In the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” Joe Cross tells us how much sugar is in a can of Coca Cola. He doesn’t just tell us though, as the actual can does on the back – 39 grams, to be exact. He shows us what this looks like in teaspoons. We bake using teaspoons and tablespoons in the U.S. We are familiar with what this looks like. We make cocktails and lemonade and have added sugar to these drinks at home. Most of us are not familiar with what a gram of sugar looks like.
So, I watched this documentary in the spring of 2011 and I was horrified by what I saw. The image of Joe pouring 9.75 teaspoons into a glass is an image that has stayed with me for 9 years. I have not been a big soda fan during my adult life but I would occasionally have one. I can’t do this anymore. This documentary ruined soda for me, for good. So, thank you Joe Cross.
Christiane Northrup, M.D. is a world-renowned OB-Gyn. She has written several books about women’s health and wellness, including Goddesses Never Age. In Chapter three she discusses how she learned in medical school to take case histories, diagnose, identify an intervention, give advice, and maybe order a prescription, and then send the patient home. They expected patients to follow their advice. Over time, she started to understand that helping women get healthy involved much more than a little education and a prescription. (Goddesses Never Age, Ch3, p52, 2015, C. Northrup, MD)
She opened up a Women’s Clinic in the 80s and noticed that women came to see her because she had developed a reputation for really listening to their symptoms. PMS symptoms were rarely taken seriously by other doctors in those days. She developed a plan that she believed would help to reduce or eliminate their common discomforts before and during their periods.
“I would prescribe a regimen of reducing stress; avoiding caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and tobacco; and taking B vitamins, natural progesterone, and other supplements. Soon after following my advice, my patients would report that their symptoms had disappeared. But three months later, many were back where they had started. They had let the substances they were supposed to avoid creep back into their lives while their daily stresses remained the same. Needless to say, their symptoms also returned.”Dr. Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age
I was not surprised to hear her say her patient’s discomforts disappeared when they avoided alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
Dr. Northrup didn’t understand why her patients didn’t follow her orders. She wondered how to motivate them to make the lifestyle changes last. Her rational brain told her that the symptoms of bloating, headaches, and mood swings would be the best motivator to ensure they would follow her plan for long-term health.
I’m sure we all know why we don’t follow a strict health regimen every day. Sugar tastes great! Alcohol is delicious and lowers our inhibitions making some of us bolder to do and say what we wanted all along. Caffeine wakes us up in a profound way. We feel sharp and focused for several hours after consuming it.
Sugar is addicting. Sugar is compared to cigarettes and alcohol in its addictive qualities. If sugar has been a regular part of your daily life, it’s not easy to just stop having it. Even if you take away candy and desserts, sugar is hidden in many foods. Dr. Northrup teaches us that sugar is the number one cause of belly fat and bloating. The term “beer belly” describes an extended and bloated abdomen. It’s not just from beer but all sweets and alcohol.
After watching Joe Cross’s documentary, I borrowed a friend’s juicer and started on a juice-only cleanse for 4 days. I knew it was time to reset my body to reduce sugar cravings and get back on a healthy track. During the juice cleanse I had time to research healthy meals and recipes and swore I would be grateful to eat food and I would want more fresh, clean foods. And this is exactly what happened after the cleanse. I felt amazing and more powerful for sticking to my goal, I had more energy, my mind was sharper, and my bloating was greatly reduced.
Over the years I have added juicing into my regular life as an occasional meal replacement or for a snack before meals. I buy organic green and beet juices, to make it easier. Store-bought juices do not compare to the taste and feeling of fresh juice, pressed the same day. But I am thankful for this quick option which allows me to have daily veggie juice, without the clean up.
I recently became sick of myself and my splurging habits and dusted off the old juicer. Three weeks ago, I set out to remove all sugar, alcohol, and carbs (besides fruit) from my diet for one week. This meant I would not be having honey with my daily cups of tea. This was harder to deal with than removing rice, pasta, and bread. I live for my tea-time each day!
I made iced herbal teas at home. I loved the taste of unsweetened herbal teas when they were cold, much better than hot unsweet tea. You, Me, and Uni’s Meditative State of Mind has lovely floral notes and needs no sweetener. I mixed tea with fresh juices and sparkling water for simple mocktails. Beet juice has a beautiful pink color and is wonderful with Uni Tea. It gives it just a touch of sweetness.
During this cleanse, I was more determined than ever. A worldwide pandemic was a loud message for me and I know I needed to be better, stronger, and healthier to make it with the added stress and potential health threat of COVID.
I added coconut sugar into my life during week 2. I ordered iced matcha with unsweet almond milk from my favorite tea shop. I brought my coconut sugar along and stirred in a teaspoon. Ahhhhh…a drink from my past felt refreshing. It wasn’t as sweet as the lavender syrup they used to add for me, but it was sweet enough for me to enjoy it.
I started making tea lattes at home with my new frother. I make jasmine and chamomile lattes with coconut sugar and foamy almond milk in my favorite mug. I add coconut sugar to iced herbal teas for just a little extra yumminess. I have a cup of Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut after dinner to help with digestion. I recently made lavender syrup with coconut sugar to increase my tea beverages and it is just as delicious as raw sugar, but with a darker color.
I came up with a cookie recipe using almond flour and coconut sugar with dark chocolate unsweetened chips. I added coconut flakes and walnuts for more nutrients and delicious flavors and textures. They are so delicious that my tween daughter likes them better than the “regular cookies” we used to make!
Almost four weeks in and I am 100% sugar-free and I feel fantastic each day. I have more energy than ever. I sleep great each night. I have fewer aches and pains due to less inflammation. I do not feel sluggish in the afternoons. I do not have mood swings. My bloating is finally starting to go away. My skin is clear and glowing.
All of these positive changes motivate me to continue living a healthy lifestyle. Each week I make new commitments and I am empowered each time I stick with my goals. Perhaps you want to start with one change at a time. Pick something new each week to remove or add to your diet. Or go all in with a profound change, experience some withdrawal for 2-3 days, and then you will start to feel like your BEST SELF!
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a writer, editor and the owner of Walden Writes For Women.