The great health experimentation

I found an article the other day discussing a family who gave up sugar for an entire year.

They only allowed themselves to “indulge” in a sugary dessert once a month, especially if it was a special occasion.

According to the article, they eventually found they didn’t like those sweet treats after a while, not even being able to finish them sometimes.

They said the family’s health seemed to improve, with the children missing fewer days of school and everyone having more energy.

Obviously, this article is just talking about this one particular family and their experience.

But, is it really a surprise they experienced changes as a result of this decision?

Any time we consume certain types of food or other edible items, our bodies become accustomed to it. Eventually, you need to have more of that item to have the same effect. When you decide to cut it out of your diet, your body changes again and there is the possibility of no longer enjoying that item as a result.While in college, I decided to stop drinking soda. I selected Lent, even though I was raised Protestant, and went the full time not having a single drop of that sweet, caffeinated and carbonated beverage. When it was over, I went ahead and had a cola with my lunch. It was a big mistake. I felt as if I was going into sugar shock. My body actually hurt for most of the day afterwards.

But, I figured I had basically done it just to prove that I could, and so I went back to old habits and used that and tea as my main sources of caffeine. In early 2002, a few months after I began working at the newspaper, I decided to, once again, give up the carbonated elixir most of us crave. I went a step further, though, and decided to stop drinking anything with caffeine. Most thought I was crazy. After all, journalists are known for working long and strange hours, and we often need something to keep us going on those late nights. But I went ahead and did it.

That was 12 years ago and, with the exception of one can of Ginger Ale that first year, I haven’t had any kind of carbonated caffeine beverage, or even a caffeinated tea (I never drank coffee) since.

About a year ago, I decided to make some other adjustments and cut back on the sweets and desserts. I still have the occasional glass of juice (you know, the ones that are supposed to be healthy because of the fruit content) and some “granola bars” (the ones with the chocolate chips), but the cakes, cookies and other sugary delicacies have been out of the question.

I didn’t have a single scoop of ice cream last summer, and I haven’t even nibbled on a doughnut for the entire stretch, which I’m sure makes a few folks in the newsroom happy because that means there is more for them on the days after elections.

For the most part, I just don’t have the cravings like I used to. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I just feel the need for something sweet, but I find alternatives. I don’t go grabbing for that chocolate bar or snack cake like I used to.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to eating any of those sugary foods. If I do, perhaps it will just be as a special treat.

If not, I think I will be OK.

Personally, I’ve not really noticed any physical changes like the family in the article. It’s been years since I’ve felt really sick, outside of some seasonal allergy issues. My energy levels are about the same, although I figure that is affected more by my getting up at 3:30 every weekday morning for work than my diet.

My weight hasn’t been affected, although I probably should get back on a regular exercise program at some point.

I just have little interest in consuming the sugary items.

Here’s the thing, I’m in no way encouraging people to do any of this. I’m not a health expert. I don’t know how other people are going to react if they eliminate something from their diet.

I’ve seen people over the years who have been just fine, and then others who have been moody for weeks afterward.

I just know how I’ve been.

In reality, it’s not good to just go around experimenting on diets and fads to see what effects it might have on your health. In the end, that could end up doing more harm than good.

If you ever would want to make dietary changes, obviously the best thing to do would be to consult a doctor before going forward.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)