If you were to ask me what my “weakness” is or perhaps even what my “addiction” is when it comes to food, I’d probably have to say sweets. Sugar is like crack to me. I love it. I grew up eating sugary cereals or bread for breakfast, a jello pudding with my lunch and usually icecream or chocolate for dessert. My brain is pretty much hardwired to crave sweets as soon as I finish a meal. It’s a habit that I’ve tried to kick quite a few times in my life to no avail. I consider myself someone with pretty good willpower in general – when I set my mind to things (ie the P90X nutrition plan), it takes a lot for me to give up.
Ironman training has allowed me to justify taking my sugar consumption to a new level with not regret. Well, maybe a little bit. Let’s be honest, most women eat healthy food to look good. Although we love to talk about how spinach is full of Iron and carrots make your eyes stronger, the main reason most women eat these things is because they have few calories. I love knowing that my generally healthy diet is promoting healthy cell growth and recovery, but I also like to know that it will keep me slim. So, now that I’m busting my butt for 12-19 hours a week with relentless cardio while training for Ironman, I can pretty much eat whatever I want without gaining any weight. I even lost some weight with this lack of concern for calories.
It’s not really my meals that are the problem. I take my lunch to work most days and I eat either a salad with fruit or a turkey avocado sandwich on whole wheat. For breakfast we usually have oatmeal or eggs and cottage cheese. For dinner, it’s a rotation of whole wheat pasta and low fat chicken sausage, turkey tacos, yam and black bean chili, or grilled chicken with rice and veggies. After long workouts on the weekend I usually have something like pizza, a burrito, a big breakfast or sandwich, but I’m not too concerned with those indulgences.
I’m always one to say “everything in moderation” but moderation and dessert have not been found in the same sentence recently. Did I tell you that Mike and I ate 11 boxes of Girl Scout cookies? It was probably over a period of 4 weeks and there are like 12 cookies per box but still – no bueno. I used to the be the girl in the office that politely declined the monthly birthday cake and now I find myself eating any sweet contribution in the office snack room even if it’s not good. Instead of frozen yogurt, I’m eating ice cream and gelato. My boss has taken it upon her self to bring me baked goods on more than one occasion. Mike and I have discovered that a restaurant down the street serves amazing bread pudding and have gone out of our way to eat it three times. And last but not least, Pinterest has turned me into quite the baker! Although I haven’t made anything in the last couple of weeks, I’ve baked up quite a few delicious treats for dinner parties and work potlucks/birthdays, saving a few at home for later of course!
Sugar’s Effect on Your Body
Well, although sugar isn’t making me fat, it certainly isn’t helping me. I read an article today about how sugar can age your skin, making you appear older. Although aging isn’t my primary concern, it reminded me that although it doesn’t make me fat, sugar really isn’t doing me any favors. Not to mention, once I stop training so much, it will be hard to kick my addiction. I did some more research and here are other reasons NOT to eat so much sugar:
- Sugar suppresses your immune system.
- Sugar promotes inflammation which promotes aging and disease.
- Sugar suppresses the release of human growth hormone, making you appear older.
- Sugar raises insulin levels, which can eventually cause you to be diabetic.
- Eating sugar or other foods with a high glycemic index will cause your blood sugar to drop more quickly than low glycemic foods, making you hungry sooner and more likely to overeat. This leads to weight gain (duh) and cravings for more sugar and sweets.
Am I going to give up dessert? Heck no! But I am going to start choosing my desserts a little more wisely. Instead of just mindlessly consuming any free dessert or snack (I used to avoid the granola bars and pretzels in the break room too since they are processed and full or sugar but now I’ve resorted to those as well!), I will only eat it when I really want it. I also am going to try to avoid the candy jar at work! I’m also going to try to be more conscious about eating whole grains, as I have slipped in that sense a bit as well (although we always buy whole wheat bread, pasta and brown rice at home). I’ll be packing extra veggies and fruits to bring to work so that I always have a back up after my stash is gone.