5.10.2006

Sugar poison in my history...

I decided to create a new blog solely for my pursuit of health and happiness; that way what I need to rant about doesn't interfere with all the fun loving stuff I have been doing elsewhere...

My life experience thus far has been one long argument with my body chemistry, and it has been an exhausting ride. I hope that what I have learned along the way can be of help to someone else.

I grew up eating crap. "Cereal" consisting of processed flours with sugar is the first or second ingredients. What you eat as a child is forever part of your psyche as a positive and calming thing; I have a deep fondness for Count Chocula, Honeycomb, Lucky Charms... all for breakfast! It's no wonder I learned nothing in math class and couldn't pay attention... I was crashing off that shit after an hour.
I ate a lot of Wonder bread, Oreos, all that stuff... when I was a teen trying to eat better, I ate sugared yogurts, white crackers, soda, juice... on and on.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I fought my attitude big time. I knew I was way too sensitive, defensive, crabby, and had intense mood swings. I began to try and figure out why, and realized as early as 17 or 18 that I had a sugar addiction and that it couldn't be good. It didn't make sense then to try and stop. I ruined relationship after relationship with wacky mood swings, bouts of intense anger and sadness; when you experience such a strong emotion, you have to find a reason or go mad. So unfortunately I always chose boyfriends to blame the emotions on, and didn't learn to have a good functional relationship for a long long time.

I grew tired of crashing eventually. I started looking for answers. I read a few books, started talking to people; I started with Protein Power and learned about hypoglycemia. I began to realize that if I couldn't control the hypoglycemia and mood swings, at least I could see them coming and utilize food to help me get it under some sort of control. I helped my friends and boyfriends recognize the signs of a 'hangry' person. They could see the crash pattern and know that when I was silent and unable to talk, unable to choose what to eat or even cranky and not wanting to eat, that eat was exactly what I needed to do.
I was scared... diabetes is right around the corner from that stuff!!

I was frustrated and trapped.
Then one day, after laying on my bed alone with Ben and Jerry, a friend came to visit; one of those amazing earthy crunchy folks that I love so much. He said, why are you eating that poison? And recommended the book Sugar Blues by William Dufty.
It changed what I thought forever.
I had already been moving towards living and eating more naturally; I was vegetarian, even vegan for a time; this pushed me to a new dimension, but even so I was still not ready.
I took the first step, which was to replace all the shit in my life with natural alternatives- I took out white sugar and white flour, and began to experiment with whole grains and alternatives like barley malt, brown rice syrup, maple syrup and so on. I learned through the invaluable advice of friends how to make my own ice cream, among other things.
The thing to realize though, was that I was still eating sugar. Oh, it was healthier sugar, but sugar nonetheless... and still leading to the road called Diabetes, eventually.
It did help the hypoglycemia though. The crashes were less, and not as bad. I was eating alternatives, and in general trying to cut down.

I discovered Stevia after a while. At first, it was a frustrating experience, because it is unwieldy and difficult to use; but I have been getting the hang of it. I went completely sugar free for a few months; no alternative sugars at all. It was amazing!

Then I fell off the wagon, so to speak. I got into vet school, and discovered the worst stress of my life. Sugar, white sugar, was copious and free, all over campus.
Now, I am the worst chocolate fiend that ever was. This made the fight intense and tiring. Not to mention that I had left where I was living, a place where alternative lifestyles are supported and even expected; and moved to a place where it is tough to find the resources I need to feel comfortable and free to maintain myself in my own version of health. So I took a huge backslide, back beyond 4 years... all undone... I was still using alternatives, but dipping into the white stuff like a crack addict.

It came to a head this spring. I was just wild with Christmas, Valentines, and Easter candy. It was like I was reliving that dream I used to have as a kid- the one where I had a giant goblet of candy in my room that was never empty no matter how much I ate, and that I could eat chocolate for every meal and never get sick.

Ha!

Oh it made me sick alright. So sick. It crept up, and I barely noticed. My skin went wild, I broke out like a teen; my normally slender frame started bulking up; I was puffy, soft, my belly hurt, I was a bitch and a basket case- crying all the time, upset, unable to stay focused and calm. I tried a few times to kick, this is the amazing thing! I tried, and COULDN'T! It was pretty stunning... because I know better. But the siren song of sugar was so strong.

I had to wait and hit bottom, so to speak. It finally happened, and I knew in my exhaustion that it was time. I went to the library and took out Sugar Blues again for inspiration. I got rid of the crap in my kitchen and went shopping. I was gentle with myself, forgiving, understanding...
Detox was intense. I was unconciously tricking myself- Oh, so what if I have a little? We can resume this experiment tomorrow... but at last, I persevered. I have won, I have conquered the monster again.
But I have come to realize that this is not a battle you fight once and win. It is inexorably part of my being, something I will always have to guard against. Addictions and nervous behaviour run in my family, and this is meaningful; I can't drop an addiction without something to fill the vaccuum or void that it leaves behind. Something must be there to fill the space or else it is all for naught.
So, obsess with being the anti sugar nazi I once was... I was there, I can do it again, and I am determined this time.

If you have held on and read this whole thing, good for you; I hope that I can inspire someone else. Stick around, I will be posting all sorts of goodies and tidbits, tips and encouragement... in hopes that someone else wants to do away with this widespread drug and poison that is in everything in diets these days.

blessed be.

5 comments:

Marie said...

Thank you, Meena. My name is Marie and I have had much the same experiences that you have had. I have many food allergies and have the same reactions to things that you have. I found out that I am gluten intolerant, but just recently found out that sugar was my most hated enemy. Since I have started down the no sugar, or very little way, I am not sick every night, I don't feel tired in the morning and am more alert during the day. I, too, have been using stevia in mostly drinks, but now want to use it in other things. I do not tolerate any kind of alcohol, including xylotol, which many "sugar-free" practitioners try to sell you on. I have fought the over-weight syndrome all of my life and hope to conquer it now with the no sugar, exercise (which all along I was doing, but provided muscle with the same fat covering)eating healthier and feeling good about myself. I'll keep you posted if you want. I am going to try your stevia ice cream. Thank you for your story.

Meena said...

You're welcome. That's what this is for. Please visit again and tell the world how you're doing! Good luck!

Sudha said...

Thank you so much for the stevia ice cream recipe! I'm going to try making it later today. I have PMDD/moderate depression, and I have been treating it naturally for about a year and a half. I recently cut about 90% of the sugar and simple carbs out of my diet and it's making a huge difference. I also use 5-HTP in place of antidepressants. 5-HTP has been used successfully to treat sugar addiction. 5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia by Michael Murray, N.D. is about the connections between serotonin, sugar cravings (and the weight control issues that people often struggle with as a result), alcoholism, and a bunch of other medical conditions. I think it's a useful book for anyone who craves sugar.

Sudha said...

Thank you so much for the stevia ice cream recipe! I'm going to try making it later today. I have PMDD/moderate depression, and I have been treating it naturally for about a year and a half. I recently cut about 90% of the sugar and simple carbs out of my diet and it's making a huge difference. I also use 5-HTP in place of antidepressants. 5-HTP has been used successfully to treat sugar addiction. 5-HTP: The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia by Michael Murray, N.D. is about the connections between serotonin, sugar cravings (and the weight control issues that people often struggle with as a result), alcoholism, and a bunch of other medical conditions. I think it's a useful book for anyone who craves sugar.

Meena said...

wow, you're welcome! That's a great idea, I think I'll pick up that book and check it out. You're welcome- the recipe is one of my favorites. I prefer the ice cream I make over the commercial stuff, any day!