Hello my name is Diana and I am addicted to sugar. This is the story of how Chile reawakened my sugar dragon and what I’m going to do about it.
But before we get to the juicy part where I’m sprinting through the streets of Patagonia so I can shove highly processed, packaged cookies into my mouth ten at a time, I have to take you back to when I was a stubborn little 3-year old.
As a child I was raised as a pescatarian. That all ended when I was 3, however, right around the time I also demanded to dress myself. I became best friends with my beta fish and I’ve been a strict vegetarian ever since. I wouldn’t even let someone sit next to me if they were eating fish or meat. That of course has changed and I now have the utmost respect for people who eat meat and or fish, and honestly sometimes I wish I did too. It’s a personal choice I made when I was 3, and I’m probably not going to change anytime soon.
So now we fast-forward 22 years to me sitting in Futaleufu, Chile with my sugar monster rearing his ugly head. Meat is a huge part of Chilean culture, included in most, if not all meals. Being a vegetarian in Chile is TOUGH, and unfortunately I’m not one of those vegetarians who will pick around the meat or eat soup with a chicken broth base.
I was staying in a guide house with my boyfriend and a few of his coworkers. All our meals were prepared by a 4’11’’ Chilean woman with a whole bunch of sass. (If the boys aren’t awake in the morning, she smacks a metal spatula aggressively on the wall. All of the paint has consequently been chipped off. She means business). I am not one to bite the hand that feeds me, so when dinner wasn’t vegetarian I would slyly give my dinner to one of the boys and tell her gracias with a huge smile. She still doesn’t like me, but we’re working on it.
So basically I was hungry. There was pretty much always bread (sugar) in the house so that’s how I would fill my belly. When dinner offered nothing vegetarian, I would go to the tiny mercado and buy pasta and tomato sauce (sugar and more sugar). Milk chocolate and Cookies Klassica were the basic currency of the guide house. So I was eating sugar all day everyday, and all of a sudden I needed to eat sugar all day everyday.
I knew my sugar monster was going to need a serious timeout when I found myself on an adorable date with my boyfriend, but all I wanted to do was go home and eat cookies. Cue to me running in the streets to get back to cookies. This really happened (ok so maybe not the sprinting part. But the desire was there) and IT WAS NOT OK.
Sugar addiction is real, and I bet most of you reading this have probably experienced it at some point. Sugar is addictive for many reasons, one being we are hard wired to crave it. Sugar- glucose in particular – is the major fuel for our brain. Sugar also literally makes us happy. When we eat it, serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) is released into our blood stream. So not only does your body physically crave glucose, but it also makes you happy when you eat it. This may be one reason you turn to sweet things as a comfort when you’re stressed or sad.
What my sugar detox is not:
A punishment. I am not cutting out sugar because I was “bad” in Chile. This is not a punishment for eating one too many cookies. Those cookies were delicious. I am doing this because I don’t feel good, and I don’t want to be planning my days around said cookies.
A crash diet. Do I intend to live my life like this forever? Of course not. But I am not doing this so I can lose 30 pounds. Again, it all comes down to how my body feels. And right now my body feels sluggish.
So I have been “off” sugar for the last 7 days and I feel amazing. I was planning on writing this blog the day I went off sugar, but you know. Life. Doing a sugar detox, however, is hard. I am not eating anything that contains sugar and unfortunately sugar is in everything, so a lot of salad dressings, soups, and sauces are out.
I find that when doing something like this it’s really easy to say, “Oh I’ll start Monday” or, “I’ll start on the 1st of the month.” I’ve gotten really good at these games and I know how it usually goes, so I didn’t wait for a Monday, or for February 1st, I just started. Melissa Hartwig, author of the Whole30, says, “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” This is a quote I will be living by for the next 23 days. I mean lets be real for a second, quitting sugar is hard, but its doable. And it feels really good.
When I do eat sugar again, I will eat it mindfully. I will really focus on savoring each bite and enjoying every moment, rather than eating a bowl of ice cream while watching The OA (which is amazing by the way) and not even knowing what flavor I am eating. I am sure that one day my sugar monster will return and I will get to reevaluate my relationship with sugar once again. Eating healthy is a balancing game and no one is perfect.
If you’ve been feeling off lately and want to join me on my no sugar journey let me know in the comments below! If you’re looking for more individualized coaching when it comes to cravings click here.