I’ve been sugar-obsessed for as long as I can remember. I remember sneaking into the pantry when I was a little girl to just EAT LUMPS OF BROWN SUGAR. Seriously.
In college I lived on Cinnamon Toast Crunch and coffee with a sludge of sugar in the bottom of the cup. I got sick a lot. Surprise!
After my first pregnancy, I had a hard time bouncing back. I was tired ALL THE TIME. I felt like a truck had run over me when I woke up in the morning. And I would have terrible headaches in the afternoon. I just didn’t feel like I could think straight and I chalked it up to the sleep deprivation of having a newborn. But after the baby’s first birthday….I didn’t feel better. I was finally sleeping through the night (for the most part) but I still dragged myself out of bed in the morning. I felt foggy and irritable and emotional.
I finally said enough is enough and went to see a chiropractor to talk nutrition (since I was dealing with some other super not fun health issues). After writing down what I ate for a couple of weeks and showing him my chart, I discovered that eating sugary stuff for every meal is actually NOT what normal humans should eat and that my fatigue, irritability, and headaches were probably a direct result of blood sugar spikes and crashes and thoroughly stressing out my poor little pancreas. And being told that, “Sure, you CAN keep eating like this….if you really want diabetes” kind of gave me the kick in the pants I needed to cut the sugar from my diet.
After two weeks off sugar (and after some wicked withdrawal symptoms)…..I WOKE UP. Like woke up in the morning and didn’t feel exhausted and foggy. It’s like I got my brain back. And my energy back. And it was awesome. The rest of the pregnancy weight went away, and I didn’t catch every cold that I came in contact with (because apparently sugar messes with your immune system….who knew? Apparently everyone but me.)
Since then I have gone through seasons where I stay away from sugar except for special occasions and feel great….followed by times when I get addicted to sugar again and need to realize how crummy I feel in order to kick the habit again. This time of year it’s always tempting to just eat ALL THE CANDY. Because it’s Christmas, right? And I firmly believe that we should celebrate with food. But I often go overboard and then I can tell right away: I get a sore throat, I feel irritable, and I have trouble waking up in the morning even after a full night’s sleep.
If you’re in the same boat, here’s a few things that help me regroup and get back on track:
- Do not keep sweets in the house. I have exactly NO will power. So, if there’s cookies, ice cream, brownies, candy, etc. in the house, I will consume all of it as soon as I put the kids down for a nap. But if they’re not there….I don’t eat them (the sweets, that is, not the children. On no occasion do I eat children).
- Start out the day with protein, not sugars/grains. I love me some pancakes, but if that’s all I eat for breakfast, I will crave sugar all day. So I try to always, always, always eat an egg first.
- Cut that sugar habit in your cup of joe. For years and years, I had to drink my coffee with sugar and so I started every day with a generous helping of processed sugar hitting my system. With my issues that wasn’t ideal. So I started by adding extra cream, but leaving out the sugar. Now I can drink my coffee black, or with a reasonable amount of cream (but I haven’t had sugar in my coffee in years).
- Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. I tend to need to eat more frequently than most or else I’ll start to feel shaky and light-headed. By that point, I can’t make any good decisions about food and often grab the very thing that will make me feel worse rather than better. BUT, if I come up with a solid meal plan for the week and stick to it, I rarely get desperate. Lately, I’ve been getting my meal planning inspiration from paleo cookbooks I’ve found in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle (only available through December 29th, so snatch it up, y’all!).
- Don’t give yourself rules you can’t handle. In yesterday’s post I talked about the danger of our culture’s view, or rather, obsession with health and how it can lead to losing the joy of food. Don’t do that to yourself. Although serious medical conditions may require never deviating from a certain diet, for others a good dose of moderation is probably what’s needed. And it may take awhile to figure out how much moderation is helpful and how much just sends you back into the sugar slump. For me, making a dessert at home a couple of times a week (like homemade ice cream) in which I can substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar can add some fun to the evening without making me feel crummy the next day.
Are you a sugaraholic? What do you do to break the habit?
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P.S. The bundle is only available for 2 days! It ends on Thursday, December 29th at midnight.