Tag Archives: sugar alcohols

A Word About: Triggers

As the title of this post suggests, I want to talk about ‘triggers’. I was thinking about this last night, trying to figure out what sort of things lead me off the LC highway and up the garden path to the gingerbread house – so to speak. I’ve been falling off the wagon a lot since my birthday in September, and there’s a few reasons for that sure, but there’s also specific things that make me go ‘Oh, I want that and I can’t be f*****  fighting off the craving so I’m just going to have the damn thing’ or just make me crave sugar so badly I feel miserable. I’ve come a long way, so my random indulgences these last four months haven’t made too much of a difference – I’m not at my target weight yet, but, as everyone keeps reminding me (myself included!) I don’t need to be there tomorrow, just some time before May (yay, goal set!) – but obviously identifying pitfalls is a good place to start when it comes to avoiding them.

So, obstacles in no real order:

1. CHOCOLATE. It’s taken me a few weeks to realise (and then admit) that. I notice that when I indulge and have those 2 squares of 80%+ chocolate I start to want ‘real’ sweets, with real sugary goodness to them. Tactic? Avoidance when at all possible.

2. CAFFEINE. I don’t drink anything but black decaf coffee when I do drink it, but it happens without fail that whenever I do have it, I want chocolate, or ice cream, or milk. Tactic? Stop drinking the stuff completely.

3. MENSTRUATION. Okay, this one I can’t really do anything about except combat cravings with more regular savoury treats that are higher in fat and thus, in theory, provide more satisfaction. I was reading a blog entry a few weeks ago in which the author had a separate ‘diet’ menu trageting her time of the month just so she could stay on the wagon, it might be something I need to implement.

4. STRESS/ANXIETY/EXHAUSTION. All of these things take a toll on your psyche, and when I’m feeling down and out I’m more likely to just lose control and stuff my face with ice cream or chocolate or both. Tactic? Try to return to a steady sleeping habit and avoid the other issues – not always possible, and often there are elements that are beyond our control, but we do what we can.

5. MIGRAINES/PAIN IN GENERAL. So I used to get really bad migraines. Luckily since I’ve started LCing, I no longer suffer from them much at all. Great! The trouble is, I do sometimes get them – usually if I’ve had caffeine or artificial sweeteners – and the pain can be so bad that it’s a ‘what the hell, I don’t care’ situation. Tactic? Avoid migraine/headache/pain triggers when at all possible, eat clean and you’ll feel clean! Er…better.

6. ‘SAFE’ SWEETS. Artificial sweeteners, or even natural ones like Stevia, make me want sweet things. It’s like I suddenly realise what I’m missing and thus, I want them. Tactic? Avoidance.

7. SOCIAL OUTINGS. I live in a very outgoing family, we often go out for dinner or coffee or whatnot, and it’s not always possible to avoid carbs while we’re out, especially not since I’m the only fool doing this to myself… Kidding, the family is extremely supportive and even intrigued. Tactic? Do the best I can, there’s no point ruining what little social life I have by curtailing outings just because I can’t eat certain things.

8. LAZINESS & SELF SABOTAGE. Not really a thing, per se, but still relevant. I tend to forget to enter things into my My Fitness app at the time of my meals, so I add them later, and that’s fine, except that something I ‘tweak’ the numbers because I ‘can’t have remembered that correctly’. This leads to carb creep. Tactic? BE HONEST WITH MYSELF FFS. >.<

9. CLIMATE. I eat a lot when it’s hot. I want cakes, cookies, and cream. I crave ice cream. I mean, it’s summer, it goes with the bloody season, right? Winter makes me want warm bread, oozing with butter, custards, and chocolate… I also do less in summer physically because I get tired faster in the heat don’t we all? Tactic? Don’t give in so easily; cool yourself down, or warm yourself up.

And I’m going to have to leave it at 9 I think, since I can’t think of any other things at the moment. Unless you guys have any triggers you want to share? I’m sure I’ve got a heap more that haven’t even occurred to me. Food for thought.

Clear skies,

Vee

A Word About: Sugar Alcohols

A lot of us on LC will explore the constrictions we place upon ourselves, and that often means we will jump for joy when we discover something that has ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low carb’ written on it in big fancy letters. Let’s face it, we’re putting ourselves through a series of serious changes by cutting out things we like; we’re going to be looking for alternatives for the things we can’t have. That means trying to substitute flour things with cauliflower crusts, or almond meal, or something; we’re only human, we’re going to want to duplicate our favourite carb foods. Imagination is the only limitation here!

But what about sugar? I used to like sugar in my tea, I certainly miss my ability to eat muffins and cakes. Well, there’s a whole host of artificial or alternative sweeteners that we can turn to, but this is where the waters get a little muddied. We don’t want to ingest anything that’ll mess up our good record so far; so nothing that affects our insulin levels, and you probably want to avoid anything with a high kilojoule count. So where does that leave us?

Well, we’ve got a few choices: artificial sweeteners, stevia, or sugar alcohols. There’s a lot of drama revolving around artificial sweeteners, a lot of arguments saying that they’re carcinogenic and have other detrimental health affects. In all honesty, I don’t know. The research is still inconclusive and wherever you look there’s conflicting data. I’ll try to explore a little further and get back to you in a later post. I’ll do the same with stevia, the natural alternative to sugar – I really want to focus on sugar alcohols in this post.

Sugar alcohols derive their name from their molecular structure: kind of halfway between an alcohol molecule and a sugar one. They’re not either of those things: they’re not sugar, and they’re not alcohol.  What they are is a type of carbohydrate also called ‘polyols’. They occur naturally in plants and are extracted from plants as syrups or powder. There’s several different types of sugar alcohols, but if you’ve been browsing labels and ingredients lists you’ll most likely have come across these three: xylitol, malitol, and sorbitol. Good on you for taking notice and doing the research!

Alrighty, down to the nitty-gritty we go.

Sugar alcohols taste sweet – though maybe not as sweet as actual sugar – and are often used in products promoting themselves as sugar-free. Unlike sugar they don’t mess around with your teeth and so people use them in sugar-free chewing gum – go ahead, check the side of that packet, is one of the three in there? I’ll bet it is! These substitutes, however, also come with a bit of a warning: they’re not always completely digested or absorbed by our bodies and that can lead to some serious gas, bloating and stomach aches, not to mention diarrhoea and burping! These affects vary from person to person and depend on which sugar alcohol is ingested. For example, remember those sugar-free liquorices I was talking about when I was sick? Yeah, those had malitol in them. I thought nothing of it because I have little to no reaction to sorbitol or xylitol  – and I do love my sugar-free gum.  Apparently, however, malitol is my worst enemy.  I had an immediate reaction: bloating, gas, and a stomach ache. I was blocked up for days! I’ll not be doing that again, let me tell you; no more malitol for me, ever. Apart from the occasional stick of gum to help with nausea, I’ve managed to avoid sorbitol and xylitol, but I’m glad that I can have something if malitol is definitely off the menu.

Which brings me to erythritol. Unlike the other three, a large amount erythritol does manage to get digested and absorbed so there’s less left in the intestines to fester and cause any ill side effects. In addition, it’s meant to have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels. I have yet to experiment with this, so I can’t really give you an real world experience, but if you have used it – had it in candy, baked with it, etc., I’d love to hear about it.

Remember: whatever you’re replacing anything with go with moderation, start slow and build up, don’t go crazy all at once because you’ve done the research and it says you can definitely eat this! The theories are there, but your body might react differently to things! No one is the same, we’re all special and unique snowflakes (etc.,etc.,etc.) so just keep that in mind: you might have a different reaction to something than the next person. So go carefully!

Clear skies,
Vee