Friday, July 26, 2013

For the Next Year . . .

Every once in a while I'll feel some unexpected motivation creeping up inside me.  Sometimes the motivation is towards productivity, and if I catch ahold of it, I can be unusually productive (until the motivation wears off).  Sometimes the motivation is focused on being healthy, and if I respond to the urge to be more healthy, I can often make a positive life-change.

So, here I find myself.  I'm eating some delicious dark chocolate, but I still feel driven to be more healthy.  And I'm really going to do it.  I always have some kind of health goal, but this one's more serious than most.

Starting August 1st, for a year I'm going to only have one dessert a week.  I've been having too much sugar lately, and I want to stop.  Here are my rules: I can save up desserts, or even borrow from the future, just so long as by Aug 1, 2014 the desserts add up to 52.  That way there are no excuses (I'll also give myself three free days to use whenever I want, like Christmas).

Andrew, my mom and sister are all doing the goal together.  I am putting it here so it's public and I'm accountable.  Ask me how my goal is going anytime this year :)

To give us a concrete goal to work towards, Andrew and I are working to earn me a bike.  We have a bike trailer, and Andrew and Abraham have bikes, so we'll be able to go on family bike rides and take advantage of all the great trails in the DC area!

The first four days of the goal (Aug 1-4), Andrew and I will be doing a more serious cleanse, inspired by Dr. Christopher's Mucusless Diet.  No sugar, dairy, meat or gluten.  I will also be starting every day with a green smoothie, and a cup of water with a tablespoon or two of good apple cider vinegar, a bit of raw honey, and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  What a way to wake up!  Call me strange, but I actually kind of like it.  And it does clear you out!

Most of you probably keep a stricter diet than this, but if not, want to join me?  Any health goals you're already doing or plan to do?


  1. Good luck, Ariel and company! I would say we'd join you, but that's about where we're at right now. We always use natural sweeteners and make all our own goodness. One of the highlights is when I buy some high quality raw cream (about twice a month) and spin our own ice cream.

    Question. If we make cookies, there are always too many for just one dessert, so we end up having dessert more than once a week. In your case, what happens then? Give the rest away (that would be nice)? And what constitutes one dessert? One cookie, or one night-full of cookies? And does the type of sweetener matter, or not so much?

    I'd love a couple follow-up posts on this during the year: what treats you love, how you find your body responding and your health evolving. I've been thinking about blogging on my own journey away from sugar for some time. I think it's one of the noblest things you can do for yourself. We're cheering you guys on!

    Also let us know how the kick-starter week goes! Your apple cider/cayenne drink is shock tea! I've only ever taken it in labor, but I should try it in the morning, especially those tired mornings. I remember it giving me renewed energy in my labor.

    1. The "leftover cookie syndrome" is one of my biggest problems. We end up with too much dessert (from our own making, or from gifts), and somehow I end up eating the bulk of it over the next couple weeks. I want to stop the snacking. I'll just have to start making things in smaller batches. That, or I might have some very happy neighbors :)

      One dessert is just one, regular sized dessert, not divided between days or hours. About a cup and a half of ice cream, or that equivalent.

  2. A great goal! All "desserts," or just desserts with processed sugar?

    Hope you enjoyed that dark chocolate ;)

    Shock tea is... shocking. But it does sound like a great way to clear your head for the start of the day. And actually it's not that bad! Or maybe it just doesn't seem that bad when you're in labor. I've also taken it to get rid of colds, with added crushed fresh garlic (and maybe lemon instead of vinegar).

    1. I'm doing all desserts. From what I understand, processed sugar is the worst, but all sugars and sweeteners aren't good for the body, especially in excess.

    2. Maybe a small addendum can/should be made here for raw unfiltered honey :). It is extremely biodiverse, and when truly raw, is full of enzymes, (such as amylase), that aid in digestion. It is also full of plant matter from the flowers, vitamins and minerals. Any enzyme we consume helps relieve our bodies of the burden of supplying what is needed to digest our food. Being full of amylase you could put honey on a piece of toast, and leave it for 15 minutes or so and have your bread partially digested for you when you come back...

      Having said that you obviously don't want to go overboard, but I feel even as little 1 tsp-1 tbls would probably be beneficial to any remotely well functioning body.

    3. Hah, I meant the 1 tsp-1 tbls per day.... Not period ha ha ha :)

  3. I've had the shock tea, but not while in labor. I'll have to try it. Leading up to the time we embark on a reduced sugar year, I might take the opposite approach and just try to finish all the homemade (by a neighbor) nutella and other goodies I won't be able to eat for awhile.

    I still need to fully weigh all the questions that Nonie and Camerzi are asking before we start. I know I'll need to have a pretty concrete list of do's and don'ts to make it successful.

    Has anyone written a post of the harmful effects of sugar that I've missed? A basic summary of the differences between fructose, sucrose, glucose, and processed and unprocessed varieties of these might be good motivation to do a cleanse.

    1. That would be a very good post! I don't know that I'd ever feel that I could make that post concise enough, though, so I just recommend the book Sugar Blues, by William Dufty instead. The book is a very easy book to read, and goes through science behind what sweeteners do to your body (Another book that does a good job of this is Deep Nutrition, by Catherine Shannahan). Sugar Blues also discusses the ugly history behind sugar, and the way it affected the countries who welcomed it. It is extremely compelling, and well written.

      Both books I mentioned are very very good, though, as with many things I read, I don't necessarily agree with all the authors write. Both writers express the view no one should ever eat sweeteners, or sweet foods such as fruit -- none. I believe it is ok to consume wholesome, whole food sweeteners and fruit, in strict, (or very strict perhaps, depending on your immediate health), moderation. I feel this way based on the simple chemistry of the plants from which most sweeteners are made. They are almost always very good sources of minerals and vitamins that aid in the digestion of the natural sugars they contain -- one good example being that corn, beets, and cane are all very good sources of the mineral chromium. Additionally, these foods are not as easy to over-consume when they are in their whole food state (Have you ever over eaten honey? I can't, personally.)

      A great primer for whole food sweeteners is this post Nonie wrote. She addresses agave in this post as well.

  4. I don't eat dessert too often, so as I was reading this I was thinking "No problem, I'll do that" and now of course I'm craving ice cream like the dickens! that a thing? Craving something like the dickens? Well, you get it.

    1. I kind of thought I didn't eat dessert that often either, but I kind of thought maybe I was deceiving myself :) Part of the reason to do this is to see how dependent I really am on sugar! If I don't eat it that often, I'll be fine. If I do, this might be a rude awakening!

    2. Back in Utah we were doing great with desserts (processed and unprocessed alike). This wouldn't have been hard. But since we went on our trip to Europe and began life in VA, we've got more of a sweet tooth! (This is not the royal we, but the Cameron and Meredith we. Peter never partakes.)

      It would probably be good for us to join you.

      Are you considering fruit at all? We eat a lot of fruit too.

  5. It's true that having too many sweeteners in the diet can have deleterious effects, but refined white sugar and hugh fructose corn syrup (and white flour) are actually hazardous, as they severely tax the body's reserves, being stripped of nutrients themselves. I would actually put agave "nectar" (syrup) into the danger category as well because of it's incredibly high fructose content, often trumping the dreaded HFCS itself.

    Also, if blood sugar is the focus here, a word should also be said about grains, as they also turn into sugar in the blood. Whole grains are better than refined, but not by much. Preparing bread products with sprouted grain is a step up because that drastically reduces the carb count. I imagine that natural yeast baking (sourdough) would as well because all those friendly little critters are feeding on the starches in the grain.

    What you eat with the carbs with makes a big difference as well. When consumed with natural fats and protein, they are digested more slowly and blood sugar stays more moderate. You also stay full longer. As a culture, we actually do this pretty naturally: think peaches and cream, bread and butter, ice cream, coconut oil smoothies, pie crusts made from lard, chips and cottage cheese (if you grew up on Delia Drive), lands flowing with milk and honey... :)

    So we try to choose nutrient dense sweeteners and eat them along with a healthy amount of healthy fat. I second Melissa's comment on raw honey. Molasses and sorghum syrup are two others with a very high nutrient content, not raw, but not overly sweet. Maple syrup tastes much sweeter to me, but we still use it in moderation.