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. While I firmly believe that we should get to celebrate with food occasionally, 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.
- 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?
Psst! If you’re looking for resources to kick your sugar habit and for oodles of paleo recipes The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle sale ends today! I didn’t contribute an ebook this year because I needed to work on my new book but I’m going to purchase the bundle myself for all the gluten-free resources, gut-health resources (there are ALL KINDS of recipe resources), and the more than $150 worth of BONUS freebies (I’m addicted to the Maca Powder since last year’s bundle).
Definitely take a look at what’s included if you want to improve your family’s health but need a push in the right direction. I’ll even sweeten the deal. If you order through my affiliate link, you can take your pick of any of my 4 ebooks and I’ll send it over as a thank you. You can choose from my liturgical year books: Feast! and More Feasts! as well as Daniel’s gluten-free breakfast cookbook and Making Big Life Changes Together–my book on pursuing your dreams while maintaining a healthy marriage. Just fill out this Google Doc with your email and which ebook you want so I know where to send the PDF! But remember the sale only lasts til tonight (and it’s 99% off, so you really don’t want to miss it!)
Disclosure: Links to the bundle sale are affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, a portion of the sales made through my links will benefit my family. Thank you so much for supporting Carrots!
Rachel @ Efficient Momma says
I’m so with you on the no self control. I eat it if it’s in the house. Often all in one day… lol. I sit there and tell myself it’s better to just get it over with in one sitting instead of compromising my immune system several times over the week lol
hahah! I tell myself that, too!
Ellen Johnson says
I feel a little creeped out, Haley. Your posts from yesterday and today are exactly what I’ve been thinking about for the past month! I really dislike fad diets. I’ve tried a few and I either completely failed (Atkins) or succeeded (Special K. Yup.) but it was temporary success and I just went back to my old ways of not thinking about what I was putting in my mouth. That’s what it comes down to for me. I love food, and I know that’s an inherently good thing, but especially when it comes to sugar I get to the point where I don’t even pay attention to what I’m putting in my mouth! I’ve been gearing up to do a bit of a sugar detox in January, but even researching those I’ve been turned off by how extreme they are. I’m going to still eat fruit, and I need to still eat carbs (in moderation) because I’m nursing a 6 month old. But I think just cutting out the extra sugar and booze is going to make a huge difference. I got that sick, sore throat feeling last week after I did my Christmas baking, and I just… ugh. This is it. Time to rein my bad self in!
That is so crazy, Ellen! Great minds 😉 Yes to all of that. Finding the balance of having a joyful relationship with food while also not getting pulled into a sugar addiction is so tricky for me. Lately, what’s been working for me is planning meals and snacks that are basically paleo (not because I think grains are evil, just because when I’m trying to get away from sugar, it helps) and then when things come up (as they always do) I’ve stuck to foods that make me feel great and I refuse to stress out over exceptions for date night or sudden disasters in dinner arrangement.
Sugar. During my first pregnancy, I got the sugar bug. Now four pregnancies in and it’s out of control! The bundle looks great; I’m going to snatch one up.
I get the sugar bug so bad during pregnancy. And unfortunately, it’s sugar that makes me feel the crummiest with my morning sickness issues. Bleh. Hope you love the bundle! Lots of great stuff in there 😉
What helped a lot for me is switching to xylitol. It’s a sugar alcohol that has no aftertaste unlike other sugar replacers. It’s pricey buy that puts a nice limit on how much I use it.
I haven’t tried that, Gina. Thanks for the suggestion!
I have a question: Why are honey and maple syrup ok, but processed sugar isn’t? What is different about the way our bodies deal with these things (which are, after all, still sugar)? If I decide I have a problem with yeast in my gut, do I have to cut out not only all sweeteners, but also all grains and fruits in order to starve it, or can I just not eat artificial sweeteners? (And on that note, why is yeast a problem?) All questions I have tumbling around in my head, but little-to-no time to research. So much conflicting information! Where do I start?
Well, I am SOOOO not an expert, but I’ll give it my best shot. Certain kinds of honey (like Tupelo which is what we have around here) affects your blood sugar differently. Personally, I don’t have the same spike and crash issues when I put honey in my tea that I do when I use table sugar. None of it is good if used in excess. Yeast lives on sugar and grains and fruits break down into sugar, so if you cut out table sugar, but eat bananas and cereal all the time, the yeast will continue to thrive. For example, if you get a yeast infection, it’s recommended that you don’t eat sugar and DO eat yogurt and other foods with probiotics that can balance things out so that there’s the right proportion of bacteria, etc. Yeast can wreak havoc on lots of things, but for me I end up getting UTI-like symptoms when the good bacteria in my gut can’t keep up with the sugar-loving yeast. Somebody who knows more about this stuff, feel free to chime in/correct 😉
This is the story of my life! Thanks for all of the tips. It seems that I know what I need to do, but it is nice to have someone lay it out in reasonable steps. I think this is especially helpful right after Christmas- this entire month feels like it is made out of chocolate, cookies and cocoa.
Ashley Dawson says
Preach! It’s so crazy that you wrote your blog on this subject because I have been on a no sugar “diet” for days now. The cravings are terrible and I’m kind of a bear to be around right now….haha. I was also feeling fatigued all the time, and deep down, I knew it was from all the sugar I was consuming, but I didn’t want to admit it because I L.O.V.E sugar. Thank you for the tips, Haley.
Ugh, I am such a sugar addict too! Your story sounds very similar to mine. I never had much trouble with it until after my 1st baby was born but once my body turned on me, it happened fast! Unfortunately it took me 6 years to put it all together and start limiting my sugars, as well as going about 90% gluten and dairy free.
Once I began changing the way I ate, I was shocked how many processed foods have sugar in them. Like, almost all of them! Things that someone would never think would have added sugar in it! My friend who is on a low salt diet (her husband has high blood pressure at age 34) and I were just talking today about how sodium and sugar are the cause of so many health issues and people just never even bother to look at the labels on their “low fat” items that likely contain huge amounts of sugar and salt but few calories.
I haven’t tried cutting sugar out normally, because I have no will power and the boys in my house always have it around. But, I get gestational diabetes and am 30w with twins, so I am forced to cut/track/time carb intake. It is miserable, but even though I am pregnant I am not feeling as bloated. My face and upper body stores a lot of fat nnormally and now it isn’t . I am starting to think I should try to limit carbs post pregnancy. Oh but rice, pasta, oatmeal, muffins– my weaknesses! I am not normally a sweets person, but when I know I can’t have it, I want it.
Mt treat lately is a half a cup of Raisin Bran as a bedtime snack! Hahaha
Random Commenter says
Have you read the Frog and Toad story about cookies and willpower? It’s the best.
Melissa O'Donnell says
Haley I love your blog! My middle son has had skin issues since he was five, dermatologist really did not diagnose him with anything and would just put him on a antibiotic. I really was not down with that. We took him to a allergist to see if he was allergic to any foods. The test came out negative however the Dr. said that he may have a intolerance to Dairy or Gluten. So we went on Gluten free diet and it seemed to help his skin clear up but not completely . He was still eating sugar at the time. Then he started having symptoms of a UTI infection. We took him to the Dr. his urine was clear they did a Ultra sound and his bladder looked good. These symptoms have come and gone for about a year. I thank God I came across this post!
We have been eating clean for a week now and see huge improvements. Your chiropractor put you on a supplement, was it a probiotic? Thank You Haley
Hi Melissa! Thanks for your sweet words about the blog 🙂 The supplement was actually an anti-fungal. I think it was called Fung-DX or something like that. But I would get him checked out by a naturopath or chiropractor that you trust and get their recommendation for something safe for a child. I hope he keeps improving and you find the answer!
I want to do this, but I am scared. Does that even make sense? The only thing that seems to get me through the day will be gone, and there will be nothing left that I like to eat. And I sound really pathetic, and yes I am prediabetic. X(
I know you don’t drink coffee any more, but coconut oil in coffee adds a little sweetness and is good for you.