic low-salt, sea salt almonds. I noted my desire for sweets and I made sure I have a variety of chilled apples to throw at the craving. And I also noted what times and emotional states usually resulted in these cravings.

So we grow and learn, and we make better choices for ourselves and for our children. Of course , my focus here is on *my* habits and my eating and exercise patterns.

Late night snacking. Even after a good and healthy meal, if I stay up until 1 in the morning, I’m going to require some additional fuel. Cravings begin for me around the 10:30 – 11:30 hour. I can go to bed early and wake up early without any cravings. Or, if I need to work on something, or if I’m inspired by something creative, I can use one of my healthy snacks. The best idea is going to bed around 10:30, when that’s an option.

Mid-afternoon cravings. Again this is often within a few hours of my lunch. And of course, if I had a high carb meal, or something with a bit of hidden sugar or artificial sweetener in it, the craving is likely to be for sweets. But what I’m really craving, most of the time is energy. The afternoon sag in my physical energy is more pronounced if I stayed up late the night before. However, I am most creative when I burn the candle on both ends a little bit, and the afternoon slump is a situation I have to deal with.

Again, I have options. I try for the healthiest first: 1. nuts; 2. fruit; 3. nap (when possible). Most of the time, however, when I’m in a high-focus work situation, I need coffee. A little 1% milk and coffee, no sweetener. I suppose I need to look at my coffee intake and how it jacks with my blood sugar and other pitfalls, but at the moment, I’m fine with my “jolt of the joe” habit. Something in my body is also craving the caffeine. As I’m brewing up the afternoon java supplement my brain gets excited and my mouth salivates. I’m addicted. And for now, I’m going to leave that off the table for adjustment or negotiation. [I know it’s an issue I will have to address in the near future. One step at a time. (grin)]  I am looking at milk alternatives, though.

Waking up and making several breakfasts for my kids is a pleasure not a chore. My son wanted scrambled eggs and bacon. So we grow and learn, and we make better choices for ourselves and for our children. Of course , my focus here is on *my* habits and my eating and exercise patterns. Still it’s good to know I am in control of my own cravings and desires even when I’m making delicious pancakes for one of my kids.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

image: pumpkin pancakes – kerbey lane cafe packaging, john mcelhenney, cc 2014

Tiny Temptations and Big Picture Thinking

I stopped by the grocery store last night to pick up some sparkling water. It’s one of my vices. I love it. And as long as I get the unflavored versions, I’m good. (I hear the one with “natural flavor” added might be worse for us than we knew. And what IS allowable as “natural flavor” anyway.)

And as I was passing the nuts section, I was looking for something healthy and simple to add to my almonds. I use them when I notice a little blood sugar drop, or if I’m craving a salty snack.

And for a second, I was hovering over the Praline Glazed Pecans. I. Almost. Ate. One.

Not today, devil sugar. Today I am happy to grab a bottle of water and walk right past all your flashy wrappers and promise of minor insulin comas.

You know the simple little “sample” move. Might be illegal, or a nuisance. I’m not talking about grazing the bulk bins, I’m talking about getting ONE nut. One sugar covered nut. What could be the harm, right?

I stopped myself mid pluck. My internal voice spoke up, “Um, what’s the point? Sugar. Why? Looks good. Don’t. Okay.”

It was a quick dialogue and I’m sure I am no thinner this morning as a result of turning down a single sugary treat. BUT… It was the principle of the thing. I have committed to NO. And I’m sticking with it. It would’ve been easy to just have a single nut covered with crispy-sugary-toffee coating. I could have written it off as a little reward for my hard work.

I didn’t do it. I realized that I was rationalizing a little sugar intake. I was saying yes to a little slip. In the same way I’m not interested in beating myself up, I’m pretty flexible with myself, and my new plan. But this was different.

I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t craving sugar or anything else. I was coming in to treat myself with something 100% healthy, a bottle of plain sparkling water. And along the way, I was enticed by EVIL SUGAR. Not covert sugar, but tasty, simple, “just one bite,” sugar.

Last night a little victory. Not a life or diet altering change. But a willful step towards my goal and a brief conscious examination of why I wanted the sugar.

My tiny victory was really a much larger victory. As I left the store, sans sugary snack, I passed by the Halloween hall of candy. My renewed and strengthened brain said, “GROSS.”

I’m not trying to create an adverse reaction to sugar, but I am trying to reprogram my body and brain to evaluate what my point is when I’m craving a sugary or salty snack. Am I sad, or stressed, or angry? Am I happy and wanting to celebrate with a piece of pie? NOPE. Not today, devil sugar. Today I am happy to grab a bottle of water and walk right past all your flashy wrappers and promise of minor insulin comas.

Last night a little victory. Not a life or diet altering change. But a willful step towards my goal and a brief conscious examination of why I wanted the sugar. I just wanted it. It looked tasty. It would be tasty. And… I didn’t need it. And the little permission might have set off a craving later in the night, when I got home for more sugar. In fact, I’m almost sure that would’ve been the case.

Chalk up one for the plan. Score: ME-1, Devil Sugar-0. Yes, October is a great month to start my no-sugar regime. The perfect month, perhaps.

Take the next step,

John McElhenney
@fitbytech

image: my beverage of choice, john mcelhenney, cc 2014