Part of living with integrity is digging out the dirt in my life. The other part is living my truth. This includes living my body’s truth; listening and following what it’s saying.
So, here it goes….
Hi, my name is Yvonne and I’m a sugar addict. I’ve been clean for one day (yesterday I had a breath mint). Before that, I was clean for 45 days.
This may sound rather silly. If you think it is, test yourself:
1) go without any sugar for a day. I’m not talking about just cutting out the donut or the sugar from your coffee. I’m talking ALL sugar — all the visible and hidden sugars too.
2) look at the ingredients in everything you eat. I bet you’ll find sugar (or some form of it) there. There is a movie about this too.
If you can think about doing this, you’re not addicted. If you can actually do this and not have any side effects, like moodiness, headaches, and cravings so strong you’ll tear the locked door off the Krispy Kreme shop at 10pm or pop sugar cubes while you’re waiting for the coffee to perk, then you’re not addicted.
Sugar addiction, like any other addiction, can linger unnoticed or denied for a long time. My addiction was just a general ‘sweet tooth.’ I’d always had it. As a kid, I was amazingly active and used sugar to keep me going. In university, again sugar was a boost to help me get through classes and write term papers. At work, I get the 2pm slump, and ‘BAM!’ in goes the chocolate bar for a pick-me-up. It wasn’t until I had other stressors in my life that the sugar addiction started to take its toll: I was overworked, with no work-life balance, and eating at restaurants a lot. Even though I was still exercising and active, I was suddenly overweight, waking up at weird hours, hypoglycemia was a real issue, my memory was shot, and I was having other strange symptoms like sagging breasts (oh yeah), bloating, I was gassy, and I was tired all the time. What the hell?
To set the record straight, I did figure out that I my adrenal glands were overworked. To learn more about adrenal fatigue, I recommend this book on your right. Working with this book and a naturopath, I started to remove foods from my diet that would likely be causing my body stress. I also discovered this book too on your left. Both books compliment each other very well (almost as if it was planned…..). I also had an acupuncturist who I visited regularly.
See the thing is, stress isn’t just a mental condition that we experience. It’s anything our body reacts to that knocks it out of it’s happy, relaxed state. This can include illness, allergens, and environmental stressors like noises or toxic smells. Foods can also be stressors. If your body doesn’t like it, it will react as if it’s under stress. And if you’re body’s under stress for too long, it will eventually start to break down. If you are eating a food day in and day out but your body doesn’t like it, your body will react, slowly and subtly at first but growing more intense with time.
Sugar had become a stressor for me. I’d eaten so much for so long, my body was overwhelmed. The extra weight I’d gained? It wasn’t weight, it was inflammation. The bloating and gassiness was because my body wasn’t digesting the sugar properly, if at all. Waking up in the middle of the night was a symptom of insulin-induced cortisol imbalance that caused my cortisol to be highest at 3am instead of at 6am. (All of the symptoms I list above can be found in the Hormone Diet book, and so much more.)
Kicking sugar wasn’t easy. Cold turkey was the only way. Sugar is too much like a drug: your brain and your body crave it. One sniff and you’re a goner. (I wasn’t kidding about the breath mint, above.) Within a month of cutting sugar, I’d dropped two pants sizes, was sleeping better, had no cravings for sweets, no cravings for a 2pm pick-me-up, and my energy was stabilizing. If that doesn’t say that sugar wasn’t my friend, I don’t know what does! But I wasn’t completely back to normal. Living and recovering from adrenal fatigue is a whole other story, and another post. Suffice to say, however, that I am a much happier, more stable, and healthier person without sugar in my life.
Keeping sugar out of my life is a challenge, not necessarily because I still love it, but because it’s everywhere. Especially in processed and prepared foods. Solution? Prepare your own food and eat fresh. The good news is that generally preparing your own food and eating fresh is cheaper. It’s also generally healthier. It’s a win-win.
Questions: Are you a sugar addict? How do you cope? Are you addicted to other foods that your body can’t tolerate?