Why I Quit Sugar


Let me tell you a little about myself. Specifically, let me tell you a little about myself and sugar.

When I was growing up, I would sneak Little Debbie dessert snacks out of the cabinet in the middle of the night. It made my mom furious because she planned for them to be in our lunches. I couldn't help myself. I had trouble sleeping for much of my childhood, and I would always wake up hungry. If there was a dessert available, in my tired and delirious state, I couldn't help but eat it. If not that, a pb&j. This became part of my sleep routine, getting up and eating in order to soothe myself back to sleep, a habit that took years to undo. This was just the beginning.

When I was in college, I gave up soda and sugar in my tea and started doing an hour at a time on the elliptical in the campus gym, but I also started eating enormous servings of pasta and buying bags of candy in the campus commissary to binge-eat while watching TV.

In grad school I would sometimes stash cookies and other sweets in my office and shame eat them by myself when no one was around while feeling like a failure because I was gaining so much weight (not just due to sugar, but also because of pizza and fast food and stress and lack of exercise) and felt like I didn't belong in my program at school and felt too much pressure to write something good to write something good.

In the year after I finished grad school, hanging around Blacksburg recovering from a bad breakup and trying to figure out my next step, I lived right down the street from a fast food place I got chili dogs and milkshakes from way too often. I was drinking cheap red wine just about every night. I stopped recording my weight that winter because it was too high to admit. That Christmas I decided I had to make some changes. Creeping up on 200 pounds was sobering. I was broke, lonely, and incredibly depressed. I started to make plans to move back to Texas. It was during the process of that long distance move that my weight finally budged, and I dropped the first ten pounds pretty easily. Over the next few months, I lost another 30, give or take, and dropped a lot of bad habits in the process. It helps when you don't have a penny to spare for junk food. What didn't help was the free cookies in the breakroom at work. Even then, there was sugar I couldn't say no to.

In my family, we love German Chocolate cake and brownie fudge sundaes and lots of other sweets, too. Which isn't unusual, or bad necessarily! Sweets at celebrations are normal and fun. What isn't healthy and fun is eating cake 3x a day until it's gone, buying boxes of cookies when you're home alone and making sure to finish them off before anyone gets back, or feeling unable to stop yourself from taking another portion. It isn't fun when you crave something so bad that you run out and get it, then hate yourself for eating it and don't even like it because it really isn't what your body wants. It isn't fun to be addicted.

Sugar alone isn't the villain here. Yes, sugar isn't great for you, and yes it happens to be pretty damn tasty. But sugar isn't throwing itself down my throat. It's sugar coupled with other bad habits that brought me to the point of quitting sugar. Sugar and lack of exercise. Sugar and lack of self control. Sugar and lack of proper nutrition. Sugar and sleep deprivation. Sugar existing isn't why I had to quit sugar. It was the way I was with sugar, and the way sugar was with me. We had to break up, and doing so meant recognizing that all of these issues are interwoven. You can't just sweep the knee on sugar and expect not to have to do any other work.

Next week we'll be talking about what exactly it means to quit sugar. Because honestly, it's a bit of a misnomer. Then we'll go into how I quit sugar, and what happened when I did. This is just post 1/4. So stay tuned!

1 comment

  1. I'm looking forward to reading this series! I've been trying to take better care of myself as I've just finished grad school, and it's been so hard. Thank you for being so honest here!

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