I call it <Qiu’s> Sugar Post because I’m writing about sugar in relation to what I have been through.In no way am I judging anyone who eats it. It’s purely FYI – if you’re interested in what it was like. If you don’t want to know, don’t read it. I’ve divided this into 3 sections – sugar-ed up me, letting go of sugar, post-sugar me.
I started cutting back on sugar on 27th January 2015. Here’s my sad “Percy Pigs I love you, don’t leave me!” face:
Sugar-ed up me
Anyone who’s ever known me, lived with, worked with me know that I love dessert. I love chocolate (dude, I have ‘chocolate’ tattooed on my skin. Come on). I LOVE PERCY PIGS. I’m not sure ‘love’ is the right word either because it’s an obsession. I’d ‘replace’ meal calories just to have cookies/cakes/chocolate/kit kat/twix/snickers/palm sugar (yes I ate them neat)/waffles smothered in sweet syrup/junk – corn chips/potato chips/seaweed chips/salty and savoury. It’s all calories isn’t it? A calorie is a calorie. I’d rather have something I enjoy eating.
Regular food held little joy for me. I’d patiently wait for dessert. If someone didn’t suggest it, I would.
Have you seen me with salted caramel ice cream/tiramisu/red velvet cake? I go absolutely bonkers and will do a little happy dance, bouncing up and down in my seat. People found it funny. Was I proud of it? Hell, yes. I can eat whatever I want. So there. Freeeeedom! (cue: dramatic scene from Braveheart)
It was Nigel who pointed it out (what a brave man)
Nigel, casually: Qiu I think you might be addicted to sugar.
Qiu, snappily: no I’m not, and even if I am, so what. I’ll eat whatever I want. You’re not trying to control what I eat, ARE YOU?
Nigel: Qiu have you seen this 5 weeks to sugar detox book…
Qiu: SCREW THAT.
Little did I know as much as I loved sugar, sugar didn’t love me back. Here’s why:
- I was absolutely totally addicted. If my life is going along swimmingly happily, I still ate a lot, but less sugar. If there is a hint of stress, whoa, the sugar intake goes waaaay up.
- This is the main reason: It’s what it does to my mental state and emotions. I’d roller coaster. “I’m dying”. Yes I frequently felt like I was dying, struggling with the will to live. My sugar highs were less often and the lows stuck and stayed more easily. The more stressed I got the more I reached for that sweet milky chocolate. Did it make me feel better? No. It was just enough for me not to want to crawl back to bed. My mood swings. Super happy, super sad. Mostly sad. Why was I always depressed? Have I got chronic depression? IT’S WORK. IT’S SINGAPORE. I always felt ‘foggy’; I’d often not be able to think clearly. Just a cloud over my head. My goodness – I keep up a chirpy front to the world (exhausting), but to my boyfriends/family? Grumpy goddess (yes I’m declaring myself a goddess. It’s fun). I’d hate myself afterwards, for being so mean to them. Worst of all, I’d hate me more for being mean to me.
- I was perpetually hungry. If I need to eat, it’s a mini crisis. I need to eat now now NOW OR I’LL SURELY DIE. That and perpetually tired and perpetually bloated
- My poor skin (don’t know if it’s big enough to see but trust me, it’s spotty and blotchy)
- I’m not fat, but I always felt so heavy, so lousy, so utterly energy-less. I’m active, but because I forced myself to. I always wished I was skinny, so I’d cut all the calories down to just the sweet stuff, and not eat anything else.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a sweet treat. The problem I have is that sugar has an extra strong grip on me. It’s the way cocaine is to a cocaine addict. They need more and more, and it gets to a point where they need a lot just to stay sane.
Letting go of Sugar
So I started to do some research.
These 2 freaked me out:
- The Secrets of Sugar – The Fifth Estate – CBC News
- Robert Lustig -The Bitter Truth:
The research absolutely totally freaked the living daylights out of me. I’m not going to list the science of it as the information is pretty clear in those 2 videos. A calorie is not a calorie. Sugar isn’t just ‘bad’. It’s very, very bad. Liver, heart, insulin-resistance, etc. At the rate I’m consuming it, I’m a very likely candidate for Type 2 diabetes. It’s not just fat people who develop diabetes.
The one that really got me was the experiment of the rats dropped into a pool. Those who ate normally took 5 seconds to find safety in higher ground. Those fed sugar swam round in circles and took 33 seconds. That’s me! The sluggish, brain fogged sugar-fed rat!
These 2 helped:
- How to kill your sugar addiction naturally
- If you’re a woman, reading this might help. If you’re a man, you’ll roll your eyes.
p.s. I cried a fair bit: (tears fall) it wasn’t my fault that I’m grumpy and sad all the time (wails) it’s the sugar (bawls) I am going to do this, I’ve got to be sttttrrroooong! (bawls some more)
Thus began my sugar detox.
|– Cut out candy and chocolate totally. Was still eating digestives and ate the cheesecake I baked. Had gingerbread cookies on Sunday after which I felt absolutely drained and horrible. Dying on Sunday, totally emotional, crying all over the place. Nigel had to deal with all of it. Went salsa dancing but felt shit. I was wailing and calling out names of stuff I wanted to eat, like Twix, Snickers, CARROT CAKE, chocolate, etc. Poor Nigel.
|– Nigel saw a chromium advertisement. I started taking them one afternoon. Wasn’t hungry at all till dinner time and I was flying on feeling happy. Threw biscuits and tomato paste away. Amazing energy, totally happy, wasn’t hungry. Chromium picolinate: 100mcg breakfast and 100mcg with lunch but after a few days it lost its effect. Increased chromium to 300mcg a day. Started working again! 200mcg with breakfast, 100mcg with lunch. Laser sharp focus. Declared Chromium amazeballs. I could tell when I was actually hungry. Started getting headaches, occasionally emotional. Went to bed thinking about food and snacks and wake up thinking about what I can eat. Would wake up and immediately grab a pear. Not too hungry throughout the day, but mentally hungry, if you know what I mean. Headaches.
|– Was watching a lot of sugar theories and realised my brain was still making excuses. I was sipping mulled wine throughout the day, and still eating a shit ton of fruit. Who was I kidding? Poured the bottle away. Seriously cut down fruit intake to 1 banana, 2pears, 2 satsumas, 1 apple a day. (a dramatic reduction for me) After I threw away the mulled wine, the craving for fruits started to decrescendo. Was worried about headaches so stopped taking chromium this week. Noticed increased sensitivity to alcohol. Super flu-y. Bit nauseous.
Realised I had to cut out yeast/bread
|– Realised I no longer felt like a hippo. Still bloated but only slightly. Had one fat slice of wholemeal bread that I made on Monday and was totally foggy and bloated and sad the next day. Cut out bread. Haven’t argued with Nigel in ages, but in loving support of my endeavour, cut out sugar as well. Noticed I wasn’t struggling with myself. A lot of mental torture vanished. Simply vanished.
First week of cutting out refined sugar totally (stupid mulled wine)
|– Sarted taking 200mcg chromium for a couple of days, alternate. Headache is gone, and so is the craving for caffeine. The smell of milk is oddly starting to turn me off. Managed half a cup of coffee, which is VERY unusual for me.
– Learnt about Candida. WTF. Will this ever end??
– Eating a shit ton of yoghurt and cheese to substitute sugar. It’s a bad <need-to-have-something-in-my-mouth> snacking habit. Slight craving for sweets but tolerable. Not actually hungry. Headaches all gone. Energy, brilliant. I can now swim freestyle without going out of breath/thinking I might drown. Only sipped Nigel’s coffee. Not interested.
|26th feb ‘15
||– Had my last fruit. A green apple. The whole thing.
p.s. I heart fruits like all fruit lovers will heart fruits. This was the hardest decision in the whole sugar thing.
|27th feb ‘15
||– 1 tomato, 1 carrot a day, a lot of coconuts. Does that count? I AM tired and dehydrated due to the journey from England to India. 4 coconuts. Are coconuts a fruit? Can I have too many coconuts? Ah this is hard.
|9th Mar ‘15
||– 1 tomato, 1 carrot, ONE coconut, a lot of dried coconuts, almonds, cashews for snacks. It was after I cut fruit out that any physical cravings for sugar stopped bothering me, completely. Feels great. I eat what I want, when it’s time to eat. I’m not usually hungry. Or ever hangry.
|20th Mar ’15:
3 weeks without fruit.
|– Yesterday I considered eating chocolate again. Why? Time to examine the demons. Nothing was happening. Is it boredom? Loneliness?
– This before bedtime snacking thing has to be dealt with. It’s the mindless eating thing that also has to be dealt with. It’s not happy for sure. Guilt afterwards. It’s the eat eat eat> habit.
|28th mar ‘15
A month without fruit. Well done me.
|– I feel balanced. And calm. Actually I’ve felt balanced and calm since I tipped the mulled wine out. You could say it’s all the yoga and routine, but I’ve done 3 intensive yoga trainings before, and always had that <I’m struggling> feeling. People who know me and are reading this will go: but Qiu, you’re always calm. I know I LOOK calm. In fact I’m very good at looking calm. It’s not hard to develop a calm veneer.
– 2 months since starting sugar thing.
– Still munching/snacking, but am gently working with it.
I’ve read how people were off sugar for months and all it took was one good chocolate cake and they were back to square one. I will be introducing sugar back into my life at the end of 3 months. I’m scared.
I feel fantastic. I can think. My brain works. I’m not freaking struggling anymore. I’m not depressed. I’m not fighting with biochemistry. The mental and emotional demons are there but they’re so much easier to work with. Most of all, I am free. I don’t crave it anymore. Yes of course in a social setting I’ll humour people and go “oh yes, that dark chocolate almond butter is DABOMB” or something like that. It’s a memory. I don’t physically need it anymore. Inner peace, which used to be dependent on my circumstance in life, is much more accessible to me.
The hardest part? The initial bit. That was physically, mentally, emotionally draining. It was hard to stick with. Some research I’ve done call it withdrawal symptoms. I was crying over not being able to eat malteser bunnies. I mean, malteser bunnies!
What kept me going? Feeling a little better, bit by bit, the grip loosening, bit by bit and eventually, feeling perpetually clear headed and energetic again.
This isn’t about some diet.
This isn’t about some cleanse.
This definitely isn’t about losing weight.
This is about an addiction that controlled me. Do I still get sad? Of course I do. The old demons come up – self hate, self pity, worry, fear, anger, etc etc. So much anger, so much stress. The difference now is in my capacity to work with them. My ability to work with the demons are not reduced or sabotaged by my physical body anymore. The uneccessary mental torture is gone. Demons are tough stuff to work on and it’s a life-long process. I’d like to reduce obstacles along the way.
There you go 🙂 Qiu’s Sugar Post.
p.s. I’ve met with a fair few ignorant people along the way – why are you so hard on yourself? Are you STILL not eating sugar? Come on, live a little. If anyone has any good tips on what to say to them, do share.