New Castle News

Healthy Living: Lori Brothers

October 26, 2011

Lori Brothers: Sweeten your life, not your diet

NEW CASTLE — One of our Dean Ornish Participants wore a T-shirt last week that caught my eye.

It said, “Sugar? I don’t need it ... I’m sweet enough.”

Now, how great is the implication about her self love, high self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Sweetness can become a very healthy metaphor for making powerful, positive decisions about your goals. Eating less sugar is a worthy goal that can take some time to achieve, but can really impact your health.

When you intend to cultivate a life that is fulfilling, it can take the emphasis off destructive eating patterns such as too much sugar in your diet. We can experience sweetness as more than a flavor. It can also be the way that you treat life, and how life treats you. Sometimes, we have to work on how to bring this quality to ourselves in ways that are constructive.

Several years ago I was going through a bad time. Sometimes, we can perceive that life isn’t treating us well. Self-defeating behavior can be a real threat, especially during these times. We can perceive that it feels good at the time, even comforting. Luckily, I realized that managing my emotions by eating empty sugary calories wasn’t the answer. So, I went to the library and found a cassette tape with show tunes called “Happy Feet.”  

At the time my kids were young and every time we were in the. car we would sing along. “Happy feet, I’ve got those happy feet.”  We also belted out, “When the red, red, robin goes bob, bob, bobbing along” and “rag mop, rag mop, R-A-G-G-M-O-P-P, rag mop.”

Do any of you recognize these tunes?  There were several other delightful songs on that cassette that kept us light and happy, and sweetened our moments. What great memories.

Working on loving yourself is very important in overcoming the rewards of eating sweet for something greater — you.  Especially if you have a sweet tooth, it may require that you feed your intention to say “no,” instead of feeding the craving to eat something sweet. So ask, “What am I feeding now?”

Feed the intention to sweeten your life. Say yes a lot. Yes to the people and activities that make you feel as warm and good as a just-baked, chocolate chip cookie. This is the feeling of fulfillment and purpose.

Look for other ways that you can bring sweetness into your life. If your joy is not listening to show tunes, what do you like to do just to make yourself smile? What activities warm your heart? Are you doing them often enough?  

It is important to include ways that you contribute to the joy of others as well. Noticing where you can make a difference can really inspire others. It can be with your humor, with you kind touch, or your expertise in some area.

Being sweet on life enhances our relationships and deepens our sense of self esteem and self worth. Then it becomes easier to say “no” when you are cutting out sweets, because you are sweet enough. Just like the T-shirt said.

Doug Petrik, our nurse case manager and exercise specialist for the Dean Ornish Program, says eating simple sugars in sweets, candy or baked goods gives you a fast high with no nutritional value — and they are harder to burn off through exercise.

“Natural sugars are used more effectively by the body,” says Petrik, who is an avid runner.

For some of you, baking may be your “feel good” activity and your way to share with others. Remember, look for recipes that cut out fat and reduce sugar. This can be a very mindful gift you give to your loved ones. Try to remember to serve sliced apples, grapes or oranges, as well — and keep an eye out for that Halloween candy, it can be a real pitfall.

Doug suggested a sweet potato muffin recipe this week that he found in his Runner’s World Magazine. You have a modified version that substitutes raw sugar or brown sugar for refined white sugar. Also, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and are packed with beta-carotine, a very important anti-oxidant. We hope you enjoy.

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