It started when I was 8 years old. Eating sugar that is. My mom, bless her heart, wanted us to be healthy, so we had no sugar in the house.
Growing up in California, where aluminum can collection brought in some cash, I would collect enough to buy a Snickers (my favorite) at the local mart 5 minutes walk from my suburban Orange County childhood home.
Easy peasy, collect cans, get cash, eat Snickers.
In middle school, it turned into the Little Debbie chocolate donuts at the mid morning snack break. It helped take the “ease” off the stress of being 13, filled with pimples, and socially as awkward as they come.
Weight gain soon followed, and I plumped out to a nice 80’s hairdo, round tire look.
Sugar followed me into college my freshman year, eating “ready to go” ice cream cones in the dorm cafeteria, gaining a whopping 30 pounds my first semester (that’s 10 pounds a month). That’s me on the right in front of my dad – I know, unbelievable!
I lost the weight a couple of years later when I found my love of outdoor pursuits, but sugar continued to be my best friend.
When I was stressed, I’d eat sugar, when I was angry I’d eat sugar, when I was sad I’d eat sugar.
It was my go to drug of choice. I thought I was so “clean” not drinking much or smoking, but I wasn’t ready to see how I was using sugar as my escape.
I stopped eating it for 3 months and 5 months in my 20’s, and went right back “on the wagon” after.
I remember the day I ate it again – at a friends house – the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream came out (my favorite flavors no less), and I couldn’t resist. Within 20 minutes of eating a bowl of it, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I HAD to go to sleep. It was like taking a sleeping pill.
Fast forward 15 years, at 45 and much more attentive to what my body needs, I noticed my energy levels were all over the board. I’d eat sugar, crash, eat more sugar to spike my energy (I don’t drink caffeine), and crash again. I could eat an entire box of “organic chocolate chip cookies” in one sitting, especially when I was feeling “off” emotionally.
Something needed to change. My desire and intention to be fully awake consciously, to be my best self and to take care of my body was not in alignment with what I was eating. What I didn’t know is that my addiction to sugar was about to stop.
I didn’t beat myself up about it. It just began to bubble up, “What if I stopped eating sugar?” I thought over a few months time. I sensed something was shifting inside. Then I’d eat another ice cream cone (mint chocolate cookie is my favorite), and crash (harder with each year that passed).
The day finally came when I knew. A nutritionist said, after checking me out, “Your body doesn’t like wheat.” I thought, “Hell no, am I going to stop eating fresh bread, but I can stop eating sugar.” And that was it.
It’s been 1 year free of sugar. I didn’t plan on it being a year, I just thought I’d do it for a week and see how it went, then another week went by, then a month, then 3 months, then 6 months, and now a year. I missed it the first couple of weeks, but now I don’t even think about it.
Here’s how I define sugar: white and brown processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fake sugar, or any other sugar that’s processed. I eat honey and fruits (they taste soooo sweet now!). I do have a confession to make: I ate 6 chocolate chip cookies when I was in Costa Rica last winter, and a bite of my mom’s birthday ice cream cake soon after, but that’s it in a whole year – woohoo!
I want to be healthy. I want to feel full of energy. I want to feel clear headed and in line with my body. As it ages, what I put into it becomes more and more important.
And most of all, I want to be honest with myself in difficult times when challenging emotions come up that I don’t want to feel and actually feel them, not run, not hide, not escape, but be right there, fully embracing them all – the entire human experience.
When I do, I realize each time that they won’t over take me, or last forever, but rise and fall, as all things do, learning the lesson of impermanence right here in this precious body that I’m so lucky to have.
My body feels more light, more consistent energy, and lean. I have better focus, my stomach is happy, and headache crashes are gone. It’s so worth it. That’s what I think about when I see a chocolate cake, or mint ice cream. It keeps me from taking that first bite.
Maybe I’ll embrace the wheat thing next year, but for now I’m going to eat some fresh baked raisin bread. Yum 🙂
One thing at a time!
Categories: Health & Happiness, Inner Wisdom & Intuition