Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Sugar Fast. Again. January 6, 2012

I’m starting my new year with another 30 day sugar fast. Because I was a bad, bad girl during the last 2 weeks of 2011.

But in my defense, being gluten-free AND sugar-free, at Christmas, while traveling and relying on other people and rest stops to provide food is really hard. And another opportunity for frustration, disappointment and stress in a season already chock-a-block with those things.

Plus, I totally love sugar. Yes, I learned to live without it in a carefully constructed world where I allowed no temptation, but once I was out of work, out of my routine all bets were off.

At first it was a magical indulgence, and a chocolate stolen from a box of Godiva was a treat to be savored for hours.

Then, once I decided to just give up my ban on sugar until Jan 2, instead of being constantly conflicted and guilt ridden, it was like a race to see how many gluten free sugar products I could get into my body before the deadline.

The effects of this choice were not subtle:

  • Less energy.
  • More headaches.
  • Not sleeping as well.
  • Less appetite for “regular” food.
  • Being distracted by thoughts of desserts and sugary treats all. day. long.
  • Bloating.
  • Swollen ankles.
  • Mood swings usually involving tears.
  • I look like crap in most of my Christmas pictures, including really cute ones that Chris took with his new camera with a timer. My face is fuller, my eyes are dull and my skin is pale. Which means no festive holiday photo for my Facebook profile. This is a tragedy.

Somewhere around Jan 30 I accepted that I was completely powerless over the sugar. I didn’t even try to make up limits, knowing that any self-imposed sanctions applied as an afterthought would wilt against the original decree of a sugar and guilt fueled holiday.

I was honestly a little relieved to have the holidays end and be able to return to work and my carefully constructed sugarless universe. I actually came back to work half a day earlier than I needed to, and if that’s not rock bottom, I don’t know what is.

But even with all of this, it was still totally worth it.

Which I know is not a politically correct diet thing to say.

I’m supposed to follow a binge like this with loud lamentations, self-flagellation and heartfelt dramatic declarations of “AHH SUGAR, YOU CRUEL MISTRESS!! NEVER…. AGAIN….”

To which I say, “meh”.

I mean, do I love the effects of my binge? No, I’m avoiding mirrors and cameras like a vampire. Do I look forward to the sugar withdraws I’ll experience over the next two weeks? Not particularly.

But was it worth it? Um, kinda, yeah.

I mean sure, if I had it to do over again, I might not go quite as crazy. I might not shovel Santa imprinted Hershey bars and tree shaped peanut butter cups into my mouth like a drowning woman gasps for air. Maybe.

Part of my excess was due to wanting to try out all of the gluten-free sweets I’d previously avoided like cookies and muffins and chocolate dipped donuts and birthday cake.  That part was research, really, so that when a sugary treat is really needed – like a birthday, or a Christmas day brunch where I’m surrounded by bagels, coffee cake, and french toast, I can have something equivalently indulgent yet gluten-free for myself.

So were I to fall off the sugar-free wagon again, I’d probably eat those items in the same moderation I did before I went gluten and sugar-free, which is to say only on special occasions.

But here’s the real reason why I don’t regret my sugar binge:

1. I made the choice with a clear and sound mind fully aware of the likely outcomes. And as such, it feels a little hypocritical to now regret that choice. This is a good life philosophy as well. You’re welcome.

2. It was a learning experience. I saw the improved way my body processed sugar better (at the beginning) which reinforced the wisdom and benefits of a low/no sugar diet. This is only going to make this second sugar cleanse that much easier.

3. It really did make my whole holiday experience a lot less stressful and mopey. Mood swings from the sugar notwithstanding. And I know I’ve written about getting past using sweet treats as away of compensating for emotional or physical needs. But come on… I spent a total of 30 hours alone in a car over the span of about a week. I couldn’t have any of the normally fun road trip food that makes that much driving feel more like a treat than a punishment, like donuts and Big Macs and cookies the size of your head. So I had flavored coffee, french fries, and Ghirardelli peppermint bark instead. And it made the schlepping and the traffic and the butt cramps that much easier to take. Don’t judge me.

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But now I’m 3 days into my sugar fast, and so far so good. Since I broke so many routines and associations the first time it’s actually much easier mentally this time.

Physically it still has its challenges, but on the plus side, since I’m excited to be back into my healthy eating routines my creativity for lunch creations is refueled.

For example, today for lunch, I did an inventory of all the food I had on hand and ended up making a salad with beets, granny smith apples, feta cheese and walnuts. I know I’m not the first person to combine beets and green apples, but damn is that an insanely good taste combo.

what is also clear from this picture is that I will never have a career as a food photographer.

And then because I was feeling the need for something warm on this cold day, I took some frozen sugar snap peas, put them on the toaster oven tray, sprinkled some kosher salt on them, and popped them at 350 for about 10 minutes or so, moving them around once. Then I sprinkled a bit of feta on them and bam. Incredible taste explosion and satisfying lunch.

So much more satisfying than another peppermint bark or peanut butter cup… at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself until I forget the way that peppermint bark candy melted on my tongue…

*Sigh* only 27 more days to go…

 

All Good Things Must Come To An End. Evidently. October 3, 2011

I guess on some level I always knew it was too good to be true.

If I’m honest with myself, I’d have to admit, that I expected to have this bomb dropped on me at several different junctures over the past few months.

And yet.

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And yet,  it was still a shock when it actually happened. My brain worked overtime to reinterpret the words I was hearing as my stomach churned with anxiety and grief.

Even long after I’d left that little room, previously a place of calm and good feelings, the words looped endlessly through my brain:

“You need to cut all the sugar out of your diet.”

Take a minute if you must to absorb the gravity of that statement. I mean, it took me several days, so I understand.

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Now, I imagine you’ve probably got a million questions running through your head.

Such as:

“But why??? You’re young and have always seemed to have an impressive ability to metabolize sugar.”

“Who told you this and where the F* do they get off?”

“What about the cupcakes?! My god, the CUPCAKES!”

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And these are all very valid questions. Ones I’ve been wrestling with for several days now.

I’ll start at the beginning.

Remember in my last post I talked about how I’ve been…”off” for a while, but had a huge improvement after going gluten free? Well, in the course of investigating my gluten allergy, the doctor also took a vampire’s worth of blood and ran almost every test listed on the little lab sheet.

And what we learned is that my body is all kinds of buggered up.

My thyroid and pancreas have gotten lazy, digestive enzymes have gone missing from my stomach and white blood cells have run amok.

Most of these things are pretty easily correctable with minor interventions (like digestive enzymes and pro-biotics in pill form).

But that lazy pancreas… Now if that sonofabitch doesn’t decide to get with the program all kinds of bad things await me in the future.

So the solution to that problem is to eliminate sugar from my diet.

ALL SUGAR. As in, no bread or pasta (not even gluten free), definitely no candy or refined sugar, I even have to limit amounts of “good” things like certain fruits.

I had just gotten used to eating gluten free; had just found the best brands of gluten free pancake mix and recipes for gluten free brownies.

I’d even found a cupcake store that sold gluten free fudge cupcakes with cookies ‘n’cream icing! Which I will now never have again.

Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense.

The doctor tried to reassure me by saying “You adapted so well to the gluten free diet, I have no doubt you’ll adapt to this new diet just as well.”

I decided not to point out the fact that sugar may qualify as the longest running relationship in my life outside of my parents, and as such, isn’t as easy to cut out as wheat.

Sugar was who I turned to when I was sad.

Sugar was who I celebrated with.

Sugar could get me moving and improve my attitude when nothing else could.

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In short, Sugar solved everything.

Can carrots do that? Or Grapes?

NO, they cannot.

Has a hard-boiled egg ever turned a frown upside down?

No. No it has not.

And the worst irony of all? Sugar is my salve for breakups. But where do I turn for comfort after a break up with Sugar? Hmm? Seriously, I’m asking, because I have no idea.

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But on the other hand.

It’s not like it was the healthiest of relationships. I mean what with it being all one-sided and co-dependant-y.

Like any dysfunctional relationship, it took time, energy, and attention away from other parts of my life.

And now I’ve got digestive enzymes to replenish, and white blood cells to chase away, and a thyroid to wake up.  I don’t have time to sit around savoring frosting or making gluten free french toast!

And I always suspected that my incredible ability to metabolize sugar was going to end one day. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon.

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So Sugar and I are going to take a break. A four-week break, to be specific. Starting today.

And at the end of those four weeks, we’ll reevaluate. And who knows…maybe we’ll be able to strike up some sort of friendship.

Like…maybe instead of getting together every single day, it’ll just be once or twice on a weekend, at a wedding, or if I have a really bad day…

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I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m grasping at straws. Telling myself stories so the break up doesn’t hurt as much. And maybe you’re right. But you know what? I’m 18 hours into this break and already white knuckling it through every goddamn minute – and when did minutes get so long anyway? Huh? So if I want to tell myself lies, I’ll thank you to allow me to keep my illusions.

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Sorry. Withdrawals are a bitch…

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But it’s not all bad news. Chris, in his apparent campaign to be crowned “Best Boyfriend Ever”, has decided to join me in this new adventure in clean eating. I tell him it’s not necessary, but at the same time,I’m pretty sure that if he were to sit down across from me with rice complementing his plain chicken breast and steamed vegetables, I might just be tempted to reach into his throat and pull that rice out so I could have some…

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So he’s probably really just protecting himself. And rightly so.

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Its probably going to be a long and interesting four weeks…

And I’m going to blog about it whenever I can, mostly because if my hands are busy typing, they aren’t reaching for those dman cookies in the kitchen of my office.

Wish me luck.

 

 
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