Hi, my name is Nadette.....and I'm addicted to sugar (and expensive boots, but that's off topic).
Welcome Nadette. *nods of empathy and acceptance all around* Tell us your story:
It all started off when I was a wee lass. I would manipulate my mother into buying super sugary cereals she didn't want me eating, like Fruit Loops and Corn Pops, by seeking out coupons for them in the Sunday paper knowing she couldn't argue with savings. As I got older, I would occasionally go the corner store before school, and buy myself a "breakfast of champions": a Snickers bar, a bag of chips, and a Pepsi and ride the sugar wave through the school day. [It's amazing what youth will protect you from, this meal would probably kill me now]. College came along and cereal, became a basic food group [Cap'n crunch=grains, Special K red berries=fruit, Honey Bunches of Oats=fiber, etc]. And then I joined the dance group, and was introduced to Blue
Cocaine Powerade. Before I knew what was happening, I couldn't get through a day or a dance practice without one. Every attempt I made to get clean, was a bust. I would just replace one sugary vice with another. And then about two weeks ago, I began my descent to rock bottom. On a sad work day, I was hungry and craving the sweet stuff real bad and wasn't thinking straight. Instead of walking straight home after work, I stopped at the Rite Aid, and bought a candy bar... a king size Symphony Bar...and proceeded to eat half of it in on the way home! The shame and guilt of my indulgence followed me for days. I worked my ass of in pole that week just to make myself feel better. But I couldn't get the memory of creamy chocolate, and the sweet and salty crunch of toffee and almonds off my mind. The last straw came last week, I was putting together my grocery list for my long overdue pilgrimage to pa radise Wegman's, and cringed at the 3 boxes of Cap'n Crunch that are staples on my grocery lists. The thought of all that sugar saturated, bleached flour and corn based cereal that I've been inhaling by bowlful for the last 20 plus years made me stop in my tracks. I started thinking about that stubborn layer of fat on my lower abdomen, my dulling complexion, my epic dry skin/hair/scalp battles, my struggles with insane sugar cravings [damn symphony bar!] AND the fact that my metabolism could turn its back on me when I hit 30 [and I've talked sooo much shit on all the chicks who've gained a lot of weight since high school that I know Karma is already checkin' for me] and started to feel sick to my stomach. Rock meet Bottom. I decided then and there, that something had to change*.
My sugar junkie story isn't very different from millions of Americans' across the nation. Sugar is in EVERYTHING we eat, from cereals and juices to ketchup and pasta sauce. Sugar is literally addictive, because once you have sweet, you crave sweet. It's a vicious cycle that's hard to get out of, kinda like heroin, only tastier, and without the track marks. That dragon is a fast sumbitch. My situation is different, however, in that I was hyper aware of this fact, and in general tried to avoid sugar and its evil twin, high fructose corn syrup**, as much as possible. While I avidly read the nutrition facts on most of the foods that I consumed, I turned a blind eye to the ugly truth about my beloved cereal habit. Just like an addict I reasoned that since I didn't keep other sweets in my house, it was ok to keep eating that junk; I was defiant, in fact, and declared to friends, family, and blog readers world wide that "me and the Cap'n make it happen, on a regular basis". And just like every junkie since the dawn of substance abuse, I had to hit rock bottom--mine being in the form of inhaling half a giant candy bar on the four block walk home--to realize I needed to make some serious changes before rock bottom became a muffin top and type 2 diabetes.
So what does this mean for me now, and how does this tragic story relate to you??
Glad you asked...
*crawls on soap box, weakened from Cap'n Crunch withdrawal*
So like any other substance abuse rehabilitation program, breaking a sugar addiction isn't going to be easy. But unlike smack and cocaine, quitting cold turkey isn't the only viable option. And because I'm a realist and typically frown upon extreme methods of change, going "sugar free" isn't even an option. I have decided to tackle, head on, the biggest source of the my addiction, and share some tips with y'all on how you can steadily free yourself from chemical dependence.
Breakfast Cereals. I effin' hate healthy cereals, they gross me out. But the typical breakfast cereal is a sugar bomb, with an average of 12 grams of sugar per serving, and by typical I mean all the yummy cereals. So after some reading, I decided to go for cereals with 6 grams of sugar or less/serving AND at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. This is a tall order as most cereals in this nutrition range taste like cardboard and make me want to throw things. I was especially pissed that Kashi GoLean Crunch Honey Almond Flax cereal has a whopping 12 g of sugar per serving-- just as much sugar as Cap'n Crunch! EPIC FAIL! I almost gave up, but after some serious label reading and profanity laced muttering to myself in the grocery store I finally found Puffins Cinnamon Cereal, which has 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar per serving. It only faintly tastes of cardboard--the cinnamon masks it well, and it kinda looks like oversized Cap'n Crunch pieces--so it gets the job done and I'll stick with it for now. There are some other low sugar/decent fiber alternatives out there you can try:
Kashi GoLean! [looks like twigs, count me out] 6g sugar, 10g fiber
Newman's Own Sweet Enough Cinnamon Fiber Flakes [sounds highly disgusting] 6g sugar, 8g fiber
- OK, so this list is tragically short, and as you can see, I'm not enthused, but the rest of the cereals with these credentials sound even worse--with words like "bran" and "fiber" in the actual titles. NO BUENO. Farewell Cap'n, 'twas a beautiful affair...sniffle sniffle....
Juice and Soda. NIX 'EM ALL TOGETHER. Seriously. And I don't mean swap them for "diet" varieties either, that's no bueno. Water is your best friend. Don't like the taste of water? Throw a fruit flavored tea bag in a glass of water, to jazz it up. Soda and juice should be for special occasions only. That rule applies to
crumb snatcherschildren too!
- Yogurt in flavored and plain varieties are still loaded with sugar. Greek yogurt, however, is naturally lower in sugar, but it's considerably thicker and has a distinct tangy flavor, so it's an acquired taste. I hate cottage cheese, but if you like it, it's a great source of protein and calcium w/o the sugar of yogurt.
- Craving's management. Fruit, fruit, and more fruit. One thing that I have noticed is that when I keep fruit in my fridge and eat it daily, my sugar cravings are less frequent, less intense, and therefore manageable. I can literally walk away from the cupcakes in Whole Foods and not want to kill people.
- Hidden sugars. Like I said, sugar is in everything, so read your labels! Pasta sauce, kethcup, salad dressing, and peanut butter are often full of hidden sugar. Trader Joe's has natural peanut butter and ketchup made w/o sugar. Pasta sauce is a bitch, the sugar is part of the recipe to cut the acid of the tomatoes, but the amount of sugar in your typical jar of prego is outlandish, so as you can imagine I haven't had spaghetti in ages. I just read that my Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette has sugar in it. Damn damn damn!
- Last but not least, keep the obvious sugars out of your house. It's much easier to not eat cookies and donuts and cake if they're not in the house. Those sort of eatings are treats, and should be treated as such. Dessert is not an everyday food--that includes ice cream. The darker the alcohol, the more sugar it has, and beer is not your belly's friend. Etc, etc.
I'm sure there's much more I could address, but I'll leave it at that for now. And as for my progress, I also bought a fall back sugary cereal, and already I find it too sweet. I haven't made any candy runs in over a week, but I did indulge in Bavarian pecans at the book fair this weekend. It's a process, but for the most part, I think I'm doing well. Hope I've been helpful.
Merry Soapbox Wednesday.
*the sentiments of this story have been exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect. The memory of creamy chocolate and the sweet and salty crunch of toffee and almonds did not haunt my Psyche for days. I swear!
**please, please, PLEASE don't fall for those stupid ass commercials sponsored by the Corn Syrup Lobby implying that HFCS is exactly the same as sugar. The linked article suggests otherwise, and that's literally only scratching the surface of the debate on this super cheap sugar product. Oh, and heads up b/c HFCS is getting a name change to Corn Sugar. While the scientific jury is still out on HFCS, I would avoid this mess as much as possible y'all. Do it for yourself, the youngins' and the puppies!