Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year: Less Sugar

I subscribe to the digital edition of National Geographic, and was caught off guard a few months ago when, on a cover that usually features exotic places or animals, there was a giant cupcake. If National Geographic is covering it, there must truly be a national sugar epidemic. I ignored it at the time. I had just given birth, and getting back on track with my diet (after a pregnancy where Lucky Charms played a major role) was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I know I need to now. I've been dealing with post partum depression - PPD - (which is a monster, let me tell you) and when I went to the psych for meds, the first questions they asked me were whether I was eating a healthy diet (no), if I was sleeping (no), and if I was exercising (not as much as I'd like). So apparently my sugar addiction is mixing with my hormones and making me loopy. Great.

I'm nervous about taking psych meds, so the doctor advised that the first two things I could do myself to improve my mental health was make sure I was going for a walk every day, and cutting way back on my sugar intake. So now I'm back on a kind-of sugar fast.

And damn, does it suck.

According to the National Geographic article, here:, sugar tickles the same parts of my brain (and yours) that gets tickled by heroin and cocaine. And it's just as addictive. Yikes.

“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.” - Richard Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver

So cutting back on sugar should help my joints, my headaches and my energy levels. But getting there - ahhhh, that's going to be the tough part. I tried to go cold turkey, but lasted about six hours. Now I'm making bargains with myself. I'm allowed sugar as part of coffee drinks, because right now the Peppermint Mocha Coffeemate creamer is my favorite thing in the world. But that's it. If I have sugar in that form, I'm not allowed any chocolate, for instance. I also am forbidding myself from putting any sugar in my tea.

If sugar is so bad for us, why do we crave it? The short answer is that an injection of sugar into the bloodstream stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain that respond to heroin and cocaine. All tasty foods do this to some extent—that’s why they’re tasty!—but sugar has a sharply pronounced effect. In this sense it is literally an addictive drug. - National Geographic August 2013

I'm on Day 2. I'm jittery and my headache is worse. I kind of feel a little dizzy, even though I've slept well (Hannah gave us a 6 hour stretch last night - bliss!). I really really, but really, REALLY want chocolate. But I am avoiding it. I'm staying strong. I think if I can get through the first week or so, it should get better. I've never quit an addiction like this before. I never smoked, I've never done drugs, I've never been into drinking. So this is my first time cutting out an addictive substance. And I'm really not enjoying it. But I see it as a necessary evil. Once I get over this hump, every day will get a little bit easier.

And if I can lose some weight and feel better soon, then it will be what I need to push me to continue.

Here's to a less sweet 2014. For me, and so Hannah can learn good habits, and not have to kick a sugar addiction herself when she's my age.


Danielle Giannandrea said...

How is this going? I have often tried to give up caffeine and have failed every time. It's not easy! I hope it's going well and you are starting to feel better. Stay strong! : ) PS - peppermint mocha is my fav too!!! Some of those creamers come sugar free. Maybe you could get a good one. Seems cruel to have to give up sugar and have terrible coffee too! ♥

Heather T. said...

Thanks! I tried the sugar free one, but it just makes me crave sugar more. Ugh! I think I may just need to give it up everywhere else for a little bit, and then tackle the creamer later. Anyway, since I think they only sell it over the holidays, I've bought enough to keep me stocked up till mid-March, so I'm waiting for a little while to phase that out...