Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Free From Addiction

This post is extremely personal and can be a sensitive subject for me. But it is something I need and want to overcome, so I need support - not judgement.

I've always known I had a weakness for sugar, mainly chocolate. What girl doesn't? But while most girls eat chocolate and maybe feel a little bit better, it has the exact opposite reaction for me. Oh sure, I enjoy the 10 seconds that it takes to devour the sweets, but what happens after simply isn't worth that 10 seconds of pleasure anymore.

I have a confession to make:

I am an addict.

I have a severe addiction to sugar* that is beginning to have negative effects on my life. And you may scoff and think I'm probably exaggerating. But the effects that it has on me scares me enough that I have made the decision to avoid sugar as much as possible. I love sugar. My favorite things to eat are full of it. I love doughnuts, brownies, cookies, fudge, candy, cinnamon rolls, etc. These things will be extremely hard for me to no longer eat, so I need some support.

Every family event, every church event, every party seems to be centered around food and sugar. Unlike some other addictions, sugar is nearly impossible to avoid being around. Alcoholics can avoid going to bars or steer clear of friends that tend to drink often. If I tried to avoid every event or person that would put me around sugar, I would have no life. I realize that I will constantly be surrounded by temptations. I don't want to avoid going to things because I am afraid I'll give in to my temptation. But like I said, I need some support. I would appreciate if friends and family didn't pressure me to have dessert (or any type of food for that matter). It would be best if the option wasn't even offered to me, but if you feel you at least need to offer, just please don't pressure me when I say no. It's hard enough to turn down the temptation, but it becomes nearly impossible when people make it a big deal or continue to offer.

And you can't say, "Oh, but it's just one bite." Or "one cookie wont hurt you." Because you have no idea what that one single bite of chocolate could do to me. If you knew your friend was a recovering alcoholic, you wouldn't offer them a drink and tell them that a little sip wouldn't hurt. There are times, though very rare, that I can have a single cookie or single serving of dessert and not be affected. But more often than not, it sends me into a sugar binge.

And if you knew the amount of junk I can consume in one of my sugar binges, you'd be disgusted. You probably would never believe me unless you saw it for yourself, which wouldn't happen because I try to hide it. I'll sneak food and eat it where no one can see me and realize exactly how much I have eaten. There are times when my mouth hurts so bad because of the amount of sugar I have eaten, and I'll find myself downing more m & m's. Or I'll be so sick that I can barely sleep, and I"ll wake up with an upset stomach and severe pain still lingering from the day before. I'll promise myself that I'll never do that again cause I never want to hurt that much again, only to have a small bit of sugar a few hours later and start the cycle all over again.

Bobbi, have a little self control, will you? Don't you have enough self-restraint to just enjoy one cookie and stop after that? You must be pretty weak.

Believe me. I have tried. But once I have that taste of sugar*, it's like I lose control. If I give in, then I end up eating junk non-stop until I am so sick I can barely move. But if I try to resist, then my thoughts become consumed with it and it's all I can think about. We could be playing at the park, and the only thing I can think about it how soon we can get home so I can have something sweet. And if I am having this battle between by body telling me that it has to have sugar and my mind fighting the temptation, I tend to get extremely moody. It's exhausting and hard fighting against your body, and I can get really ornery and short tempered.

So I try to avoid sweets, but after binges I start going through withdrawals. The first day or two that I am trying to get back into a healthy routine are extremely difficult. I often get severe headaches or migraines. Or I'll get really light headed and can barely stand up without feeling like I am going to pass out. I can get pretty shaky and agitated as my thoughts for the entire day are consumed with my desire to eat sugar. If I can just get past those first 2-4 days, then it gets much easier. But getting past those few days can be pretty tough. Once I have conquered those days and more days pass without sugar, I have noticed that my desire to eat junk decreases. I no longer crave those foods. I have been at that point once before, just a few months ago, and I hope to get back.

I know, you are probably losing any respect you had for me. But this is something I had to talk about, get it out in the open. Because I need help and support. In the past year or two, I have learned a lot about my own body. In my quest to lose weight and get a bit healthier, I have learned a lot about how different foods affect me. And as hard as it is, I have learned that FOR ME, sugar is simply just best to avoid. I know that the all-or-nothing isn't a desirable approach, but it is the easiest thing for me. At least for now. And I know that there will be times that I give in and have a treat, and that's ok.

And for once, this has nothing to do with weight loss. In the past, I have tried to give up sugar in an attempt to lose weight, and it has worked. However, with that mindset I have had a tendency in the past to go back to old habits once I have lost a little weight. So this time, I am doing it a bit differently. I wrote this post to make it public. I want everyone to know that I am trying not to eat sugar so when we are together and I reach for that cookie you can remind me that I don't want it.

These are the reasons I have decided to no longer eat sweets*:
  • Sleep-  I have noticed that what I eat has a significant effect on my sleep habits. When I am eating healthy and avoiding sugar, I sleep much better. I am able to fall asleep within minutes of getting in bed, instead of lying there awake for hours. I get into a much deeper sleep and wake up much more refreshed and rested. The mornings after eating lots of sugar, I am super groggy, have a hard time getting out of bed, and just feel sluggish the entire day.
  • Mood- I have also noticed a correlation between the things I eat and my mood for the day. When I am eating tons of sugar, I tend to be grumpier. I have less patience with my kids and lose my temper a lot more. (Probably also related to sleeping worse.)
  • Depression -  I have been struggling with depression for a while now. Almost all of the days that I am not depressed have started with exercise first thing in the morning, and eating healthy foods throughout the day. I have noticed that my depression gets a lot worse when I am eating mostly junk.
  • Confidence - I feel so much better about myself and have more confidence when I am feeling good and eating healthy.I feel so guilty, worthless, and like I have no control over myself when I have my sugar binges. I withdraw from others because I am so ashamed and simple want to hide from everyone. On the other hand, when I am in situations where my temptations are present and I am able to withstand them and say no, I feel very empowered and great about myself. 
It's obvious that these are all related and intertwined. Lack of sleep can lead me to be less patient, which leads me to be a bad mother, which makes me feel guilty and leads to worse depression. But one of the things that begins it all is sugar. And it is something that I have control over. I may have messed up hormones, I may have mental issues that need counseling, but I know that simply avoiding my trigger can make a big difference and improve the quality of my life.

So when it comes down to it, it is really quite simple. Through careful observation, I have noticed that my mind and body reacts pretty strongly to sugar. And when I am trying hard to eat healthy and avoid junk, I sleep better, I am a better wife and mom, and I am just happier overall. Knowing this, it seems silly to give all of that up for a few seconds of enjoyment.

As a person who has always lived for dessert, this will be very difficult for me, especially with the holidays quickly approaching. But I am determined to be happy and I know that this will help me do that. Eventually I would like to slowly introduce sugar back into my life and learn how to handle having a treat every once in a while, but for now I am not interested.

Wish me luck! I'm going to need it!

*When I refer to sugar or sweets, I am referring mostly to what I would consider "junk food" like candy, chocolate, brownies, cookies, cake, doughnuts, pastries, even crackers, sugar cereal, etc. There is also a lot of sugar found in fruits; however I am not referring to those. My avoiding sugar does not mean no fruit or avoiding all processed foods, etc.

Here are a few articles about sugar addiction. I know first hand how real it is.
1- Sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and causes obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease:
2- The Truth About Sugar Addiction
3 - 7 Steps to Break Free of Sugar Addiction


  1. Good luck Bobbi! I have also been working on getting healthier, and a big part of that has been severely reducing my sugar intake as well! I went from being a very active nanny, to a desk job, and there were ALWAYS sweets in the office, so i quickly gained quite a bit of weight. I decided to only have sugar on the weekends, and now it's to the point where often times I don't care to have any on the weekends either! The best part is being able to turn something down ,and not regret it, but also being able to control myself now, when i do let myself have a treat. You will get to that point, too, I promise!!

  2. Swan! I am so proud of you!!! You are so impressive and this shows just how strong you are!!! Good luck, but you won't need it! Anytime you set your mind to something- you achieve it!

  3. You are one strong woman and I don't think anyone will judge you for this. (And if they do, who cares? They aren't worth your time anyways!) I am so glad that you shared this! I am like super excited to help you out with this when we get together and maybe we can find some healthy yummy desserts to try? Because we all should avoid sugar. I am going to join you in this and see if it helps how I feel because I relate to a lot of your feelings too! I just never really thought it was sugar related until now. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Way to go! I have ha very similar experiences and realizations in the past few years. Good luck- you will see such great benefits to reducing and eliminating your sugar intake. It is hard, but I am getting better at it, and I can't deny the benefits I have felt:)