As we enter this new year I feel withdrawal from the sugar exposure I allowed myself too often over the holidays. I ate more than I planned and am reminded of what it does to me; fatigue, cravings for sweets I do not even care for, lack of satisfaction from my meals, lack of interest in my daily life and serious constipation.
I truly believe I have an addiction to sugar. Only a couple of years ago, I could not go a full day without something sweet. It had to be a baked good or very sweet hot chocolate. However, my tastes have changed. I find myself feeling quite unsatisfied when I eat something that is just sweet. I crave flavor when consuming any thing sweet. Sugar cookies are the worst invention to my tongue.
What did me in over the holidays was that I felt like I could not stop until I found the intense flavor I was truly looking for. I know why too. Stress. Between all the travel in a short period of time, busy schedule to keep up with, little to no me time, endless holiday food buffets, judging comments, and family problems that can arise; I find the holidays to be a time of high anxiety.
When I am filled with anxiety I undergo a combination of two things: loss of appetite or binge eating sweets. Stress is the reason I do not keep sweets around my home all the time. I developed this habit in undergrad. I would bake when I was stressed and depressed, then binge on the sweets I prepared until it was completely devoured and repeat the cycle. In late 2014, I became conscious of what I was doing.
For the week before Thanksgiving 2014, I stopped consuming anything with added sugar until Thanksgiving day. I really thought I could never make it through that week or be able to pick it back up again after treating myself during the holiday weekend. I did it, but not without experiencing withdrawal symptoms for 7-10 days. I went back and forth between binge eating and not feeling hungry at all (i.e. stressed out), lacked interest in daily life, became easily agitated, was very restless (though working out helped with this a lot), endless nightmares each night, various parts of my face were twitching, etc..
After about 2 weeks without any added sugar in early December 2014, I felt great! Better than I ever had, actually. My bowel movements became regular. My energy was up. I felt calm too. I found what I needed, or more what I did not need (Sugar). Also, fruit was more satiating than it had ever been before in my life. I only ate a piece once per day. I still enjoyed a cupcake, but I stopped thinking about them everyday. I felt cured in a way.
Though I know I have an emotional issue with sweets, I have felt a mental and physical impact. Now when I eat any amount of sweets, I feel an intense sugar high. Not to mention, many baked goods these days are LOADED with sugar (40+ grams in one serving). This has changed my routine big time. I use to think to end my day with something sweet. Within the past few years, I mainly end my day with dinner and nothing else. I find that I sleep so well and feel energized in the morning.
This may not be the solution for everyone, but our society consumes far too much sugar. Sugar has been found to negatively effect your heart and cause weight gain. These two impacts alone lead to many other health issues. Reducing your sugar intake and being more conscious of how much sugar you are consuming can improve your life. Sugar is EVERYWHERE, but does it really need to be added to everything?