A Lifetime of Mainlining Sugar

19 days equates to 456 hours which is 27,360 minutes. (Yes I am counting and I strike a big number on the calendar each day I make it through another)

With some secrets, I find I am aware of it almost every hour of every day. What is my secret and why is it a secret?

No sugar or processed food for 456 hours. Some days it has been easy and others feel like it’s been 456 days. The first 4 days were hell, the next 4, mild torture, but the last 11 have swung between feeling high as a kite and super calm, focused and relaxed. I have had sugar dreams twice and  have thought of sugar products a couple of times a day, but yesterday I did not think of it at all. 

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It has now been scientifically proven that sugar is as addictive as cocaine and opiates and it lights up the same pathways of the brain. I believe it. I have lived it and the withdrawals and subsequent cravings were just as bad if not worse. 

I am now one of the exclusive members of an elite club who have quit sugar. You may wonder why I have been keeping it a secret until sharing now in this blog: in my real life I am keeping quiet about it. Let me explain. (This story is probably going to run for several weeks because I am kind of obsessed with my sugar odyssey.  Plus I have to turn out a story a week and I could not think of anything else to write about. Don’t worry, it is not some annoying HOW TO guide. No, it’s just my sugar story. So enjoy the crazy load, or flick the page now.)  

The quit sugar bandwagon has been rolling around for some time now, and if you access any type of media will know that quitting sugar is big news. There are books and documentaries on how sugar will destroy your life, there are guides on living and cooking with a sugar-free diet kicking around the tops of the world’s bestseller lists for several years now. If you work in an office you are lucky if you can make it to the coffee machine without overhearing someone banging on about how they were no longer consuming sugar or flour and sugar and how much it had changed them. (God I detested those people) That or your best friend or mother is forwarding youtube links to numerous documentaries pumping the evils of sugar. Plus, I am not yet a walking advertisement for good health, and I know no-one wants another person blabbing in their face about how amazing they feel after giving up processed foods. I wanted to punch those people in their wheat free mouths when they started yapping. Some of you know what I mean.

You would pretty much have to be living under a rock to not know that the (western) world is pretty much nuts about sugar at the moment. I remember house-sitting at a friend’s recently with her telling me that there was plenty of food and to help myself. You never saw someone order home delivery faster in your life. My friends were on the dreaded bandwagon. They were trying to conceive, having issues and their specialist advised them to quit sugar and all processed foods. Their cupboards were dry as a bone. I honestly was disgusted at the food in their fridge, in the pantry and the jars lining the bench. It all looked stupidly healthy but boring and inedible and I did not know how to cook half the stuff, nor did I want to! I had never seen a kitchen with no sugar or flour or any processed foods. It was horrible to me. They used to have amazing food. I loved house sitting in the past. They had Cable TV and there were always loads of yummy home baked and bought treats in the pantry, fridge and freezer. I was in heaven. Not anymore. 

It seems to me that the western population is split pretty unevenly between the ‘sugar frees’ and the ‘give me sugar now as much as I can eat as often as I can eat it’ and of course, those envied few miracle people in the middle that I look at with awe, the ‘I can take it or leave it,’ crew.

Everywhere I look it is all about sugar, sugar, sugar – and processed food.

Let me tell you how much despised the anti-sugar movement, I canceled the feeds in social media of friends who had jumped on the no sugar wagon. I hated them. I even pulled away from friends who had gone sugar-free, I just felt they had gone to the dark side, and I prefer the light. Preferably bathed in sugar. Extreme? Yes, I know, and of course, I have read the articles, who hasn’t? I’ve watched a film or two- or seven ! I found them fascinating. But they did not influence me in any way to cut back, in fact, I would eat even more after learning some new fact about the evils of sugar. Why? Because I freaking LOVE sugar! You cannot imagine how much I love sugar. Especially when it is hanging out with its best friends, dairy and flour.

Jeezaloo – do I love sugar. 

Yep, I love it so much, if I could marry it I would. Yes I am being silly, but I need you to understand the importance of sugar to me and why I am keeping my new regime secret. Because if you were talking to me about your journey getting off of sugar and processed foods, I would hate you. Yes, Hate.

No, I am not mentally disturbed. Actually, apparently I am, because as a sugar addict, I must be, right?  I am addicted. I am a fiend. I am severely addicted to sugar. I love it, I love it, I love it! Sugar has been the greatest love of my life. Always there, day or night, readily available, on every street corner, of every city and country I have lived. My darling sugar is available to me everywhere I go, the advertising seduces me and governments approve of it. Every shop I enter, every billboard I see on the roadside, every workplace every school, every home. It can’t be bad right? It is not illegal, some feed it to their babies. We serve it to our toddlers and kids. As long as I control myself, just have a little, it will be ok. Can you imagine any other addictive substance being so easily available? 

Can you imagine an addict of any other substance having their drug of choice so readily available and approved. No, not even approved. Encouraged, pushed and promoted everywhere!

My passion for sugar has only intensified as I have aged, but I have traced its roots way back into toddlerhood, as far back as in the womb and even farther than that.

As a child in the 70’s, I was fed normal, healthy food with the occasional extra special treat and was the same size as 95% of all the other kids at school. I remember there were 2 overweight kids at my school of about 200 kids. Looking back, compared to now, they weren’t even that fat. (Yes, I used the word fat, I can because I am a fat ass and I am over trying to make it sound less nasty by saying ‘overweight’, ‘big’ or ‘heavy’). I look back at old school photos and all you see are matchstick arms and legs, knobbly knees and elbows. I’ve seen pics of me at 7 in a bathing suit and my skin is tight wrapped to my bones, not a spare centimeter anywhere to pinch.  Normal. I grew up in the 70’s when the fridge held regular amounts of healthy food, our Mums wore tight denim jeans and bikinis and looked hot! Fruit bowls were full and we all took 1 peanut butter or vegemite and cheese sandwich to school with a piece of fruit and we were perfectly happy. 

We drank water from the school bubbler (flashback, have not heard that word for decades!), we mostly all rode our bikes to and from school and everywhere else. There was no Uber Mum service. 

Ordering lunch from the canteen was a Friday treat and even then, was pretty healthy. Sugary fizzy drinks were only ever consumed at birthday parties and on Christmas Day. Those days were a very special time for my family and on these occasions my Mum went full tilt, a feast was laid out, all the sugary treats Aussie and European style and loads of fizzy drinks we never saw during the year. It was like that for most of my friends and all my extended family. Throughout the year, I would attend a party a month, where we hit sugar nirvana but it was never expected we were to eat or drink like that at any other time.

Until I was 9 I had no idea what McDonald’s or the other big chains were. The seventies were still a very innocent time food wise, we had not been overtaken by fast food and the only take out we ever got was Fish and Chips every Friday night and once a month ate the same three dishes at the local Chinese restaurant. So adventurous! I do however remember clearly when my city got its first McDonald’s, and we alternated Friday nights there with the chip shop. I recall the Colonel vaguely with no memories of it at all till I was 11. I remember having 4 friends over for a slumber party and my Mum bringing home a bucket of chicken. It seemed very glamorous to me. Chicken, in a bucket, with a big bottle of lemonade. Wow! My friends thought my Mum was brilliant! 

I remember feeling excited when we went to McDonald’s and I remember exactly what I would order. I ordered the same meal for the next ten years. Only amending and up-sizing as the portions grew and I turned to adulthood.

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As a kid, I enjoyed the occasional sugary treat as much as the next, but with an extra zeal. You would never catch me stuffing my face. For one, I did not have that kind of access. My Mother was not a sweet tooth or a baker so excess sugary and/or floury foods were not available, but my most vivid memories of childhood are those that involved sugar. The obtaining of sugar and the lengths I would go to get it. I cannot remember months or years of my life, but I remember clearly many occasions that involved sugar. 

One of my early not so good sugar memories is of being 6 years old, walking with my best friend and her grandmother home from school. We were very little. Granny had bought a pack of Tim Tams from the store on her way to pick us up. We walked giggling and nibbling away, then my friend dropped her biscuit when she was half way through it. So Granny, of course, gave her another. This is my earliest memory of jealousy and pure anger. I remember the white hot rage that coursed through my little body and the distress I felt that my friend got to eat one-and-a-half Tim Tams. I remember being so frustrated because I could not articulate that I felt it dreadfully unfair. I did not think to simply ask for another biscuit. I remember sulking and wanting to go back to my own home immediately. 

Looking back, this was unhinged behaviour, but at 6, I was hooked. A little sugar junkie. I have many other vivid memories of times with my beautiful sugary grandmother and the lovely man at the local milk bar who would pop a free lollypop into my toddler hand as I sat on my mother’s hip when we got to the register. I would smile on cue for him. I have some crazy stories that involve my sweet and eager to please much younger sister and the things I would make her do to get me my fix. By nine, I had become a little manipulator when it came to sugar. At 9!

Many memories of other times that I will not go into right now, some a little disturbing, but  you get the point. I loved sugar and to my little brain coursing with the chemicals that sugar releases and creates, it was love.

There isn’t a diet I have not met, the crazier the better, not a pill I haven’t tried, prescribed and over the counter. Fasting, powders, bars, injections, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dietitians, psychologists, diet organisations and groups, 12 step groups and pretty much any diet book on the market. Health farms and Ashram yoga retreats. I was always first in line to try the latest fad diet. My ex-fiance even offered me a gastric bypass as my weight started to creep dramatically up again after the last time I lost weight, much to his shock. 

FYI. I grew up tall and slender, I was a teenage catwalk model (but always carried a couple extra kilos around my belly) I have gained, lost and gained large amounts of weight 3 or 4 times over the last 20 years. The first time when I was 21 after a vicious physical assault. The last time I gained was 7 years ago. Always around the same amount and quite quickly. The sugar noise in my head and rush in my body was a constant, though, even when I was in the slender years, especially in those years.  If I was eating a sugar product I was thinking and planning about how and when I could have another. There was no such thing for me as one Tim Tam. I daydreamed about my next sugar fix the way other women dream about their crush, their next holiday or a gorgeous dress they saw in a shop window as they walked to work. 

I would watch documentaries, read memoirs on how people lost weight or stopped eating rubbish and best sellers by medical professionals on the evils of sugar. I would binge watch Youtube videos on diets and sugar addiction but all they made me want to do was pick up another fix. 

More next week, much more in another 10,080 hours give or take. 

If I make it. I will tell you about those first 4 days and how the intensity of sugar and processed food toxin withdrawal for someone who had mainlined sugar for four decades was on par with the times I have been in rehab, withdrawing from opiates. How I made it to 19 days,  what I went through, what I did, and how this very minute I am craving sugar and what I am doing about it. 

Will Elizabeth allow this page onto her blog this week? I truly do not know. But she told me to write each week about what I am thinking, so here it is.

I am not telling you all this to try to get you to join the anti-sugar club. God no! If you are anything like me then that would be the last thing in the world you would want! Plus, do you know how hard it is to quit sugar?! Sugar is in bloody everything! Places it has NO business being. It is in 80% of grocery items and 90% of everything processed. It is even in cigarettes! Sugar-free is not easy and I am no expert on this new way of eating. But the combination of thousands of hours reading and watching others, combined with the single sentence I read from a really smart lady, gave me my light-bulb moment.

I may have found a solution that may save my life. A solution that is already dramatically changing it. The side effects of not eating sugar? I have been so shocked at what has already happened to my body and my mind.  My mind, oh it is pretty intense what is happening there. It is alarming actually. As for the scales, I have never seen numbers drop so rapidly. The weight loss in the first ten days blew my mind. I have kept a journal from the past 19 days for my sanity and if you are interested in reading, I will share bits of it and other many other stories of my insane sugar tales. 

I am going to be writing weekly about my journey and share more of my sordid sugar past, the crap my poor family and some incredible friends (the ones who didn’t dump me, and there have been many) have had to put up with and how they have desperately tried to help me change. Even staged a sugar and food intervention! I want to share how it has devastated my life and deeply affected my family. I have seen my loved ones cry over my inability to stop what I do. They have begged me to stop. I have broken hearts. They have threatened to cut me off. Some have. I don’t know how I can ever make it up to them, if I will win people back into my life.  I know how much I hurt them and affected their lives as much as the worst most helpless junkie has decimated their family. I need them now more than ever, but I understand their mistrust. I am an addict, and you cannot trust an addict as talk is cheap and addicts lie. 

Whats the joke? “How do you know when a lawyer is lying? Their lips are moving. Same with addicts. They lie lie lie lie lie. (Unless they are in active recovery in some type of program, come clean about all their sins and have at least 90 days clean, then you must give them another chance as you will not meet a more sincere, loving and apologetic, remorseful and GRATEFUL person in your life than an addict in recovery. Although they have betrayed and hurt you. It was not them doing it, it was the addiction, hard to believe I know, after so many betrayals,  but that is accepted scientific knowledge- as hard as that must be to swallow.)

My addiction has stolen so much of my life from me, from my loved ones, cost me so much in so many ways and not just financially. It has changed the course of my life forever.  

I am desperate to see what happens if I stick with this, see if I can change my life and live the life I was meant to,  I know I need to write about it, to keep me in check and to work out and process why I am like I am and why others in my life are not. If only for myself and no one else. Who knows? In 3 days I could fall flat on my face and be begging E to pull this from her blog! Nah, not my style. If I fall over, (which I probably will, because that is ‘the lot’ of the addict) I will write about it. But somehow, I feel this time might be different now I know what I know. 

If you want to see WHAT made me FINALLY quit sugar, how I woke up with my light bulb moment after learning something about sugar (something so simple, it is amazing to me I did not know about it considering my trials with other addictions, but what’s that saying? There is none so blind as he who will not see) and how I am living without it, how my life may change and why I am so excited. Check in next Sunday.

Liv x*

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