The Final Fifty

{February 28, 2013}   On sugar, body policing, and beating food addictions.

Today I read this article about sugar and metabolic disease. None of it is new information for me, but it’s always good to get a bit of a reminder about things that are bad for you, at least when you’re trying to stay motivated to do what’s good for you.

There are a couple things noteworthy about this (well, one thing that I think should be noted for two specific reasons.) Obesity itself is not what is causing the health problems, it’s the metabolic syndrome, which is very strongly correlated with increased sugar consumption. Obesity is a symptom of metabolic syndrome, but not all obese people have metabolic syndrome, and not all people with metabolic syndrome are obese.

Basically, someone’s size is insufficient information when it comes to estimating their health. There are plenty of people who are “overweight”, but still healthy, active, etc. This is important, because so many people use imagined health reasons as an excuse to fat shame others and make obnoxious comments about their weight, what they eat, or how they live. There is never any excuse to make someone feel like shit about their bodies, period. Even if they have health problems, it’s none of your business, and making them feel bad is not going to help with the problem. No one has ever gotten healthy and lost weight because of shame.

Second, even if you are naturally thin, or just not overweight, it doesn’t mean that you can avoid health problems associated with metabolic disease. You still need to avoid sugars if you want to remain healthy. Being thin is not a pass to avoid eating right and exercising.

This all reminded me of a story my physical anthro professor told us about a time early in her field work when another researcher, left alone at camp, ended up eating the little remaining butter and sugar mixed together. What they had in the field, mostly, was natural, unprocessed food, which is very healthy. But if you’re from the US, even if you eat healthfully, most people still get more fat and sugar than they need, and it can be very hard to give that up, especially suddenly.

This is the second time I’ve set out to give up refined sugars, and I have… mostly. (tangent: …if you don’t count the four and a half boxes of Thin Mints still brooding at my house. I’ve eaten 3 servings of them in the last few weeks, which is hardly egregious, but just like last year I’ve bought them and then found that my main desire is to get them out of my house without eating them. I ended up giving away at least 6 boxes last year. I bought less this time, fortunately, but I think I’ll be putting them out for the St. Paddy’s Day party.)

What I’ve found is that it takes a while for your body and your taste buds to adjust. I’ve gotten headaches from it, felt sluggish and sort of low, and had cravings like you wouldn’t believe. But after a few weeks, those things start to die down significantly, and other foods – more healthy, natural foods – start to taste a lot sweeter than they used to. Sweet potatoes, for example, and other fruits. My lunch of pineapple cottage cheese with craisins and almonds. Hell, I remember the first time I ate that and thought that the tangy flavor of the cottage cheese went well with the sweetness of the cranberries, and now all I taste in it is sweet.

It takes some time and some serious determination. How you find that motivation is different for everyone, but I think it helps to keep your health in mind, your diet goals (whatever they are), and the ways in which you’re already getting healthier. When you start to feel healthier and more successful at eating right, you gain the desire to not sabotage yourself. I’m getting there now, but it’s a process I take on a day to day basis.

Today was ballet day again, and I managed to do 10 minutes more of the dvd than I did the last time. I probably could have finished the last 10 minutes, but at that point I was just going along with it and not really able to do it passably well, so I stopped. This time I can feel it in my abs immediately, almost like a stomach ache. That dvd really makes me work, so I feel like it’s going to do a lot to change my body. I’m wiped out, though, lol.


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