I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I’ve tried to quit eating sugar.
I would make it through the terrible detox and then maybe a month or two before the inevitable thought that I can have just one square of dark chocolate. Which leads me predictably eating the entire bar which leads to me having absolutely no control over how much sugar I put into my system. The entire thing just an exercise in futility.
Now sugar addiction is not such a bad thing if you’re not paying attention to your body. If you’re not looking at the spikes and the hormonal changes at the mood swings and cravings. At the out of control-ness . If you’re not looking at the long-term benefits of what sugar (insert your particular achilles heal here) does to your body. And it really is OK. It’s just one more part of your life that isn’t in complete control. And who has control over anything anyway, right?
But then something happened. There was a coalescing of small health concerns that became one hot throbbing mess of one health concern. And at it’s root, was inflammation. And what was at the core of the inflammation balance in my body?
Dammit. There was no way to get around it this time. This wasn’t just some fad I was trying to stop myself from partaking in, this wasn’t like a social media diet. This was now truly and equivocally, dare I say radically– affecting my health.
So I knew when I quit sugar this time I was going to have to do it for the last time. Immediately I knew that I could probably have a little sugar at some point…but then I had to look at that self-sabotage. I had to actually admit to myself, like an alcoholic does, that I have a problem with sugar. The cane sugar speaks to me in the night and urges me to partake, partake, partake. It’s everywhere. It’s after every meal. It’s all of some meals. It’s everywhere! Its’s as socially accepted as drinking…I mean who doesn’t want that dessert after dinner? Who doesn’t love pancakes or waffles or donuts?
And I had to accept that no one was going to understand. That they would think I could have a little. But just like alcoholics I would have to be on my own in this battle. It was me against my will. And it seemed about time that I should win.
So I want to tell you what made the difference this time when I quit. What made it actually stick?
First, I didn’t allow myself to think there was going to be another relapse. I didn’t plan that first square of 80% dark chocolate. I knew that I wouldn’t be eating cane sugar anymore and I went through all the scenarios of what quitting looked like. I practiced seeing myself saying “no thank you.”
But maybe most importantly, this time, unlike the other times, I paid more attention to how I felt during the detox.
Not how clear and clean I felt after I stopped eating sugar, because you can always make yourself feel that way by quitting sugar again. But this time, I focused on how horrible I felt when it was leaving my system. I remembered every craving. Every mood swing. Every pain. I remember the sleepless nights of wanting. I remembered sweating when I wanted sugar so badly I thought I was going to rip my face off. This is all true. And I remembered every moment of it. I seared it in my mind and in my heart and in my memories. And for the past seven months, whenever a piece of cheesecake, my personal favorite, shows itself to me behind the glass counter, I smile at it and love it from afar.
Do I still want it? You bet your ass I do. The cravings have never gone away, but the madness of the craving has stopped (mostly). The manic craving is gone and yes my brain still tries to tell me that I can have a bite. One bite won’t send you backwards. But I smile at that conniving voice as well, and show it pictures of my detox. I remember the pain and agony and the cravings. I remember the cold sweats and that absolute out of control feeling that sugar imprinted on me as it was leaving my body. And I smile at that cheesecake and say “no, thank you.”
So I guess why I am writing today is if there is something in your life that you don’t want there. Especially if you don’t want it there specifically because it’s creating some type of significant imbalance in your body or your life. Then if you do decide to quit it focus on that leaving part of the journey. Focus on remembering the detox and how hard it was and be grateful for the will power you have to simply watch it leave. And remember those parts! So that when it shows itself to you again and it will over and over, you have the antidote. The Shadowside. You can show it and your self it’s true nature and its connection to you. You can remind yourself of the end game.
I am seven months cane sugar free. Have I quit sugar for good? I still want to eat a box of donuts daily. I don’t. I still want coconut cheesecake but I don’t touch it. And I am so grateful for the detox and the memories to remind me of my will and what I truly want. And I allow that to be my truth.
How is my inflammation?…it is slowly and surely coming back into balance. I narrowly escaped a very significant health challenge…and more than that, I found a freedom I didn’t even know I was missing.
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