Balancing Sugar In Your Diet

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It is important to understand how sugar affects our body and how sugar and mental health are connected so we can make good food choices and live healthy.

angie kinghorn writer


Understanding The War On Sugar

There’s a war on sugar, but do you really need to cut sugar out of your diet to be healthy? We invited writer Angie Kinghorn to take HelloFlo and VProud's Master Class Balancing Sugar In Your Diet and reflect on her own experiences with sugar below. Balancing Sugar In Your Diet is taught by Shari Boockvar, Registered Dietician and Nutritionist. In the class, she explains why everyone is so obsessed with sugar and how you can understand which sugars are OK to eat. She also teaches easy tricks to make sure you’re eating healthfully and gives quick and simple meal ideas to put healthy eating into practice. Below, Angie shares a deeply personal account of how food and mental health are intricately connected. Take a look at what Angie shares about learning how food affects her and how adjusting her diet according to the life she wants to live has affected so much more than the scale. See if Angie's experience matches yours or if her story affects your perception of sugar in the diet. There's no doubt in our minds that peoples' relationship with food is complicated. Understanding how it all works is a step toward taking control of this relationship.

—The VProud Team


balancing sugar in your diet

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By Angie Kinghorn for VProud

I’ve spent the better part of adulthood making resolutions, gaining and losing the same ten (ok, twenty) pounds, giving up various foods, starting doomed exercise routines.

Finally, though, I’ve figured out what I lacked to make any of those resolutions stick, to make any lasting change in my life.

Resolve.

I have found that resolve now, through the lens of depression. I have recovered from yet another episode of major depression, and this one was bad enough that I will do anything not to go back, not to ever find myself sitting glued to the sofa wondering where the day went, what I did, or how I could sit there twelve more hours. Wondering how I could summon the will to live.

By the time you experience three episodes of depression, your chances of experiencing another are north of 90%. With those kinds of chances, your perspective shifts. I am grateful for each good day, grateful for each period of light. I used to think of diet and exercise as punitive measures, ways to browbeat my body into looking a certain way. But depression has wrought a shift in my thinking, helping me view both diet and exercise as tools that I need to help my body and mind feel healthy.

I will do anything to never again feel that crushing, minute by minute pain. It’s possible the actions I take can’t prevent another depressive episode, but then again, it’s possible they could. Taking decisive action is a way of affirming my own dignity in the face of the very illness that so often strips it from me.

My doctor, searching for any tool to help keep my depression in remission, suggested that I go gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and processed food-free. My inner toddler threw a predictable tantrum, because she loves bread, cookies, pasta, and cake. Also cheese, yogurt, and being able to make dinner without a headache and occasionally eating out. Deprivation can’t be healthy, can it?

In the next breath, my doctor told me to exercise. That exercise is as effective as an antidepressant.

We bought a rowing machine and shoehorned it into the kids’ playroom. I am making time to exercise, rather than exercising when I have the time.

So … gluten … it’s gone. I’m gluten-free. I’ve even switched thyroid medications to one that doesn’t use gluten as a binder. Processed foods are gone as well. That sounds easy, doesn’t it? The reality is a bit harder, but worth it to keep me out of the darkness. Sugar is out, at least in refined forms. I will still consume fruit and honey, and if I need a sweetener, I will reach for stevia. I haven’t gone entirely grain-free, though I have cut grains out almost entirely. Occasionally I eat quinoa. Research indicates that refined carbohydrates are especially bad for depression, so I’m substituting cauliflower rice for white rice these days, and I have to say, I quite like it.

Altogether, though, it is tempting to view these changes as painful. I don’t remember the last time I had a cupcake, but the thought of never having one again makes me crave icing with a startling intensity. My mouth waters at the smell of fresh baked croissants when I take my children to the local bakery for an after-school treat. The way I used to eat was comforting, but I have to remind myself that that diet fed an old life, and I do not want the fruit of that old life. To bring forth a new kind of life, I must feed it.

I can make peace with my mouth watering. My resolve is going to hold, and I’m reminding myself of the ultimate goal: staying well. It’s not about the after-school treat at the bakery. It’s about being present and well enough to do anything after school with my children, to enjoy the time I spend with them. They’ll get used to going to the juice bar for smoothies instead of heading to the bakery for cupcakes.

Eventually.

angie kinghorn vproud
About the author: Angie Kinghorn is a freelance writer who has published pieces on Good Housekeeping, Redbook, BonBonBreak, and In the Powder Room. Her work has been published in four anthologies, including the best-selling humor compilation You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth. She was a BlogHer VOTY honoree in 2012. Her dog was not impressed. She writes at angiekinghorn.com. Follow her on Twitter and on InstagramJoin Angie on the Balancing Sugar In Your Diet discussion on VProud.


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