MY STRANGE (SUGAR) ADDICTION
Why this is as real as it gets..
I KNOW you’ve heard before that sugar is more addictive than narcotics.
Personally, while I love some good weed, I’ve never been even remotely intrigued to test anything more than that, so while I can’t attest to comparison of withdrawal symptoms on a personal level, I CAN tell you that sugar addiction is 1. real and 2. SCARY.
I began working with a nutritionist recently to help support my brain health and stabilize my blood sugar levels (being an epileptic, or a person with any kind of disorder, diet can really make or break how you’re feeling on a day to day basis.) The first thing we quickly realized is that I need to cut down on sugar, and by cut down, I mean completely eliminate for my diet for 10 days. As I write this, I have no clue what’s going to happen on day 11 but I fully intend on sharing this entire journey with you.
In the mean time I want to document whats going on each day, both mentally and physically. Because you are totally going to want to do this too. So lets do it together.
DAY 1 - Beyond KNOWING how to eat well, I help others clean up their diets too, using a multitude of different methods depending on what works for them. So, don’t think I don’t see the irony in seeking out a nutritionist but I know two things going into this: first is that I have a goal in mind, and that’s to at LEAST lower my med levels (or completely remove one of the two anticonvulsants I’m taking) and to stop experiencing seizure-triggering blood sugar drops (wildly inconvenient, for one, and SUPER scary.) The other thing I know is that I need to be held accountable. So after our first hour-long session, we decide to start simple: for 10 days lets eliminate ALL sugar. I mean refined sugar, natural sugar (maple syrup, honey, etc) and hidden sugar (dressings, condiments, sauces) and dried fruits. I’m still allowed to have fresh fruit - preferably low glycemic fruit - and carbs with natural sugars (like oats and sweet potatoes.) Sounds easy. As she tells me that I will likely experience “flu-like” symptoms (like, what does that even mean?) I just “yeah, ok, sure” her and get off the call excited, already cleaning out my pantry, embarrassingly psyched about the food journal I get to keep for 10 days. At this point in the day (noon) I hadn’t yet had any sugar so I decided to start right away. Nine and a half hours later (four hours after the call) as I’m headed into acupuncture I’m wondering wtf I’ve done. I want a cookie, I tell my acupuncturist what’s going on and she promises to work on some trigger points for sugar cravings. I feel calmer upon leaving and head to Mexican with my husband & son (no churros, no tres leches.) By the time we head home I’m just tired and ready for bed.
DAY 2 - I wake up, a little groggy but normal. Head downstairs to make the fam a big batch of (sugar-free) pumpkin oatmeal. Dylan loves his. Jesse humors me and eats it anyway with a pinched look on his face. I top mine with banana and pepitas and dig in. No more than 30 minutes later as I am getting ready to hit OrangeTheory it hits me - right in the stomach. I literally stopped getting dressed to lay in the fetal position as the boys get ready for the day. I texted my friend, who told me not to go (not what I wanted to hear.) I texted my other friend, who told me to go and just take it easy (ok, I can get down with that.) I texted my nutritionist who confirmed that its fine to work out but listen to my body and don’t push myself (ok, confirmed, we are going.) Then, I check the label on my BCAA's. Splenda. SERIOUSLY? I leave early to go to The Vitamin Shoppe, walk in unsure if I’m going to vomit or punch someone, and demand some sugar-free BCAA’s that don’t taste awful. I think the guy was scared, because he quickly led me to an aisle, pointed out one and said “that one.” I bought it and went to class, and GUESS WHAT?! Felt a million times better after I got a little sweat on. So, I went about my day but by 2pm I was so tired that I crawled in bed as soon as Dylan went down for his nap and slept, spooning my dog for 2 hours (which is amazing because I am not a napper.) Although I’m feeling a little sluggish now, as I finish up dinner and sip on some tea, I am more motivated than ever. I’m sorry, am I the only one that finds it GROSS that stuff we eat regularly, without even thinking about it, can make us feel THIS CRAPPY just by NOT eating it?! Literal epiphany happening here. I’ll leave that there, ‘til tomorrow..
Ok so full disclosure, I definitely didn’t continue the day by day journal of the 10 days as planned. But I can summarize the rest of the 8 days and I can also (spoiler alert) proudly say I’m still sugar free. I think we’re going on day 13 but to be honest I lost count.
Day 4 was my breaking point, I felt much better after that, physically, and mentally I felt so strong. Throughout the week I realized how much emotional value I place on food, and how much time I spent not just eating but thinking about what I want to eat, what I just ate, and how I was feeling about what I ate.
With this sugar-detox exercise, I came to realize (and I considered myself a “healthy” person, in terms on diet) that there is literally sugar in EVERYTHING. And I straight cold-turkey quit not just refined sugar, but maple syrup, honey, agave, etc along with all artificial sweeteners. I use a tiny bit of Stevia in my coffee and can have monk fruit in small amounts (because those two don’t spike your blood sugar the same way the others do) but all in all, SUGAR FREE. I always preach how important reading your labels is, but I didn’t realize all the sugar hiding in things you’d never expect - of course sugary cereals and desserts but most packaged items have sugar in them. Such as bread, most condiments & dressings, nearly all nut milks that you get from coffee shops, crackers - you name it! Read carefully, because sugar hides in different names such as fructose, dextrose, corn syrup - here’s a full list and YES, its long!
UPDATE: 3 weeks and going strong!