Back in January I signed up for the New Year New You Summit, where I got to listen to a bunch of neat interviews, the topics ranged from health, diets, homesteading, sleep, and more. There were about 5-7 interviews available to listen to a day, for about a week. Sadly I only got to listen to 3 full interviews, but they were exactly what I needed to hear. Two of them were diet related and the other on homesteading. I'll leave homesteading for another post.
I'll apologize ahead of time. I am not a writer, I've never been good at smooth transitions when I do write. So if this doesn't flow that well, well... you've been warned. I'm just sharing what I have learned, and my thoughts on it. It's long, and it is choppy, but I really enjoyed sharing what I've learned.
The first interviewees were Margaret Floyd & Chef James Barry of Eat Naked. "The low fat craze has fueled our addiction to sugar -- often making us fatter and sicker. Learn how you can detox from sugar addiction in just 14 days, and reset your diet for weight loss, more energy, and relief from many ailments." This one caught my eye because I was just starting my own sugar break. Not a full on fast, just a sugar break. I had quit soda (except for when I had the stomach bug, ginger ale was one of the few things that my stomach didn't instantly reject), and I have refused to bake cookies/cake/brownies/etc. until Zach's birthday, unless Zach specifically asks for something. I was afraid that cutting out the sugar I normally ate would be so difficult, and I wanted to figure out how to set myself up for success.
Margaret and Chef James mainly talked about how to do a full on sugar fast, where you eat nothing that easily converts into sugar (gluten/wheat, dairy, corn and other starchy veggies, rice, oatmeal, cooked carrots and beets, there was a limit on fruits, no juices, to legumes), and eat more healthy fats (basically I would have had to eliminate 98% of what we eat... I wasn't too willing to do that... However they did give some other good info. A few of the benefits of eating less sugar are weight loss, more energy, better sleep, better skin, better immune system, no need to eat every few hours, etc. They talked about how food now is so filled with salt and sugar that our taste buds are desensitized. Think about it. When you eat you really only taste the first few bites. After that your taste buds pick up mostly on the salts and sugar. So cutting sugar, and some salt makes it so you taste foods so much better. By the time the interview was over (lasted about an hour) I was seriously considering doing a sugar fast myself.
One of the things that has stuck with me is they likened eating low fat/high sugar was like having a campfire where you only burned kindling. It would burn hot and fast, and you had to keep piling it on to keep the fire going. Where if you ate the healthy fats, the bigger sticks and logs, and less/no sugar the fire would actually burn longer and need less thrown on it. While pregnant with James my gallbladder decided that it had had enough. It was full of small stones, and if I ate anything with a hint of fat I was in fear for the next few hours. The pain was terrible. So until I could have my surgery, six weeks after James was born, I got to stick to a low fat diet. And I ate all the time (Once I got over the morning sickness that is). I was never really full. I blamed that on the pregnancy, but now I can see how it wasn't just because I was eating for two. Now looking back I realize I was not eating much fats that burn longer/give longer lasting energy but I was eating more sugars. I had to constantly eat or I would crash. And I also came to realization that I am completely addicted to sugar. I was doing nothing but throwing kindling on the fire. Even after my gallbladder came out, I still was eating a fairly low fat diet. I was ready to throw out the sugar and bring on the healthy fats.
That is until I listened to Matt Stone of 180 Degree Health the next day. The title of his interview was "The Benefits of Sugar: Live the Sweet Life in 2014." But wait, I just learned how sugar isn't good for you. Now the same lady interviewed everyone in this summit. I was wondering why she would have such conflicting topics. What benefits could sugar have? So I read the description and decided to listen to his side of the story "Is sugar bad? What's the truth about fruit, bread, potatoes, and cookies and fruit juice? Matt explains how avoiding sugar and carbs can cause hormonal problems, lack of energy, and other issues." And what Matt said has changed the way I view dieting, food, and weight loss.
He busted a few myths about sugar, and listed benefits of sugar. Some of the benefits are that it replenishes liver glycogen, it increases the sensitivity of your insulin, improves your libido, improved sleep, increased athletic performance/recovery (yes I know some of that conflicts with what Margaret and Chef James said removing sugar does, keep reading). Sugar can help repair your metabolic rate by stimulating metabolism. One of the biggest myths he busted was the sugar causes diabetes. Sugar doesn't cause diabetes, if it did we'd all be diabetic. Hormone issues cause diabetes. When you eat sugar the insulin rushes to lower the blood sugar. When it isn't working right it will lower the blood sugar too fast. So it's sister hormone glucocorticoides rushes in to raise the blood sugar again. And if it isn't working right it will raise it too quickly, which sends insulin in to repair that, and it is a harsh cycle. To prevent diabetes you have to work internally. Matt pointed out (something about some research that has been done, I didn't write where he got the info in my notes, sorry) that globally there are lower diabetes rates in areas with larger carb intakes.
But what really changed me is this: There is no dietary villain. Our bodies need fat and sugar to function properly. Find a balance (he actually said that a lot through the interview). Basically if there is a villain it is ourselves. We stress about so much in life already. Then we throw in the stress of our diets. Are we eating the right foods? Are we drinking enough? How many calories have I eaten today? I need to figure out how to fit exercising into my busy schedule. Not to mention the stress of eating food that does not do well on our systems, eating too much for our systems to handle. Because of all the stress we put ourselves through, even when we don't realize it, pretty much cancels out the positives of what good we are trying to do for our bodies.
One needs to prioritize 2-3 things, for example: water intake and more sleep until they have turned those into habits. Then they can take on the next set, example what kinds of foods am I eating, and am I getting enough exercise. Then there is less on their plates to stress over, and they are more likely to succeed.
For many people who try to cut out sugar from their diets end up feeling deprived and later binge on what they were craving. Which then causes even more stress because they "failed". Matt suggests that if you crave something that is not allowed in your diet, go ahead and eat it. Don't stress about it. Eat the piece of chocolate cake for breakfast if you want. Because if you eat the one piece of cake when you crave it you will stick to just the one reasonably sized piece of cake. But if you won't let your self, later when you feel deprived and do eat some you are more likely to binge on the cake and eat several large slices, if not the whole cake. So eat what you are craving, if possible the earlier in the day the better, and then you won't have to deal with that craving that evening as you are digging through the cupboards looking for a snack to eat while watching your favorite show (don't know about you but I have a hard time not eating at night while watching tv...), you'll be more likely to reach for something "healthier".
After listening to his interview I was looking at some of the comments, and one comment stood out to me. The commenter said, "I am confused. Margaret said we should be burning fat for fuel (the log for longer burning, and not sugar (the kindling that constantly needs replenishing), and Matt says the opposite. Yesterday's interview with Margaret seems to really oppose Matt's and the interview seemed to agree with both of them. Am I missing something?" It really got me thinking about the opposing views. The more I thought the more I realized they weren't so opposing after all. The first interview was about how to do a sugar detox to break the addiction. It wasn't completely condemning sugar. Yes for 14 days you completely avoid sugar. But then once the detox is done you can start adding foods back to your diet a little at a time. Your body will let you know if it is something you can handle or not. If you can handle eating that cake for breakfast great, go for it. If not your body will let you know to avoid cake, and you'll already be over the sugar withdrawals. And then Matt isn't saying ditch the fat and eat nothing but sugar. He is saying "Find a balance".
Which brings me back to the campfire metaphor. Picture three fires. One that is burning nothing but kindling (sugar), one that is nothing but logs (fat) and one that has a good balance of kindling and logs. the kindling fire is easy to start but will need constant tending. If you ignore it for too long it dies out. The log only fire is a pain in the neck to light. Takes a lot longer for it to be burning nice and strong. But it does burn longer than the kindling fire. But when if it does die out and you throw another big log on you're likely to kill it (or almost kill it). However with the third fire it is easy to get started using the kindling. Then you slowly add larger and larger logs until it is a nice cozy fire. And if it does start to go out you add a little kindling to get it kick started then start adding the logs back on. It is easier to start and maintain and lasts longer than the other fires.
Before getting pregnant with James I was on a low carb, low calorie diet. I was loosing weight, and was feeling fairly good. Except for the feeling of being depraved. That when I had to quit the diet (calorie restriction part mostly) I binged on the carbs. I looked for any excuse to eat them. And guess what. I didn't feel to different except the weight loss stopped, because I was eating more (and yes growing a baby does add weight, but for me that usually doesn't seem to happen until the second trimester). Then when I discovered I had to cut out fats a few weeks after finding out I was pregnant I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel worse. I just constantly wanted to eat. And after I had James and my surgery I went back to eating fats and sugars. And I lost weight. But crap happened and I started a lot of comfort eating and gained a ton of weight back. After listening to these I realized that it didn't matter if I cut sugars or fats I could loose weight either way, but if I ate both I didn't eat as much, and I didn't feel as depraved. I stressed a lot about not being able to loose weight. I stressed about my sugar addiction, and how the sugar had to be what was causing me to not loose any weight. I was really stressing about it.
Thankfully I got more than my fill of sugar during Thanksgiving and Christmas and so quitting soda and baked sweets really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. And now that I've listened to these interviews and learned what I did I am stressing a lot less about if I am eating the right foods or not. I've found a happy balance between fat and sugar. And guess what... I stopped gaining weight. I am feeling a lot better about myself. I am not fighting depression as much as I was. I now actually feel like I might be able to live healthier with out stressing so much. I am better able to actually enjoy what I am eating. And it is wonderful!
Now to finish Matt's e-course on resetting your metabolism and work on getting my energy back... (Want to learn how to reset your metabolism? Sign up to follow Matt's blog and you will get the free 90 day e-course. And no I am not being paid to write this/send you over there. It is me enjoying what I have learned from it, and wanting to pass the info on.)