This is not a nutrition blog.

3.17.2012

But sometimes I think it might as well should be.

This Tuesday will mark the 7th week since I began slowly cutting sugar out of my diet. Almost two months and I'm still going, you guys! But I haven't really kept up with the progress reports, have I? Sorry about that. It's just that the weeks leading up to Spring Break were crazy busy, and Spring Break was even busier. 

But now I'm in Houston for one evening before heading home to Austin, after a week's worth of traveling back and forth from Louisiana (to visit the Rayne folks) and Tennessee (to see the big brother). This week was an incredible one, for sure. I got to spend a few days with just about every member of my family, minus a few of my extended relatives, for a brief bit of time. Barely enough to last me until Easter, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

This post, however, is not about my lovely break from school. (You can see snippets of that here.) Instead, it is the newest post in my "Living Sans Sugar" series about general health, from someone who cannot claim to be an expert but is genuinely interested in what it means to live wholesomely. That said, feel free to stop reading if you're not into this sort of stuff. I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to things that fascinate me, and I find nutrition quite fascinating. Disagree? The rest of this post will bore you.

For those of you as nerdy as me, here we go. In list format, below are three of my relevant observations and discoveries that I've come across in my journey to break free from sugar addiction.

1.) Fat is where it's at. Seriously, y'all. Fatty foods have gotten such a bad rep in the past, but our bodies could not survive without a good amount of the stuff. What matters is the type of fat we're feeding our bodies. You've probably heard that the monounsaturated fats in avocados, nuts, and dark chocolate fuel our bodies and flatten our bellies. This is nothing new. But did you know that saturated fats can actually be good for you, too? According to recent studies, the fats found in butter and red meat don't cause heart disease after all! They actually prevent heart disease. The shocking truth of the matter is that low-fat and nonfat versions of foods are more harmful to your heart than the full fat versions, especially when it comes to dairy. (Speaking as someone who used to swear by skim milk instead of whole, this was a hard pill for me to swallow... But you may now consider me a changed woman.) When fat is taken out of food to make it seem more nutritious, sugar is usually added to compensate for the loss of flavor. Unlike most fats, sugar and unrefined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, etc.) causes inflammation in the arteries and can lead to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, fat > sugar whenever health is concerned. Except, however, when we're talking about the dangerous polyunsaturated fats that are found in soybean, corn, and sunflower oils. These fats are typically used in most processed and fried foods, and consuming too much of them can cause an imbalance in your omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids ratio, which also leads to arterial inflammation. Ever wonder why heart disease and diabetes, which are rampant in today's world, were considered rare before the 20th century? Processed foods were not everywhere like they are now. And sadly, the convenience is costing us our health.

Okay, I know that's quite a bit of information. (Told you I'm a nerd.) So here's a mini recap: 
Monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, salmon, dark chocolate) = heart healthy. Saturated fats (real butter, whole milk, cheese, coconut oil, red meat) = heart healthy, but in moderation. Polyunsaturated & trans fats (sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil) = not so great.

2.) Exercise is a necessary evil. There's just no way around it. Personally, I've always hated spending my precious free time in the gym, but what I despise even more is the sluggish feeling that comes with a sedentary lifestyle. No matter how drowsy I am during the day, my energy level tends to skyrocket after only 20 minutes of moderate to intense cardio. Not to mention the mood-enhancing endorphins that kick in soon after and last all day. Talk about a long-lasting high! My exercise of choice right now is running, and I aim for at least half an hour every other day. I also enjoy taking dance, pilates, and yoga classes when I can. There's not an ideal amount of aerobic exercise that is prescribed for everyone, but doctors do recommend 90-150 minutes a week as a starting point to reap heart healthy benefits.

3.) Holidays exist for a reason. As far as my progress goes, I've stumbled with this no-sugar thing only twice in the last few weeks. The first time was on Mardi Gras, after I was offered a piece of King Cake one too many times. (We Cajuns can't resist the stuff.) Today was the second, when I hastily decided to indulge in one of my mom's 100-calorie tapioca pudding packs after dinner. A St. Patrick's Day treat, if you will. (Though what I'm actually craving is a minted Shamrock Shake from Mickey D's.) But you know what? I've forgiven myself for both of these instances, because really, what is the point of holidays if we can't treat ourselves?

4 comments:

  1. Huh. I always thought that polyunsaturated fats were good. Like, the more unsaturated, the better they were. But they're on the same level as trans/hydrogenated fats? weird.

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    1. me too! i was so surprised when i read about these semi-new findings. apparently, polyunsaturated fats aren't nearly as good for us as we thought! at least, not according to some health experts.

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    2. p.s. like i said in my post, i'm NO expert on this stuff. i just read a lot of different health blogs and articles. (notice the links scattered throughout the post.) so if something strikes you as incorrect, please refer to these pages. also, if you have any other contrasting views from different sources, i'd love to read them as well. i think it's always good to research different sides before choosing an argument to believe, as there are many out there!

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