My trainer posted a challenge this morning on Facebook to go candy-free for the month of October. I wanted to b*tch-slap her. I was comfortably in denial about my sugar habit and was wanting to stay that way. A couple of weeks ago, I went to my new doctor here, and I told her about my hypoglycemia. She talked to me about the glycemic index which I already know about, but I ignore. She caught my attention when she told me that if I don’t take care of my hypoglycemia it will turn into diabetes. Now, I knew that. I’ve read that before but when I don’t want to deal with my sugar habit, I choose denial or at least minimization. I promptly forgot about it when I left her office.
I believe my hypoglycemia is caused by my early overindulgence in alcohol and my disordered eating. Alcohol is treated by the body like pure sugar, and I overdid it for about 10 years. After that, my disordered eating and my affinity for chocolate and sugar really screwed me up. I had a bad habit of binging on chocolate for company when I was lonely, entertainment when I was bored and vengeance when I was pissed at my body. I haven’t done that in several years now, but it was a hard act to kick. Every time I OD’d on sugar, my body surged insulin production to counteract the spike in blood sugar, and now my body overshoots insulin on a routine basis causing my blood sugar to plummet. Eventually, I may become insulin-resistant and thus, diabetic. Besides, it runs in my family. I’m screwed if I don’t stop.
For the past two weeks, I’ve cut out coffee. That’s the second hardest thing for me to stop. We’ve all got something we can’t give up, and, for me, it’s sugar and coffee. Remember the saying from Brokeback Mountain – “I wish I knew how to quit you!” That’s the story of my life. Of course … come to think of it, it didn’t end so well for those boys.
When I cut out the coffee, I don’t have the dramatic roller coaster of ups and downs all day long. I still drink green tea, and I have some ups and downs but not nearly as crazy as with my beloved coffee. That helps with my sugar cravings, believe it or not. When my energy is low, I want energy, and sugar can provide it momentarily. The problem with hypoglycemia is that almost instantaneously my blood sugar will crash, and I will have less energy than I did before. It’s a vicious cycle.
This afternoon about 2:30 PM I got sugar cravings really bad. I know why. I wake up early, and my energy naturally drops in the afternoon. If I lived in a perfect world, I’d work from 6 AM – 2:30 PM. I could go home and nap. But, I don’t live in a perfect world, and my employer expects me to stay awake through my natural slump. I managed to get through the sugar craving with some salty popcorn and cheddar cheese with chipotle. The spiciness of the cheese and the salt killed the sugar craving, but I craved it again when I got home. I ate half an orange.
I have to prepare for tomorrow. I know I’ll slump about 2:30 PM again. It’s going to happen everyday. I’m baking some sweet potatoes. I’ll top them with a tablespoon or two of almond butter. That ought to give me enough fat, protein and natural sugar dense in nutrients to get me through the afternoon. At least that’s the theory. This morning I ate more protein for breakfast than normal and that really worked to kill sugar cravings in the AM. I had an egg fried in Pam over some brown rice and lentil pilaf with brussels sprouts and pine nuts. It was really savory and spicy, and it filled me up for most of the morning. I’ll try a similar thing tomorrow. I have to run in the morning, so I will be hungry, and I’ll need to re-fuel with carbs and protein. I think the added veggies keep me full, too.
Sugar is really bad for me. My acupuncturist says women shouldn’t eat sugar or drink coffee. We don’t process it well. I have noticed that my tolerance for both has gotten worse since I’ve hit perimenopause. I wish I could say my taste for both has diminished, but it hasn’t. I imagine this will be a journey I’ll be on for a long time – probably to my grave. I love sweets. I love coffee. I just hate what they do to me. It’s a constant balancing of self-care and pleasure. I can be balanced on both. I can have sweets, but I have to have them with a meal. Overeating crashes my blood sugar, too. The older I get, the more stuff I have to give up. I often joke that we don’t die, there’s just nothing we can do anymore.
I have to think of my sugar abstinence as adding something to my life in order for me to embrace it. Giving up sugar allows me to have more energy for hiking, kayaking, getting through the day, laughing and socializing. It gives me more money because I’m not spending money on junk food PLUS regular food. Because I’ll be eating more nutritious calories, it’ll give me glowing skin, a sharp memory, shinier hair and clearer eyes. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll lose the extra 6 pounds I’ve picked up in the last 4 months. It doesn’t seem like much, but you try running 13.1 miles carrying 6 pounds of sugar. It’ll feel great to put that baby down. Besides, it’ll be nice to breathe in my jeans again. It’s getting cooler finally! How about some stevia-sweetened cinnamon apple crisp to celebrate?
Why don’t you join us for the “no candy” October challenge? You can structure it any way you like, but the point is to slow way down on the sweet stuff.