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Saturday, October 20, 2012

So, About This Sugar Dealio

About a week ago, Rossy Mosqueda shared with our readers the havoc sugar can wreck on our bodies, and she even shared about how it can affect our mental and emotional state.  It was eye-opening, informative, and engaging.

And I was agitated.  I think it struck a nerve with me.

When I became pregnant with my first child nearly 22 years ago, I weighed 112 pounds.  Six weeks after I had that first baby, I weighed 112 pounds.

Throughout my 20s and 30s I would go on to have a total of 6 more pregnancies.  Three were carried to term, and 3 were miscarried.  But with each additional pregnancy, I would add a few more pounds.  And when I wasn't pregnant, I'd still tack on a few more pounds for good measure.  On my 40th birthday I weighed in at 165 pounds.  And I'm 5'3".  I went from a size 3 in my early 20s, to a size 14.  I wore sweat pants a lot.

My mom, one of my sisters, and I took a class offered at the church my mom and I went to.  We went on a strict 1,200 calorie per day diet, and we eliminated all forms of sugar, potatoes, and bread for 6 full weeks.  The idea being that many of us comfort eat, and when we comfort eat we tend to run toward the starches.

In that first week I identified for the first time that I was not only emotionally addicted to sugar, but that I was also physically addicted.  I went through withdrawals.  Headache.  Body aches.  Irritability.  Similar to withdrawals from a chemical addiction, but not nearly as severe.  But withdrawals, all the same.

I started to lose weight.  On my forty-first birthday, I weighed 125 pounds.

We would eventually reintroduce sugar back to our bodies, after we learned how to enjoy it in moderation.  But since that experience, I have caught myself going back to my old habits.  Stress eating M&Ms like they're going out of style.  Baking chocolate chip cookies, and and then eating the chocolate chip cookies.  Like, most of them.

Thankfully, I haven't put all the weight back on, though I have gained a solid 10 pounds.  I have been exercising more than I ever have my entire life.  Bicycling and walking just about every day.  I carefully choose the foods I eat.  Search restaurant menus for the most reasonably caloried entrees.  Prepare meals at home that are wholesome, and healthy.

Still, those 10 pounds won't budge.  So, I sit completely stumped, and I wonder what the deal is, as I sip my coffee, and reach for my second gluten-free chocolate-frosted cupcake.

OK, so I know I have a problem.  And then Rossy goes and writes her article.

This last week I attended a meeting at Lee's school, and the guest speaker was the head of the Nutrition Department of our school district.  She had a student from Cal State Los Angeles with her as well, and they proceeded to tell us why our district is so dedicated to offering our children carefully planned, low-sugar meals.  Something I had been critical of, since I've found the whole anti-sugar thing to be extreme.  We've always had sugar in this country!  Why put the brakes on it now?

They explained that the rise of Type 1 Diabetes has become a serious issue amongst even our own students.  That in our district alone, there are 22 children with Type 1 Diabetes.

They explained that Type 1 Diabetes is the form people are born with--they have a genetic predisposition toward developing it at some point in their life.  Type 2 Diabetes is brought on by lifestyle.

I asked whether the 22 children with Type 1 was a high number compared to years past, and I was told that it is very high.  That years ago, there would only be a small handful of children with this.

They went on to further explain that it has been conclusively proven that the rise of Type 1 Diabetes in children is a direct result of the way our generation--the generation giving birth to these children--has eaten.  Like, our chemistry has mutated, so to speak, causing us to bring children into this world who will develop Type 1 Diabetes because of our over-consumption of sugar.

Yes, we have always had sugar in this country, but sugar used to be limited to desserts.  Now, with the availability of processed, prepared foods we find sugar in many entrees and side dishes, as well as in the many juices and beverages we consume daily with reckless abandon.

Add to that the fact that our children are far more sedentary than we ever were.  We would go outside and play, knowing we had to come back in when the street lights came on.  Baseball games.  Hide and seek.  Red light, green light.  Tag.  We didn't have cartoons available to us 24 hours a day, or video game screens to dull our minds, and atrophy our muscles.

So what do we do?  I'm still unsure.  I mean, duh, just cut out the sugar, right?  But, live a life without chocolate chips because we may or may not develop diabetes if we don't?  I'm not so sure.  But, I do know that this topic keeps rearing its ugly, bland, not so sweet head all over the place, and I have an obligation to investigate how I can help my family change.

And I also have to figure out how to get myself to a more manageable place, because where I sit now, I'm not in a good place at all.  It's time for change.

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