Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gimme some sugar

Actually, don't. I've been trying to stop eating so much of it. That goes for honey and maple syrup, too, all sweeteners really. All my life I've had a major sweet tooth and though I've pretty much always known that it's bad for me I've sort of shrugged my shoulders and said, "Oh well! Gotta have some vices." The fact that I don't generally make sweet treats anymore, and have entirely stopped buying them, made me feel more virtuous than it should.
Just lately, though, I've been realizing how much extra sugar I really eat and almost all of it goes into my tea. I justified it to myself because, on a per-cup basis it really wasn't all that much. About half a teaspoon for a large cup. Not bad, right? Except that I drink anywhere from 3-5 cups of tea each day. That ends up being a lot of unnecessary sugar. It only dawned on me when I realized how often I was needing to refill my little container of sugar for work.
So not only is it bad for me but it's costing me a lot of money. I buy the fancy organic cane sugar from the bulk section and it's quite pricey. Less expensive than if I was buying one of the name-brand bags, but still expensive. So by cutting out sugar I'm helping my health and my wallet. It still took me a few weeks to talk myself into it, because I don't like giving up my sugar addiction. Am I going to turn into one of those annoyingly virtuous and self-righteous people who says things like, "Oh, no. I don't eat that," in a tone which implies, "Your food is garbage." I admit that I can be kind of a food snob, but I try to only judge myself. I'm not the food police, your food choices are your own.
Without sugar, in the past tea has just seemed so bitter and blah, and I can't give up my tea! I could probably do without the caffeine (in fact, today I'm drinking red or rooibos tea, which is naturally caffeine free), but the warmth on cold days is pretty necessary. My boss simply microwaves a mug of water but I hate drinking plain hot water and anything else hot I could think of to drink has lots of sugar anyway. So plain tea it is.
Well, I took the leap last week and stopped putting sugar in all but my last cup of tea each day. It's turned out to be way easier than I expected. Even the first day when I put sugar in that last cup of tea it seemed far too sweet. By the time the weekend rolled around I was ready to stop putting sugar in my tea at all. Even milk as a sweetener seemed extraneous. So I've started drinking my tea black and enjoying it as much as ever.
I have some rather large cavities in my back teeth, which have been filled, but were a direct result of my sugar addiction. (And years of having no insurance during my early 20s.) They were starting to hurt sometimes and without the added sugar in my tea they've stopped aching. If I needed no other motivation that would be it. I'd really rather not end up as a toothless old woman. According to my dentist, sipping sugary drinks all day is the absolute worst thing you can do for your teeth. (I'm assuming that she means, besides being a meth addict. Have you seen their teeth?!) Getting a direct result from cutting back on my sugar intake is lovely.
In my morning oatmeal I've been putting in about 1/2 a teaspoon of maple syrup to sweeten it just a touch, rather than the tablespoon or so of brown sugar that I used to put in it. And I've been trying to limit myself to only one sweet treat per day. It hasn't been easy, and I've totally failed some days. My little brother made cookies this past weekend (oatmeal raisin, one of my favorite kinds!) and at the potluck between the Saturday shows for everyone in "The Wizard of Oz" I might have had four-ish cookies. For the most part, however, I don't find myself missing the sugar all that much. Certainly not as much as I thought I would. It makes me feel good, like this will be a lasting change.
Now I can see just how long it takes me before I need to fill up my sugar container at home. I'm betting not until Christmas. What do you think?

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