What happens when you stop consuming sugars?
Last month and a week ago marked the beginning of what was possibly the hardest month of my life; cutting down on my sugar intake. This journey into existentialism all began with a visit to Dr. Gen. It was this trip that opened my eyes to what was really happening with my body and how my lifestyle choices were adversely affecting my health. Sick of receiving the same diagnosis from my doctor, and wondering why I couldn’t manage to be healthy for more than two weeks at a time, a close friend suggested I go to Holistic Health Care. Frustrated, but hopeful, I went for an assessment and treatment of the symptoms. Traumatized at being labelled a hypochondriac, I held close to thoughts that I was overreacting, and half expecting I’d receive my regular diagnosis.
Based on how I answered the initial questionnaire required before seeing Dr. Gen, she was able to pinpoint part of the problem. The particular issue at hand started with me consuming as many forms of gummy candies I could get my hands on, while also maintaining a diet rich in starches and even more hidden sugars. A major reason for this unhealthy lifestyle was my long stints of being too busy to eat. When it did cross my mind that would be followed up by ingesting as much food as possible to compensate for having missed those meals. If I did remember to eat, it would be a hand of gummy bears kept around to provide sugar rushes strong enough to provide energy through the day. The dangerous part of all this is that I wasn’t gaining or losing weight, so there were no real tells besides partial changes in how my brain functioned. But, don’t we all blame work and stress for how tired we are? I slept more and needed more caffeine to get me through the day. The entire visit felt like a confessional; I was drowning in sin, and Dr. Gen, the key to my absolution.
At the end of the visit I left feeling much more hopeful than I did when I first stepped in. But, how would I be able to live on a diet where even the smallest amounts of sugar were now restricted? No refined sugars or starches would pass my lips for the next 28 days. When you hear the term, sugar free, it’s often associated with artificial sweeteners that promise to be a healthier alternative to the common sugar problem. However, this was not the path I was taking. Dr. Gen signed me up for an app that would give me a list of the available foods along with a few helpful recipes to ease the user into the process of clean eating, and artificial sweeteners were not something on those lists. Why I am always stuck with the least fun projects is a mystery to me. But, here we go again.
Everyone breathing was irritating me at some point. Cutting down on sugar really caused me distress. I was constantly being bombarded with sugary indulgences, then someone in the office had the audacity to treat us to cake for their birthday. I had none and was not in the least bit happy about it. The entire survival of the first week was based solely on simply avoiding all foods that weren’t on the spectrum of a vegetable. There was a lot of hunger and there may or may not have been angry tears, so I sought help from Dr. Gen. Once she unlocked the knowledge of healthy fats, e.g. avocados, coconut oil, salmon and olive oil, the weeks got better. Weeks two and three were experimentation weeks, because once I opened up my mind to what I could have there was more room for growth and fun projects. Thanks to Pinterest and YouTube I was able to find recipes for things like gluten- and wheat-free bread; I even blended oats and created my own flour, which made cooking for myself a lot easier.
By the fourth week, my cravings were all but gone and I felt liberated. I’d lost more than fifteen pounds and all my symptoms had subsided or completely disappeared. Aside from my clothes not fitting anymore, or sugar tasting like acid now, I’m pretty content with the choice I made to stick with it. I’m currently working on a proper balance between my sugar intake, as well as no sugar at all. It’s a process; slowly but surely hopefully I’ll get to a point where I don’t even crave sugar at all.