As I was driving down the highway not long ago my eye caught sight of a large cola vending machine. Instantly I thought of the diet soda that was the only soda I ever drank, but I used to drink a lot of it, and for a split second I had thoughts of how much I used to like it, then I immediately realized that old limbic brain I call the Kraken was pushing at the bars of its cage. Then I had on overwhelming sense of relief that I didn’t have to pay attention to that urge, furthermore I didn’t want to because I finally got what the heart of problem is with trying to substitute one bad thing for another bad thing.
If the goal is to get off the sugar-starch addictive foods/beverages then to replace them with other sweet tasting things is pointless, a true waste of time, for studies and our own experiences have shown that the substitution works only for a short time. When we promise the brain a big calorie input with that highly sweet taste and nothing is forthcoming, the brain will keep bugging us to fulfill that promise by urging us with those constant cravings. Like a gangster who wants his money! Remember, the artificially sweetened substitute, diet soda or diet foods, are usually several hundred times sweeter than the actual soda or food we are trying to avoid. The brain is not to be fooled in the long run. Which means, horror of horrors, the best thing is to give up the sweet food to begin with (or starchy if that’s your main thing, though to the body starch = sugar).
I spent years trying to substitute low and no-calorie foods/drinks that used artificial sweeteners and my weight kept going up. The cravings got far worse, and I felt like I was on a carousel going ever faster that wouldn’t let me off.
The last couple of years as I got interested in various low carb/primal/paleo blog sites, the one thing that soon became obvious was how so many people immediately tried to find substitutes for their old problem foods. Can’t have flour cookies, then make them with almond meal; can’t use Splenda, use stevia instead. I was one of them. I could over use any substitute.
Undoubtedly there are some people who can judiciously use substitutes, but for the overweight person who is plagued by cravings, who grazes looking for something to satisfy that empty feeling that never seems to get filled—no matter how much food is eaten—then substitutes are probably just as bad as the real thing. The test is whether you can eat three meals a day without snacking and that feels just fine, without cravings that won’t give you any peace.
I find that I can use a little stevia sweetened food now and then, but it must be after good foods and in a very small amount. Everyone had to find his/her own tolerance. But if I find that cravings begin with any food, it has to go. I can’t let any food threaten my health and take away the freedom from cravings that has taken me over a decade to finally figure out.
Scary is the word that comes to mind, as I consider why we are driven to find substitues, for scary is how it feels to say “I won’t drink sugar OR diet soda or eat artificially sweetened foods.” After all, that was the sacrifice you thought you made. Eat/drink this no-cal thing and it will take me to my goal. But if it doesn’t, what other choice is there? Rational people know when to accept a fact, and sometimes the facts are exactly what we do not want to accept.
So when I saw that soda machine I knew in my deepest being that there is no such substitute for me. Besides the fact that most of the substitutes are filled with chemicals that are potentially very dangerous. But the good thing about resignation is that it lifts a burden from your shoulders, for you know you are no longer in thrall to sugar, though it’s wise to always respect the power it can quickly regain if you start eating such foods or their artificially sweetened counterparts.
Yours in strength and courage,
Nan aka Sugarbaby