It occurred to me just the other day, after years and years and YEARS of bingeing on processed sugar (most specifically, anything chocolate), that I am an addict. I actually said those words out loud two weeks ago and I know it’s true. I was out of control with my sugar consumption and when I say ‘out of control,’ I mean there is no earthly way I shouldn’t be in a sugar-induced coma.
Yes, processed sugar is HIGHLY addictive and highly dangerous. Some websites call it a major player in the spread of cancer. Evidently cancer cells thrive on processed sugar. Soon there will be a test that scans the body for accumulation of sugar and that will be a predictor of cancer. Oh my GOD. What am I DOING to my body?!
Sugar is my crutch. It’s my go to. It’s my energy when I’m exhausted, overly tired or stressed. It’s my salve when I’m in pain (emotional or physical). I tell myself I can stop with just one cookie and end up eating a BOX. Most recently I was on a junior mints and peanut turtles tangent. I found myself skipping meals and eating chocolate instead. I would justify my turtle consumption by telling myself it contained peanuts so I was getting something healthy, but I know better. I AM educated on this but I am also an addict whose hormones, routines and/or daily stressors get the better of me. When they do, I turn to my old comforting friend; processed, refined sugar.
As a child I remember eating sugar in the form of Kool-Aid, chocolate pudding and Pixy Stix candy. Some websites say I may have inherited my love (lust) for processed sugar while in the womb. I don’t doubt it. When I was born, I probably asked the doctor for a spoonful of sugar.
Here are some interesting facts about processed sugar (Huffpost Healthy Living):
- 1. It’s a major player in cancer growth.
- 2. Sugar can affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and brings about muscle protein changes that could lead to heart failure. Humm…so when I was stuffing my maw full of processed sugar and alcohol after a bad breakup, I was actually adding insult to injury to my broken heart.
- 3. Sugar can affect the aging of your brain AND body.
- 4. It targets your belly and adds fat directly to it.
- 5. Sugar can create chronic inflammation which is responsible for a host of medical issues ranging from arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart attacks.
I was never much of a soda drinker, but I loved my sweets. Back in the day, I could eat all I wanted and remain the weight I desired to be. It was because I did some form of a workout (cardio and/or weights) 6 to 7 days a week and I didn’t eat all that well. It’s no fun cooking for one. Then came husband, baby and breastfeeding and I got used to eating extra (sugar) calories a day. When breastfeeding ended, my extra calorie consumption did not, my exercise was not like it was pre-baby and I gained weight.
The additional weight isn’t what bothers me; it’s what I’m doing to my body by uncontrollably eating this crap. I am a vegetarian for ethical and health reasons. I take known inflammation reducers like pharmaceutical grade fish oil and extra vitamin C to combat the self-inflicted punishment. I’m trying to trick my mind into believing my sugar consumption will be less damaging because of this, but I know better. It’s the same mentality I use to justify bingeing on chocolate that contain nuts.
I am keeping a daily diary this time around to document when I want chocolate and how I’m feeling when I do. I’ve started my detox during a time when my body does not normally crave processed sugar in order to be past the intense cravings by the time it does crave sugar. I’ll journal for 30 days and I may publish it with the hopes others can read about my journey and recognize themselves in me.
I noticed the first two days I was off processed sugar, I had a hard time with my memory. I carried my water bottle into my gym class, sat it down and walked out to do something. Before returning to the room I thought, “Oh crap! I don’t have my water bottle. Is it in the car?” So I bundled up and went out to my car. Not there. Well, what the hell. Did I leave it at home? Crap. Double CRAP! As I was grousing inside my head, I had reentered the class and there was my water bottle, exactly where I had left it, right by my yoga mat. Hello!!!
My friend Shannon has offered some suggestions as to how to get through my sugar cravings. I guess cinnamon bark oil is a great help as is using healthy fats (coconut oil/avocados, etc.). I don’t know. When I want chocolate, I want CHOCOLATE, not just something sweet. I’m willing to give her suggestions a try, though. She’s been down this road a time or two as well.
I’m going to break routines I’ve established and create new ones. I’m going to watch my inclinations to turn to sugary food when I’m stressed, agitated or mentally bored and opt for something else. I’ve got to take care of my body; it’s the only one I have and I need it to stay healthy. I’m not saying I wont eat processed sugar again as that’s completely unrealistic. I’m saying I’ll introduce the word ‘moderation’ into my vocabulary and faze out the word ‘bingeing’.