{Confused? This post is number 2 in a series. You can read post number 1 right here.}

As I researched all sorts of ailments unrelated to my sugar intake at all, I began having tiny suspicions that eventually led me like a trail of breadcrumbs to a site that explained everything.

I was startled to learn that sugar stimulates the same brain pleasure receptors as drugs like heroine and morphine. Stopping my sugar intake was mimicking that of drug withdrawal! If sugar is addictive to that extent, it must've truly been doing awful things to my body! The website went on to list indications of a detox/withdrawal that matched my strange conglomeration of symptoms exactly: cravings, headache, flu-like symptoms, cold sweats, anxiety, irritability, and extreme fatigue. 

Finding this information acted as validation that a sugar detox was the right thing to do. I continued to eat as natural and healthy as possible, took vitamins, and avoided sugars and refined carbohydrates (like white rice, flour, and most cereals) that have the same effect on our body as sugars.

But sugar is so addictive I was apparently relying on it for daily energy and mood boosts. This became especially apparent at the end of the day by powerful cravings for treats to comfort and reward myself for surviving stressful, hard, tiring days at work. Ice cream, cereal, cookies, pastries, a candy bar...these "rewards" have been more frequent than I'm proud of. 

Then there are the awkward social situations. Friends serving pie, neighbors dropping by with treats, Halloween parties, and the teacher's lounge I had to avoid for an entire day because of the pile of soft, frosted sugar cookies on plate in the middle of the table. 

The next Relief Society activity is entirely planned around everyone bringing a favorite holiday treat to share! I guess my stalk of celery and I will be sitting home that night. 

Then the dreams started. Of frenzied binges on cookies. Or of a magical tree with innumerable streamers hanging long and bright from its branches. The tree was the scene of a party. People milled through the streamers, visiting each other, and enjoying the countless sugary desserts tied for the taking to each strip of color. It was beautiful.

A vision of the tree of life, I tell ya.

But in all seriousness, this no-sugar-thing is totally working. Within ONE week, my most serious health issue cleared up completely. Like, after five whole months of bleeding and years of irregularity, I felt my cycle correct itself. Other effects of my new eating habits include: better sleep, clearer skin, a disappearance of some poochy stomach bloating that I thought was normal, and an overall feeling of good health.

So now that I have been off sugar for about a month and I can see it's benefits, the BIG QUESTION is: 

Am I doomed to avoid sugar for the rest of my life? 

I doubt it. Or I should say, I hope not. 

It's not a practical way to live. No one would ever know what to cook for me...the crazy 'health nut'. And what about the fact that every holiday is somehow tied to sugary treats? That would mean no more birthday cake, no more Christmas Eve chocolate fondue, no more conference morning french toast, no more New Year's Martinelli's, and no more Halloween cookies monsters. What else is there to live for?! 

Okay, I'm just kidding. Don't answer that. 

But I have decided to be strong until Thanksgiving. To give my body time to undergo a proper detox. This doesn't mean I'm going to let it all fall apart after that...not now that I am aware of sugar's  powerful hold on me. I'll just be more aware and moderate. Maybe I'll allow myself a slice of pumpkin pie (Or now that I think about it, I believe my aunt makes a sugar free pie every year). It might be helpful to see if my body can handle a little bit, just around holidays, without going haywire again. An experiment. 

Well, there's my sugar shpeel. I appreciate the encouragement from post number 1. Your support helps. It's still a daily fighting battle, and sharing it with all of you kind of forces me to be even more accountable. I'll keep you updated and maybe blog some of the healthier recipes we've been using lately. Please share any ideas you have...especially for snacks! When cravings hit, my go-to snack has been an apple with natural peanut or almond butter, but I fear this will get old real fast.

Also, thank you to Ellen, whose own journey with infertility and a sugar fast was an answer to prayer. This post was the push that initially got this ball rolling. 


markandjenny said...

I still mean to drop by a thank you for letting me intrude, I will try to make it healthy! As a gal who struggled with infertility for years before being blessed with adoption, I am now in the same boat all over again. Had no idea this could affect it. Don't know if I have the will power yet, but interested to know if it works for you!

Jocelyn.O said...

Hiya, I'm Tikla's friend and have been stalking- er, reading- your blog for a while now but have been too chicken to comment.

Anyhow, my husband and I were heading that direction when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the end of May. Nothing like cancer to give you a good ol' kick in the butt!

We've since cut out refined sugar, refined flours, yeasts, most dairy, red meats, and eating organic as much as possible. It was/is tough, but soooo worth it.

And yes, I hear ya on the desserts-social connection. What I've found really helpful is to bring a middle-ground dessert; something using natural sweeteners that both parties enjoy. MyNewRoots is great for that (the peachy keen cobbler is perfect), as well as www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com . I've got a couple recipes that fit the bill, if you want.

"The pH Miracle" is a book I think you'd like. It's also got some good recipes. And as for snacks, check out lots of raw foodie cookbooks like rawlicious, raw foods for busy people, and anything by the Boutenko family.

I'd also highly recommend adding green drinks to your day. We like this one:
It really helps with cravings and energy slumps.

Sorry this is such an epistle, but I just had to comment- sugar addiction is a beast and so entrenched in our society. It took me a while to accept that by changing my diet I was going to be different (cancer kind of helps with that, though- being bald isn't really the norm, ha).

The MOST important and helpful thing for me, though, has been studying the Word of Wisdom (http://www.lds.org/topics/word-of-wisdom?lang=eng). Good luck with this lifestyle change, Rachel. You've got lots of people (and more importantly Him) that are rootin' for you! You ROCK!!!

Jocelyn.O said...

Oh, and I thought I should mention that you'll actually kinda lose the taste for it. Seriously! Aaand that I am by no means perfect with it- hence my knowing that it doesn't taste the same afterwards...

Janiel said...

You will be able to eat sugar again! You just have to have it in small amounts...
but be warned you will know when you have sugar. You will feel icky if you have more than just a little...but it helps keep you on track.
Good luck with the infertility! It is the hardest thing not having a diganosis and no answeres! Just relax, eat right, and let the Lord do what He knows is the best.

Alex said...

I love your blog and your honesty:> I will keep you in my prayers especially since sweets is my weekness

Lacy said...

Just found your blog through pinterest and was drawn to it because I'm moving to Idaho (falls) next summer. I cut chocolate cold turkey before and found out the same terribles you did, physical and mental withdrawl! Then it got better. I'm back on chocolate, feeling crummy, have known I need to cut it out again for a while, and found this. Thanks for the post. I think its the great big hint I needed.

Lacy said...

Just found your blog through pinterest and was drawn to it because I'm moving to Idaho (falls) next summer. I cut chocolate cold turkey before and found out the same terribles you did, physical and mental withdrawl! Then it got better. I'm back on chocolate, feeling crummy, have known I need to cut it out again for a while, and found this. Thanks for the post. I think its the great big hint I needed.

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