Sugar Daddy

It’s a mild understatement to say that I have a sweet tooth. In fact, it’s still an understatement to say that I have a raging addiction to sugary treats. Even as a young girl with a painfully selective palate, I had no problems eating a wide range of sweets– baked goods, licorice, chocolates, hard candies, gummy candies, frostings, and custards. When it came to sugar, I didn’t judge. Now, as an adult with a more– um– inclusive diet, I still welcome sweets of all kinds into my pantry. I’m like the United Nations of Confections.

Mmmm... ginger molasses cookies!

Something’s been nagging at me, though. Seriously– a lot of my nightmares for years now have involved choking on elaborately frosted baked goods. Death By Cupcakes. (No, I am not making that up.) I also experience a variety of afflictions– ranging from the ultra-mundane to the best-left-unmentioned– that I think might be linked to refined sugar intake. The idea scares and saddens me to an unreasonable extent (probably because I am a full-fledged sugar junkie), but I think I have to drastically reduce, if not eliminate, my consumption of refined and more heavily processed sugars.

CUPCAKES!!

As you all know, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the food that goes into my body for the past few months. I’ve done a great job of taking out dairy products and upping my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. (Mostly vegetables.) I’m attempting to eat in more often and to choose less processed and packaged foods when I can, although the reality of 14-hour days down on the causeway sometimes makes this difficult. Hello, Noodle Box!

My questions to myself are:

– How can I eat kale by the barrel full but still turn around and devour a 100g chocolate bar like it’s nothing at all? Without thinking, even?

– Why do I turn down goat’s cheese but say ‘yes, please!‘ to an assortment of vegan cupcakes? (Like dairy is automatically and always bad for me, but the vegan-ness of certain cupcakes cancels out their cupcakey-ness?)

– What makes it so hard for me to eat a moderate amount of sugar, instead of absolutely none at all or ALL THE SUGAR IN THE WORLD AT ONCE!!!?

And my questions to you, my dear readers, are:

– Have any of you ever taken sugar out of your diet successfully (and not welcomed it back soon afterward with slutty enthusiasm?) How, god, how?

– Did you have to take sugar out cold turkey, or was it actually possible to eat it in moderation? (And if the answer involves moderation, how was this humanly possible? Please share!!)

– Do you find that sugar intake (or a lack thereof) has a real impact on your health and well-being? How so?

And, finally:

– If you had to choose between a lemon coconut cupcake and a caramel truffle chocolate bar, would you choose the cupcake, the chocolate, or both? 🙂

Just kidding. I’d really like to kick my sugar habit. I just haven’t figured out how this is possible yet.

Another cupcake shot for good measure.

11 responses

  1. Do you remember my blog post about two months ago about fuzzy peaches? Remember when I eliminated sugar – cold turkey? It was HELL ON EARTH. (I even went so far as to eliminate anything with sugar in it like hoisin sauce and wine.)

    Okay, well the one thing that made it tolerable for me was Stevia – it’s a better option for sweetening naturally. You can put it in your coffee, tea, cereal – whatever. At first I thought I could do it, but after a while the taste of it started to get to me.

    Needless to say after all that I fell off the wagon hard and gorged on cinnamon buns.

    I think it will be easier to go in moderation and I’ve actually been thinking about doing this for the past couple of weeks. If I go this route I might approach it like this: Monday I eat NO SUGAR, Tuesday I have a little bit (like a glass of juice) Wednesday I can have a dessert, Thursday NO SUGAR, etc. etc.

    (By the way, caramel truffle chocolate bar all the way. Anything with caramel and I’m all over it.)

    • I remember the fuzzy-peach-craving episode quite well! 🙂

      I don’t like to be so regimented and rules-oriented with eating, but there’s something about sugar that makes me feel like I really need to get things in line! I would like to cut it out cold turkey, but then I worry about the major backlash (A DOZEN CUPCAKES ALL AT ONCE!!) that could occur if my cravings get the best of me. My attempts at moderation don’t seem to last very long though, either.

      A days of the week schedule might work well. And then– over time– the ‘sugar days’ could be reduced and then eliminated. Hopefully. I was also thinking about setting up a Big Reward (like a vacation or spa day or something) that I could have if I cut out sugar for a certain period of time. Or maybe we need to start a Buddy System? We’d be really cool then! 😉

  2. All very good questions Dana.
    My intuitive inclination is to view my own craving for sugar and sweets as a broader hunger/need for general intake, not just the quick fix we all know we can get from chocolate, etc.
    This means disciplining into eating more starchs and carbs I bellieve, which are slower digesting and releasing glucose into our blood stream at a healthier rate instead of the quick jump and drop that sweets cause. It is something like a junky craving, … really.
    In my cab-driving days I encountered lots of booze and nicotine addicts and the best I could emphathize with them was with my chocoholism.

  3. I’ve never been a huge baked goods person (I like baking them but not so much eating them! too much sugary sweetness for me. Esp the icing!), but I used to love chocolate. And not even the fancy kind like Roger’s that you eat. I liked the run of the mill Hershey’s milk chocolate and peanut M&M’s. Then I gave up chocolate for Lent. At one point I craved the sugar so bad that I was reduced to sucking the candy coating off the Advil. But then when Easter came along and I could eat chocolate again – I didn’t really crave it anymore. That’s stuck to this day. So yes, it’s possible to do it cold turkey!

    Things that I found helped with stopping chocolate: eating other sweet things that were healthier – such as fruit. I ate a lot of cherries, white peaches, fuji apples, and other naturally sweet things. Sometimes if I got really desperate, I chewed gum. Back when I was trying to lose weight, I limited myself to 1 small peppermint patty a day. That worked also!

  4. Hi Dana,
    I have been reading your blog for a long time, since um, the ex nomad. First off I wanted to say good for you on quitting your day job. I quit my day job not long after my 29th birthday and it was the best thing I did. I have been happily self employed for over 6 years.
    Now onto the sugar. I quit sugar, cold turkey about 8 months ago. I do, however, eat honey. At first my sugar cravings were pretty intense so I ate a lot of honey and fruit, and plain yogurt with lots of honey and berries. I noticed that my sugar cravings would peak in the late afternoon, so I would make sure that I had a snack with protein. Maranatha peanut butter and an apple is my favourite.
    I rarely crave sugar any more and I feel much better. I don’t have severe energy highs and lows like I used to, my skin is clear. I just feel better all around.
    Good luck with this, it is hard but I think you will feel better without sugar!

  5. Sugar is my twelve-step program. NO joke. I have never had any other unkickable habits. The most successful way to kick the habit that I’ve heard of is by doing a candida cleanse with a naturopath. Sugar feeds yeast and so if it’s off the list of edibles completely, including all sauces, etc and a lot of sweeter fruits. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that well for me because I was wrongly instructed. But I have heard other people say that after those 28 days they literally don’t have the painful sugar cravings anymore and can satisfy any slight urges with fruit. I dream of the day.

    Occasionally I tell myself I’m only allowed to have baking sweets (home-made) so that I have a bit more control and still find them tasty. That lasts until I have a chocolate craving or a 5-cent candy craving (my rock bottom – probably easier for you because of the whole gelatin thing). The only thing that’s helped me move away from candy is the realization that it literally is 99.9% corn syrup – that just yucks me out. But did you know real fruit is an unfortunately compelling and expensive substitute? I could never go completely without because I’ve come to love Thai and Korean food and its flavours so much (sugar’s got me again).

    I think Jabba’s approach would be most workable personally.

  6. Okay I was totally going to suggest the buddy thing but I didn’t want to add any pressure. I’m up for it, let me know what you think.
    Also I LOVE your idea of a reward at the end!! I have to offer myself a reward in order to get the vacuuming done, so I’m surprised I didn’t think of this myself!

  7. Stevia’s worth experimenting with – I’ve been using it for coffee and to sweeten yogurt for a couple of years. After a while you get used to the licorice-y flavour. Cutting out sugar altogether is probably best but failing that, less is better than more and stevia helps to cut down the intake for me.

  8. I tried the no-sugar regime for a while and found it really hard to eliminate totally from my diet. So many things have sugar in them! I do use Stevia and like it. I also use brown rice syrup – not honey – as it has a slower release time. Plus it tastes good! I would try to reduce as much as you can, but not go cold turkey at first. Your cravings will subside after a while. I admire your committment to improving your diet and health!

  9. Hey Llna, your body is doing something totally natural because it just needs you to survive the busy summer season. Your adrenals are worn because you love your work but you work a bit too much for your body to handle, and it turns to sugar and carbohydrates for quick energy. Energy that isn’t there because 6 hours of sleep doesn’t really give you enough to work with. (Sugar craving = adrenal/thyroid/energy thing, salt craving = low in minerals.)

    Are you taking your B vitamins? You could try taking adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola (cheap!) and maca (more pricey), which nourish your adrenals and balance your hormones. Or, seriously lady, you could just sleep longer and find that you don’t need to eat as much junk food to stay productive/engaged/stimulated.

    I like the “fill thyself with healthy green alkalizing stuff and feel good” approach WAY more than the “guilt thyself out and go into punishment mode” model. Don’t compensate for sugar-induced dysbiosis by putting your body into complete shock/withdrawal. Start from the ground up to turn that train around! Take some nice expensive probiotics, chill out, and think of how effing disgusting your mouth feels inside if you don’t brush your teeth after eating a sugar thing. I know that you know inherently in your body that not eating a lot of junk just feels better.

    XO

  10. Pingback: Shocking Admissions from a Failed Bulimic | zona pellucida

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