Apr 14, 2010

suga suga.

while i think you guys are pretty sweet, the title of today's post isn't meant to flatter you...
it's our topic of discussion :)

let me see a show of hands: who loves sweets?
yeah, i thought so. me too.
but do you know why you love sweets, and what exactly they do for you? 

fact: we average 24-34 teaspoons per person per day = 510 calories in sugar = 136 GRAMS OF SUGAR!
fact: experts predict a double in diabetes diagnosis by 2034.
fact: even really healthy bloggers can be struggling with sugar. and just because you're normal weight (or even underweight) doesn't mean it's ok.

are you SURE you're free from sugar addiction?
i definitely wasn't.

allow me to explain: i was certainly no stranger to the sweet stuff.
          in high school, i had to have a diet mountain dew every day at lunch. when i got home, i had a candy bar. after dinner, i wanted ice cream. every stinkin' day! i craved sugar all day long, and felt really guilty when i gave in to my cravings (just one more m&m... i'll be good tomorrow). i knew that all those sweets weren't helping me feel better, or live a healthy life. i was always tired, hungry, grouchy, got sick a lot, and had constant headaches. i couldn't function without my morning coffee, felt like taking a nap every afternoon, and craved cheesecake like a preggo. i would fight my addiction until i broke, then would eat so much sugar i'd be sick to my stomach for hours. eventually, i got tired of the endless cycle. i HAD to cut wayyyy down on my sugar... i was addicted.

unfortunately, that lifestyle was bad not only for my emotions (and waistline!), but for my health.
the science behind it?
          - when you eat sugary foods, your stomach mows through them SUPER quick. it then quickly delivers it to your bloodstream.
          - your blood sugar spikes, and tells your body to make insulin... a LOT of insulin.
          - in efforts to balance things out, all that insulin helps take some of the sugar away from your blood to your muscles... but the HUGE quantity released ends up over-doing it., and your sugar drops again.  
not only is this frustrating, this is absolutely exhausting to your body.
insulin is your fat-STORING hormone. when you spike your blood sugar from, say, a cookie, your body responds with insulin to balance it back out, but in the process, tells your body to stop burning fat. it then takes the leftover calories from your treat and stores them as fat instead of burning them for muscle fuel. not pretty.
also, your body eventually gets tired/less efficient at managing your blood sugar levels. that's called insulin resistance. when your blood sugar is left unchecked, you can become pre-diabetic. yikes.
ever heard of candida? it's a yeast overgrowth that can happen in your body that feeds on too much sugar and refined carbs... gross.
and if that wasn't enough, you'll still aren't free from headaches, grumpiness, cravings, binges, fatigue, hunger pains, and feeling weak.

so how did i free myself from the bondage of sugar addiction!??

i had to realize i am responsible for my body. only me. my headaches and cravings were in my control to fix, so why wasn't i doing it already?! i had the power.
i had to look at what i was putting in my mouth.
- i started eating foods that take a long time to digest and didn't make me crash. CARBS ARE GOOD, but not all carbs are the same! some will give you energy - whole wheat bread, oats, nuts, salads... things with protein and fiber, and some (seemingly healthy things) will leave you feeling like crap - boxed granola bars, bottled fruit drinks, breakfast cereal, white tortilla wraps... they set you up for a crash!
- i learned to balance my carbs/sugar with protein. if i wanted an apple, i would make sure i ate it with something that helped keep my sugar stable. the foods that will help you feel your best are foods that are naturally sugar-free, or are naturally sweet (apples? dates? they'e A-OK!).
- i also started reading labels. i wanted to get my energy from real food, not empty sugar calories. if it had sugar in the ingredients, most of the time, i'd pass. if it was processed, i knew it would just cause me to overeat later.

you have to be patient.
- this one isn't fun... at all. when you first start cutting out sugar, you go through withdrawl - seriously! like a crack addict, i had MORE headaches and felt super tired for a while. this showed me just how dependent my body was on the junk i fed it. it made me so angry!
- i started to realize how messed up my taste buds were - i could taste the natural sweetness in things like carrots, raisins, and tea. when i had something fake/processed that used to be a favorite, it just tasted chemical and WAY too sweet. i really didn't need all that extra sugar anymore... real food tasted good.
- after a few weeks of eating simple, real, wholesome food, i felt free. i was no longer a slave to candy. i didn't spend all of math class dreaming about frappucinos. i actually had energy in the afternoons. pms basically disappeared...
... and most importantly, i knew i wasn't hurting my body. my blood sugar stabilized, and i would not eat myself into diabetes. i was, and am in control.

so what now?
i'm not going to say i never want a little taste of cake or a cookie anymore, but it's pretty rare. i usually would rather have real food.
i wrote all this to say to you guys - you are not hopeless and helpless. some things in life we can't control, but we can prevent unnecessary misery from sugar addiction.
think you're ok?
check yourself - are you grumpy without your sweet tea, your latte, or your nightly cookie? these things aren't bad, but if we crave them to the point of physical dependence, is that healthy? you deserve to be in control of your food, not food controlling you. and your body deserves a break. life is hard enough, right?

questions about my story?
thoughts about sugar?
let me know!


  1. Your way with words is so amazing - you really lay out all the information in such a way that is millesss more easily understood than having to piece together foggy information from multiple sources. Thank you!! And I'm with you - while I looove my natural sugar sources (yea - date-a-holic here) I find pretty much any "normal" baked good from bakeries, stores, et. to be too sweet.

  2. In March I detoxed my body of sugars and it felt greeeeeat. I can honestly say that the only 'unnatural' sugar (not from whole foods like fruit) I consume on a daily basis is from my 1 tbsp in my morning coffee of Sucanat and if I take a food-bar along to snack on through the day that uses agave/honey/other natural sweetner.
    It feels good to crave real food!

  3. Excellent post! I really enjoyed it. What's really difficult for me is being patient while my body readjusts to life without all the high GI foods. Exactly like you said, I'm more tired than before. But instead of reaching for food, I gave in and took a nap and felt loads better after :)

  4. I just discovered your blog and wanted to read this post because I thought it might relate to me...and it definitely does! I'm still working on my addiction, but it can get really problematic when I get "over-confident" and think I can handle just a taste of a dessert..one bite usually sends me into a downward spiral. Thanks for writing this post though, it was really inspiring!

  5. Rachel - i totally understand! it's a process to learn to trust your body. it takes time! hang in there, and don't let yourself get defeated - you CAN do this!


questions or comments about my thoughts?
feel free to share, and thanks for stopping by!