WARNING: While I do share some links and facts in the following post, the below is a reflection of my personal relationship with sugar.
Some may consider me “blessed” because of the physical body I have been given. As a kid, my nickname was “Skinny Minnie” or “peanut” because I was always small and thin despite what I ingested. My stomach was as strong as steal. I could eat anything I wanted – bags of chips, oreos, meat, cheese, ice cream – and not gain a pound or feel (at least to my knowledge) the effects of the contents of my stomach.
In the past several years, my digestion has SEVERELY changed. I had horrible stomach pain to the point of nausea several years ago, which my doctors eventually chalked up to stressful marathon race training and emotional anxiety. Now that I’ve officially entered my thirties, I have several practices that keep the pain and reflux under control but I more acutely feel the difference and effects of what I put into my body.
My biggest issues as of late are my energy levels and (TMI ALERT) candida that come back a couple times a year. While my doctor had continuously told me it was because I was eating “too much of the good stuff,” I chose not to believe him. I ate healthy. Quinoa was in my pantry. Who was I to deny myself a cookie now and then?
A couple more serious health troubles came up this past month which made me take a more serious look at my diet. I listened to a podcast featuring Kelly Leveque (aka Be Well By Kelly), which got me thinking about my sugar intake. Kelly encourages her clients to focus on her “fab four” in the beginning of the day – protein, fiber, fat and greens – and try to avoid the sugar that is in most common breakfast items, like yogurt, orange juice or cereal. After being inspired to look deeper into some of my favorite foods, I shockingly realized exactly how much sugar I was taking in before I even got to the office – more than 37g (the recommended daily amount of sugar for a woman 25g). Add in my daily chocolate intake, my habitual kombucha and an after-dinner dessert, and I’m well over 50g for the day. As in TWICE the recommended amount for the average woman.
Now the kicker. I’ve been aware of this sugar intake for some time, and I still cannot seem to avoid the sugar. I get a craving in the afternoon, and I reach for the office Reese’s. I need a little pick me up, and I inhale the ice cream my sister brought to the apartment. There are studies to suggest that sugar is more addicting than cocaine, and I would be the first to raise my hand and call it an addiction. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but even as I’m trying to get on the “right path” the sugary snacks call me back for more. Sad for me, it seems like going cold turkey is not going to be an option.
I’m determined to give the cut-out of sugar a try. I have a good feeling once I get the sugar intake under control I will feel much more energetic, and ready to get into a creative and restorative space – not to mention the health benefits of eating more protein and fat vs. added sugar. If you have any tips or resources, please share them! I will be sure to give updates along the way as well.