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Archive for March, 2010

  • Day 22: First Day of Spring, Three Weeks Without Sugar!

    Date: 2010.03.21 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    Happy Spring!  The gorgeous image above is of the French Riviera, current world headquarters of A Year Without Candy.

    I reached Sunday March 21, 2010 having made it successfully through three weeks without sugar.  Only 49 more weeks to go!  I wasn’t able to officially post Sunday as I was updating this blog but I’m back now.  That’s a good thing because I’ve said since I started this Year Without Candy that having to account publicly is probably the only reason why I didn’t relapse after four days and have a chocolate bar.

    From the start, as outlined on the “About” part of this blog, my goal has been to give up all the candy, desserts and sweet treats that have been my addictions.  This was never about giving up all the 20-zillion things that have sugar in them.

    However, careful readers will note that I got even more inspired as the days went on. The first week I threw out my Heinz ketchup bottle since I don’t use it much in France (horrifies the French) and also because I’m more aware than ever of how much sugar is added to ketchup.

    I’ve also starting drinking coffee straight (ugh) and skipping the cubes of sugar because that just seemed…wrong.

    I also wrote here about a week ago that I was resisting the siren call of honey – not that I am addicted to it – but because I was concerned about getting desperate and eating too much of it as a substitute.

    Well, I did weaken on that front this weekend.  I had some peanut butter and honey, which I love!  It was on a day when I just felt that I might wither up and die if I didn’t put something sweet in my tank.

    So I did.  So I’m not Iron Woman.  The good news is that I didn’t eat a lot of it.  I might even throw the rest out.  Seems odd to throw stuff out – but it’s the best strategy for me.  If I know something’s in the kitchen that I really like – I’ll think about it until I eat it.  But if it isn’t there, I don’t eat it.   I recall Helen Gurley Brown saying that was her strategy in general for cutting down on food.

    So, three weeks off candy and desserts. Do I feel like a new person?  No. I’m just grateful I had the idea to do this and it’s working – so far.

    I’ve read a million smug declarations that after 21 days of going off an addictive substance – the cravings are gone and it’s out of your system.

    Bullshit. Poppycock.

    Whenever I’ve gone without candy and sweets in the past, I have dreamed about them.  I flatly don’t believe anything goes away so easily in 21 days. There are always people who hit upon some treatment or method and claim miraculous results.

    I have a good friend who quit drinking 23 years ago, with benefit of Alcoholics Anonymous.  He swears by daily yoga.  He has a wonderful life and isn’t tormented by not drinking – nor is he one of the lucky ones who has had their “compulsion removed,” as some do in AA.  He tells me that every now and then he still dreams of opening a can of beer – and that scares him.

    I believe that some people crave sweets or alcohol because it’s tied in to something deep within their DNA.  I’m in that group.

    For example, I love Diet Coke.  They call it “Coca Light” in Europe.  It’s the perfect drink – for Satan.  It’s loaded with evil chemicals like aspartame and while I knew this, I still drank it.  Why? It tastes good and everyone else drinks it and – like eating meat – you’re hardly ever made aware of reminded how bad this shit is.

    I stopped drinking Diet Coke last November – and although I miss it, I don’t crave it.  To me, that’s an important distinction.  Diet Coke doesn’t have the same pull on my system as sweets – so I can give it up fairly painlessly.

    So after three weeks without sweets,  I can’t say I feel like a brand-new person. I still have cravings and I struggle. No huge Tony Robbins breakthrough here – yet.

    BUT having three weeks in the no-candy bank does feel great – and I’m hoping that I’ll paddle my way to summer without relapsing.

    Here’s to warm weather.  But just one question:

    Why do they call it the dog paddle?


  • Day 21: Stopping Sugar is the New Stopping Smoking!

    Date: 2010.03.20 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    ABC News’ “Nightline’ did a 8-minute segment last week on the “Sugar Wars” featuring anti-sugar crusader Dr. Robert Lustig, whose hit viral video The Bitter Truth was featured recently on a Year Without Candy.

    Connie Bennett, who has been sugar-free since 1998 and presides over an empire called Sugar Shock just wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the ABC News investigation as well as how celebrities like Ellen De Generes and Jeff Garlin are going anti-sugar.  Read the whole post here and see this excerpt below:

    Recently, both De Generes and Jeff Garlin both spoke out against sugar and declared that they were off the sweet substance, as I recently wrote about in this opinion piece for AOL News.

    Sugar and its dangers are in the news again, thanks to ABC’s popular show,Nightline, which, last night, aired a compelling story spotlighting sugar’s role in the obesity crisis.

    In his “Sugar Wars” piece, correspondent John Donovan offers a fascinating look at the views of esteemed pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, whose YouTube video — entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” — has garnered more than a quarter of a million hits to date and clearly brought Dr. Lustig into the limelight.

    In this Nightline segment — which you can watch below — Donovan calls Dr. Lustig “a man at war with sugar,” because he argues that too much fructose and not enough fiber are to blame for our obesity crisis and metabolic syndrome.

    “Fructose is the cause of the current epidemic,” insists Dr. Lustig, director of UCSF’s Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Clinic and UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology.

    Nightline correspondent Donovan also includes quotes from the pediatric endocrinologist about how fructose confuses people’s brains into thinking they’re hungry and how low-fat foods such as SnackWells cookies and fruit-flavored yogurt are filled with sugar. Dr. Lustig even posits the controversial idea that teens should be carded when buying soda.

    In the Nightline “Sugar Wars” piece, Donovan strives to be unbiased by allowing three pro-sugar advocates to refute Dr. Lustig’s ideas — one critic from the American Beverage Association (formerly called the National Soft Drink Association) and two from the Corn Refiners Association, including a cardiologist, who has done studies funded by PepsiCo, the manufacturer of sugar-filled soft drinks.

  • Day 20: 7 Steps To "Radiant Recovery"

    Date: 2010.03.19 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    There is hope!

    As outlined on Kathleen DesMaisons’ website, Radiant Recovery, and in her book, “Potatoes, not Prozac,” there are seven steps you can take to go from sugar fiend to normal human being.

    Check the below out and for more detail, click here.

    Seven Steps to Feeling Great

    Here are the seven steps that will free you from the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde Syndrome of sugar sensitivity.

    Don’t try to do all seven steps all at once!

    Do one step at time. Do not proceed to the next step until you have mastered the one before it. Each step builds on the last. If you try to do this program without following the seven-step sequence, it won’t work. You will feel worse instead of better and you will give up.

    If you do the steps in the order I recommend, you will stabilize each of the biochemical functions involved in your sugar sensitivity. There is plenty of room in the plan for you to exercise your own judgment and make your own choices. Don’t tinker with the big plan.

    Trust that there is a method to this madness.

    You will get dramatic results if you follow the plan as it’s outlined. The food plan I will show you is designed to change your blood chemistry and improve your neurotransmitter function. Even though it may seem obvious and simple, the foods in this plan actually create profound physical and emotional change. Don’t be deceived by the simplicity. This is powerful medicine.
    The Seven Steps of Potatoes Not Prozac

    1. Eat breakfast with protein
    2. Journal what you eat and how you feel
    3. Eat three meals a day with protein
    4. Take the recommended vitamins and have a potato before bed
    5. Shift from white foods to brown foods
    6. Reduce or eliminate sugars
    7. Create a new life

  • Day 20: Potatoes, Not Prozac

    Date: 2010.03.19 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    My friend and fellow candy freak Meg reminded me of a 1999 book and a program I read years ago that was very helpful but that I’d forgotten about. The book is called Potatoes not Prozac: A Natural Seven-Step Dietary Plan to Stabilize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood, Control Your Cravings and Lose Weight, and Recognize How Foods Affect the Way You Feel

    As put forth by author Kathleen DesMaisons, the simple idea behind “Potatoes not Prozac” is that sweetfreaks have a sensitivity to sugar much the same way alcoholics are allergic to alcohol. They crave that which is the worst thing for them. (See also: the majority of the population of Ireland.)

    You can get all sorts of crucial information at DesMaisons’ website called Radiant Recovery.

    Here’s what’s on the front page of Radiant Recovery:

    Are You a Sugar Junkie?

    Are you tired of looking good on the outside but feeling bad on the inside?

    Maybe you have a lot of potential, but you can be moody, impulsive, angry, tired, restless, overwhelmed and stressed out. Or you are overweight, flirting with diabetes, struggling with depression, drinking more than you want to or working hard to keep your eating disorder hidden from others. Are you plagued with low self-esteem and hopelessness even though you act like everything is all right?

    Are you driven by cravings and need sugar, alcohol or excitement to keep you from feeling helpless or hopeless? You probably tell yourself things aren’t so bad and you can stop anytime. But you can’t and things keep getting worse.

    You probably think your sugar addiction is about lack of willpower or discipline or motivation. It is not. It is about your biochemistry. You were born with a body that responds to sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates differently than other people. You are sugar sensitive. Sugar acts like a drug in your body. In fact, it affects the very same brain chemicals that morphine, heroin and amphetamines do.

    Because you have a sugar-sensitive body, you can be addicted to sugar. You can’t NOT eat it. And because you are sugar sensitive, the “high” you get from eating sugar is actually heightened.

    Sugar addiction is not a joke or a fad. It is a serious problem for your health and happiness.

    Being sugar sensitive means you have unstable blood sugar, low serotonin and low beta endorphin. All three are out of balance. When this happens, you feel bad and you cannot will or medicate or talk your way into feeling better. Therapy, self-help or 12-step programs alone cannot heal you either because they do not heal the cause of your addiction: your sugar-sensitive biochemistry.

    If you are sugar sensitive, what and when you eat has a huge impact on how you feel. Eating a diet high in sugar, refined flour, alcohol and junk foods makes your sugar sensitivity – and your moods – out of control.

    When your sugar-sensitive body is in balance, life is good. When it is out of balance, life is miserable.

    Getting Well

    Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. has designed a program to heal your body’s sugar sensitivity and bring it into balance. She is a pioneer in the field of addictive nutrition and was the first to give sugar sensitivity a name. She understands your issues and knows the huge impact sugar has on your body and mind.

    When Dr. DesMaisons first developed her revolutionary program, she was running a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. She recognized that the alcoholics she was working with were also sugar addicts. When she addressed their sugar addiction by adding a nutritional component to the traditional treatment for alcoholism, she had an unparalleled success rate of 92%, even among long-term, hardcore alcoholics.

    Dr. DesMaisons introduced her nutritional program for healing sugar sensitivity to the world in 1998 in her first book Potatoes Not Prozac. In it she outlined seven steps to restore balance in the sugar-sensitive brain and body. These steps work by using nutrition to balance blood sugar, raise serotonin and keep beta endorphins at optimal levels. This changes the body’s sugar-sensitive biochemistry and has an enormous effect on self-esteem and well-being.

    Dr. DesMaisons has shown hundreds of thousands of sugar-sensitive people like you that if you change your food, you can change your life. Her program goes beyond symptom relief or behavioral training. It brings about profound, life-changing recovery.

  • Day 19: Sandra Who Had A Ring Put On It

    Date: 2010.03.18 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    Who really wants to be famous? Sandra Bullock dreams and nightmares are floating in the collective psyche today, much like jilted Jennifer Aniston packed a global punch when she was dumped by Brad Pitt in 2005.

    So scary to fly so high – and then get sent crashing back to earth with your head face-first in the dirt. Maybe this is why so many people fear success.

    It’s equal parts schadenfreude and disillusionment, isn’t it? On one hand you want to believe someone can have it all as spectacularly as Sandra Bullock – be a cool, smart, anti-star star and savvy businesswoman, tame the bad boy in marriage and win the Best Actress Oscar.

    She got the ring put on it – which remains the great American dream (I guess) for women. At least in the movies. (French women could care less about a ring.)

    But then when it falls apart – we’re also sort of relieved that she’s been brought down a big peg and we maybe feel a bit better about ourselves. Because Sandra Bullock is so successful and smart and beautiful and she did it all on her own.

    Maybe even Jesse James felt the same way – he certainly managed to bring her down a peg. The story’s more about him now, after weeks spent as Sandra’s sidekick. Not the first time a gorgeous, accomplished actress was cheated on and left holding her career all alone.

    Then again, that ring, that American girl dream. And the fallout if you’re attracted to the kind of guy who you should never marry – but you marry him anyway.

    After you get the ring put on, but there is no happily ever after, what’s left?

    The void. Makes you want to reach for something sweet – Ben & Jerry’s, theater-sized boxes of Junior Mints, Toll House cookies and bags of Twizzlers – even if you’re not Sandra Bullock.

    Stories like this are haunting. Her husband Jesse James just apologized today for what clearly involves reports that he cheated on her with an once-Amish tattoo model who looks like a white-trash version of Sandra.

    I wonder about the little details. Like when Sandra left the house she shared with James in Southern California Monday, before she issued a statement pulling out of the London premiere of “The Blind Side,” did she fly back to Austin, Texas, where she’s lived for years, on a commercial jet or a private plane?

    Did she call someone to be with her or was she all alone? I know her mother is dead. This is usually when you want your mother.

    Or because she’s so famous did she take her car and decide to drive back by herself to Austin? I’d want to do that, if I were famous and had just won the Oscar and had endlessly praised my husband publicly, even saying “you’re so hot,” while he was carrying on with another woman.

    I wouldn’t want to be seen in public or photographed.

    But then if she drove herself from California to Texas, how would she avoid being seen when she stopped in a hotel for the night? She couldn’t just go up to the night clerk at a Best Western outside Flagstaff and ask for a room in case he recognized her – in which case paparazzi would be outside her door within 30 minutes.

    Again, who wants to be famous?

    She probably took a private jet home. And I’m only assuming she went back to Austin. I know nothing, maybe she’ll go back to Jesse James but I doubt it.

    But if she did go back to Austin, what is she doing right now? Can she even sleep at night?

    Did she look at the In Touch magazine piece showing pictures of Michelle Bombshell who said she slept with James for 11 months while Sandra was shooting “The Blind Side” in Georgia?

    What did she think if she read that Michelle Bombshell says she calls Jesse James “the vanilla gorilla” because he’s so well-endowed? How do you deal something like that when you’re a internationally famous, Oscar-winning, wisecrack-snapping superstar yet you’re really all alone right now?

    I have a friend who always says “keep busy and do something with your hands” when you’ve just had a bad break-up. But what’s the formula when you’ve had a bad break-up – and the public is privy to the most humiliating details?

    I hope she can preserve the moment she won the Oscar in some kind of emotional amber.

    For some years, I interviewed a lot of stars. Sandra Bullock was a little different. Her personality was more like a sharp-cookie businesswoman than a star. I talked to her for about 90 minutes in a 2002 interview for The New York Times.

    She was single then and in the middle of starring in and producing in a movie. There was something very solitary about her and she had a self-consciousness that movie stars don’t usually have. She was surprisingly uncomfortable being interviewed and reluctant to talk – which surprised me given her easygoing, down to earth reputation.

    There was a lot to her, and she wasn’t interested in giving much of it to The New York Times. She even seemed embarrassed some of the time.

    I interviewed Halle Berry in London that same year, just before she won her Oscar for Best Actress. Unbeknownst to her, her husband Eric Benet was cheating on her also during her run-up to the Oscars.

    Halle had already had a string of bad boys, including one who punched her so hard she lost some of her hearing.

    She won the Oscar and went through a nasty divorce from Benet two years later. The ring came off. It looked bleak for Berry.

    But, you know, she wound up with another guy. He didn’t put a ring on it. She’s still with him, and they have a daughter. They seem happy.

    It’s not over ’til it’s over, Sandra.

  • Day 18: Sing it, Sistah!

    Date: 2010.03.17 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    From the Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama is urging the nation’s largest food companies to speed up efforts to make healthier foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

    Mrs. Obama asked the companies, gathered at a meeting of the Grocery Manufacturers Association on Tuesday, to “step it up” and put less fat, salt and sugar in foods.

    “We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children,” she said.

    The first lady has talked to schools and nutrition groups across the country in her effort to reduce childhood obesity. This is the first time she has confronted the food companies that make the snacks and junk food that stuff grocery aisles and school vending machines.

    Read more here at the Huffington Post:

  • Day 18: Wicked Wednesday!

    Date: 2010.03.17 | Category: Scary Motivation! | Response: 5

    No, I haven’t slipped… yet.

    But I’m surprised at the moments that attack out of the blue and make me want some sweet sustenance.

    Just before noon today, on an already appointment-packed day, I was just getting off the bus on a street called the Hotel de Postes in Nice. I stepped down on the curb and it hit me – I was just a block away from one of my favored chocolatiers. It’s a little place run by a lovely little, white-haired French woman who always smiles at me so kindly when I walk in.

    “Alors?” she’ll ask, knowing full well I order the same thing each time – ten of the thin, exquisite milk chocolate galets and ten of the caramel. She moves slowly, there’s no rush in a little store selling chocolate in the south of France.

    She carefully places the chocolates in a lovely little bag and ties it with a gold ribbon. She assumes that, like the French, I am buying the candy in order to savor it later, during a formal time period like after dinner. No, I gobble it up as I leave the store, like a normal American. But I never tell her not to wrap the whole thing up because it’s part of pleasure. Even the most obscurely-located chocolate shop in France will often have the most beautiful and delicate candies, presented, decorated and later wrapped as if they were to be a gift to Marie-Antoinette herself.

    That’s why it’s France.

    Anyway, all this went through my head as I got off the bus. How much I’d like to drop in for a sweet treat and to see the kindly old woman. But no, I’m not eating sweets. I turned away from the direction of the shop toward home.

    But before going home, I decided to satisfy another craving that I rarely get: I wanted a hamburger. I like hamburgers well enough but I don’t eat them much. They’re not a staple in France. I’m also very aware of how bad red meat is for you – although I am not at the point of becoming a vegetarian – yet.

    If you really look into how bad red meat is for you – especially antibiotic and hormone-riddled American red meat – you’d never touch it again. But investigating meat is a bit like looking deeply at the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. It all becomes so overwhelmingly bad – and it all stems from people in charge lying to us and encouraging us to turn a blind eye – that you almost don’t want to deal at all. Taking right action just seems almost impossible.

    Turning a blind eye, going with the flow, is so much easier, isn’t it?

    I’ve read books like John Robbins’ Diet for a New America and I’m dying to read Jonathan Foer’s Eating Animals.

    I know what eating meat means. And it’s not pretty. And I usually happily hew to a very healthy diet. But today I went to McDonald’s anyway. I ordered a Big Mac, fries and Diet Coke. I used to think a little McDonald’s was fine. Now I don’t really think so. Then again, my goal is not to be a food militant, save the world or be perfect.

    However, I also know the worst thing about eating McDonald’s is how all that overly salted, sugar-riddled food triggers cravings for candy.

    It’s only 3 p.m. Pray for me!


  • Day 17: Candy Not So Pretty!

    Date: 2010.03.16 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    A Year Without Candy patron Claire Joliecoeur sends along a link to this great site, ugly food, with pictures of bleeding Gummis and brain cupcakes. She wants to keep my sugar cravings at bay!

  • Day 16: But I'd Rather Be a Bad Girl!

    Date: 2010.03.15 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 5

    As I said in my piece in the Huffington Post that kicked off this blog:

    Is there a less-sexy addiction than being a sugar freak?

    Have you ever seen a film noir with the possibly-murderous icy blonde reclining on a sofa and waiting for the next sucker to lure into her evil web – while pulling on a Twix bar?

    Or have you ever gone a hot date with a cool guy and after dinner, leaned back seductively, locked eyes with him, reached into your purse and said, “Do you mind if I… toss down a few Gummi bears?”

    How wholesome. How very not treacherous femme fatale.

    Let’s face it, it’s not just men who love bitches. As far as I can tell, nice girls/guys everywhere need to be careful lest they finish last.

    But hey, you play the card you’re dealt. Which is why I enjoyed joining Connie Bennett’s ongoing weekly coaching session for sweetfreaks like me. Connie is the empress of the Stop Sugar Shock! empire and invited me to join in on her telephone conference call.

    It’s always great to be with those who roll as you do – even if I detected over the phone that all of us may share some of the same dreaded good girl characteristics. By that I mean – conscientiousness, thoughtfulness, being over-responsible, a desire for self-improvement…

    One of the my fellow participants, for example, mentioned how much she enjoys eating Ezekiel English muffins in part because they help cut sugar cravings. I love the Ezekiel Food for Life products too!

    According to the website, the Ezekiel products were inspired “by the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9., “Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it…”

    Two weeks successfully off sugar. Biblically-inspired food products. Ugh.

    I’m feeling so virtuous I can’t stand it! Is it so wrong every now and then to want to be all bad?

    Ta from my evil twin,

  • Day 15: How Much Weight Have I Lost?

    Date: 2010.03.14 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    Should that be for me to know and for you to find out?

    Of course I’ll tell!

    It hasn’t been something sensational like 15 pounds lost in 15 days but I have lost THREE pounds, which is pretty good for me.

    I mentioned when I began this blog two weeks ago that I had gone off sweets for almost two years a few years ago. Not long after I went back to eating candy and desserts, I gained 15 pounds seemingly overnight.

    I’d never had a weight problem before. I could always eat pretty much what I wanted. It was almost as if my body was telling me – see we want you off sweets – and if you go back on we’ll add a layer of lard.

    Even though I want to lose weight as much as anybody, it oddly wasn’t my focus when I decided to try to do a year without candy. I’ve been more concerned about staying the course and keeping my cravings at bay.

    As I result, I haven’t been watching what I eat – since I don’t overeat anything except sweets. Make sense?

    But enough about you,

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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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