Sweet Emotion: Shining the Spotlight on an Unhealthy Addiction

THE CHALLENGE

This month’s challenge is one that was originally proposed by my fiancée in order to combat a deep rooted addiction each of us has shamelessly embraced since birth. Whenever the scales of our emotions begin tipping too far in one direction, our minds latch onto a quick fix solution that has stood the test of time. For the both of us (maybe it’s our secret to happiness), the magical cure patiently waits inside a loudly designed package, filled with cereal or cookies. If we were members of congress, sporting our sponsors' labels, we would be plastered head to toe with the logos of Kellogg's, Kraft, and General Mills.

3D Model of Sucrose (A.K.A. Table Sugar)

3D Model of Sucrose (A.K.A. Table Sugar)

Molded from the elegant bonds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the keys to our hearts are one in the same. However, our key has been copied and distributed so far and wide we have never felt much security. As soon as this insufferable craving begins to surface, we can fulfill our desire instantaneously (and we do).

We can stay within a quarter mile radius of our studio apartment and satisfy nearly any craving that floods are weary conscience. Everywhere we look, another business proudly displays images of their tried and true sugary hits, differing only by their visual appeal. With the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and correlated crash of sugar prices, sugar is even more appealing for businesses everywhere.

So, let's call this challenge an insider's rebellion to halt the excess supply in the good ole U.S. of A! Today, it stops (at least for a month). We are attacking our harmful habit head on. We are changing our locks and upgrading our mental security. The time has come for a change and we are (hopefully) not looking back.

THE GAME PLAN

After deliberating the best way to tame our infatuation with sugar, we have agreed to put our adult pants on and cut out our sugary antidotes cold turkey. For the next 29 days, we will be abiding by the following set of guidelines to steer our decision making:

  1. Via the recommendations of the World Health Organization and a quick look at the sugar content of some of the more common additives and sugary delights
    • No more than than 37.5 grams of sugar per day
    • No foods containing more than 5.9 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving*
      • UPDATE: As my fiancée plainly put it, the goal of this challenge was to stop eating the unhealthy sweets we are so prone to over-consume. So, we have amended the rule above to reflect the fact that many fruits and even whole grain breads contain greater than 10 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving. Since fruits are healthy and we eat bread at a minimum, they have been deemed acceptable food choices.
  2. Surprisingly enough, there are plenty of choices available at our local fast food establishments that meet the narrow stipulations above. However, since we would like to keep our arteries open for the foreseeable future
    • No McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle, or Starbucks
  3. In most matters of healthy food selection, common sense prevails.
    • If either of us declares a food "sugary" or fulfilling the addiction we are trying to eradicate, it will not be allowed
  4. For the purposes of keeping each other accountable (and for the purposes of the future posts)
    • Daily Food Diary
      • UPDATE: Given that my accountability partner and I live under the same roof, we have found it much easier to simply discuss our food choices for the day rather than diligently write it out. However, if you are doing this alone, you absolutely should not abandon this rule.

These guidelines are meant to accomplish one simple task: eat consciously. This will likely result in much more than merely reducing our sugar intake. As we continuously assess our daily food choices, we will probably be answering the question "is this healthy" more than "how much sugar is in this," and I could not ask for a better side effect. Thankfully, we have recently graduated from failed culinary experiments to more recent success stories (thank you, Chungah!), so we are far less tempted to drop our daily earnings on someone else cooking our food.

Let the challenge begin.

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*The WHO recommends no more than 25-50 grams of sugar per day. 25-50 grams of sugar equates to 96.75-193.5 calories. Given the caloric recommendation for my age, height, and weight, this amounts to 3.5-7.0% of my daily caloric intake. For my fiancée, the range is 4.4-8.8%.


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