Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sugar Withdrawal, Part 1

I'm doing a sugar fast at the moment, because I tend to go overboard with the sweets and eat the whole package of Oreos or whatever I have on hand.  I know that is not at all normal, that's because it's actually an eating disorder, although not one of the two well-known ones. (Binging but no purging cause I'm a wimp about vomiting - Binge Eating Disorder.)  This umm... "condition" is actually brought on my compulsive dieting.
Luckily (?) for me I binge pretty much exclusively on sweets, which I can just cut out and be fine, right?  It's not like I need them to survive.

Well as I'm quickly finding out due to the fact that I am also currently fasting from media (Facebook, movies, YouTube, radio, etc.), and my boyfriend, so I have NONE of my usual coping strategies, sugar is important in my regular routine.  It's amazing how much of a stress-reducer and coping mechanism sugar is for me.  It has an almost instant calming effect on me, which is why it tends to be the retreat of choice at the end of a long day.  Every long day.  Every day.

I've been dying to know why sugar is so calming for me, so addictive, and more importantly - how to deal with it.  I have researched sugar addiction and its similarity to alcoholism and other drug addictions.  But I still don't get why the body responds to it like a drug, when glucose is the fuel of choice for our body's cells.  How can it be so important but also so detrimental?  I've heard some say that it's actually fructose that is the culprit, and there could be truth to that.  Table sugar is half glucose, half sucrose.  But fruits are full of fructose and I don't have problems with that and it's considered healthy to eat plenty of fruit.  I'll still do more research on that one.  When I have time.

The "how to deal with it" part is really tough.  A lot of people say I should do "Intuitive Eating" - don't cut out any foods or food groups, but just stop eating when you're full, honor your hunger cues, eat a variety of foods, etc.  That's great advice.  But I sure do like sweet things a lot, and can find a way to have dessert with every meal.

Is it more like alcoholism where I should be giving it up cold turkey and never touch the stuff again?  And how strictly can I hold to "no sugar"?  Obviously there's some sugar in everything if you're talking carbs.  If it's table sugar, believe me, I can still binge on "sugar free" candy and crap like that, but at 3 times the $$.

When I have gone off it completely, I set myself up for a huge binge when I do mess up.  One time I was off sugar for several months!  It was out of my system, I didn't even crave it any more and I felt great.  Food no longer controlled my life.  But inevitably, little things start to bug me, like not getting to have pie at family gatherings.  Cravings creep up after a while more as a psychological thing than a physical one.  I guess I broke myself of the physical part but not the mental.  Do I really want to NEVER have ice cream or cookies or pie ever again?  After those months, I "fell off the wagon" and it has been pretty much a non-stop binge since then (several years now), perhaps cause I'm scared that I'll not have that food available when I decide to say goodbye to it again.  That's another case for intuitive eating - stop making certain foods "off limits", and giving them so much power.

Ugh...  but anyway, I'm doing a 2-week fast from stuff because I have felt really mixed up in my life and wanted to remove all my crutches and distractions, forcing myself to do more important things like introspect, clean my house, and do school work.  I didn't do this restriction as a permanent thing, but as a 2-week fast.  I know some people who fast from sugar the entire holiday season, except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  That way they still get their favorite holiday treats on the holidays themselves, but they aren't gorging themselves all season long.  You can't do a ton of damage in just one day out of the whole month, so it seems a pretty good strategy.

I'm at the one-week mark currently in my 2-week fast, and I'm dying right now (which is why I'm writing so I have a constructive distraction).  I was thinking the first 3-4 days would be the big withdrawal time, but in actuality, it's from about days 4-8 I think.  (At least I hope this doesn't last many more days!)  I am SO tempted to cheat right now, it's not even funny.  I keep thinking things like, "I should just have some dark chocolate, that's really good for you, and I can just have one piece."  Well that may very well be true, but it would still be breaking my fast in which I wanted to literally have NO sugar/ sweets.
What I wouldn't give for some warm chocolate chip cookies and milk.  No!  Stop that train of thought.

So, I have been snacking a lot to try to get rid of the cravings.  But really, is this any better than if I were eating the sweets?  I'm eating chips and dip (good ones though- multigrain chips with spinach dip).  I made smoothies and that helped a lot to ignore or cover up cravings, but I ran out for now.  That was also really healthy and good (frozen fruit, juice, banana, spinach, Greek yogurt).

I am going to try getting up and listening to music while I clean, and if that doesn't work, I'll just go to bed early and hope tomorrow goes better.  Wish me luck.

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