Crashing From My High

I survived my first week of 100% no sugar! It was pretty miserable, I’m not going to lie. Not only was I going through sugar withdrawal, but I’m still sick from whatever illness has me in its grip.

Rugen

Here are some things I felt this week:

  • The sweats – I would routinely get super-hot and literally be drenched in sweat. My family had to put up with air conditioning in the already cold car, the ceiling fan blowing everything around the living room, and having me shed every bit of clothing I could modestly get away with.
  • The shakes – this was even more annoying. I would bundle up in every blanket we had, wear my hoodie (with the hood on!), put socks and slippers on my feet, and hunker down in the recliner (only my nose and chin were visible). My children would bring me juice or water, and I would unearth my shaking hand to take it from them. It was ridiculous!
  • A constant headache – I had a headache the whole week. It vacillated between pounding and nagging, but it was always there.
  • Exhaustion – my poor family basically hasn’t had a mother for seven days. Even when I wasn’t feeling absolutely awful, I struggled to find energy to do anything. I’ll admit that I’m still not firing on all cylinders, but I am getting better.
  • Moodiness – while I tried hard to be kind and patient, I could definitely feel myself wanting to snap at my children and husband. It’s hard to be gracious when you’re not feeling well. It’s even harder when your body is going without something that has been its “happiness crutch” for so long.

I’ve never done drugs or consumed alcohol—I’m not even a big soda drinker, and when I do drink soda, it’s a non-caffeinated variety—so I can’t personally compare these symptoms with withdrawal from other substances, though when I looked it up on some websites, they seem fairly similar. However, I hesitate to compare my boo hoo-ing over not eating sugar to what I imagine are far worse and long-lasting symptoms of breaking a drug addiction or being a recovering alcoholic.

Alex Caspero, MA, RD, says this about sugar addiction:
“…There are many studies that show our brain responds to sugar in a similar way that it does to illicit drugs. The problem is that we aren’t meant to enjoy sugars in such concentrated amounts. In nature, sugar is found surrounded by fiber, in sugar cane and fruits. It naturally comes in a container that produces a shorter blood sugar response and aids in fullness. Today’s sugars are refined and concentrated. The average American consumes anywhere from a ¼ to a ½ pound of sugar per day. Consuming sugar in these amounts can lead to similar symptoms of a drug addiction: dependence, cravings, and withdrawal. The good news is that we can adapt our taste buds to accept less sugar. Reducing sugar, especially concentrated sugars, not only limits the amount of sugars ingested but also makes less sweet foods seem sweeter.”
(http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug#4
Follow Alex on Twitter @delishknowledge.)

Having survived most of these post-acute withdrawal symptoms, I feel like I’ve made some good headway toward overcoming my addiction. Thanks for all your support and best wishes!

Week 1 out!

Last Meal

Hi. My name is Josie, and I’m a sugar addict. It has been one day since I ate sugar.

If you knew that today was your last day on earth, what would you eat? A lot of people focus on what they’d do on their last day, but, since this is a blog about overcoming food addiction, I want to know what you’d eat. Would you cook something at home? Go out to eat? Ask Great Aunt Helen to make you her famous turkey gravy and mashed potatoes?

A little melodramatic? How about if you weren’t going to eat sugar any more—in fact, let’s just say that you’re not going to eat sugar for the next year. A year without sugar. What would you eat then? A sinfully rich chocolate cake? Apple pie a la mode? A white chocolate lemony cheesecake? A Snickers bar with an ice-cold Coke? Would you go out to your favorite restaurants and order just from the dessert menu?

Now, what if you thought harder and realized that the majority of bread has sugar in it? Remember, you’re not eating any sugar. Would that change your food choices? Instead of guzzling chocolate milk and bingeing on Little Debbie snack cakes, would you grab a pizza instead? A hamburger? If you realized that Chinese food is loaded with sugar, would you swing by a Panda Express for some orange chicken? Most salad dressings have sugar in them—would you load up your first plate at the buffet with a huge salad smothered in raspberry vinaigrette and craisins?

My last day of sugar was far less spectacular than any of this. I’ve been sick the last three days and haven’t been able to follow through on my plan to eat all my favorites one last time. But, ever since I decided to do this blog, I have been bingeing on my white drug of choice, so I’ll stop complaining. In effect, I did the sugar equivalent of sitting myself down and making me smoke a whole pack of cigarettes in the hopes that I would get sick enough to never want to try it again. I’ve done this often enough that I know it won’t last, but at least for today, I’m just fine not eating any sugar.

I’m a sugar addict. It took me a long time to admit this to myself, even longer to say the words out loud to anyone else. “I’m a tough girl,” I kept thinking. “I can beat this. I can be moderate. I can be strong.” And I’d quit or eat less, and I’d last a few days before I was back to skipping the veggies and the fruit and the water in favor of a Twinkie or bowl of cookie dough.

So why is this time going to work? Because I’m drawing on the power of the community. I need help. I’m admitting it. I’m counting on you to be my SAA group (sugar addicts anonymous—except the anonymous part!) I need your prayers, your best wishes, your comments and encouragement. I’m hoping I can be a good example of a bad example and stop someone from following my same path. And I’m hoping that I can share some knowledge that will help others struggling with their own addictions or problems or difficulties. You may not be a sugar addict like me, but I’m pretty sure you have some bad habits you’re working hard to overcome. Maybe together, we can all improve.

Countdown

Thursday:

April 17 is my favorite day of the year and I thought I’d give myself a little present this year: a healthier body uncluttered by addiction. I’m kicking my sugar habit! Stay tuned to read my story and lend your support.

I’m gonna need it!

 

Friday:

Two days left and I’m starting to panic. There is also some sort of divine retribution going on: I’m sick. Instead of stuffing my face with all my favorite sweets these last two days, I’m wrapped up in a blanket, burning with fever, and nibbling on saltine crackers.

I ask you: is this fair?

 

Saturday:

Last day of sugary goodness and all I could get down was half a magnum bar. I am still ridiculously sick. But hey, bright side: at least a Magnum Bar is one of the most delicious foods known to man. If you haven’t tried one, you’re missing out and I suggest you stop reading this depressing post and run out and get you one.

What? Still here? Your loss, dude.