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Monday, May 9, 2011

Hello, My Name is Shanti and I'm a Sugarholic.

I've always loved sugar. Really. Anything sugar. When I was younger, I used to eat spoonfuls of brown sugar as a snack, and I'm not exaggerating. How I didn't get my first cavity until a few years ago, I'll never know. I would still eat Fruity Pebbles every morning if I could...or Lucky Charms...Or Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. It runs in the mama's got a sweet tooth, my grandpa's got a sweet brother and sister have sweet tooths. It's a curse, I tell you. When I was a teenager, I used to eat sugar cereal for breakfast, and for lunch, I'd buy something sweet like a Hostess cupcake or chocolate bar. I'd snack on candy in the afternoon and then force down a bit of food for dinner...and end the night with a bowl of ice cream or another bowl of sugar cereal. 

I've been lucky in that obesity does not run in our family, so I could pretty much eat as much junk as I wanted, and never "see" the repercussions. I mean, I would feel it...lethargy, irritability, aching muscles and joints, foggy-headedness, mental unclarity. It was all there, but I never attributed it to the sugar. Heavens no. 

Most of you know our family has been on the Paleo Diet since last year. It includes cutting out dairy, legumes, all grains and sugar. It was going great. My joint pain was gone, my energy level increased dramatically, my monthly cycles regulated, and I just felt more clear-headed. But a few months ago, I slipped. I ate a piece of cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. For any normal, non-addicted person, this would be no big deal. But for me, it was like an alcoholic slipping and having a drink. After that, I could not stop thinking about sugar. I fought it for a few days, but in a moment of weakness when I was out by myself, the Kit Kat called my name. What would one little Kit Kat do? Surely nothing. But that one indulgence led to another....and another...and another. 

My sugar indulgences became a dirty little secret. Here I was, eating everything "right" at home, and any time I was around other people. But the moment I was by myself or just had the girls with me, it was "let's get an ice cream cone!" (vanilla soft serve dipped in chocolate? YES PLEASE!) or "let's have a little treat" or "let's share a cookie from that UH-MAZING cookie shop." It had now been months since my little secret had started. I felt like a cheating wife. I was the hypocrite of all hypocrites. I couldn't even tell Superman even though I knew he really wouldn't care.  The sugar cravings were consuming my thoughts. Every time I ate a meal, it was immediately followed by almost unbearable yearnings for something sweet...preferably chocolate. I realized my desire for sugar had become an idol for me. I felt like a total failure. And then, I hit bottom.

I was at Costco with the girls and was perusing the aisles, fighting off my urge to buy a bulk-sized box of chocolate bars. I casually picked up a container of chocolate-covered the ingredients. Corn syrup. That's a deal breaker for me. Ironic, I know. Moved on to the chocolate-covered caramel clusters...corn syrup again. Ok, ok, I knew I should have stopped there. But by now I was on a mission. And then I spotted it. A box of divine fudge made by a local Chocolatier. Ah, yes! I found it! I proceeded to polish off a POUND of chocolate over the next 24 hours. And I was sleeping for like 9 of that. 

And that was it. That's when I hit bottom. I was feeling physically awful...I was waking up a ton at night, getting up in the morning with that old joint and neck pain rearing its ugly head, and that nasty afternoon slump was in control of my life. It was time to confess. All day, I had butterflies in my stomach. I don't know why I was so scared to tell Superman, but I felt like I needed to confess this dirty secret to someone fast, or I was gonna keel over from anxiety. 

That night, we sat on the couch together after the kids went to bed, and I told him I needed to talk to him about something. It's not very often that I preface a conversation with those words, so he was thinking this was something serious. I proceeded to tell him everything...all about my slow fall to destruction, how sweets had totally consumed my mind and I couldn't wait for a "fix" after each meal. I said I felt this addiction had become an idol for me, and I was trying to figure out if there was an underlying psychological cause for me feeling I had to keep it "secret." Superman had a little smirk on his face. He was sympathetic, understanding and encouraging. Of course he didn't make fun of me, or scold me or tell me what a loser I was. 

He told me I was being really hard on myself, but said he would support me in getting off sugar if that's what I wanted. And I said yes. You see, I can't eat sugar in moderation. I don't believe I would ever offer a recovering alcoholic a drink and say, "It's's just one!" Likewise, I just cannot allow myself to indulge in sugary sweet delectable desserts. Sad? Yes, a bit. But there have been too many times when I have gone off sugar successfully, only to re-introduce it "just for special occasions" months later, and slowly have it become an obsession again. 

So, there you have it. I'm a Sugarholic. I'm on Day 4 of no sugar, and the first few days were...well, let's just say, NOT FUN. It could be a combination of not feeling well in general and sugar withdrawal, but all I know is that I did not fell well this weekend. Today is better. The cravings are starting to subside a bit. 

I struggled with whether to confess this publicly. It's quite humiliating, really. Especially because I am constantly preaching about how wonderful the Paleo diet is. And it is. If you follow it. I know that progress in a situation like this comes from openly confessing it. I know once I share a struggle, I'm more likely to stay accountable. So as embarrassing as it is, it is what it is. 

I apologize for being hypocritical. Those dirty, dark secrets can sure take over when you let them. I'm sorry for misrepresenting myself. I have always strove to be an open book, allowing others to see my struggles and triumphs, wanting to be authentic. I hope you are able to forgive me, and if you see me, ask me, "Have you had any sugar lately?" I want to be held accountable! 


April B. said...

Hi, I just came across your blog after Googling "sugarholic." Just know you are not alone! This has been a life-long struggle for me as well. Unfortunately, I'm not so lucky in the weight category. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated reading your post and seeing that you were willing to confess this openly. I don't think I'm there yet. Even though I don't think anyone around me would be surprised. I'm interested in the Paleo Diet. I'll have to check it out. If you can't eat all that, what CAN you eat??? Thank you again for sharing. It's so comforting to know other people struggle with this as well.

Anonymous said...

let's see...where to start.
i ate one of the boys chocolate bunny and one of their dinosaur chocolates from Easter.
I have been good about cutting out Coke and most things, but then I fell of the wagon with that Easter candy( 2 school parties, our stuff, etc). I was eating crap I did not even like!

An open box of mint oreos....ok, let's just say the husband asked, " who ate all the cookies?". ...yup......i feel for ya.

People say, ok just have one can of coke a week....nope, can't do that. that turns into 2 a day, so like you, i have to have zero!

hang in there shanti...
sugar lover here too.


Anonymous said...

ps. not sure how you are, but i would choose
cake, candy, cupcakes, cookies over chips, ice cream, pies. i LOVE cake, even bad cake.

i could not have one girl scout cookie because i knew that would turn into the whole box.
i also bought samoas( coconut) so i knew for sure i would not touch them. not a coconut fan at all.


Shanti said...

AMEN on the girl scout cookies. Although I LOOOOVE Samoas. Chris came home once with a box, and I finished it off in 3 days...but only because he was rationing me. lol I could have EASILY eaten them all in one sitting.
April, thanks for stopping by my blog and for your words of encouragement. Yes, check out the Paleo diet. It's a hard transition, but try it for a month! You will notice an incredible difference!

Robin said...

First, I don't think you need to apologize. You're human! I think it's great that you recognize it's a weakness and want to change it! That takes guts! Good luck with abstaining... My weakness is salty things and I haven't gotten to the point where I want to give it up yet! Lol

Robin said...

I agree, you are human. I'm amazed you are able to follow a diet like that...hats off to you! Not me...can't give up my sugar

sarah maizland said...

Awww Shanti, I love your sensitive spirit!

Lee said...

Shanti I am not a sugarholic but I am a recovering Diet Coke addict. I gave up Diet Coke a couple years ago because of health reasons and I can not have even one socially or it is that slippery path that leads me to skulking around the house finishing off my wifes! LOL

AmberLee said...

you are so good at taking things into your own hands any time you want to make a change. i think we all have our tendencies that we just don't understand, like how I always manage to get everywhere about 2 minutes late :). it is nice to have someone take to take it seriously though, isn't it?

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