I love sugar, and I used to eat it all the time until very recently. In fact, I’m still struggling with my sugar addiction. Here is some information that might help you with yours.
I used to brag that I could eat a 1lb bag of Twizzlers in one afternoon (and I used to do it often). Even when I was quite slim I seemed to have a genetically fused muffin-top. I thought I was just one of those people who didn't have a long torso. I would never wear low-riding jeans because I'd pop over the sides and it was embarrassing, particularly on someone who was very petite like me. Little did I know that the 5-days-a-week ballet lessons were keeping me slim while the eat-all-sugar-in-sight was fusing the belly fat right to my abdomen.
If I had a sugar craving and there was nothing in the house I would mix butter with icing sugar and cocoa powder to make icing and get my fix. I went through moments of depression, through mornings of waking up with a hangover even though I hadn't had any alcohol. I couldn't understand why I would desperately want to sleep after eating that huge bag of Twizzlers and a coffee! I had mood swings, temper tantrums, crying spells, drowsiness, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty sleeping, would wake up ready for bed, crave sweets all day every day, had headaches that were misdiagnosed as common migraines, and I would stay entire weekends in bed. I had ridiculous anxiety to the point that I didn't want to leave my apartment to walk to the mailbox. I was irritable, I had strange heart palpitations every once in a while. I would forget everything. My eyes were always sore or itchy. I was hungry all the time. Do I sound like a freak yet???
The medical community was no help. One doctor told me that if I was tired in the afternoon, I should nap. Sure, thanks doc. Can you write me a note to give to my boss??
When I became vegan in 2007 I didn't know which candies were ok so for several weeks I didn't eat any refined sugar. I was already eating whole wheat bread and brown rice at that point so it was a great little sugar detox. My muffin top mysteriously shrank a little but I attributed it mostly to the overall weight loss I experienced. But over time, I figured out that I could eat Oreos, Twizzlers, Fuzzy Peaches, Jelly Bellies and many other vegan candies. The old cycle started again.
Now that I am studying nutrition, I am coming across more books than I can keep up with. Something called to me about a book called Sugar Shock. I downloaded a copy to my e-reader and found that I am not alone in experiencing the crazy plethora of random symptoms I listed above. Turns out that I am likely hypoglycemic and that I have become insulin-resistant. I'm well on my way to Type 2 diabetes.
Well you can't have a nutrition coach who's actively giving herself diabetes!!! The more I read the more I realize that sugar is not just the yummy, feel-good benign ingredient that goes into cakes and cookies that you can burn off with a little exercise. The more I read, the more I am learning about sugar's effects not only on diabetes, but also on heart disease, inflammation (linked to cancer, coronary artery disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's...) and aging. The more I read, the more I realize that I actually have a sugar addiction much like drug addicts are addicted to drugs.
So, why am I telling you all about my personal struggle with sugar? Well my friends, I
am telling you so that you can do something about it if you have the same problem. I'mtelling you because I'm ticked off that I see skinny minny teenagers with muffin tops in the malls, sipping soda out of giant cups. I'm ticked off that sugar is hiding in so many places like store-bought sauces and condiments. I'm absolutely livid that my favourite flavour on earth, sweet, is so bad for me and will put me into an early grave.
What have I done about it? I've stopped eating a cookie with my coffee at my favourite coffee shop. I'm no longer eating naan with my Indian food. I've made my portions of whole grains, brown rice and whole wheat pasta smaller. I'm now skipping dessert. I'm avoiding chips (fried carbs, anyone??). I'm doing everything I can to reverse the damage that I have done to myself, and I'm going to do everything I can to educate people about the evils of sugar.
You know what? Now I have fewer mood swings. I'm less cranky. I've got way more energy in the afternoon. I wake up feeling well-rested. I don't need to spend all weekend in bed. My sweet cravings are waning. Sure, I've slipped on more than oneoccasion but I am determined not to let it derail me into a fit of eating everything in sight.
The bottom line is that I want you to notice how you feel after you over-indulge insweets or refined carbs. Try cutting them out completely for a week or so. Replace the quick carbs with some additional protein, or with a smaller portion of whole grains. Eat more vegetables. You’ll feel so much better.
Natalie Duhamel is a Winnipeg-based Certified Holistic Health Coach who works with women and men to help them reduce stress, improve nutrition, lose weight, increase energy levels and live their BEST life! www.natalieduhamel.com