When I was a teenager, my dad brought home the book Sugar Blues. Shortly after that, he revoked sugar from the house. When his six children complained, he offered the book for us to read. It would become one of the measuring sticks by which I’d judge all diets and determine with whom I’d share my food. My relationship with sugar did not immediately end because of a book, however.
But, it opened my eyes to other manufactured and widely accepted poisons that most Americans swallow mostly without question. It became a personal awareness campaign to read labels and discover how insidiously sugar and its many aliases could be slipped into nearly every processed food on the grocery store shelf. Even those labeled “healthy.” In the next few years, I would endure several dozen profound sugar related events that became etched in my memory; crossroad events that I could not ignore. So began my lifelong war against sugar.
I didn’t set out to become a crunchy mom. Growing up in a home with a weight-obsessed, constantly dieting mother imprinted me with the holy-grail-chasing desire to be thin, thinner and still ever thinner. Chronic headaches, a general feeling of failure and low self-esteem were masked by a glowing tan and blonde hair. I may have looked great, but I was anything but healthy. Unbeknownst to many, my habit of binging and purging had begun in my 20’s.
Bingeing stemmed out of trying to starve myself to under 100 pounds. In crazed moments, I’d eat whatever I could jam into my mouth: an entire pizza, whole plates of nachos, bricks of cheese, and pounds of pasta. Afterward, the guilt set in along with the anxiety-producing knowledge that I’d just eaten thousands of calories. Then, I’d find myself in the restroom emptying my stomach. I desperately wanted to exit this (un)merry-go-round. Ashamed, I didn’t know how to get help or talk about what I was doing.
When I was pregnant with our daughter, I discovered the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. Based on nutritive value, not calories, it changed my relationship to food. At the time our daughter was born, in an effort to say no to yo-yo dieting and diet culture, I threw away my bathroom scale.
I met a woman who further educated me about nutrition. It doesn’t make sense to be at war with something you need to have three times a day to survive. It’s like hating air and holding your breath. She helped me befriend and recognize non-processed food.
One day while peeling a roast chicken, it occurred to me that the chicken was about the same weight as my new-born daughter. That started me on my first meatless year and was the first step on a lifelong journey understanding food as medicine and the beginning of life as a crunchy mom.
It would be years before I learned how to make the best food that made us feel great and provided optimal health (plant-based.) Avoiding sugar and processed food (especially bread and grains in general) was only a stepping stone. I feel good about plant-based choices. One treasured health benefit was the elimination of food cravings. Since beginning this journey, the cycle of binging and purging had been broken for 25 years.
Do I ever have a cookie? A piece of cake or pie? Sure. I’m not a purist. By telling myself I can eat anything I choose, and occasionally indulging in “King’s food” or comfort food, I don’t create unnecessary cravings. By making decisions case by case, weighing how it will affect my mood, how it will make me feel and if it will be worth it, I’m free to decide. Now I find a rarely choose them at all.
On our website, we refuse to promote sugar and those foods which spike blood sugar in diabetics out of respect for relatives who are enduring this destructive disease. And if you’re a willing slave to a sweet tooth, this blog may not be for you.
But if you’re the unwilling sugar addict desiring to break free and wonder if there a life without sugar, (is there dessert without sugar? YES!) a whole delicious world of flavors awaits! I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of sugar. On this blog we use unrefined, naturally sweet dried fruit, honey and occasionally maple syrup.
This is just one side of the story. Memphis has a little different take, so visit the About Memphis page too!