No sugar quickly sucks the sweetness out of life

When I volunteered to do a no-refined-sugar diet for three days, I thought it would be easy: just stay away from most processed foods, right?

Wrong.

After doing some research, I learned far more about sugar than I ever wanted to. Did you know that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine?

Yeah, that probably explains why I’m obsessed with Nutella.

Also, sugar is hidden in the most unlikely and basic foods. Popular brands of bread, condiments, cereal and salad dressings all contain large amounts of sweetener.

Lastly, even natural sugar, like fruit and honey, has its limits in terms of healthiness. After years of hearing “Eat an apple instead of cake – it’s good for you!” this was a slap in the face.

As I skimmed through dozens of articles, this diet seemed exponentially more intimidating.

I decided to tailor my plan as a response to this information. Adding to the no-refined-sugar part of the diet, “all other sugars in moderation” would be my new motto.

In other words, no cheating on the “no sugar” aspect of the diet by gorging on other (albeit natural) sweeteners.

At the grocery store, I received more than one strange look on my quest for unsweetened food, as I bombarded my aunt with questions.

“Does this brand of coconut milk have sugar in it?” I asked. “What about the yogurt? Maybe I could live off of cauliflower. No one has died from vegetable overload, right?”

I never thought I’d be one of those health nuts checking the ingredients list on every container – those people always seemed so obsessive.

It then occurred to me that this was exactly what I looked like to everyone else.

How depressing.

On Monday, I started with a breakfast of eggs and toast made from a newly purchased brand of unrefined bread. On reflex, I reached for the ketchup.

But then I remembered: ketchup has more sugar than most other condiments.

I put it back.

This was only the first of many disappointments that day.

(Graphic by Mohini Rye and Katia Dahmani)
Freshman Mohini Rye consumed 47.7 grams of sugar on average daily before her no-refined-sugar diet.

Sugarless peanut butter, dry bread, dirt-flavored carrots – without ranch dressing or other toppings to cover foods, you get the true flavor of them.

And, no, that’s not a good thing.

To be fair, the three days I spent on the diet were a roller coaster.

Sometimes I wouldn’t even notice I was on one; other times, it took every ounce of my self control not to take one of the lollipops my classmate brought in for a math project.

I also found myself wanting to snack on food throughout the day rather than eating the usual three meals.

When faced with eating only sugarless food, I subconsciously ate less (probably because the food tastes horrible; endless grapes and raw almonds get old very quickly).

That’s perhaps the only positive aspect: eating food without sugar forces you to eat moderately. Binge-eating is just a memory.

On the downside, I was plagued with daily headaches.

I suspect they were the withdrawal symptoms that I had read about, caused by almost completely cutting out sugar.

But halfway through the second day, I was surprised to find that I had little interest in sugary foods unless I was face to face with them.

I began to wonder, “Is it possible I could last longer than my goal?”

A blur of grapes, oatmeal, carrots, avocado sandwiches and whole-grain pasta followed.

And then came Thursday…and advisory snack. My plan was to get to the end of the day, but the idea of a Crackle cookie from Cookie Connection was so tempting.

What to do? To keep to the diet, or stop now?

The decision was clear.

I ate the cookie – and it was delicious.

—By Mohini Rye

Liquified foods fail to fight freshman’s hunger

In the wonderful words of Judith Newman, a writer for The New York Times, “I went on a juice cleanse. You know what it cleans out of you best? The will to live.”

On Monday, Feb. 22, I arrived at school with six bottles of juice of varying colors as my nourishment. I was on a juice cleanse, and I was so excited.

The popularity of cleansing most likely started in the 1990s, when entrepreneur Peter Glickman, a Scientologist, reintroduced the 1940s diet Master Cleanse, consisting of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. It most often leads to – as one would imagine – a lot of regret.

Today there are many online companies that will mail juices directly to your house.

However, I decided to get juices from Sun & Soil Juice Company, a small shop in Midtown that sells organic cold-press juices, smoothies and spices.

The employees were very friendly, allowing me to taste the juices before buying. They even walked me through the process of a juice cleanse, since it was my first time.

The employees recommended a list of juices that contained everything necessary for nutrition and cleansing.

The woman at the counter said the juice cleanse would “reboot your digestive system and infuse live enzymes and vital nutrients into your body.”

Fifty dollars later, I walked out of Sun and Soil Juice with six bottles and pure excitement for the following day.

9 a.m.: At first, the cleanse seemed to be going wonderfully. The first juice was the Lemon Snap, a lemonade with honey, ginger and cayenne. This was definitely the best juice of all. I usually don’t eat breakfast (yes, that’s really bad for me, I know), so these first two hours were a breeze.

11 a.m.: Onto the next juice, the Beta Boom, with orange, carrot, collard and kale. When I opened the bottle, a pungent and not-so-great smell wafted out.

A few sips in, and all I could taste was kale.

So. Much. Kale.

I typically don’t mind its taste, but the Beta Boom tasted like nothing else, so I drank only two-thirds of the bottle before stopping and saving it for later.

1 p.m.: Next up was the Sweet Green, made with apple, cucumber, spinach, lime and ginger. I was looking forward to this juice, for it is the store’s most popular.

The first half of the bottle was delicious. But as I continued to sip, the ginger became more and more pungent.

Because I am Chinese, I probably consume and can handle more ginger than the average American. Yet the ginger in this was still unmanageable. How do avid juicers do it?

After finishing most of this bottle, it joined the Beta Boom as a drink for “later.”

Adam Ketchum
Freshman Allison Zhang sips her Beauty and the Beet juice from Sun & Soil. The juice is filled with antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates, which are supposed to improve the body’s blood flow within the brain, heart and muscles. The juice is made of beets, carrots, apples and ginger, giving the juice its rich purple color.

3 p.m.: With carrot, beet, apple and even more ginger, Beauty and the Beet was by far the prettiest of all. It had a deep maroon color from the beets, but little did I know that looks could be deceiving.

At this point in the cleanse, I still wasn’t very hungry; however, all the juices started tasting the same, and not very good.

With only some of the Beauty and the Beet consumed, I really wanted solid food.

5 p.m.: And now for the dreaded juice, Field of Greens, a pure vegetable juice. I was so sick of drinking raw fruits and vegetables, I got only a few sips in when I decided I was done with this one as well.

Around now I started feeling twinges of hunger. Oh, what I would have given to have some solid food.

6 p.m.: The V for Vanilla is comprised of cashew milk, coconut milk, vanilla, dates and cinnamon. The texture was a bit grainy, but at least it wasn’t vegetables.

In the end, after going one day without solid food, I mainly just felt hungry, and I had a strong urge to chew.

So was my digestive system “rebooted”? Perhaps. I’ll just ask my liver and kidneys and wait for a response.

I definitely consumed more fruits and vegetables while on the cleanse, and with those more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

However, I did not experience the weight loss, appetite reduction or energy improvement that many others observed.

So will I be doing another juice cleanse in the future? Probably not. Do I feel any better? Not really.

Would I recommend a cleanse to others? Absolutely, so they can appreciate the wonder that is solid cooked food

—By Allison Zhang

Rawism diet consists of no bread, misery

I had thought that the raw-food diet was going to be easy.

I could basically eat whatever I wanted as long as it was uncooked and unprocessed.

No meat, no cheese, no carbohydrates, (no sustenance). When I did my research, I kept trying to find loopholes.

Maybe I can have rice, since it’s steamed, right? Or, can I really not eat processed foods? I mean, some aren’t technically cooked…

Yeah, right.

On the first day, rawism was almost fun. I had sashimi, salad and edamame for dinner.

I even remember saying, “I could get used to this!”

Two hours later, I was starving.

That’s when I realized that sushi without rice, sauce or seaweed doesn’t provide much long-term sustenance.

My empty stomach woke me up early the next morning.

Waiting for me at the table were two apples and two mandarin oranges.

To finish breakfast, I made a raw chia seed drink that I found on some hippie-dippy webpage. I wanted to follow the picture on it, so I needed to find a lemon.

As I fruitlessly searched for one in my barren fridge, the cheese inside taunted me. Its smooth pasteurized surface seemed to be laughing at my pain.

Disappointed, I turned back to the lavender packet of seeds (bird food!) and dumped them into my glass. Shoot. Too much.

The cloying seeds upset my palette. The slimy texture slithered down my throat.

Just an hour later, my body was crying for food, so pitying me, my dad cut up a bell pepper. Satisfied with its sweetness and crunch, I felt better – for a moment.

On Saturday, one day into my diet, my dad went to a farmer’s market to buy me vegetables.

He came back with brightly colored organic carrots (purple, orange and yellow), broccoflower, tomatoes and other leaves and roots.

My snacks for the rest of Saturday were just different combinations of those veggies and the little bit of leftover, and slightly limp, lettuce in the fridge. But lunch later on that day was pure torture.

Walking into Arden Fair Mall on an errand, I was immediately assaulted by the aromas of greasy mall food.

However, I remained faithful to my regime, and I endured.

At Pluto’s I ordered a giant spinach salad with vegetables. Avoiding processed dressings, I settled for oil and vinegar.

Then I glanced at the bread.

There it sat, my ultimate kryptonite, fresh out of the oven and covered in flour.

“What type of bread do you want?” the woman asked.

Had she read my mind?

“Um… no, thank you,” I said, dying inside.

“It’s free. It comes with the meal.”

Are you kidding me?

“No, thank you, ma’am. I’m afraid I can’t. I have this thing, this diet, for school.”

She laughed, confused but also amused at my plight.

Sitting down with my dad, I glared at his tacos, the processed corn tortilla shells caressing the juicy carnitas under a blanket of guacamole.

Three salads and an apple later, I left with him to attend the symphony.

At intermission, I was starving again.

By the next morning, the feeling of hunger didn’t bother me anymore.

But what I wasn’t looking forward to were more apples, berries and oranges.

Two salads later, it was time for a bike ride.

By the end of that ride, I was crazy. It had taken four hours longer than expected, and we ended up at Dos Coyotes.

Pushed to my limits, I devoured four tacos, rice, beans and even a Cookie Connection crackle cookie.

Thank you, raw-food diet, for turning me into a savage.

—By Chardonnay Needler

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