Thursday, February 26, 2009

Addicted to the white powder

Like most Americans, I am a refined sugar and white flour addict. I have often tried to kick the habit to avoid the risk of several health issues, but I've relapsed repeatedly. Both of these products are already processed and broken down, which leaves little digestion for the body to do. They're also empty calories and can only be digested by taking away vitamins that the body needs. Because these foods are quickly digested, they exert a quick blast of energy, which can later develop into a crash. It is the natural response in the brain to intake more sugar to overcome this crash, resulting in further addiction.

After weeks of eating extraneous amounts of bar food and frequent candy store trips, I decided that it was time for a 40-day empty calorie detox, where I would replenish my diet with only raw fruits and vegetables--the raw food diet.

I had already decided that I wouldn't go 100% raw. Although there are several calcium-enriched raw foods, women need to ingest a sizable amount to prevent future problems like osteoporosis, so I included skim milk in the diet. Since, this is a meat-free diet, there were a few more exceptions I made to include more protein like cooking wild rice, various beans and egg whites. To ensure I got the nutrition I needed, I reinforced my diet with Juice Plus fruit and vegetable vitamins.

I began the dietary cleansing in the morning with a fruit-heavy meal to replace the sugary cereal I was used to. The trick worked. In fact, I immediately felt much more energized the rest of the morning, where my sugary cereal would leave me counting the minutes until lunchtime.

Lunch on the first day, not so bad either, although, I had been away from non-processed food so long that I cringed when trying the bitter veggies like purple cabbage (Vitamin C, K), bok choy (Vitamin A, C, calcium), and mesclun greens (beta carotene, calcium, folate, iron). I had generous portions of various veggies as well as cashews and almonds for protein, and dark berries for antioxidant intake, but I was not left satisfied. My usual 4PM sugar crash was heightened by my hunger and thus spurred the first symptoms of withdrawal.

My craving for a York Peppermint Patty grew reckless, as I rocked the work day by, chewing on my pencil to pass the time. I had to hold my breath as free danishes filled the common area. I was breaking down, and the first day hadn't even passed yet.

Dinner was quite eventful as I washed down a bag of alfalfa sprouts with soy milk after my peanut butter/berry appetizer and wild rice adventure. My stomach was full, but something was definitely missing. I was surprisingly still standing after my post-dinner workout, but my desire to finish my day off with a slice of pizza and soda quickly turned into an obsession.

Similar symptoms continued throughout the week, and I would randomly find myself in a line at CVS with a bag of M&Ms in hand. I didn't remember walking in the store, but every time, I managed to put the M&Ms back and shamefully walk back out.

After a week of eating 70% raw food, completely without refined sugar and white flour, I was quite happy with myself. Then I was exposed to the several vices that Americans face constantly, eating out, and drinking. White flour is a staple of the American diet, and I could barely find options on a menu without it. I ordered the Mediterranean plate, a collection of spreads and chutneys, and grape leaves. This wasn't completely raw, but very healthy. I was in the clear until the waitress showed up with a basket of white pita bread, and ready to take our drink orders. I ordered a club soda.

The next week I was invited to eat out at an Italian restaurant. I could only imagine the several awkward moments I would have created had I accepted-- the dinner rolls, the pasta, the sweet meatballs, the hearty dessert. It would have been painful to be exposed to that night.

My battle with my addiction is far from over. The absence of cupcakes and candy has left a hole in my heart much bigger than the one I would create by eating them. I'm a few weeks into the diet, and my skin is noticeably clearer, my body is toner, but my mind is else where.

Opiates affect the mind by blocking out certain connections that the brain makes, forcing the brain to find creative ways to make new connections, and although it's extremely harmful, these thought processes cannot be created elsewhere. I think I might have found the newest, safest drug--healthy eating. As fresh fruits become my sole source of sugar, they begin to taste sweeter and fuller than before. I'm still avidly thinking about my next refined sugar fix, but I can finally see the progress made by a healthy raw food diet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Healthy Serving of BUTR

Bands Under the Radar is a free podcast available on iTunes that features music by mostly unsigned artists. Hosted by the lovely Kami Knake, whose knowledge in music spans to great depths, this podcast is not one to miss out on.

After hearing podcast #33, I knew I would be an avid listener and fan of BUTR in the near future. Her playlist pulls you in on the first song, which highlights emotion through it's dramatic change in keys. A sultry voice comes through the notes and stings your heart as he conveys his dreary message. Appropriately titled "Wire to wire/Blood for wild blood," from Razorlight I desperately repeated this title in my head, so I could download it on iTunes later. Until then, I was glued to my iPod as I heard the rest of the show.

I was not disappointed, hearing one refreshing new song after another, each exposing a new world of key changes, voices, and redefining music theory altogether.

If you want to find comfort in music appreciation, then I suggest you turn your FM radio off, and download the BUTR podcast. If you want to find out more about the podcast and the mastermind DJ behind the genius music choice, check out the website, which gives you an indepth look of the artists, and restates the playlists of every podcast Kami Knake has recorded in case you missed the titles the first time.

...I thought I'd be a music writer today.