Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Are What You Eat...

The last week I have been pretty good with sugar, I've done my best to keep up my food diary and stay on top of what I'm actually eating. We went out for dinner one night and although there was wine in the sauce that was on my meal (and therefore sugar), I drank water and skipped dessert. I had a small scoop of ice cream at the lantern festival (It was less than half the size of the tub I had at Movies by Moonlight so I'm guessing 50ml) but it came with half a rock melon. During the week, I even had a day where I didn't need a glass of milk to tide me over between meals.

I have to say though, this last week has been hard. I just finished week 7 sugar-free, and it has most definitely been the worst for cravings since the start. I've been snacking on a couple of prunes or a teaspoon of honey when it really gets hard and all I can think about it sugar. At least those items have whole sugars, nothing refined. I honestly think I would have had a chocolate bar this week if I hadn't felt accountable to you guys, so thank you! I guess this goes to show that you can't relax when you think you're over the worst. If I had, I would have undone all those weeks of trying. My Nutritionist said it takes around 3 months to get over the cravings. I don't think I'm doing myself any favours with the prunes and honey, but we'll see.

One thing I'm definitely cutting down on is artificial sweetener. Over the last 7 weeks I have tried several brands of sugar-free chocolate. Some were great, some were awful, all were expensive. The best thing I found was Guylian no-added-sugar chocolate. It has a small amount of artificial sweetener, but it tastes like real chocolate, and it didn't give me the jitters like some other brands did.

Looking at all the chemical-sounding names in some of the ingredients lists, I decided to do some googling. Now, I'm not a professional researcher nor a nutritional expert. Hell, I'm not an expert in anything. But I did what I suppose most of us do and I browsed a few websites until I figured out the general consensus of what each sweetener really was.

You know what I found out? Most 'artificial sweeteners' are derived from sugar but because they have different chemical make-ups, they can't be labelled as such. Many of them retain all their original calories but lose some of the sweetness of sugar. This means the companies have to add more to achieve the same sweetness, in turn adding extra calories and earning the right to label their product with 'no added sugar'.

One product, which looked awesome at the start, was 21% sweetener, comprised of Sorbitol, Polydextrose, and Maltitol. I searched each sweetener and was put off the product for life.

Sorbitol is just made from fruit and corn and seaweed, which doesn't sound so bad, but apparently it can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other stomach issues and is used to thicken moisturisers, soaps, and to make cigarettes.

Polydextrose I had to dig for, I found out that it is made from Dextrose, Sorbitol (more Sorbitol) and Citric Acid. I looked up Dextrose and found out that that is basically just glucose.

Maltitol looked fine on the first website I saw but when I searched again I found out that Maltitol is sugar, essentially. Its manufactured by hydrogenating Maltose, the glucose-glucose disaccharide (two sugars) derived from cornstarch. Because it's no longer sugar, manufacturers can label their products 'no added sugar'.  This site was quite interesting.

So, I am a firm believer that we should pick our battles. Mine was sugar, and artificially sweetened products helped me avoid it. Now that I'm half way through the first 3 months, I'm going to start cutting down these products too. I've probably eaten them all my life, and I'm generally healthy. Like I said, I'm no expert, and for that reason I'm not naming any of the products I found, but I don't think anyone can disagree that natural or 'whole' foods are easier for our bodies to digest and better for us in general, so I'm going to try and focus on those a bit too.

It's crazy how much we don't realise we put into our bodies until we start reading labels. Do you know what you're eating?