Monday, November 28, 2011

Do What You Know (Part 1)

Tiffany here again :)

Patricia Gonsalez was in my first grade class.  I remember our first class party well.  A big halloween cupcake was placed on her desk. She passed it back to the classroom mom and boldly said, "I can't have it. I am allergic to sugar". That got my 6 year old brain turning... ALLERGIC to SUGAR?  I couldn't fathom it.  I thought it just had to be the most awful thing in the world. I downed my big chocolate halloween cupcake while Patty ate the popcorn in the little ziploc her mother had packed her.

As I grew up and learned more about medical conditions I made the conclusion/assumption that Patty must have been diabetic.  "I'm allergic" must have been something her mother taught her to say to make it easier. And I thought that for many years until recently when I started diving deeper into the many ways our bodies can react to sugar.

I have known for a long time that I have issues with sugar.  When I say sugar I mean all manner of refined sugar and sugar substances (corn syrups, etc).  My mother has sugar issues, my grandparents on both sides have diabetes.  My issues and my mother's issues are similar.  We both get crushing sugar related headaches and energy slumps. I get mood swings, irritability and have major focus issues.

I know this because I have experimented with myself.  I have gone months without a bite of refined sugar and I feel fantastic.  I cave (or purposefully allow it back into my diet) and my health quickly deteriorates.  And I mean quickly.  I didn't eat sugar the first three weeks of this month (November).  I got past the withdrawal period and was feeling great.  Then I went on a vacation to visit some family.  I allowed myself one night of treats.  BAM.  I was sick the next day.  The headaches were back.  I was nauseated and irritable. cravings came back. A few days later was Thanksgiving.  I allowed the dessert... I got worse...headaches, impatience, completely unfocused mentally, etc.  The crazy thing is that I KNOW this about myself. I know I function poorly when sugar is in my system.  

I was once in a sacrament meeting in Montana of all places (I was on a trip with my soccer team in college) and one of the speakers said something I have never forgotten.  He said, "Why do we do what we do when we know what we know?"  powerful.  I loved it.  Those words have had so many implications throughout my life, but for this purpose I apply it to what I know about my body.  If I know that sugar is crap for me, why do I ever eat it? (I could expand on this but I won't now)

Here are just a few things about sugar intolerances I found out in my research to find out about my own body:

sugar allergies: It is important to know that intolerances and allergies manifest themselves very differently.  Allergies are very serious and have reactions like many other food allergies: hives, throat constrictions, swelling, rashes, etc and can even be life threatening.  Most people mistakingly think they have a sugar allergy when it is really a sensitivity or intolerance.

sugar sensitivities:  People who have sensitivities to sugar will often have several symptoms. These include but are not limited to- fatigue, digestive issues, nervousness, depression, brain fog, irritability, hypoglycemia, and cravings for sweet foods. 

here is some more information about symptoms of sugar allergies and intolerances.

sugar hangovers:  here is a great link.  I learned about sugar hangovers after my oldest son reacted severely after binging on christmas cookies and hot chocolate last year --woke up the next morning throwing up... 

Want to guess how much sugar the average person eats in a year compared to just a few hundred years ago?   Here is your answer.

I am not going to go on a rant about how bad sugar is for you. This is because it might not be as bad for you as it is for me. It may not affect you.  On the other hand, it may and you don't know it.  Our bodies are all different. I do know that there have been multiple times in my life that I have visited doctors for migraines, imbalances, mental clarity, etc. and the first (and only) thing they want to do is get me on medication.  I am always more interested in the root of the problem.  You may be too.

If there are some of you out there that are interested in knowing more about sugar, how it affects your body or would like some encouragement and advice in getting it out of your system, let me know.   This may be for you, someone you know, or your children.  I am more than happy to write more about my story and what I have learned it if there is interest.   

The Word of Wisdom offers a lot of wonderful advice.  I think the thing that I love most about it is that it is simple.  But because it is simple, all things are not spelled out for us.  There is much room for self application and experimentation.  Our Father in Heaven gave us these wonderful bodies to use to the fullest potential.  I know that what we eat can play a huge role on the efficiency and productivity of our bodies.  

This post was written to encourage you in general to take what you know about your body and apply it.   If you need to make changes, be brave and do it.  Make it a matter of experimentation, of self-discovery, of prayer.    

Do what you Know.


  1. hey girl - i'm interested in this. i'm hypoglycemic with a wicked sweet tooth - it's mostly a nightmare. i've eaten lots of sweets this pregnancy too, poor babe in my belly. she'll probably inherit my sugar sensitivity. in any case, i've been lessening it in recent weeks in an effort to eliminate junk as much as possible when this babe is born so i can recover from the pregnancy more quickly. i'd be interested in learning more about your experience. i'll check out your links too. thanks for the info.

  2. Super inspiring. I just had a long conversation with someone this morning about much of what you said. Definitely and intolerance for me, but a strong one, and I would be much better off without the stuff!

  3. Berli -- I didn't know this about you! Well, I suppose I knew about the sweet tooth, but I didn't know that you had sugar issues... we will have to talk!

    Jen- I would have loved to join that conversation (or at least hear it!). I know I am better off without the stuff too. It's so hard though, and for me he social part is the hardest. the stuff is everywhere! I wish you luck in finding balance!.

  4. Ahhh, the sugar issue. In answer to your question, "Why do we do things we know we shouldn't do?" I believe that people changed when they feel the spirit (or the light of Christ) testify to them that they need to change and they choose to be receptive to that spirit. I have other ideas too, but I'll save those for another time. Me personally, I don't enjoy sugar and go long periods of time without. I just wish many people in the LDS church didn;t feel like we have to have some treat for every activity. It's a big pet peeve of mine.

  5. Athack - I agree in both cases. Change happens when our spirits are spoken to. It's the natural man we are constantly fighting. We know we need to do certain things to stay physically, mentally, spiritually healthy, but we get sidetracked, tricked, deceived by the world (and even ourselves). I also have to agree that our lds culture revolves around food in most cases. I have also learned that it isn't just our lds culture, but maybe it is just american? I don't know. I am seeing the same problems in our preschool and community actually. I think we need to rethink our priorities and start making the activity itself the intrinsic reward. A beautiful service project and then here is an ice cream sandwich.... I don't know... I haven't thought all of this out, but it might be interesting to explore.

  6. Very interesting post. My mother suffered for years with a sugar intolerance, among other things (sensitivity to chemicals, etc.). Doctors didn't know what was wrong with her, recommended steroids and heart medication! She didn't like that so she saw a homeopathic doctor who detoxified her and explained the sugar intolerance.

    I don't have that problem but I have been conscious of it since I was a kid. I went without one single bite for almost two years.

    Something interesting to note is that while on my mission to Temple Square I heard over and over again from the European sisters how icky sweet EVERYTHING was. They couldn't believe how sweet our cakes were! Sadly, by the end of their missions many of them started craving more sugar. We are so used to it and it is a battle to reduce it, as it is in just about everything.

    Would love to talk more!!

  7. Erin, I would love to talk to you about this, or even your mom. I have felt very very sick lately and I know I need to do something. I am interested in how she detoxed.

    Interesting about the sisters on your mission... I have heard that from Europeans as well. It's so true, when you go without it for a while, it's not even appetizing. It's SOOO sweet it kind of makes you sick to think about it.

    At what age did you go without it for two years?

  8. I am so sad that you have been feeling so sick. Health is a blessing and you are wise to hone in on this issue. I feel strongly about food. I feel strongly that it brings people together in a a really positive way. I also feel like people have really unhealthy relationships with food. I have tried for a very long time to relearn my relationship to food as a healthy one. As you know, I was a vegetarian for many years and I really learned so much about food and about my own discipline. If there is anything I could teach my children, it would be that food is a wonderful thing when you use it properly. Abuse it and you will regret it.

    For me, I feel peace when I am listening to my body and being aware of what is going on. I feel super stressed out when I feel like I need to diet. I think that the Word of Wisdom helps us to understand this intrinsic relationship between food and our spirits. It is a parable in the scriptures time and time again. We need it, we show gratitude for it and we choose wisely what to put in our bodies. I love your spirit and support any and all of those wanting to live life a little better. I hope I never make you feel like you have to eat sugar to be social with the Cherry's. We're cool with sausage and cheese ;).

  9. Serena -What a great thing to teach your children. You and I have had this discussion before... it's always a good one. I think the relationship between spirit and body/nourishment is strong as well. They are symbiotic. thank you for understanding. I feel that the hardest thing for me is the social aspect and hurting my friends feelings when I can't eat sweet treats.

  10. Tiffany, do you take sugar out of recipes? This is my main problem with the sugar thing-- I use it in breads and other things. Also I think in moderation it is okay for my kids and myself. But they are pretty moody and so am I, so maybe it's worse than we think. I feel like I'm not too obsessive about it thank goodness so we don't eat too many sweets, but my kids go NUTS when they go places without sweets, it makes me so sad. Like they have no self control at all. Which is why I continue to offer some (mediated, of course) sweets at home so we can discuss that sweets are okay, but in moderation. Anyways, I love this discussion. You would love my friend Melissa-- she's from berkely, just moved to Bakersfield-- hasn't given her daughter sugar or salt (she's Penelope's age... probably 2 years old). She makes her own food so she can control these factors (she does do a little bit but not much). It's so inspirational, I love people who have the self control to decide what is good for them (not for reasons necessarily of body shape/size) and do it so consistently. I'm not a fan of dieting, but I am such a fan of eating only foods that your body needs and nothing more or less. I love it. I also don't think my comment makes any sense, kind of meandering. But you know what I mean.

    Also, did you cut out jams and so forth as well? Honey? And have you experimented with Stevia as a sweetener? I've been looking at Stevia as a sweetener for lemon water, etc... and I'm curious as to it's health implications. I'm a fan of extracts and oils to contribute to overall health, just don't know about an extract for sweetness. :)


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