I’m about to share some information that I admit, I am embarrassed to share. I’ve got a sugar addiction. I find that people always laugh off the idea of a sugar addiction, like it’s not real…it’s not possible. But it is. Some people will tell you that it’s as bad as or worse than heroin (in terms of how addictive it is). The truth is, I know it’s addictive, but I don’t know just how bad it is, and I can’t make that comparison to heroin, because I’ve never used it, and as far as I know, I don’t know any heroin addicts. Well, this addiction has finally put me in a rough spot. A place where I know things need to change. We are quitting sugar. I don’t really know to what extent, but we do know we are working to cut out any sugar that isn’t in the form of either fruit, honey, or maple syrup. I’ll walk you through more of this in a minute, but the main goal it to clean up our eating habits and retrain our minds and bodies.
(BTW, there are no pictures in this post, so there’s nothing missing…I am still working on the other posts, though!)
Let me start at the beginning. I’ve known for ages that sugar (especially in large quantities) is bad for you. You can have tooth decay, it can lead to diabetes, acne, mood swings…but still, it wasn’t enough for me to cut back or quit. Doing it for the sake of our young children wasn’t enough, even though I should set a better example for them. Then a few years back, we watched a documentary that gave me a different perspective on it. For the most part, I had just felt like the side effects of sugar were something I could avoid, and then this documentary focused on how it can lead to cancer, and ways to overcome that through eating habits. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to quit, but it definitely gave me pause. I tried focusing on eating the right foods instead of just focusing on cutting out the bad. Then one day, I ate a very large bag of peanut butter M&M’s. By myself. Yes, in ONE day. I ended up with THE most horrible stomach ache ever.
This stomach ache was not like any other stomach ache I ever had. It hurt in a different way. I’m about to get a bit descriptive, so if you aren’t cool with that…jump down to the next paragraph. I was bloated and gassy. I was throwing up and had diarrhea. My burps tasted like soggy, rotten cherrios. I spent the night in the bathroom, sleeping on the floor when I could because it was that bad. I knew this was trouble, and I knew why it had happened. I had to make a change, but still, I couldn’t. I was able to slowly begin to reduce my intake, but my intake was still extremely high.
Then I started having a tooth ache. I knew without a doubt where it was coming from, and I wanted to know if there was a way to fix it without the dentists. So I started digging. I found that there are ways to heal your teeth, but they involve not eating sugar. Well, it was worth a try. I was able to make some changes without going crazy, and things were looking up. And yet still, I couldn’t just quit.
Well, over those past few years, I’ve had highs and lows. I’d do great and then spiral. Every time I overdid it, I’d get one of those awful stomach aches, and I’d be able to do better for awhile. And each time, my level of overdoing it decreased. My sensitivity to it was increasing. Then at Easter this year, I messed up big time. For awhile leading up to that, my sugar intake was increasing again. I had planned to do better this year. The kids’ Eater baskets had less candy than years prior, and I didn’t have tons extra left over for Scott and I, but still…Well, I ate some at home, and I took it easy. And then we went to my sister’s house, and there was a treat there that I just couldn’t stop eating. Again, I ate a lot of it, but compared to the past, it was nothing. The next day, THE stomach ache came on with vengeance.
That stomach ache lasted two whole days. Yes. Two days. It was time for a real change. I’ve had sugar since then, but it’s different. There have been a handful of times that I had any kind of added sugar aside from honey or maple syrup. Of the times I have eaten it, I was in complete control over how much I ate. And of those times, two times we decided to give ourselves a “pass” because it was a holiday. Both times it was a mistake for me.
On Mother’s Day, I had anticipated that there may be some sugar intake, but I was prepared to keep it at a minimum. We had a doughnut at breakfast, and I figured that would be enough. But then one of the kids gave me a candy bar…I gave the kids a square each and finished the rest, and I figured I wasn’t going to eat anymore. And then we got some ice cream, and I had a soda. See, at this point, I knew it was too much, but I figured it would be okay…after all, I had done far far worse and still not had that stomach ache rear it’s ugly head. Nope. The thing was, I didn’t enjoy that soda, and while I did enjoy the ice cream, it was so sweet, and I should have just had a scoop (well, I shouldn’t have had any, but my point is more of moderation). The next day I had the stomach ache again. Thankfully it only lasted for a portion of the morning, and went away.
And then there was yesterday. I was grumpy. I’ve had a cold the past few days, and it was making me irritable…my ears were plugged and my sinuses hurt, and the kids were grumpy as well because they had been sick too. To top it off, well, hormones. I took a drive and ended up having a few pieces of licorice. It was a holiday, so we decided it would be okay to have a soda and a candy bar. I also had an extra half a hamburger that I should not have eaten, and I a few too many chips. All in all, a bad idea. I think I would have been fine if I had not over eaten in general, but I know that the soda really put me over the top, and I should have skipped one of the treats. Well, here I am this morning waiting for my stomach ache to finish winding down.
I’ve sort of been testing my strength and my limits the past month and a half, and I’m starting to see changes. My cravings have dwindled significantly, though they are far from gone. I have more will power to say no, even when my cravings are really bad. I might want cookies today, and I can wait a few days before I decide if I want to make them or not. And if I do make them, I don’t eat half the batch. I can let the sweets sit and not feel like I need to eat them. So it’s getting better. I still find myself having a hard time wanting to eat healthy stuff, and to cut back on snacking in general. I knew I was a stress eater, but now I can see how bad it was. The thing that kills me about that one is that all of that sugar was making me really grumpy. I was feeling overly moody for quite some time, and the grumpier I got, the more I wanted something sweet to make me feel better. It was a pretty bad cycle to be a part of. I’m finding myself more and more sensitive to the sugar that I do take in, so I notice my body reacting poorly to it…mood swings, exhaustion, acne, allergies, stomach aches…
I know I have a long way to go. I don’t know to what extent we will cut back on the overall sugar, but as I said before, we ultimately want to cut out any sugar that doesn’t come in the form of honey or maple syrup. I still want to be able to have some kind of a treat on special occasions, but maybe not for every special occasion. After all, between our family and all of our relatives and then holidays, I could think of a reason to eat sweets really, really often. And if we do indulge, I really need to get good at portion control. And if we indulge, we have to figure out what forms are acceptable. I think what makes all of this harder for me is that I come from a sweets family, and I’ve always loved baking. I’m not always good at cooking, but it’s not very often that I mess up something that I bake, so that’s something I am going to have to channel differently.
There have been a few things that I have read or watched over the years that have really spurred me on in this journey, and I have to check back on them from time to time, because truthfully, sometimes we forget why we do what we do. Right now I am reading “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price, DDS., and Sally Fallons cookbook “Nourishing Traditions,” I had heard of both books years ago, and never got around to reading them. My brother found the former for me in a thrift store, and I caved and ordered the latter through Amazon recently. We also used to own a copy of “The Gerson Therapy” by Charlotte Gerson, but we lent it to somebody and no longer have it. That was a really good read, and now we own “Healing the Gerson Way” by Charlotte Gerson, which is fairly similar to the other book. The cookbook is meant to compliment the works of Weston Price, so those two go hand in hand, but the types of diet that they refer to does not go with the diet in the Gerson books. I think the main reason for this is because the Gerson ones are more about healing the body, and the others are more about general health and what an appropriate diet would be if you are relatively healthy. Oh, and the book about healing teeth that I mentioned earlier was called “Cure Tooth Decay” by Ramiel Nagel…that’s where I first heard about Weston Price and his research.
I’m not a doctor or a dentist, so I can’t give you medical advice, but you can definitely read these books and learn a thing or two. I know there are people out there who think healing naturally is a crock, but I disagree because I’ve seen enough of it done. Do your own research and be smart if you are worried about something. I know I wrote about this in another post, but it always amazes me how smart we think we are as a society, how modern and intelligent, but there is so much that used to be common knowledge that we just don’t know anymore. Somewhere along the line, the message stopped being conveyed. Oh, I’ve got one more recommendation for you if you are looking for a reason to give up sugar. Check out the documentary That Sugar Film. He also has it as a book, but I watched the documentary during my post-Easter stomach ache, and it was really interesting. He had been eating a sugar free diet for a long time, but ran an experiment to see how sugar really affects our bodies and so he decided to eat what was considered “average” sugar consumption in an Australian diet, and he even did it as a “healthy” diet (i.e. packaged health foods). It was amazing how it affected him. He wasn’t even seeking out candy bars…most of his intake was in hidden sugars, and it still had a profound affect on his overall well-being.
So, I’ll leave you with some final observations from where I am at. As I said, I don’t know to what extent we will cut out sugar…after all, we still plan to use honey and maple syrup, but I have a feeling that the amounts that we use will dwindle with time. I’ve noticed that my overall mood has improved, though the cravings have left me feeling irritable at times. I’m not quite as tired as I was for a while there. When my cycle is, well, cycling, there are times when my cravings peak, and so does my mood. Not eating sugar during those times has helped me to feel better during those times…less tired, less irritable, less bloating and cramping…Less tired equals more energy, and I certainly need that with all that we have going on here. My allergies this season have been considerably improved from what they were last spring (which was terrible, and for more reasons than just my diet), though they have still been an issue. If I do get sick, it doesn’t stick around as long. My weight was stalled out, mostly because I had been consuming extra calories, but also because of the sugar…my weight has very slowly been going down, and the fat is coming off in places it was quite determined to stick to before. I’ve noticed that my teeth are more sensitive to sugar than they were before, and so is my taste. Soda is no longer enjoyable (though I know some of it has to do with the types I drank most recently). And I’ve been enjoying the taste of healthy foods more and more. Even though Scott was never the sweets fiend the way I was, even he has said his sensitivity to sugar has gone way up.
I’ve always been able to keep my sweets intake down in the spring and autumn months, but during the summer and winter, it always spikes…now that summer is practically here, it will be interesting to see how I hold up. In summer I crave all things fruity or fizzy, which means soda and candy and popsicles…plus ice cream. Thank goodness summer is also when berries start producing and our veggies begin to grow! I’m looking forward to harvesting food from the land again, because in spite of all of the “reasons” to eat sweets in the summer, it’s also the time of year when I eat the healthiest whole foods.
Do you struggle with your sweets intake? Have you found it hard to cut back or quit? What is your biggest hurdle? Don’t forget to comment, remember, I love hearing from you!
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