Friday, January 28, 2011

Sugar Challenge

I was a sugar addict.  It started innocently enough as a small child.  A chocolate donut from the local bakery on Saturday morning, a swig of cherry Kool-Aid on a hot summer afternoon, a bowl of colorful Trix cereal washed down with cold milk before school.

Sugar was just as common as salt and pepper.  It sweetened up those apple pies my mom baked in the fall.  It decorated the tops of snickerdoodle cookies.  It had its own rightful place in the sugar bowl, where adding an extra spoonful of sugar certainly did help the medicine go down!

Little did I know sugar was like a slow drip of arsenic, poisoning my body and creating an addiction that could rival anyone at the Betty Ford Center.  (Want to know about the damage sugar does to your body?  Read my notes on Facebook.)

I have vivid memories of my first job at Safeway.  I was completely unaware that I had a sugar problem, though each day on my break a jelly donut and a 3 Musketeers Bar found its way into my stomach.

More vivid memories of being a 6th grade school teacher.  Still unaware of my sugar addiction, I spent each night lying in bed reading a book while scarfing down half a bag of cookies and sipping nighty night tea wondering why I had insomnia.

And still more memories of homeschooling my children.  Heaping spoonful after spoonful of sugar into cups of coffee, then frantically drinking the elixir down as a heroin addict frantically finds a fix.

Making the decision to eliminate sugar from my diet was one of the most difficult challenges I've ever faced in my life.  Sugar, once it knows you are ready to sever ties, goes into overdrive and creates uncontrollable cravings that even Super Woman couldn't conquer.  I battled with sugar for years!  At times having conquered the invader and at other times caving in like Whole Foods acquiescing to Monsanto.

It wasn't until I started school at Institute for Integrative Nutrition that I finally got a handle on the sugar.  Through patience, determination, better food choices, deconstructing the cravings and lots of support from my fellow students, I found the sugar cravings slowly diminishing while my mood and energy improved and my belly didn't hurt anymore!

But now even with my arsenal of natural and alternative sweeteners, I am dismayed and disgruntled by the sugar content found in the most basic of foods.  Ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, BBQ sauce.  You name it, it probably has sugar in it.  Even the organic products at the health food store are loaded with sugar!  Though I may not want sugar in my life, the food industry seems to think it should be!

So my Sugar Challenge has begun.  I am on a mission to continue eliminating sugar from my life and my pantry.  By finding products made without sugar or just learning to make them on my own, my goal is to be truly sugar free. 

Will you to join me?

How has sugar affected your life?


  1. EEK!! I know I have the same issue with sugar that you do. I WANT to be sugar free but at the same time thinking of giving it up for ever scares me. I want to be able to go to a party and have a piece of cake. I want to have a rich, yummy dessert at a fancy restaurant from time to time. At one time in my life I did eliminate all every ingredient of everything I ate. It only lasted a few months but I remember feeling really good! Well, for now I am working on cutting out overt, processed sugar and cutting back on the carbs again. Maybe when I've kicked the cravings in a week or so I'll be able to think about cutting back even more without freaking out. It's amazing how addicting this stuff is!!

  2. Oh yeah, we have a war on drugs at a global level, but individually we are all having our own personal wars with sugar. And Melissa, I have found that when I go out and a have that dessert I only eat a tiny bit now, not the whole piece! I feel a thousand times BETTER now that I am 80% sugar free! xo

  3. I have been on a no sugar to minimal sugar diet for 3 years now! I can really notice the difference when I do eat a little sugar, how it makes me feel off. Mostly I use stevia extract to sweeten my food, or I eat fruit. I also cut back on my salt intake. Now, when I eat out everything tastes over salted or over sweetened. I think sashimi is my new favorite, no added sugar or salt hehe

  4. Oh, I feel your sugar-addiction pain! I grew up on the same type of diet. I remember as a kid having a bowl of Cheerios with 3 teaspoons of sugar loaded on so I could eat the sugar and milk when the Cheerios were gone...and then adding more sugar!

    Now, my boys get a donut after church on Sundays. I got them on rare ocassion and the last time I had one it wasn't even good. I just don't like anything that sweet anymore.

    I still like something sweet, but mostly I use raw honey, molasses or 100% maple syrup to sweeten anything.

    Good job, Kristi! So proud of you!

  5. Great job Amber! Yes, even now if I have something sweet, I can only handle a tiny bit. It just tastes too sweet!

    Isn't our childhood diets just amazing! I also put sugar in my Raisin Bran! I haven't had a donut in um, how many years? I can't remember but I think it was when I was teaching public school, so like 2002?