How long since you had sugar? How long since you’ll get your next hit? Was your answer to these questions in hours? Minutes? Sugar-addiction is the new buzz word and while loads of people are giving up alcohol this month, many others have tried to kick off 2011 by kicking sugar out of their diet. Mamamia Site Manager Lana is one of them. And she’s been surprised at what’s happened since she did. She writes:
“If you had to ask my friends to describe me the word “sweet” would be used for sure. Unfortunately they might not say “Lana is really sweet” , in fact it’s far more likely they would say “Lana has a very sweet tooth”
And they ‘d be right. I am the kind of person that can’t sleep if there’s chocolate in the house because it calls me while I’m sleeping, wakes me up and forces me to eat it. I am the kind of person that can drink Diet Coke for breakfast and jam with my toast and sugar in my tea. I am the person that goes into the petrol station to pay for my petrol and comes out with a chocolate.
So what on earth would propel me to try and give up sugar?
I’d been doing a bit of reading because I was feeling stale, de-energised and like I was carrying too much weight. But most worrying was that I was obsessed with food. Food was on my mind all the time – recipes, meal ideas, chocolate/bread/noodles, what I could eat for snack/lunch/dinner/ just because I deserved it. I loved and resonated with all the books on emotional eating and many times I sat in front of my fridge literally pleading with Geneen Roth, author of Breaking Free from Emotional Eating to help me. I understand my emotional issues with food – I even explained them to my open fridge but it did not help the fact that I spent too much time obsessing.
I came across David Gillespie’s book The Sweet Poison Quit Plan mainly because I was drawn to the delicious looking cupcake on the cover and then I opened it and I read his opening sentence “Sugar makes you fat. It is converted directly to fat by your liver and it destroys your appetite control so that you want to eat more of everything.”
I was hooked, I know that I always want to eat more of everything and I wanted to know why my appetite control was basically non existent and whether my sugar consumption was part of my obsession with food. The book explains how sugar is metabolized and illustrates how sugar is added to almost every single thing on our supermarket shelves but it also offers a plan to give up sugar (and thereby regulate your appetite) and I do so love a plan. I planned to get over my obsession with food.
Turns out the plan was simple. I was to stop eating anything that tasted sweet and spend what seems like eons in the aisle every time I went shopping to check the sugar levels in packaged foods because there is sugar in almost everything you eat so you need to check the content is really low. Like really really low – less than 3gms per 100grams.
I have been off sugar for 10 days and it is as hard as David Gillespie told me it would be. Well he didn’t tell me that as such but his book certainly suggests that sugar withdrawal is hard. I feel exhausted, I am still highly emotional (this may just be me), I feel a little bit edgy and somehow unsatisfied – like I just want a cupcake with icing. Lots of icing. And little silver balls . But it is not hunger and I only feel this dissatisfaction after I have eaten.
But, there are pluses – heaps of people (well three) have mentioned that my skin looks clear, fresher, more vibrant (and I haven’t even asked them).
And there is this: the exact thing I was looking for. I don’t think about food all the time. I just forget to think about it. I eat of course but more out of hunger and less out of habit.
I would still love to dip my teaspoon in a jar of nutella and inhale (Gillespie reckons it takes most people 3 to 4 weeks to withdraw totally and get over those cravings) but this desire for liquid chocolate is not knocking on my head all day long.
It worries me a little because I realise sugar was a crutch. Just like nicotine was once. Now I don’t smoke and I am not eating sugar I am not sure how I will deal with a crisis, but hopefully soon my sugar levels wont be quite so crazy and life will seem less crisis filled and more even keeled.
In the meantime I am discovering a new way of eating, not feeling fantastic YET but at least my focus is expanding (and hopefully my waist isn’t)
About the Author: Lana was destined to a life of editing and organisation when her parents named her Anal. It was just a fortuitous twist of luck that the person drawing up the birth certificate wrote backwards so she has always been known as Lana.
Lana wants to be a writer when she “grows up” and also work on the fact that she cries very easily. She is married and is the mother to a very beautiful son and a very spoiled dog. In her spare time Lana writes for her own blog which lives here.
Do you think you could be addicted to sugar? Do you think it is even a bad thing?