Sugar Addiction, Detox and Gaining Control over Food

People often ask me what I eat.   They want to know what diet I am on and what food plan I am following.

They want me to give them a list of the food I eat daily.

But I am here to tell you that it is not what I eat that has contributed to my weight loss so much as what I do NOT eat.

And what I do NOT eat anymore is sugar.

If there was any possible way that I could adequately convey to you the very real dangers of sugar I would do it.

If I could write in all caps or send warning sounds through this screen, I still could not adequately convey to you just how critical getting off sugar has been in my life.

People simply don’t understand how highly addictive sugar can be to some individuals.

I am not at all under the impression that everyone in the world is sensitive to sugar.  I know quite well that many people are not at all sensitive to it.

These are the people who roll through life unaffected by a piece of cake.  They eat one cookie and move on with life.

But not me.  Not the sugar addict.  The sugar addict eats one piece of cake and now they must go straight to the store and buy 5 cakes so they can consume them all.

Perhaps they avoid that for a time but all the while the thoughts are there. The cravings and urges plaguing them until they finally give in.

How many times have I been going along fine on a diet only to be overcome and overwhelmed again by an insatiable and merciless hunger that seemed to come out of no where.

But so often it hasn’t come out of no where at all.  In fact, it is not a mystery in the least bit.  It is nothing more than the result of eating something that contained a highly addictive substance which you reacted to.

Like a person ingesting a drug.  Like an alcoholic who has been sober for years but finds themselves waist high in the throws of their addiction after having consumed one alcoholic drink.

I have 4 children and they are not all the same.  Two of my children are just like me.  They are sensitive to sugar.  If they were to eat one cookie, they would want more.   They would even feel that they needed more.  Returning again and again to the cabinet looking for the cookies.  My other two children are not this way at all.  They can have one cookie and think “Well now that was good” and then forget all about it.  A few days later they might return to the cabinet and go “Where are the cookies?”.  The rest of us look at them and think “Well that was days ago! Do you really think they’d still be there??”  Because to US…the sugar addicts…..cookies are something to be bought and consumed immediately.  Not something that lingers around in a cabinet for days.  That is because when we eat a cookie, we think about the cookies more and more.  It consumes us until finally we eat them all.  But to someone who is not sensitive to sugar, one cookie is just that.  ONE COOKIE.    These are the people who go around telling the rest of us that we should be able to control ourselves.  That we should be able to “moderate” our intake of this substance.  They will even tell us that it is in denying ourselves this substance that we encounter the real problem.

Deny yourself dessert?“, they say, “Well that will only contribute to the problem!”

They will tell a sugar addict that denying themselves sugar only makes them want it more.  Perhaps that is true of the NON sugar addict.  Perhaps  to a non-addict denying themselves makes it worse.  I will not speculate because that is not something I would know anything about.  I speak to the people for whom sugar is a serious problem.  These are the people who should never try to moderate their intake.  Would an alcoholic try to moderate their intake of vodka?

When have you ever been able to let go of an addiction by trying to hold onto it?

I don’t blame people for giving out this advice.  They do it because for them “sugar” is simply not their problem and they can’t even begin to comprehend the endless misery that it inflicts on those who are highly sensitive to it.

The real tragedy is that a great many people are sensitive to sugar and do not realize it.  They don’t realize it because they think sugar is only located in cookies and cake.  But that is not at all the case. In fact, I challenge you to find things that are NOT loaded with sugar.  It is quite hard to do.  You will have to go out of your way to identify them.  So many things are filled with sugar that once you decide to kick it out of your life you will be shocked to find it hiding in every corner.

But isn’t this in many ways comforting?  If you are indeed a sugar addict and you realize that sugar has been placed in almost everything you eat….then don’t you finally see now why it is you have struggled for so long?  When you eat sugar, you crave more sugar.  You may not even realize you have been eating sugar because you don’t realize it’s in things that don’t appear “sweet”.  Yet there you are day after day ingesting an addictive substance that has been engineered in a lab to increase your cravings.  Then you sit around blaming yourself for your lack of self control wondering why you can’t control your overeating!

I am not a scientist so I cannot fully explain to you what sugar does to your body physiologically.  But I can direct you to some sources that might further explain it.  Suffice it to say that sugar addiction is real.  Some forms of sugar have even been altered in a lab  to make it more addictive so that you find it even harder to resist.

And now comes the irony.

The absolute irony of the dieting industry.

How many diets have I been on where sugar was actually a primary ingredient in almost everything I was told to eat?  I failed on almost every diet I ever went on very simply because I was being fed the substance I was addicted to.

Would you put an alcoholic in a rehab clinic while slipping vodka into their water?

Would you keep feeding a drug addict the very drug they are trying to get off of?

Of course not!

Because THAT would be cruel.

That would be setting someone up to fail.

And yet THAT is what so many diets out there are doing.

They set you up with a menu plan that feeds you the very thing that you are addicted to and then when you fail to control your cravings you are the one to blame because you lack ” self control”.

I have no problem at all staying away from Cocaine.  It is not the least bit difficult for me.  I don’t wake up in the morning wanting cocaine and I don’t spend a single second of my day thinking about it.  So why do other people have problems with it?  I’ll tell you why! It’s because they are addicted to it.  I have never used cocaine.  It has never been in my body one single day.  As a result of that, I have never experienced a craving for  it.  The cravings I am quite sure that my body would have had it ever used cocaine.  But because I have never used cocaine, I have no problems with it.

But can we understand how hard it is for someone who HAS been using cocaine to kick the habit? They are fighting much more than just the psychological issues surrounding this problem.  Fighting so much more than just a thought in their head.  They are fighting a very real PHYSICAL addiction.  And so we can understand that they are dealing with much more than just emotions.

So it is with sugar.  You may think to yourself…”Why am I so weak??”….”Why do I lack self control?”.  People may look at you and think….”What is that person’s problem?” because THEY can eat just one bite of a cookie and be fine.  They don’t see why you can’t do it.  They don’t understand it.  This just contributes to your misery.  You wonder why you seem to have no ability to moderate your intake of food.  Why you can’t balance it.  You begin to question and doubt yourself.  You even wonder if there is something morally wrong with you!

Yet if you recognized that you were being fed the very substance you were addicted to over and over again in every diet you try…..then you’d know this was just a cruel set up from the start.  How could you ever have expected yourself to have any self control when the very thing you are addicted to is being slipped into your “health” food!

Before I go any further let me once again say that I recognize not all people have a problem with sugar.  Perhaps this isn’t your problem at all.  If that is the case, ignore this altogether!! This is not written for you.  Nor is it written to condemn you in your own eating choices.  For those of you who can eat a slice of cake and walk away freely….I say go for it.  And congratulations!! You are one of the lucky ones!

But to those like me….whose slice of cake comes with chains…I say have the courage to read on.

It is sad to say that not all of us addicted to sugar are willing to see it for what it is.  And that, my friend, is where the psychology and emotion comes into play.

How many people once they have been made fully aware of their addiction still cling to it?  Not just because they fear the physical withdrawal symptoms but because they have become dependent on it.  They LOVE it even.   Who doesn’t love in some way the addiction they have?  They hate it and love it all at the same time.  They love how it makes them feel.  The calm it gives them at times.  The comfort. The happiness.  There is no one on earth who would do something that was harming them if it did not also give them some kind of reward.  We don’t continue to eat an addictive substance unless we are also getting something out of it we see as positive.  But that is the cruel twist of addiction.  It confuses you.  It hooks you in.  And while it makes sweet promises and even delivers many positive rewards….it eventually sucks you into its dark and endless spiral that only takes you down with it.

To illness.

Diabetes.

Obesity.

Pain.

I learned about sugar addiction back in 2003.  I felt enormous relief once I finally understood what was happening to me and I determined to get myself off the sugar once and for all.  I went through the horrible experience of sugar withdrawal and I came out on the other side a free woman!  I lost 104 pounds once I kicked the sugar habit and had freedom from food cravings.  But knowledge alone was not enough for me because I went back to it.  And not just for a visit.  I went back full force.   Sugar owned me once more and I gained back all I had lost plus another 100 pounds.  I took myself almost to the brink of death.  My life was in ruins.  I could barely walk and I woke up nightly choking underneath my own weight.  Every single day of my life, I was obsessed with how I would get to the food that I needed.  It was a driving force in my life that plagued me day and night.  Sugar owned me.  It threw me in prison and stood at my jail cell mocking me as I tried to escape time and time again only to fall deeper into its grip.

I will never again underestimate the hook of sugar.

I believe that if more people were willing to even experiment with the idea of quitting sugar they might find themselves in a much different place psychologically when they try to stick to their food plans.  They may be quite surprised to discover that their appetite is not nearly what they think it is.  The appetite they thought they were born with was nothing more than their body reacting to sugar. They may even be shocked to discover that their natural level of hunger is significantly less than they thought.  I am still amazed at how I can often go almost an entire day without even thinking about food.  I have to set a clock to remind myself to eat!  Eliminating sugar has been more effective in controlling my appetite than prescription appetite suppressants and even weight loss surgery.  People often ask me if I believe they can lose weight without weight loss surgery and I can only say this. YES.  Weight loss surgery is a wonderful tool but it cannot compete with the powerful effects that getting off sugar will do for your life.  If you want to control your appetite, eliminate sugar.  I have spoken with countless weight loss surgery patients who even after surgery could not lose the weight.  Why? Because they can remove portions of your stomach in a hospital but what is left will still react to the sugar if you’re ingesting it.

I used to believe that I had been born with an insatiable hunger.  That I just had an appetite bigger than the average person.  And it wasn’t my fault.  How could it  be?? I was plagued with hunger it seemed and others clearly were not.  What was I to do? Suffer all the time? Not feed the overwhelming hunger that lived inside of me?

But then I discovered that it was not ME at all.  Not MY appetite or my inborn hunger or the size of my stomach that was the problem—but rather my body’s reaction to SUGAR.  This is when I began to open my eyes to another way of thinking.

I’m not here to tell you that quitting sugar will solve all of your problems.  If you have a lifelong struggle with food, it is highly likely you have emotional ties to the food as well.  These are certainly things we have to deal with outside of mere sugar addiction.  But you may be surprised to find that once you are off the sugar, your mind is significantly cleared to a point where you can now deal with those other  emotional issues.  Once you are no longer plagued day and night by the relentless and merciless sugar cravings, you feel much more sane!  Much more equipped to handle the other issues you may have to tackle.

If you have ever struggled with sticking to a diet, I would encourage you to try kicking sugar out of your life.  What harm could it do you to experiment? To see if you are one of those who might be  sensitive to sugar.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring that option.

Now on to the real question.

How does one kick sugar?

Well it’s not easy.  You should expect to experience physical withdrawal symptoms like you would coming off any drug.  You may feel sick as if you’ve come down with the flu.

Here are just a few of the things people have experienced when detoxing off sugar:

Lightheaded

Dizzy

Irritable

Anger

Severe headaches

Pain in all parts of the body

Feelings of Insanity (yes!)

Shaking/ Trembling

Numbness/Tingling

Flu like symptoms

Diarrhea/Constipation

Insomnia/Sleep Disturbances

Skin breakouts/ Rashes

Body odor/bad breath

Being hot/Being cold

Extreme Mood Swings

Fatigue/Feeling Weak

Nausea

 

These are just a few of the lovely symptoms you get to experience coming off sugar!

But everyone is different.  I have spoken with some people who were so sick that they felt almost unable to function.  Others said they had a mild experience.  I’m not sure why we experience it at different levels but maybe it has to do with how deeply hooked on sugar we have become.  I just know that I’ve been through sugar detox before and it’s never fun.  The comfort lies in knowing what is happening to you and being prepared for it.  Knowing that you are about to experience something that is not unusual.  You are just detoxing off an addictive substance.

Let me remind you again that I am not a doctor, nutritionist, health expert or scientist.  I am just a person who found their way out of a very dark pit.  Someone who discovered that sugar addiction was very real.  And found a way to get it out of my system.  Is my way the only way? Of course not! Just take a quick look around the internet and you will find multiple ways to detox off sugar.  I am just going to give you MY way.  It may not be something you want to try but I share it because it has worked for me.

The way I detox off sugar is the same exact way that I still use to this day to get back control over my eating whenever I feel that food is becoming too important.  You see, food is something that owned me and dominated me for years.  I was obsessed with it.  In large part, no doubt, to my physical addiction to the sugar.  But there are other issues I have with food as well that are rooted more in psychological and emotional issues.  So anytime I find food becoming a bigger focus in my life, I return to this simple detox program.  It works when I have allowed myself to let sugar creep back into my life.  It works also when I find food becoming too much of a focus.

My brother who has lost 275 pounds also uses this plan.  He is the one that gave it to me in fact.  He set me up with this program and we often use it together.  We will go through a detox week together where we text one another and help to keep the other accountable.  Every time I go through this, it is no fun.  Yet I always find myself with more control than I had before.  I find myself feeling sane again.  I am released from the hunger cravings and I come out on the other side so grateful for the process.

So what do I do?  It’s very simple.

I go on a liquid diet of ready to drink shakes every 2-3 hours for one week.

The key is that the shakes have either no sugar or very few grams of sugar per serving.

I also use shakes that have no more than 3 or 4 carbs per shake.

I personally use the Atkins shakes for two main reasons.  They have very little sugar.  Each shake may have 1-2 grams of sugar at the most.  The carbs are controlled and I find low carb, low sugar to be the main way I lose weight and control my appetite.

I use ready to drink shakes for a strategic reason.  It’s because even the mere act of making a shake in a blender can stir up my desire for food.

For someone who lacks control with food, the mere act of looking for recipes and the mere act of cooking can draw them further and deeper into their problems.

I learned that pinning recipes on pinterest, reading other blogs where people write in detail what they ate and even put up pictures, spending time preparing food for meals….all of that actually contributed further into my food obsession.  And when you are in the throws of sugar addiction, you don’t need anything making it harder on you!

The less time you spend thinking about food–the better.  You want your focus OFF the food not on it.  The more you think about it, plan it, talk about it….the worse it becomes.  Even spending time reading my blog or other blogs about weight loss might be too much for you during a detox.  Any amount of time you spend focused on food just further feeds the obsession.  The less time you devote to it the better.  Even having to spend time logging your food in a diary can create a problem.  The more time you spend looking up nutrition facts and writing it down is more time spent thinking about food.  During a detox, that is even a lot to handle.  But a ready to drink shake logged repeatedly takes only a second.  And in the beginning that’s what you need.  That is why this is such a simple and streamlined process.  It takes no effort for you to mark down a shake.

It takes no time to prepare it.  No thinking at all.  A person who is wrapped up in food focus and addiction needs to not have too much time sitting around thinking about what they will eat next.  That opens up the door of opportunity which a person going through detox does NOT need.  How many times have you slipped up with food once you allowed yourself to think too much about it.  Once the thought has time to roll around in your mind, it gives birth to desire.  And once desire takes over coupled with cravings you are weakened to the process.  The sugar that has been lab altered and laced into everything you eat has made your willpower weak and your appetite overpowering.  This is why I keep it simple in the beginning.  Once the wretched beast is out of your system, you will find you are much stronger and capable than you ever imagined.

I fill the bottom of my refrigerator with ready to drink Atkins shakes.  My brother prefers dark chocolate.  I prefer caramel cafe and vanilla.  You want them cold because they taste better that way so you need to give them time to get chilled.  Then you simply wake up in the morning and grab your first shake.  You can set a timer on your phone for every 2 to 3 hours.  If you are deep in the throws of addiction and feel panicked about not getting enough to fill you up…then drink one every 2 hours.  But pre-decide what it will be and stick to it.  Don’t allow yourself to switch it up later.  Once you open the door to change your plans that is all your mind needs to then convince you that eating something would be a good idea too.

Now is eating something wrong? Of course not! But when you are on this program the point is to break yourself not just from the physical tie to the sugar but also the mental and emotional ties to the food.  By not eating any solid food for a week, you are taking a break from it.  The more distance you get, the more you realize that you can live without it.  And isn’t that what we all need to realize? That we CAN live without it.  We don’t NEED it to live.  We can get through the day drinking shakes every 2 hours.  We don’t intend to live this way forever but we could if we wanted to.  Because now we know that we don’t have to be controlled by the food any longer.  We are the ones in control.  Not some inanimate object.  Not some piece of cake.  But us.  In control completely.  The ones making the rules and not the food.

Not everyone will choose to forego food for a whole week.  Most people will not.  Personally, I find the detox plan of shakes during the day plus one (sugar/carb controlled) meal in the evening to be the most satisfying way to not only detox but to live my life on a regular basis. Yet there are some people who will benefit from a liquid fast for a time with only shakes.  Let me try and explain why this has benefited me.

Breaking free from food has been two fold for me.  On the one side, there is the very real sugar addiction that can only be broken by no longer consuming it and withdrawing from the remains of what is already in your system.  But the other side is the emotional tie from food.  When I went through my divorce, I had to learn to detach from that relationship.  I still had to see my ex husband regularly because we had children together but I could no longer allow myself to be deeply tied to him emotionally.  If you’ve been married to someone for many years, you have in so many ways connected your soul to them.  They are embedded in every part of your life.  So it is with food.  If you have used food for comfort, depression, anxiety or stress then you have an emotional tie to food that goes even beyond a physical sugar addiction.  You must detach emotionally from the food just as you would an ex-husband, ex-boyfriend or any other person in your life that you must detach from.  The best way to do that is space.  That is what it often takes.  This is hard to do with food because it is everywhere we go.  Taking a week off helps you detach.  It lets you know who is really in control.  Just like you prove to an ex-boyfriend that you don’t need him anymore by refusing to call or text, you do the same with food.  Showing that you can go a week with no contact.  Yes it’s hard but detachment is always hard.   Yet when a relationship has become abusive and dysfunctional what you need is a bit of distance to see it more objectively.

How can I possibly go an entire week without eating food? How can I live without it? I know that we are all different shapes and sizes.  All of us require different calories according to the calorie counter.  However I have found that this program has worked for me regardless of my size.  I have done it at 417 pounds and I have done the same exact program at 180 pounds.  I don’t alter it or adjust it for my size.  I keep it simple. For one week, I am not focused on the details of calories.  I don’t think about it at all.  I only set a timer and drink a shake every 2 hours from the moment I wake up until I go to bed.  If I were to rise at 5 am instead of 8 am then I would start then.  It isn’t about how many shakes you get during the day so much as it is about the consistency.  You don’t think about it.  You just do it.  You don’t worry at that time if you are hungry or not.  A person in the depths of sugar and food addiction often has no true idea of hunger anyway.  Their body always feels hungry.  A person deeply emotionally bonded to food no longer can see the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.  This takes the guesswork out of it. For one full week, you can turn your brain off in that area.  You simply don’t worry about it.  You know that every 2 hours you will drink a shake.  You are not starving.  Your blood sugar will remain steady.  And every 120 minutes you will get another shake.

You will probably feel sick.  You will have all the symptoms of withdrawal.  You may even want to quit.  But press on.  Press through if you can.  The way out of this is not to go back.  The way to freedom is to walk through it.

But how you may ask? How can I possibly withstand it? Every time I try to avoid food, I just want it even more . The more I fight it the worse it becomes. This is how you often feel.

And now you’ve stumbled on something! That right there is the most important key of it all.  The fact that every time an urge to overeat comes along—you fight. Isn’t that what you’re doing? Trying to fight it?  You probably try to put it out of your mind . You try to resist it.  And now we come upon a real secret that it took me years to uncover. It is in the resisting that you are only stoking the fire.  It is in trying to ignore and resist the thought that you make it worse.

So don’t resist it . Let it come.  Don’t fight it.  Don’t pretend it isn’t there.  Of course you feel miserable. Of course you want a Big Mac. That is exactly how you should feel because you’ve spent a lifetime becoming highly sensitized to the fact that food provides you comfort.  Now anytime you feel anxious or upset or sad, your mind naturally wanders to food.  More than that you are very sensitive to the triggers around you.  Commercials, scents, pictures, memories.  All of them can come flooding back at anytime.  And the very moment a trigger pops up, there you are again.  Overcome with the desire to eat.  You are so sensitive to every food trigger out there that it’s no wonder at all you struggle so much with overeating.  How could you not?  When almost everything reminds you of the food.  It’s like breaking up with someone you’ve been involved with for a very long time.  You pass by the park you all used to go to together.  The movie theatre or a restaurant.  You remember “Oh this is where we went on our 3rd anniversary” and there you are again.  Back in time. Overcome with emotion.  It’s the same with food.  You think to yourself “I always eat pizza when I watch this particular tv show”. It’s been paired together and now you find it hard not to think of pizza when that show is on.  You are so tied in every way to the food that for a time you may feel that almost everything you do and everywhere you go is one long immersion of neverending memories and triggers.  But don’t resist it.  Don’t fight it.  Let the memories come.  Recognize them for what they are.  THOUGHTS.  Nothing more than passing thoughts.

Have you ever watched a train go by? Have you ever gotten to the railroad crossing just as the arm was coming down and now you must sit there and wait for the entire train to roll by? There is nothing to do there but wait.  You can pretend the train isn’t there but that would be silly, wouldn’t it? I mean there it is right in front of your face.  It’s loud too.  Very loud.  You can’t ignore it or pretend it isn’t there.  But you don’t fight it.  What would be the point of that? Do you go around in front of the train and try to hold it back with your bare hands? Get panicked and upset while standing on the train tracks begging it not to barrel over you? Of course not! You sit in your car safely behind the railroad crossing sign and you wait it out. Impatiently perhaps.  But nevertheless, you wait.  Because that is all you can do.  If you have an appointment to go to and you’re in a hurry, you may fidget and shift in your seat. You may swear and cuss and hit the wheel of the car.  You may pray for God to make it pass faster.  But no matter what you do inside that car it won’t make a bit of difference. The train will pass when it has passed.  And only then will the arm lift and let you drive on through.

Have you ever sat there and said to yourself “OH my goodness!! This is it.  This is the end.  I’ll never get down this street now. This train will go on forever!”

Of course not! You know the train no matter how long it is will not be endless.  It will eventually pass through.  Some trains are longer than others.  But they all have an END.  THe end will come.  It will pass.  And it is your job to simply wait.

So it is with cravings and urges.  Now with sugar withdrawal it is a lot more intense.  You may experience worse days than others.  By day 3 or 4 you may feel that you will go completely insane!! You may even wish your family would just lock you up away from society altogether for fear you will turn into the Incredible Hulk and overtake a Krispy Kreme.  But fear not! It will pass. It has to.  Sugar withdrawal is a process but it is not neverending.  The sugar WILL leave your system and the symptoms will go away.  Keep this in mind when you feel at your lowest.  That this is temporary.  You are experiencing the same exact thing that many others have experienced.

You will learn through this detox program to accept what you are feeling.  Not to fight it or resist it.  Not to be confused or bewildered by it.  And not to fear it.  Fear is one of the biggest reasons we go back to the food. Deep down we are just not sure we will be able to tolerate our life without it.  We wonder if we will even go completely insane.

I can assure you that you won’t.  You will not go insane.  You will not have a heart attack.  And in fact it is actually the fear you have ABOUT your fear…that is making things worse.  You fear the fear.  You anticipate it.  And you dread it.

First you feel the symptoms.  Then the thoughts come into your mind that say “You can’t live without the food“.  Then you fear you may go insane.  Then you fear the very feeling OF the fear.  All this fear and panic compounds upon itself and creates the very symptoms of a panic attack!  I discovered this one day when I started really analyzing how I felt when  I determined not to give into my urges to eat.

When my husband left me, I had debilitating panic attacks.  I could barely function.  Barely drive.  I thought for sure I was having a heart attack.  Many years later I decided to observe myself like a project.  I decided to pay attention to the exact physical symptoms I was having while trying to fight the urge to eat something.  IT was then I realized that I was experiencing something qutite similar to a panic attack.  I realized that the moment when you feel as if you can’t resist a brownie—that is very similar to what panic attacks feel like.

The way to fight a panic attack is not to fight it at all.  You recognize it for what it is.  An uncomfortable feeling that will NOT harm you.  It may feel like a heart attack but it is NOT a heart attack.  You may feel as if you are going to go insane but you are NOT going insane.  Once you realize this, it is much easier to tolerate.  You may feel fear but there is nothing TO fear.  You are not being chased by a moutnain lion . You are in no imminent danger.  You are just very simply going through an uncomfortable feeling. And if you can just recognize it as a passing storm then you will find it far less intimidating.

It is the same with sugar detox.  It is the same with all other urges to overeat.   Because doesn’t every diet we’ve ever failed on come down to that one moment in time?  The moment we are standing in front of the refrigerator fighting the craving.  Or at a McDonald’s drive through trying to convince ourselves not to order.  It is in this moment where we feel that urge or craving and we are attacked by fear.  An overwhelming fear.  Fear that if we don’t give into it, we will go crazy.

But we won’t go crazy.  No one has ever gone crazy from NOT eating a brownie.  No one has ever gone crazy becasue they did not order the Big Mac.  It is your fear of going crazy that has tricked you into placating it with food.  It is your anxiety and panic at living without the food that has you tied in knots.

When my husband left me I was so afraid I could not live without him.  I cried and I begged and I pleaded for him not to leave me and the children all alone but nothing I said mattered.  He was determined to leave and leave he did.  I had no way out of that uncomfortable situation.  I found myself alone in a new city with 4 children.  I had babies and diapers and bottles. I had bills to pay and children to care for. I had no choice but to stumble my way through.  I thought I would die. I thought I might even kill myself at one point because I was so depressed.  But I didn’t.  I begged God to help me.  To sustain me.  To get me through the storm.  And I believe He did.  God does not always promise us a reprieve from uncomfortable things.  He does not always make our husbands come home when they leave.  But He will walk you THROUGH the storm.  That He will do if you trust Him.

The best way to get through the storm is to wait it out.  Let it pass.  Don’t pretend it’s not there or try to avoid it. Instead, do this: Call its bluff.

Say FINE….you want me…you got me!  Here I am.  Now do your best.  Give me all you got.  And see what happens.

By day 4 or 5 of a sugar detox, the cloud may start to lift.  After a full week, I believe you may begin to find your appetite going away.  You  may feel more in control than ever.  That is how it has been for me.  The fog will lift.  The timing of it is different for many.  Perhaps it will take you 2 full weeks to feel control.  To feel your strong appetite diminishing.  But at the end of week one, resume food.  But do it in a pure way.  Pure from sugar.

Most people I have talked to about this, choose to do shakes during the day and a meal at night.  It works too! Do what works for YOU.  Never hand over your individual rights to someone else who will tell you how to eat.  Even I am just one individual.  My way is not the only way.  But it is what works for me so maybe it will work for you.

I still drink several shakes a day.  Then I will eat chicken, fish, or steak.  I don’t mix a lot of ingredients or recipes.  I eat food that is easy to make and not fancy.  I never eat anything that is too delicious.  I don’t want my food to call to me.  I dont’ want to love it.  Dream about it.  Fantasize over it.  Once food has been your lover, you may always have to carefully keep your distance.  Making sure food is not something you become emotionally tied to again.  The way you would a soulmate.  But if food has been your source of all comfort, you will have to carefully remain detached.  Not in a fearful way.  Never fearing that it will own you again.  But in an objective way.  As a casual observer taking note of when its digging its claws in again and responding accordingly when needed.  Going back on the detox from time to time either to rid yourself of sugar that has creeped in or to get control back when eating seems to once again take too much space in your thought life.

Most of all remember that this is a process. It’s much like getting a divorce.  It takes time to recover from that.  Time to walk through it.  You may feel uncomfortable but in time things will get easier.  I used to think that the two worst things I had ever been through in my life were my divorce and my experience with panic attacks. Now I can see that both of those things were just paving the way for me to finally tackle my sugar and food addiction.  Only in learning to survive my divorce and my struggle with anxiety did I also discover the path to overcoming sugar and food addiction.

Breaking up is hard to do.  Isn’t that how the song goes? Never underestimate how deeply embedded sugar and food has become in our lives.  Check the ingredients.  I eat nothing with more than 4 grams of sugar in it but for me that is pushing the limit.  I aim for sugar free.  I don’t eat bread because I find it addictive (white flour) and most of it has a lot of sugar in it.  I don’t drink milk because of the high sugar content.  I can attribute at least 5 of my major plateaus to milk before I realized how much sugar was in it.  Yogurt? I don’t eat that either.  While greek yogurt may be a great source of protein, it is also a great source of sugar.   Do I use sugar substitutes? Yes.  Many people say even sugar substitutes bother them but I have not found this to be the case for me.  (Thankfully)

I am not endorsing artificial sweeteners or living off ready to drink shakes for the rest of your life.  This is how I’ve lived for 2 years and I’ve lost 240 pounds so far.  This was my key out of prison.  But now that I’m out, I’m finding that education is important.  We must constantly educate ourselves on what is in our food and how we can continue to strip it of the toxins the world has placed in it.  Now I am at a point where I feel ready to try making my own protein shakes. Now I am exploring giving up artificial sweeteners.  But it has taken time.  I still highly recommend this program because it has worked for me and others.  Then as time goes on begin to surround yourselves with those who want to live a healthier life.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with information but instead see it as a hobby.  Slowly but surely you will find yourself gaining knowledge and as they say….knowledge is power.

You will be shocked at where sugar lives.  For it is has seeped into every nook and cranny of our lives.  But once you break it off with an abusive boyfriend, make it a clean break.  Driving by their house or strolling down memory lane will serve no purpose but to keep you from healing. True healing comes in letting go and realizing that you can survive on your own.

One last word–if you fail at this the first time, don’t panic.  I have failed numerous times along the way.  I did not lose 240 pounds by being perfect.  I have cried. I have fallen off the wagon.  I have screwed up and felt defeated.  But don’t despair.  Never despair.  The only way to truly lose this fight is to quit trying.  Never fear that you are beyond hope.  Never believe the lies that you can never overcome this.  The thoughts in your head are nothing more than that passing train at the railroad crossing. Remember that regardless of how you feel, the train always passes and so will cravings.   So hold onto that hope and move forward with forgiveness towards yourself and hope for a new tomorrow.

 

Resources that I like:

Sugar Nation

Wheat Belly

The End of Overeating

Mark’s Daily Apple

Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution

 

These resources may agree and/or conflict with one another at various times.  I don’t endorse or necessarily even follow everything in these programs.  I just have found there to be some wisdom in these resources that have helped me along the way.

 

 

Sample Day for me:

5 AM–Coffee mixed with 1/2 of a Vanilla Atkins shake

6 AM– 2nd cup of coffee mixed with other 1/2 of a vanilla atkins shake

9 AM– Shake (or eggs/omelette/bacon depending on the day)

11 AM- Shake

1 PM–Rotisserie Chicken dipped in bleu cheese dressing or ranch with greek salad (lettuce, black olives, feta cheese, cucumbers)

3 PM– Boiled egg or ham/cheese roll up or shake

5 Pm– Dinner ( Chicken, Steak, Pork Chops, Fish) with salad or low carb/low sugar vegetable

7 PM–Sugar free pickles or deli ham and cheese roll up or shake

 

This is just how I eat now in my regular life.  There are variations.  I go to restaurants and I modify.  Some days I eat less and some days I eat more.  What I have listed here is generally what I eat on most days.  I don’t vary much from this script.  I pay attention to true hunger and follow that lead.  It takes time and practice.  It does not  happen overnight. But with patience, you will get there.

I know this was long but I wanted to share my thoughts.  If you take nothing else from this but these three things—here they are:

1. Sugar has been lab altered and for some people it is a highly addictive drug

2. Cravings are temporary and will pass as it leaves your system

3. Never lose hope

 

I have lost 240 pounds and I attribute most of my success to giving up sugar.  There is nothing special about me that has allowed me to have success.  What I have done, you can do.  Just remember to love yourself, forgive yourself and recognize that you are not solely to blame for your struggles with food.  There is hope.  Hope has not been removed from your life.  You can survive this.  You can overcome this.  And in the end–you will have freedom.

 

Your fellow friend in the battle,

Holly

 

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