It has now been about a month and a half since me and my friends got back from the cruise we took back in September. Since that time, we have been making an effort to try to eat healthier, partially to offset any potential weight gain that may have resulted from a week on a cruise ship, and partially because we just need to get into some better eating habits in the first place. For the most part, we are following what is generally known as the “No white food” diet, which means avoiding refined sugar as much as possible, as well as other processed carbohydrates (depending on who you ask milk may be off limits too, but I have heard mixed opinions on that one.) We also have weekends as our designated “cheat days” since it can be tough to stick to something like this 100% of the time. To be honest, the part about avoiding white carbs is where I have trouble with this one, but as long as I can plan ahead I can do a reasonably good job. On the other hand, one thing that I wasn’t expecting when I started this was that sugar has proved a lot easier for me to avoid than I expected it to be.
Of course, it’s impossible to completely avoid sugar. When you start looking at nutrition labels more closely you find that it’s virtually impossible to find anything that doesn’t have sugar in one form or another. Just about any fruits and vegetables have at least some amount of natural sugar in them (although in most cases the amounts are relatively small.) The same goes for milk and milk products. If for some reason you decided to live entirely off of meat you might theoretically be able to avoid sugar, but the nutritional deficiencies resulting from such a diet would far outweigh whatever benefits of avoiding sugar. In spite of this, I have found it surprisingly easy to avoid the obvious stuff (for the most part, I may or may not have been eating a Frosty while I was in the process of writing this) which actually came as a bit of a surprise to me. One of the things you realize when you’re doing something like this is that it is very easy to casually snack on sugary stuff without giving it a second thought. I don’t know how it is for other people, but typically when I eat sugary stuff I find that it leaves an aftertaste that can be annoying, which means that more often than not I tend to regret it fairly quickly. I think it is this tendency that has made it easier for me than it would be to other people to just stay away from the sugar.
One interesting side effect I have noticed from this is that in eating less sugar and trying to avoid it, I’ve found that you start to notice it more when it’s there. Even things you wouldn’t think of as being sweet start to taste a lot sweeter than you remember them being. And it’s not always a welcome sensation to realize it. Even small amounts of sugar (as little as 1 or 2 grams per serving) can end up seeming like a lot more than that. Eventually you get used to the fact that you can’t get completely away from it and you just focus on avoiding the obvious pitfalls, but you can still tell that it’s there. Gradually, as you go along, the cravings for sugar seem to gradually taper off, to the point that even when you can eat it you tend to eat less of it (at least that’s what I keep telling myself.) In particular, I know that soda can be a big problem for a lot of people, and sometimes it can be hard to avoid it, especially when it gets included with your food. I also have the first-world-problem of having a soda fountain literally 12 steps from my desk at work (yes, I counted) but even that I just haven’t been all that interested in.
As for results, it seems like this is doing something. Exactly what it’s doing I don’t know for sure, but I imagine that even if I have trouble with the rest of the stuff that a diet should entail, at the very least cutting back on the sugar should do something. Exactly what that is I’m not quite sure, but I guess I’ll figure it out when I get there.