Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bahama Mamas Day: Sugar v. Nectar

Today was Bahama Mamas Day!

No, you won’t find that on your calendar anywhere. To my knowledge, not even the Bahamas has Bahama Mamas Day, although I may be wrong.

But that’s what we celebrated at the home of some friends. They opened their home to a bunch of Christ Sisters, the men disappeared, and the women had a blast. Good food, good fun, good fellowship! The sun was warm, the skies were blue and dotted with puffy clouds, the pool was cool and refreshing to those who entered, the oldies music on the radio made an appropriate counterpoint to pleasant conversation on the deck. There were lots of memories to chuckle over, lots of new developments to note, and lots of love all around. Days like this are gifts from God, made to enjoy with all the senses and to share with others.

It was a feast day.

Our esteemed hostess provided plenty of water, tea, and other drinks. She provided nibbles such as cocktail shrimp, chips and a few different salsas, a couple of different cheeses, crackers, fruit, and the desserts: Bite-sized cupcakes and bananas, ice cream, and toppings for banana splits. I brought purple seedless grapes. Others brought various kinds of sweet and savory salads. There was lots from which to choose. And I partook freely of most of it.

I learned a couple of things.

I can stop when I’m satisfied without eating too much. Of course, I knew that already, and I’ve been fairly consistent about it for a goodly amount of time now. I don’t have to allow myself to be overwhelmed by choices. That was not a problem today, and it was a beautiful feeling, maintaining control. There were enough healthy offerings that I didn’t feel deprived when I passed up some things, like the crackers.

But I made up for that sacrifice by eating, along with my banana split, three of the bite-sized cupcakes, topped with dollops of white and pink icing and candy sprinkles. I’ve previously had days when I ate that much sugar at once, and thought nothing of it. Today, however, that sugar bomb was quite noticeable in its effect on me. Mind you, I’d already had three pints of delicious, sweet tea flavored with a variety of citrus, plus two small helpings of sweet salads that had mini-marshmallows, about a quarter cup each. So those three little cupcakes, along with a vanilla ice cream banana split topped with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, nuts, vanilla crunch sprinkles, and a handful of maraschino cherries all exploded in my system with some considerable force. Now I know what a sugar high is. I don’t like it much. My words actually slurred a bit, and my stomach wanted to be a little bit rebellious. I felt a little edgy, and I still feel that way as I’m writing this, although it’s now been about three hours since I finished eating all that. The crash, when it comes, will probably equally noticeable. Lesson learned!

I experientially understand the difference between refined sugars and agave nectar, not just in the fact that agave nectar has not affected me that way, but in the intensity of the sweetness of my frozen custard versus store-bought ice cream which, yes, I remember saying it, I said I would not eat anymore. My frozen creations have been quite good for something I made with just the right amount of agave nectar, without sugar, and without an ice cream maker, and after today I have reason to enjoy them all the more. The store-bought stuff, by comparison, was intensely sweet. Wow! The add-ons were more sweet upon sweet. It was way too much.

It seems that every week so far I’ve had something starchy, sweet, or starchy and sweet. I’m learning things though. That’s good. So tomorrow it’s back to no starches and no sweeteners except my prized agave nectar. That substitution is worth the money it will cost me to continue using it. I will consider it like a utility bill I’m willing to pay for something I enjoy: The ability to enjoy the sweet without overloading the blood sugar levels.

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