Monday, November 8, 2010

How I Beat The Sugar Monster

When I first started out on Weight Watchers all those years ago, I noticed a big difference. And my friends all said the same thing happened to them too. We developed a sweet tooth.

Prior to WW, I affectionately called my cravings my 'fat tooth' for most of my quasi adult life because I was always drawn to snack on things like french fries and potato chips and cheezits. If it was salty and fattening, that was what I wanted in a down moment. I liked sweet foods, deserts etc, but I have never had a real problem with them, per se.

That all changed when I started on WW. I began to crave sugar powerfully. I liked to have a sweet something after every meal except breakfast and sweet treats in between meals weren't denied either. And usually breakfast had some sweetish element to it. My sugar cravings were strong and forceful. And while I pacified them with dried or fresh fruit, what I really wanted was mind numbingly sweet. When I was pregnant with Thing 2 I was CRAZY for sugar, not chocolate, but pure sugar like jelly beans and candy and soda. It was beyond weird. Even since I have been working on the blog I have craved sweet treats all while looking for ways to eliminate sugar, hence the Date Truffles.

But in the last month or so I have noticed a lovely turnaround. My hunger has been under control as well as my sugar sanity. Last week while visiting my folks I ate half a piece of pie. Just HALF, because it was too sweet to finish. Same with a cupcake (though I waited 90 minutes or so and polished off the remaining piece). I thoroughly enjoyed both items. I just didn't need a full serving to feel that I had had enough. I can't take full credit and I cannot say that this is a personal moral triumph. The truth is, I eat fat.

I have talked alot about this recently. I eat fat. I have switched back to whole milk. I use cream in my recipes that call for it without substituting for something less fatty. I have been adding coconut oil to my oatmeal in the morning, but also to my (full fat) yogurt or granola if that is what I eat for breakfast. I'll even lick the coco oil spoon before I put it in the dishwasher. There is a treat. I fully embrace butter. And I have been frying my hamburgers in beef tallow, because, well it just makes sense, beef and beef fat-no? On one hand, my mouth is happy. Just like a special treat, I really enjoy the fat in my dishes. And food should be completely enjoyed and savored. We cannot eat endlessly, so we should celebrate each delicious bite while we have room. Food is not just the sum of it's parts. It is passion and happiness. It is sensory and beautiful. Fat in food gives us the sensation of pleasure, so why not herald that?

But fat also makes us full. More nutritionists and health advocates talk about fiber or protein making you full these days. And that is true, fiber and protein do make you full. But if fiber makes you feel physically full and possibly slightly bloated, fat turns hunger off. For me it turns hunger off like a switch. I'll add nuts or a big tablespoon of almond butter (Thanks S!!) to oatmeal and without it I cannot make it to lunch. Protein is another very important macronutrient that keeps you full. But fiber and protein together need some fat to make them really fill your tummy. And I remind you. I have not gained any weight since I made these slight changes to my diet. The healthy fat in my diet has kept me full enough that I have refused 15 or so pleas for me to take someone's leftover Halloween Candy. I was not trying to be political about sugar, nor was I trying to be morally and gastronomically superior. I was in fact, too satiated. I didn't want it.

This brings up the interesting phrase "She can eat anything she wants". I kinda think I can eat anything I want. I can eat as much as I want too! (Now she is drunk with freedom). But the truth is, I eat clean, which makes me want to eat mostly clean foods. And I eat healthy fats, so I get full. What I an trying to do now is to avoid overeating. Because now a healthy portion means something smaller than what it used to be. Thinking in those terms, I can eat anything I want and as much as I want. Because everything I want is highly nourishing, and the amount that I want to eat is smaller than it used to be.

I don't think that adding fat to your diet means adding crappy food, but you knew that. You can't go eating a bunch of chocolate, or chicken fried steak. I don't think all the processed fatty foods and the polyunsaturated oils are having the same effect in my body. But the natural and saturated fats have been making me very happy. And sugar? There is no longer a red furry electrically charged monster creeping behind me. I beat the sugar monster.

So try it, stitch to whole milk. Then wait a week and buy coconut oil, etc. You don't have to make changes all at once. I didn't. Let yourself acclimate to them. You might just like them!!


  1. I love this post! So many people are horrified that I eat fat, and yet, I don't have to diet like they do to stay healthy. I learned about the "fat paradox" while living in France for a year. I started cooking with butter and using cream because that's what the French recipes called for...and lo and behold, my husband and I lost weight! This isn't all due to our fat intake because we walked much more there than we do in the U.S., but we also didn't eat as much as we do here either. So, what we discovered is that we could enjoy good foods that taste great and be healthy at the same time!

  2. I am glad that you though so Mindy. I think some folks think I am totally crazy for eating fat. But when you think of it, because I am not eating poly-oils, that eliminates most junk food. Kinda makes sense to me. And I hear you about the walking. Here in New York we are always walking or chasing after the kids. Way different then when I was growing up in the South.

  3. I totally agree! One thing that used to really bug me about WW is that everything had to be low fat to fit in to the points. But I refuse to eat low fat anything (except for some dairy products). My cousin who just got her degree in Nutrition thinks I'm totally wrong for using butter in my dishes instead of margarine. Portion control is really the key (my biggest problem!).

  4. I agree completely. Fat is good!

  5. This post hits the nail on the head, you can eat anything when you eat clean! Thank you for articulating that so well. And to Shuree, you touched upon such a big problem- the USDA approach to Nutrition. It kills me to hear so many certified nutritionists still talk about low fat, high grain, processed food diets diets. I don't agree with their motto of everything in moderation because things like sugar should not be in moderation, it should be next to none, and from a better source than white sugar. Wouldn't it be amazing for WW or the like to develop a whole, real food plan for their clients. Now that would be revolutionary!