Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Memory / Eclipse / Astonishment

Thirty-one years ago on this day, I stopped eating all forms of refined sugar and stopped drinking alcohol because every time I ingested refined sugar or drank alcohol, I could not stop eating it until I felt ill and then I would throw up all that I had eaten and find that I still craved more sugary foods.  It was not unusual for me to begin eating sugary foods immediately after throwing up due to the fact that the craving continued.  I would proceed to repeat this futile process several times until I was exhausted and would fall asleep (pass out) from consuming massive amounts of sugar.

It was impossible for me to eat one cookie or one serving of ice cream or one piece of candy or one donut or one brownie or one piece of cake or one piece of pie.  I ate whole boxes of cookies, pints of ice cream, boxes of candy, a dozen donuts at a time, entire batches of brownies, entire cakes, and entire pies.  I spent much of my childhood, my teenage years, and adult years trying to control how much food I ate.

The solution for me was to completely refrain from eating refined sugar and drinking alcohol.   Not long after that, I also stopped ingesting artificial sweeteners.

What I found, after a few weeks of extremely difficult withdrawal, was that the food cravings that had eclipsed my entire life until age 37 had vanished!  I had been on a diet continually since I was 10 years old.  I have not been on a diet since the morning of September 26, 1987.  My weight stabilized and has remained stable.

What I also found was that the wide variety of delicious foods that I could still eat tasted so much better, even sweet.  I remember noticing, for the first time, how sweet lettuce tasted.  As time passed, I no longer experienced chronic depression, chronic headaches or frequent colds.  

I am grateful to have found this simple solution to physical and emotional problems that I thought I would have to live with for my entire life.  

I love food.  I love to eat.  For thirty-one years now, I have been able to enjoy food and eating.  I'm still astonished.


37paddington said...

This is such an important post. I am you, except I still fall into the sugar trap from time to time, and it is exactly as you describe. I would love to know what a sample day of eating looks like for you. I am trying to swear off refined sugar, too, but have not yet broken through permanently. You're right, though, during the periods when I succeed, the cravings vanish. My son says sugar is the devil.

am said...

Withdrawing from sugar is not easy but well worth the effort.

My sample day of eating goes against much of what we hear in nutrition and weight loss circles, but I have been eating eccentrically and happily in a way that works well for me for the past 31 years. In the beginning, my sample day included large amounts of grains, including popcorn and corn chips (organic, of course -- Ha!). In the past 5 years or so, I have substituted sweet potatoes and potatoes for what were grain servings previously.

Here is a breakdown of the foods I currently enjoy on a daily basis:

Starchy vegetables -- Garnet yams or potatoes -- 778 calories
Grains -- Oatmeal and brown rice only -- 500 calories
Protein -- Canned wild pink salmon or chicken or turkey or fresh salmon -- 315 calories
Oil -- 3 tablespoons of olive oil -- 360 calories
Non-starchy vegetables -- Many choices! -- 100 calories

Because I can't drink milk or eat yogurt due to the health problems they cause, I take a calcium/magnesium supplement. I also take a multivitamin and B complex.

Some days I eat exactly those amounts. Some days I eat more. Other days I am satisfied with less. On all days I enjoy what I eat and do not experience craving. When I go to a restaurant, there is nearly always something delicious and satisfying that I can order. The experience of being full never happened previous to the time that I stopped drinking alcohol and stopped ingesting sugar. For me, alcohol didn't trigger a craving for more alcohol, but it did trigger an insatiable craving for sugar.

Everyone has different body chemistry. This way of eating might not work for someone else, but I do know that removing alcohol and sugar from my menu made all the difference in the world to my physical and emotional health.

The key for me was not to vow to myself that I would NEVER eat sugar again. I just took it one day at a time, thinking to myself, "Just for today, I will enjoy three delicious meals, eating generous amounts of foods that I love, and refrain from eating sugar." To my astonishment, the days added up, then months, then years.

am said...

In case I have given the impression that my 31 years have been absolutely free of sugar, there is more to say. There have been four times when I experimented briefly with sugar and found that the insatiable craving was awakened and would not go away until I returned to totally refraining from eating sugar. The last time I had any sugar was in 2016 when a friend baked an individual cornbread for my birthday and handed it to me on a plate with a fork. I didn't have the heart to refuse the loving gift. As I ate it, I knew immediately that it was heavily sweetened with sugar. Even that small amount of sugar triggered the insatiable craving. For about a month, I continued to accept his loving gifts of cornbread, thinking to myself that sugar given with love certainly wouldn't hurt me, as I struggled with increasing symptoms of the old craving.

My comment was so long that Blogger wouldn't accept it! Here is part two of the comment I started above:

Come to think of it, three of the four times I ate sugar since 1987 were on occasions when the food containing it was prepared lovingly, especially for me, and I completely forgot, in that moment, what the serious consequences of eating sugar would be for me. However, the first time I ate sugar after 1987 was in 1999. I was under extreme stress and suddenly had the thought that I had never experienced Ben and Jerry's ice cream. It was a Thanksgiving weekend. I immediately drove to the nearest grocery store and chose Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie and ate the entire pint. To my surprise, it didn't taste as good as I had expected. I thought that was the end of my experiment, but the next day I wanted more. It took several months after that first pint of ice cream, through daily struggles with sugar cravings, before I was able to stop eating sugar and return to the way of eating that gives me peace of mind and good physical health.

I wish you well, Rosemarie, in whatever works for you to become free of that unbearable craving that not everyone experiences or understands. You are a kindred spirit. I am grateful for your friendship.

ellen abbott said...

it's horrible how much sugar we consume, are forced to consume because it is added to everything! food manufacturers know that adding sugar increases sales. I've been food conscious since my early 20s and have always cooked fresh and rarely provided dessert. no packaged food and I read labels. sugar causes so many problems along with all the chemicals and artificial ingredients and GMOs. no wonder the population is rife with autoimmune diseases. I used to enjoy the occasional cookies or candy bar, never was one much for cake, until I went through menopause and then any sweet tooth I had went completely away. except for pie. and ice cream. I still like those.

Sabine said...

Congratulations for finding this way for yourself!
Sugar is a drug, a dangerous drug.
Have you access to watch "That Sugar Film", a powerful Australian documentary covering not only white sugar and soft drinks, corn starch etc. but also with good info on hidden sugars in starch etc. and the effects on our metabolism, esp. the liver.

Here is a link I found:
Not sure whether it works for you.