May 31, 2013

The Journey

"It's the final moments that define a journey and the first ones that make it possible." Tut

I think it is entirely possible that so few humans make great strides in life because they do not take the first steps toward that journey.  It is a risk to begin a journey that, perhaps, family members do not endorse.  Change is scary, and generally, we humans like the humans with whom we are in relationship to stay the same.  So, when we decide to be true to our call to journey beyond who we are today, we can meet some fairly significant resistance.  It is that resistance, coupled with our own fear of the unknown, that keeps us from making those first steps to a life better than the one we have today.  We can support each other to be all that we can be:  the health of the planet is counting on us. 

May 30, 2013

Go With the Flow

"Having engrossing leisure pursuits are the secret to aging well according to a recent study of more than 3,500 older Japanese people.  Those who had hobbies or interests that absorbed them were less frail and had less cognitive decline than people without those interests."  Prevention Magazine, June 2013

It is well established in many fields that having something that completely absorbs your attention is healing.  It can be meditation, hiking, walking, painting, some form of needlework -- anything you so love and can be completely engrossed by.  It is the losing track of time that seems to be the healing factor -- that one is so intently focused, that time is irrelevant.  What feeds you like that? 

May 29, 2013


Without a sense of humor, you're old in a hurry.
--Janice Clark

It is so important to have a sense of humor in life.  I think having a sense of humor and not taking things personally are two of the greatest assets toward good mental health and overall happiness.  In talking recently with someone, who felt slighted by other members in her family, we discovered together that it really was not about her personally --- it was just that the family had difficulty including anyone who was not blood relative.  That can be true in many families; those pesky in-law relationships.  Some families have unwritten rules and behaviors which state clearly that 'family' is just those connected by blood.  That behavior can leave someone who has married into the family feeling slighted for decades.  Not taking such things personally --- and that means any slight or discredit, is essential to happiness.  So is having a sense of humor.  Laughter is so good for the body, the soul, the psyche.  Of course, it is important that the laughter is good natured and not mean spirited -- not directed at someone else's expense.  What is there to laugh about today? 

May 28, 2013


Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
--Rainer Maria Rilke

We talk a lot about love, but defining love is not as easy.  People who cling to each other may call it love.  Selfless caregiving may be called love.  Caring for and nurturing a child may be called love.  But, Rilke makes it more objective:  two solitudes who protect, touch and greet each other.  That protects the individuality of each person, as we are each solitudes in the world (though many suggest that we are not individual at all, but a part of a greater whole).  These solitudes recognize the other and choose to protect, touch and greet.  We can do that in partnerships, in families, in communities and with strangers.  How can we be more loving to ourselves and to each other?

May 27, 2013

Bone Health

"Vitamin D is key to the optimal absorption and use of calcium -- and it's nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone.  Most people should be taking 2,000 IU of supplemental D3 every day."  Dr. Andrew Weil

Dr. Weil contends that we can get most of our calcium needs from food, but that we cannot get our vitamin D needs from food.  Milk products, canned salmon with bones, sardines, dark greens, and broccoli are all good sources of calcium.  If you, like me, do not like dairy products, Dr. Weil suggests 500 mg of calcium citrate daily -- because it is more easily absorbed than other forms of calcium.  My own doctor has prescribed 1200 mg of calcium daily.  Not only does vitamin D help with our bone health, it has more recently been linked to helping prevent cancer.  Good health to us all!  Happy Memorial Day to those who recognize that holiday -- the day we remember those who have died while serving in the military.  It is also a good day to remember those people who were important in our lives and who have died.  Who has been important in your life?

May 26, 2013


"Choose to be optimistic.  It feels better."  the Dalai Lama

Cheerful people have fewer heart attacks and strokes, higher levels of  'good' HDL cholesterol, and lower levels of triglycerides than gloomy people.  The more upbeat you are, the more cancer-fighting carotenoids you have in your blood.  Optimistic people tend to eat right, exercise and take good care of themselves.  It is said that being happy is a decision.  You deserve to be happy.  Why not decide, today, to be happy.  One way to increase our happiness is to have fun.  Playing is good for our health.  I know my health is improved by playing with my granddaughter.  We can also dance, do anything in which we can be engrossed creatively, watch a funny movie or comedienne or comedian, and create an adventure for yourself.  What can you do today to have fun?

May 25, 2013

The Mysterious

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and all science." Albert Einstein

It is unclear to what Einstein is referring in the above quote, but in another quote by him, he says that all he wants is to know the mind of God -- so apparently, here too, he is referring to the Divine.  It is said that Einstein took brief cat naps all day and that is was from his dreams that his great inventions and ideas came.  I think that source of mysterious is available to us all.  Through meditation, prayer, sleep and dreams, moments of inspiration -- all of these can bring us brilliant ideas that we have not thought before and can be a great source of creativity.

I took Dwane to decorate a family member's grave in recognition of Memorial Day.  It was a good day.  He seems to move from one perseveration to another, and right now it is what lawn mower I am using at home.  I choose to use a reel mower - for several reasons, and he seems to think I should be using a gas mower.  It is interesting to witness what things hold his attention.  The mind is an interesting thing in all of us. 

May 24, 2013

Our Purpose

"Our purpose is that which we most passionately are when we pay attention to our deepest selves." Carol Hegedus

Have you ever considered what you purpose in life is?   Most humans do.  We ponder why we are here; if we are here to fulfill some divine destiny.  Mark Nepo suggests that perhaps the only reason we are here is to become awake.  And, what does that mean?  It is said that Buddha when he stepped out from sitting under the Bodhi tree, responded to someone, "I am awake."  Scientists suggest that we spend most of our time -- perhaps 95% or more -- lost in our own thoughts, the thoughts of our subconscious.  And, most of those thoughts -- 70% or more -- are negative or redundant.  Perhaps that is what Buddha achieved:  perhaps he moved from his subconscious mind running his life, to acting out of the awareness of his conscious mind.  Many different words are used:  awake, being present to the now, enlightenment, mindfulness --- it seems they are all saying the same thing:  that we become more and more aware of and awake to our lives. 

May 23, 2013

Going With The Flow

We are experiencing some flooding, and I am reminded how little control I have over Mother Nature.  When the water is raging, we have no choice but to allow it.  It may take the road out, as it powers down the valley.  It is a good time to slow down, realize how impotent we are in the face of the forces of nature, and enjoy the moment.  Water is an amazing model for how to go around obstacles.  I will choose to emanate that in my life. 

May 22, 2013

Being All We Can Be

"We have all climbed mountains, whether actual or metaphorical ones.  We have all gone through the process of meeting a challenge and being enlarged by it." Kathy Juline

Life calls us to be more than we were before.  Looking back over my life, I can see times where I was called to grow significantly -- to evolve beyond what I had been before.  With this call to grow, there sometimes comes questioning:  am I willing, can I do it, do I want to?  Kathy Juline says that it is in these times of questioning that we grow.  As humans, it is hard to leave behind the familiar; but sometimes in life --- when growth is the next step for us, we are being called to leave something behind.  Perhaps it is a perspective, a habit, a belief system, a way of thinking about ourselves before.  It can also be situations, jobs, or relationships that we are called to leave.  Any situation that has become constraining.  Our task here on earth is to evolve.  When we are being called to be more than we were before, let us remember we have done this before; and we are not asked to do more than we can do.  What new phase might life be calling you to evolve into today?

May 21, 2013


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — attributed to Mark Twain
It is often said that we regret more the things we did not do, than the things we did do.  That may very well be true.  Sometimes we just don't have the courage to do the thing that would set our hearts afire.  What will people think?  Will my family still love me if I take this journey.  Many things keep us in our safe harbors.  But, are they really safe?  We can become complacent and accept our place in life:  rather than safety, it can be imprisoning.  What have you always wanted to do?  It does not even have to mean leaving your home; it might just mean leaving your old ideas and the old version of who you are.  If there were no risks, what would you like to do?  Perhaps it is time to do it. 

May 20, 2013


"My friends are the beings through whom God loves me."  Sant Martin

The German root for friendship is "place of high safety".  Do we have enough "places of high safety" in our lives?  In the isolation of caregiving, I have not tended friendships as much as sometimes in my life.  I do have treasured friendships, and some are within my family -- but I need to guard against too much isolation.  To be a place of high safety - for me - means someone to whom I can tell anything and not be judged and someone who I know what I tell will remain in confidence.  Each of us has a different coping style, and mine seems to be to withdraw from interaction -- to re-gather my strength on my own with a few friends.  Perhaps you are a person who draws strength from many people.  Neither is right or wrong; it is just the way we cope.  But, no matter our coping style, we each need some people to love us enough to be with us through the good times and the bad, and it is lovely to think of them as the beings through whom God loves us. 

May 19, 2013


"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but - often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." Helen Keller

How true for us humans.  A career counseling person said to me recently, "It is easier to find a job than it is to leave a job."  She is essentially saying the same thing as Helen Keller.  We humans generally hate to let something go.  We tend to stay far too long in situations that are not good for us.  I read recently of an activity where you write down all the activities you have done for the past month, and then you draw arrows beside each activity.  The arrow points up if that activity energized you, the arrow points sideways if the activity was neutral, and the arrow points down for any activity that depletes your energy.  Then, one looks at the activities that are depleting and chooses to:  delegate, dump, or do it differently.  A simple way to discern what activities are blessings and which ones are odious.  We do so many things out of obligation; or at least a sense of obligation.  Let us instead do things out of a sense of joy.

May 18, 2013

Spiritual Journey

"To undertake a genuine spiritual path is not to avoid difficulties, but to learn the art of making mistakes wakefully, to bring them to the transformative power of our heart." Jack Kornfield

Making mistakes wakefully?  All of us do make mistakes, and perhaps the idea is to admit the mistake - at least to ourselves, learn from the mistake, and thereby be transformed.  It seems there is another thing we need to do, though, and that is to not beat up on ourselves for having made the mistake.  There are many types of mistakes we can make, and they can be big or small.  Mistakes in judgment about people with whom we enter into agreements.  Mistakes like forgetting an appointment.  Mistakes like neglecting our health or finances.  Mistakes like working too hard and not having enough recreation in our lives.  To be human is to make mistakes.  Let us forgive ourselves for any mistake and learn from it.

May 17, 2013

Being Alive

"There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground." Rumi

What refreshes and replenishes you?  Yesterday was a long day taking Dwane to the podiatrist in a regional city.  It is a good thing that I remain involved in such things, because - once again - he has cellulitis on his lower legs.  He was melancholy to be with.  I think with spring here, he has more desires to be home.  He wanted to look at a new lawn mower to buy.  He has not mowed a lawn for two years, and there is no way he could do it now --- but it must be hard to say goodbye to life as he remembers living it.  Yesterday was not a refreshing day for me, but today I will spend some time outdoors and return to my own rhythm.  Each of us know what it is that refreshes us.  Let us take time today to indulge ourselves in that activity. 

May 16, 2013

New Perspectives

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

In Twelve Step groups they call this looking for a "geographic cure" -- the temptation to think that one's troubles are dependent upon where one lives, rather than how one sees the world.  It seems to me that we can be happy any where.  I look to Viktor Frankl as inspiration in that regard.  He could see beauty in the one flower he found blooming in the concentration camp.  Surely, we have more reason to find even more beauty in our lives.  We live in relative prosperity and freedom.  There is beauty of nature or architecture around us.  What can you see in a new way today? 

May 15, 2013

Being Oneself

"The greatest defense is being who you are."  Mark Nepo

Nepo makes the above comment in the context of competition in the world.  As he says, there is sometimes only one parking spot or only one job that one can see.  He says that to enter into competition is sometimes to put oneself up by putting another person down.  That may be the basis of gossip.  The need to put someone else down, in order to feel better about yourself.  So, the best defense is to be yourself.  That rings true.  The Universe surely supports us being ourselves.  That is how we add to the rich tapestry of life:  by adding our own colors and unique aspects.  The world would be a very dull place if we were all identical.  It is the richness of being ourselves -- and honoring and allowing others to be themselves  -- that makes the world a beautiful, varied, and interesting place.   Today, let us risk being ourselves.

May 14, 2013

Strong Bones

"Calcium is the cement that keeps bones strong.  But it's not all you need for a strong skeleton.  Other nutrients don't just help you build more bone mass, they also help you build better quality bones." Deepak Vashishth, PhD

So, what other nutrients do we need?  Vitamin C for the collagen that forms the ropelike structure of our bones.  Vitamin D is crucial to bone health, and you need 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily --- which is very difficult to get from either the sun or food we eat.  Vitamin K, which is found in deep green vegetables, helps our bones absorb the protein needed.  Moderate amounts of alcohol (1 drink per day for women -- which is 5 oz wine, 1 oz liquor or 1 12-oz beer) help bone density.  One-third of our bones is protein, so for bone density, we need protein. 

As caregivers, we need to take care of our own health -- and bone density is one critical factor. 

May 13, 2013

Superfoods for Memory

"These sixteen foods improve memory, lower blood pressure, and even boost the immune system." Rebecca Katz

These 16 foods are:  coffee, thyme, wild salmon, kale, avocados, basil/mint, olives & olive oil, walnuts, green tea, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, asparagus, pomegranates, garlic, yogurt, and blueberries.  Some good ideas for good eating that is also very beneficial to us, and now that spring is here for the northern hemisphere, these foods are more available to us. 

May 12, 2013

Caregiver Resource

"AARP Caregiving Help and Advice from Genworth helps families make informed choices about long-term care.  AARP members receive free access to resources, including nursing home ratings, consumer reviews and a nationwide database of care providers."

Another resource for caregivers.   Happy Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day

"Smiling throughout the day by thinking positive thoughts creates an overall serene feeling.  It lowers the body's stress response and quells angry feelings.  Even if you don't feel like smiling, the act of  smiling relaxes you."  Michigan State University study

Today, whether you are a mother or not, try smiling.  There have been a number of studies that indicate its effectiveness in elevating our moods.  It seems the mere act of turning our faces into a smile, affects the hormones in our bodies.  You might spritz some essential oils in the background to give you support.  Lavender, orange, clary sage and ylang-ylang encourage relaxation.  Thinking of something every day for which you can be grateful is also a way to support your happiness.  Happiness may be as simple as choosing to be happy.  So, today, smile and think happy thoughts.  You are worth it. 

May 11, 2013


"Ho'oponopono is an Hawaiian ritual that calms you down.  It's all about forgiveness.  Murmuring the ho'oponopono mantra several eases your anger and can lower your blood pressure.  Ho'oponopono stands for:  I'm sorry.  Please forgive me.  I love you.  Thank you."  Dr. Sara Gottfried

It's certainly worth a try, and I know people who swear by the effectiveness and power of this practice.  As I understand it, the ho'oponopono ritual is ancient, and it is about us asking forgiveness for anything we may have ever done to offend.  In so doing, we also forgive the person who has offended us.  There is considerable research into the benefits of us forgiving ourselves and others -- benefits to our physical and mental and emotional health.  For yourself -- consider forgiving someone today.  It is as simple as choosing to forgive. 

May 10, 2013

Seeing Our Sameness

"To direct the mind towards the basic unity of all things and to divert it from the seizing of differences -- therein lies bliss." Tejo-Bindu Upanishad

Who doesn't want bliss?   Joseph Campbell tells us to follow our bliss -- in deciding what to do in our lives.  Here is another way to bliss:  look for how we are the same -- not for how we are different.  For, it is in looking for how we are the same that we find and express love.  And, it is in looking for how we are different that we judge and find ourselves in fear.  Numerous current great minds are saying that there is only love and fear.  The very cells of our bodies respond to those emotional states:  in perceiving love, the cells flourish.  In perceiving fear, the cells (and the immune system) are diminished.  The Buddhist and Hindu greeting, namaste, means the divine in me greets the divine in you.  What better way to see our sameness than to see love at the core of all other people?     Today let us see how we are like other people; not how we are different. 

May 9, 2013

Being Alive

"People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life.  I don't think that's what we're really seeking.  I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive." Joseph Campbell

The experience of being alive.  Seems odd, doesn't it?, to consider that we are seeking an experience of being alive --- when, we are, after all, alive.  But, are we really?   Sometimes I think that the vampire and zombie books and movies remain popular because they depict a state that most of us humans are in day-to-day.  Not really alive  --  the walking dead.  If we are not present to the present moment, and I just listened to a dvd by Dr. Lipton who says that 95-98% of the time we are not present, then we are not fully alive.  Perhaps Joseph Campbell is saying the same thing.  We must wake up to our lives in order to enjoy them.  In recent days I have felt stressed because I had so many life-business tasks to do, and I had not had time to do them.  All those phone calls to follow up on, all those bills and billings to process.  Yesterday I had time open up for me, and it was astonishing how much I got done.  I even started the quilt for my grandson for his graduation!  I was present to the tasks at hand, and I had the gift of time.  It was an experience of being alive, and it was so gratifying. 

May 8, 2013

Not Planning for the Future

"We're in denial:  Americans under-estimate their chances of needing long-term care as they get older -- and are taking few steps to get ready.  Two-thirds of people over 40 have done little to no planning for their own aging.  Only 1/4 think they will need extra assistance.  Government figures show that nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after they reach age 65, and they will need that assistance for an average of three years."  Associated Press

Sobering.  3/4's of us will need assistance; and, yet, only 1/4 even consider needing assistance.  I don't know how these figures compare with other countries; but, clearly, all of us need to consider what we will do when we are older and may need help caring for ourselves.  Gone is the time when older generations could expect to move in and be taken care of by younger generations.  We, as individuals, need to consider what we want and how we want that to look.  Looking at long-term care insurance is one consideration.  A financial advisor told me that unless a person has $1-3 million in assets, you need long-term care insurance.  If you want to check out buying long-term care insurance, I would recommend you shop around.  There are significant price differences -- even among similar policies -- with different agencies.  Let us be proactive in our own care -- having seen how much care a person with dementia needs. 

May 7, 2013

Caregiving and Stress

"Stress predisposes us to illness.  Caregivers don't always take good care of themselves -- don't recognize or pay attention to early signs that problems (in their own health) are coming on.  Caregivers should remember --- like on an airplane --  to put on their own oxygen masks first, before helping others." Dr. Keith Roach

Being a caregiver is stressful.  It was extremely stressful when I was a caregiver 24/7, and even now - with him in assisted living -- there is still stress.  Most stressful for me now is his haranguing about coming home.  I have talked with other people who have been caregivers for someone with Lewy Bodies Dementia, and this seems to be  a similar pattern:   the inability for the person to see the extent of the assistance he/she needs.   It has taken me over a year to recover from the stress of being the fulltime caregiver.  People who care about me are astonished at the difference in me physically and in appearance with the absence of that 24/7 stress.  I have now returned to myself, after being hypervigilant and on guard for more than six years.  We who are caregivers must take care of our own health first.  Remember, according to the Roslyn Carter Institute, 1/3 of us will die doing the caregiving, 1/3 of us will have our health damaged significantly, and 1/3 of us will survive the caregiving and be better persons for having done it.  Which 1/3 do you want to be?   I know where I choose to be.  The person with dementia is dying; we caregivers have to live our lives in a way that does not allow the dementia to take us too. 

May 6, 2013

National Women's Health Week

NWHWBanrHas it been more than a year since you’ve seen your doctor? Visiting the doctor regularly to receive routine care and important screening tests is one step you can take to live a healthier life.
The 11th annual National Women’s Checkup Day is Monday, May 13, during National Women’s Health Week. The Office on Women’s Health encourages women everywhere to participate in National Women’s Checkup Day by: 
  • Contacting your current health care provider to schedule a checkup or visit to get an important screening during the month of May.
  • Talking with your health care professional about which screenings and tests are right for you and when and how often you should have them.
  • Reviewing the list of 22 preventive services for women that insurance companies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Taking the Checkup Day Pledge.
To learn more about National Women’s Checkup Day, visit

May 5, 2013


"It is only after ten years of surviving cancer, and a life of overachievement that I have stumbled in and out of joy."  Mark Nepo

This quote is taken from Mark Nepo's writing of integrating the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves.  Our society seems to develop very well the masculine qualities of achieving and being practical.   Because of the influence of society, we may have to be intentional in developing our feminine side --- men and women alike.  I, too, have spent a life overachieving.  Some of it seemed necessary --- it was necessary achieve in order to support my children and me.  And, then, it is so easy to get caught up in continuing to achieve, strive, accomplish.   Society needs our creative, nurturing and reflective aspects too --- and so do we.  We each have within us feminine and masculine qualities.  The ideal is to have a balance between them.  Practical when that is needed, nurturing and creative when that is needed.  In what ways do you nurture yourself?  I just took a nap -- a luxury I do not usually indulge, and it was very nurturing.

May 4, 2013

No Resistance

"To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.  This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad." Eckhart Tolle

What a lovely way to live, and what a high calling.  Is it humanly possible to live in such a state of grace, ease and lightness --- by not being resistant to the moment in front of us?  Yes, I think it is.  How many of us live in such a way that we are waiting for the next moment, preparing for the next moment, rehashing the past moment?  It seems such a human habit to have our thoughts elsewhere from our bodies.  But, as Eckhart Tolle would say, all we have is now.  And now.  And now.  If we practice living with no resistance to what this moment presents, then we are in a place to receive the goodness of that moment.  Perhaps a way to achieve this state is to practice accepting the present moment as perfect.  Where we are is perfect.  The others with whom we share this moment are perfect.  The circumstance is perfect.  Let us practice today living in this moment right before us.  It is perfect. 

May 3, 2013

Purpose of Life

"The basis of life is freedom.  The purpose of life is joy.  The result of life is growth."  Abraham

Freedom.  Joy.   Growth.  That is easy to remember, and it rings true.  Most prisons are of our own making.  We can be imprisoned by habits, by thought patterns, by addictions, by relationships and commitments to work situations.  Freedom seems to need to precede joy.  So, today let us set ourselves free from anything that is limiting to us.  In so doing, we are more able to reach joy.  Life does call us to growth, and it seems we can choose to have that growth through joy -- although, of course, life also does present challenges -- if we orient ourselves to joy, we can experience more of it.  And, it is all based on freedom.  Today, wear the clothes that help you feel free.  Say the words that you want to say.  Eat the food that supports your own highest good.  Today, let us be free from any ways we have created prisons for ourselves. 

May 2, 2013

Focusing our Energy

"How we direct our energies will inform us of its value by an increase, a decrease, or leave us flat energetically."  Jim Dethmer

Jim Dethmer leads workshops, and in one, he had participants list the top 25 activities they had been engaged in for the past month.  When the list was complete, he asked them to draw an arrow next to each item.  The arrow pointed up for those activities that increased their energy, the arrow went down for those activities that decreased their energy, and the arrow went sideways when the activity was neutral.  I suggest we all do this as an activity.  Let us list the top 25 activities for the past month, draw arrows beside them to indicate if they increase our energy or deplete it or are neutral.  The purpose of this activity is to keep those activities that energize us, dump those activities that deplete us, or delegate them or find a different way of doing the activity.  Recently, I came back from a speaking engagement, and my daughter pointed out to me how energized I was.  We want our activities to energize us, not deplete us.  I would also suggest that it can be people who energize or deplete us, not just activities.  Perhaps an additional exercise would be to list the top people with whom we interact in the past month, and draw arrows beside them indicating whether they energize us, deplete us or are neutral.  If the person depletes you, what are you willing to do?  We can either remove ourselves from that relationship or we can find a different way of being in that relationship.

May 1, 2013

9 Tips to Kick Sugar Habit

"Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of refined sugars in the American diet." Dr. Michael Jacobson

The 9 tips as given in Green American are:  avoid soda, avoid juice, eat whole and unprocessed foods, look at labels and avoid fructose/maltodextrin/molasses/evaporated cane juice/sucrose/various syrups/anything ending with "ose", limit artificial sweeteners, eat breakfast, exercise, drink green tea, power through the fallout for about one week.

It takes about 5-7 days of healthy eating to detox from sugar (Green American), so brace yourself to deal with the cravings for about one week.  Eastern health practitioners say green tea (without sugar!) helps control blood sugar.  Exercise reduces the stress which can lead us to crave sugar.  If you use a sugar alternative, Green American suggests sugar alcohols as a substitute for sugar.  I have never heard of sugar alcohols, but they are refined from plans and go by the names:  erithyrol, glycerol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, and xylitol.  Xylitol is found in some sugar-free gums and is believed to enhance dental health.  I try to avoid sugar in all of its forms, although I do enjoy dark chocolate.  Something to consider is that sugar is as addictive as alcohol and other drugs.