I grew up in a household where sugar was not allowed. My mom had worked for a chiropractor and had a firm belief in the badness of sugar. Now, don't get me wrong - she was doing the right thing here. But because it was such a no-no, whenever I'd go to a friend's house, I'd eat as much as I was offered. When I got a little money of my own, I'd spend it on candy. Treats just didn't happen. We'd have birthday cake, or we'd have one candy bar at Christmas, and that was it. I found myself really looking forward to going to friends' houses or any other opportunity I could find to have a treat. And because I have an addictive nature anyway, and because sugar is, by its nature, addictive, it was like a match to a stick of dynamite.
Something else to know - when your brain doesn't create the proper chemicals, you don't feel emotions like you should. We've all heard of seratonin uptake inhibitors and the like. Well, picture a brain that doesn't produce happy chemicals. And then picture eating some sugar, which mimics the happy chemicals. Suddenly, we've taken a stressed-out Tristi and made her feel better. I felt genuinely better when I ate sugar.
So here we have:
Tristi doesn't get treats, so Tristi hunts them down.
Tristi is an addictive person, and sugar is addictive.
Tristi's brain doesn't tell her to be happy, so Tristi feels better when she eats sugar.
Add to this the fact that I also didn't grow up eating very much protein, and that let the sugar wreak even more havoc than it would have normally.
Put those components together, and you have the circumstances surrounding how I grew up and how I got this way. Or, I should say, the way I used to be.
By the time I got in for treatment, I had tried going off sugar a number of times. But because I wasn't getting system support to buoy up all the reasons why I was on sugar in the first place, I would fail miserably. After a while, I wondered if I was going to have to just give up. And you know what, I kind of wanted to. I love sugar. I wanted to spend the rest of my life eating sugar. Going off it would be hard. It would be stripping out my emotional crutches. I honestly did not think I could survive the stresses of my life without it.
When I got in to the doctor, my pancreas (the organ in charge of taking care of your sugar) was so enlarged, when I lay on my back and he looked at my stomach, he could see the pancreas through my skin. That is seriously enlarged. He showed it to my husband, and my husband could see it plain as day, too. But I had no idea. See, I'd had my blood sugar taken not too long previously, and it was just fine. My triglycerides were way high, but I got those down to less than half of what they were previously. I didn't think I needed to worry about my sugar. But when you've got an organ so enlarged that you can see it through your skin - and keep in mind, back then I had a lot more skin than I do now - that is serious.
I didn't want to go off sugar. But I had to. It was a matter of my entire quality of life. I didn't want to end up with diabetes or some major pancreatic dysfunction. So I stopped eating it ... with one exception. I had to break my Cherry Coke addiction.
Now, I have never been a caffeine drinker. Never. But I started getting headaches about three years ago, and they were so severe that the only way I could kick them was with two Ibuprofen and a glass of Coke. Well, that started something I wish had never started. I got to the point where I could not function without the Coke. My adrenal glands were shot, and the Coke was taking the place of my adrenalin. I couldn't work without Coke. Just couldn't do it.
But did you know that 20 ounces of soda has seventeen teaspoons of sugar? (I learned that on The Biggest Loser) Yes, I know there's diet stuff, whatever. But I was drinking the real stuff because fake sugar makes me even sicker. So if you do some math here, I was drinking about a liter of Coke a day ... and holy crap. Okay. I haven't done the math until just this minute, but check this out. One liter has 33.81 ounces in it, and the sugar breaks down to 1.17 teaspoons per ounce. 33.81 x 17 ... I was drinking the equivalent of 39.5 teaspoons of sugar a day without even knowing it. That's over 13 tablespoons. Every single day. And I had no clue until just this second. Why didn't anyone tell me???
Okay, back to what I was saying. I couldn't seem to get off the Coke. I was off everything else, but not that. And then I had a wake-up call. The caffeine and the sugar were taking a toll on my heart. I'm not going to go into details here, but I had to get off it now.
And so I did.
When you ask me, "How did you get off the sugar?" my initial response is going to be, "Kicking and screaming." It was not easy. It has been miserable. I'm not going to lie to you. But I had to. I was killing myself, and because my blood tests seemed normal, I had no idea the damage I was doing. I have had withdrawals. I have had moments where it was all I could do not to run down the store and get a whole triple chocolate layer cake and eat the whole thing myself. But let me tell you something. I am so proud of myself. I'm doing things I never thought I could do. I'm now officially down 50 pounds - picture coming soon - and I have faced six months of really horrible life circumstances without relying on my emotional crutches. I can't even tell you how that feels.
I'm not saying all this to brag, although hey, I am proud of myself. I'm saying this to help you all understand that while getting off sugar is hard, it can be done. If this girl, who used to eat Zingers for breakfast and drink 39.5 teaspoons of sugar a day, can get off sugar, you can get off sugar. You really, really can.
PS: Let me just throw in a little note here. This eating plan is something that has been recommended for me, personally, and it's not to say that every single person in the world should do it this way. I do believe that as many people as possible should get off sugar or really limit their sugar - the stuff will kill you if you overdo it. But the fact that I'm not eating fruit right now doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't, etc. I'm just sharing what I'm doing, not saying that it's the "right" thing for everyone to do. Because everyone's body is different, and everyone's health concerns are different, we need to have different eating plans in order to be as healthy as possible.