Happiness is, in part, a long, healthy life: Our decision to go sugar free. 

My husband and I have been married just shy of two years and in a word, he’s addicted to sugar. He will eat it straight out of the package if he’s craving it. Now, as a nutritionist and health conscious person, I just couldn’t bring myself to do something like that. Even in the midst of pregnancy, likely due to my balanced and diverse diet, I’ve had zero cravings for anything, let alone sugar. This isn’t to say that some women don’t experience these cravings, that they are not legitimate, or that there’s anything wrong with having cravings or submitting to them. I just have not had them, and it’s likely diet related. Not only that, but since I’ve been out of my teens, my desire for sugar and salt has generally declined. I find I enjoy the taste of food more when seasoned and cooked well, instead of masking the flavor a of the actual food. 

So over the weekend, I was watching a documentary film on the obesity epidemic and what the true causes are. Again, as a nutritionist, we are sort of conditioned to believe in the ‘calories in, calories out’ agenda. But I  also aware enough of food manufacturing tactics, likelowering fat   and calories by adding preservatives as well as sugar and salt to make food tasty. Two of the main factors in choosing foods are taste and texture. 

My husband is not typically a documentary fan, but joined me during this one. He was a little shocked by the science behind our addictions to sugar, even though I’ve been telling him for years that eating junk the way he does is not healthy. He also saw with stark clarity that even though one is thin, they can still succumb to many of the same illnesses as someone who is obese. I think this was rather eye-opening for him. 

Near the end of the movie, he says to me ‘Fine. I’ll try it your way.’ Completely out of the blue, we talk about sugar and how many days is he going to ‘try it’ before he can go back to his normal way. I know that any addiction takes 21 days or longer to kick, mainly due to mental addiction long after the physical symptoms fade. So we decided that for 30 days, he will eat truly healthier. 

So, what is ‘healthier’ in this case? Well, the ground rules that we set up are that we will look at the sugar content and ingredients list on everything we buy that’s packaged. If the fiber doesn’t balance out the sugar, we don’t buy it. If there is added sugar, we don’t buy it. And we do not add table sugar, honey, or sugary substances to our food. To him this means no desserts, no packaged foods, no baked goods, no candy, no chips, no fruit juice, and he’s ‘going to starve to death’. 

What this means to me is that we will be eating natural, whole food meals, to kick the sugar habit. In just the two days we have been reading more labels (I’m a compulsive label reader for vegan purposes), even I’ve been a little surprised at some of the places sugar is lurking. 

So what does this ‘sugar elimination’ mean in terms of happiness? First, while this was entirely his idea, 100% unprompted by me, he’s going to go through sugar withdrawal. Just like any addiction, he’s going to miss what he’s had and he’s going to be crabby about it. This is significantly going to impact both his and my short term happiness. He’s going to experience mental and physical withdrawal symptoms, and since he’s never been addicted to nicotine or illicit substances, he has no idea how this will effect him. I’ve experienced caffeine withdrawal and witnessed several people detoxing from narcotics. So it’s going to be unpleasant at the very least. For us both. 

However, if he decides that he’s going to continue on this style of eating beyond the 30 days, which is my sincere hope, his health will be significantly prolonged. The likelihood of him getting obesity related diseases decreases significantly and we will, in theory, have a much longer life together consisting of good health. This will greatly impact our long term happiness for the coming decades. 

But with that, there’s a trade off. He has to forgo many of the foods he loves, and adopt a new mindset as well as forge a new relationship with food. He will likely eat sugar in the future, but as with any addiction, that need for more may never go away. He will constantly battle with the craving for certain foods, and also with his desire to live a long and healthy life.  

 
Instead of buying the packaged veggie burgers that we would normally eat, I made these out of beans. Last night he told me that he actually prefers these. They are far less expensive, we control the ingredients, and they are more flavorful. Sounds like the trifecta of a successful dinner if ever there was. 

If you’re interested in watching the documentary, please find the trailer here. Please comment below if you’ve had a lifestyle change or taken on a new way of thinking to increase your happiness or health.

Thanks for reading!

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~ by wendemachete on June 30, 2015.

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