Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Goodbye and good riddance to processed sugar

I was a sugar addict!  I don't say that flippantly or in anyway to make light of those with other addictions.  But I truly was addicted to sugar.

I grew up eating some form of sugar every day.  It wasn't uncommon for me to eat doughnuts, sugary cereal or pop-tarts for breakfast, and I always had some form of sweet (a cookie, piece of cake or pie or doughnut) for desert after every meal.

As I grew older, I continued my sugar consumption.  I'd add sugar to my morning coffee, and  I continued to eat sugary cereal.  Deserts after every meal were a necessity.

If you opened my pantry on any given day, you'd have found Entenmann's chocolate frosted doughnuts or Double Stuffed Oreos.  Those were staples in our household.

Oddly enough, I never really had a weight problem until I turned about 40.  Something happened at 40 and suddenly I was picking up a pound or two a year.  I've always been a fan of exercising so my answer was to work out even more.  I'd go to the gym a minimum of four days a week - walking the treadmill or doing the elliptical for 45 minutes or more.  I progressed to jogging on the treadmill - jogging a minimum of two miles at a time - many times 5 days a week.  And my husband and I would many nights walk at least a mile on the track at the YMCA.  But exercise alone wasn't working.

By March of this year, I felt I was at least 15 pounds over a healthy weight.

I was frustrated and at wit's end when I visited Deanna, a very good friend of mine, who lives in Florida.  She has struggled with her weight since I've known her, and over the past 14 months she's been under considerable emotional distress.  Her daughter, Olivia, was diagnosed with Ewing's Carcinoma in Jan. of 2011 and has been undergoing chemo treatments since Feb of 2011.  You can read about Olivia on a previous blog post.

When I visited Deanna in mid-March of this year, I expected her to have gained even more weight with having all this added stress in her life.  But, to the contrary, she was slim and looked fantastic.

Her secret?  She had employed a nutritionist the month before Olivia was diagnosed with cancer and Deanna had been following her nutritionist's suggestions.

While Deanna is doing several organic things like adding flax seed to her food and other organic things that I didn't quite understand, the one rule she is following that I knew was my nemesis was omitting processed sugar from her diet.

"I can't do that," I remember telling her.  "You don't understand.  I LOVE sugar."

Deanna knew my eating history and was well aware how much I enjoyed sugar, but she pointed out that her background was similar and that she did it.

I left her house thinking about what she said and when I got home, I decided I'd give it a try.  I'd eliminate processed sugar from my diet as best I could.

I honestly didn't expect I could do it, but I went to the grocery and bought food that I thought were better choices for those sugar-craving moments.

I began by eliminating sugar in my morning coffee.  And yucko.  Coffee without sugar is, well, awful.  But I eliminated it.  I now reach for applesauce, an apple or a graham cracker after lunch or dinner when those sugar cravings are at their highest.  I drink water, for the most part, occasionally tea, but I try not to have Diet Coke either, something I've drank for years.

I'm not perfect by any means.  I've cheated a few times over the past 11 weeks.  But not many times - I'd say I can count the big cheats (like a bite of cupcake, a super-small Blizzard or one Turtle candy) on one hand. I also have drank a few Mountain Dews or sweet teas over the past 11 weeks, but again, it's not an every day occurrence for sure.  Maybe twice a week.

And no I haven't eliminated ALL sugar or breads.  I realize there's some sugar in the yogurt I eat every morning and obviously those Mountain Dews have a LOT of sugar, but the goal is to eliminate the needless sugar that I've been pouring into my body over the years.  Maybe eventually I'll eliminate even more, but this is hard enough so....baby steps!

And what has it gotten me?  Well, my clothes are certainly more loose.  Scale-wise, I've lost about five pounds.  Not a huge amount for 11 weeks worth of effort, but a safe weight loss I think.

But the point is that if I can forgo sugar, anyone can.  I'm not kidding when I say I was addicted to sugar.  I literally crave it every moment of every day.  I never in a million years thought I could eliminate as much as I have, and I have no idea what finally gave me the will power to finally do it.  But something, somewhere inside me decided I could eliminate processed sugar, and it was the right thing to do for my health.  I just hope I can continue.... 


  1. Kudos to you. Sugar is such a vice for me (and a comfort). What are the best "treats" you've found to replace it?

    Wishing you the best to keep it out of your diet!

  2. Thanks Tia! I'm really trying hard, but it's a struggle for sure. Really the only foods I've tried to substitute in place of sugary treats has been applesauce (I found that's a great one), graham crackers (probably not the best option but I find it takes away that initial sugar craving) and believe it or not, an apple. Never thought I'd be eating apples like I am now. But somehow that natural sugary flavor in apples helps too.