Breaking up is hard to do. But it’s so worth it.
Let me start by saying that sugar and I had a nice run. We were friends. Good friends. Cherie started telling me I needed to break up with sugar about twelve years ago. I laughed at her. Not to her face, I’m smarter than that, but why would I want to end a relationship that was so mutually satisfying? I got so much out of sugar and asked so little. A candy bar here and there, some cake, cookies. Cinnamon Bears. Chocolate. Yum. It was great. Sugar just wanted my company. At least that’s what I thought at first.
So what brought me to the brink and ended my affair? Pride. I went to the doctor and they made me stand on a scale. It wasn’t pretty. The writing was on the wall, or should I say flashing at me in big digital numbers. I had to lose weight. I either needed to exercise, (Cough, gag, cringe.) or change my diet. (Cough, gag, cringe.) But which would be easier?
I called Cherie, demanding to know if cutting out sugar would make me lose weight. She assured me it would. So I tried it. Sort of. Okay, not really. I cut out a few candy bars and felt really proud of myself. But then as a reward I ate a few cookies, then a few more. I thought I was so good, until I stepped on the scale again. I was up fifteen pounds. (It may have been more than a few cookies. And I ate a bunch of chips and other junk too. I know, I’m brilliant.)
I called Cherie (are you detecting a pattern here?) and complained. Loudly. She pointed out my mistake and I vowed to try again. This time for real. Now, I’m not going to lie and say it was easy, it wasn’t. It was harsh. Withdrawals bite. I was shocked at how many things sugar was in. I couldn’t eat anything I was used to. Tomato soup, store bought bread, fruit drinks. I decided to cheat with bread. (Changing one thing at a time was enough for me.) I ate it all the time, smothered in honey just to silence the monster in me that screamed for sugar. Refined, processed sugar.
I remember calling Cherie (see it is a trend) literally shaking from head to foot in the cookie aisle at the supermarket, begging for just one cookie. She talked me down, and I think I left with a head of lettuce or something. I don’t know. It was a bad day.
The withdrawals lasted three weeks. But I made it. Then something amazing happened. Not only did the monster quiet and slip into the background, but so did a lot of health problems.
Migraines plagued me ever since my teenage years. I had at least one a week and lived with a constant ten alarm headache on top of that. I took four Ibuprofen every four hours just to function and locked myself in a dark room for days when the migraines stuck. At the end of week three they disappeared. Vanished. It was like I was reborn.
I know that sounds melodramatic, but you try living with constant pain gnawing the inside of your skull for years and then have it evaporate. I felt great. I didn’t realize how great until I came down with the flu a week later. I still felt better. Did you catch that? I felt better down with the flu and not eating sugar than I felt well while eating sugar.
Sugar and I have been at odds ever since. Even though it has been a little over ten years, I still want it, and it must still want me. The desire has never left. It isn’t as strong now, and I can keep it locked up most of the time. When it escapes and I indulge, the headaches follow. This keeps me on the wagon. So does the thirty pounds I lost. I now eat whole grains and more veggies, limit my meat and try to improve my diet. I also exercise five or six times a week (And lost another thirty pounds, above and beyond what I lost cutting out sugar. Go me!) and create my own, healthier versions of some of my old favorite treats using honey and Sucanat. Natural is the way to go. The sacrifice is so worth the reward. Health is worth the extra effort it takes to shop and produce your own meals. And if I can do it, so can you.