Dancing Without the White Stuff: Sugar

Photo Courtesy of rodalenews.com


So, I’ve been off almost all added sugars for almost 11 days. This withdrawal has been minimal in intensity to the caffeine withdrawal I had 6 months or so ago. Of course, I had cut out a lot of sugars last year, so my sugar intake was not at a historical high. But, I still drank honey in my tea, added cane syrup to my oatmeal and ate pastries and sweets frequently. For the past 12 days, I’ve followed this basic rule about sugars: If sugar – and there are many, many names for it – is first, second or third on an ingredient list, I don’t eat it. I’m not eliminating flours or natural sugars although I don’t eat a lot of that stuff anymore anyway. A couple of days I was really grumpy, but I had only a few headaches early on. Now, I basically just feel much better.

The good news is that it has greatly reduced my anxiety. Most days, I’ve felt anxiety-free, and I’ve found myself becoming much more positive about life and any upcoming changes that might occur. I can think about things that once sent me down a rabbit-hole of worry, and I don’t feel compelled to worry about them at all. I knew my anxiety was much more physically than mentally driven, and I appear to have been right. There can be physical reasons that cause an anxiety-related mind freak out.

Late last week, I bought some whole milk and decaffeinated coffee so I could have lattes for a treat. I can’t have my eggnog latte because of the sugar, and I wanted a substitute. I drank them for three days – one in the morning and one at night. My anxiety came raging back on Friday evening and didn’t level out until Monday morning. I had already been wondering if the decaffeinated coffee had just enough caffeine to exacerbate my anxiety. I’m still not sure if the coffee caused it or the milk, but as soon as I started drinking herbal tea all day again, my anxiety disappeared like a dissipating thunderstorm. Hmmm …. more exploration to come on that. But I’m sold on the limited sugar lifestyle. I just have to stick with it. That’s the hard part.

I had decided on Wednesday that I was going to have an Eggnog Latte. After all, I’m not totally off sugar, and I haven’t had a treat at all during this time. I drove over to Starbucks, and I stopped before I got out of the car. I thought about last weekend’s anxiety, and the way my sleep was disrupted for 3 nights. I thought about how creamy the latte would be and could taste it playing on my tongue. I wondered if a tall would satisfy me and if it would do less damage if, in fact, any damage would be done at all. I wondered if just this one was enough to set me off again. I sat in the car for about 10 minutes contemplating my sweet dilemma. I finally started the car and drove off. I made a decision that my anxiety-free day was more important than a short kiss of milky sweetness. I don’t know if I will always end up with that decision, but I made that decision once. That was an improvement.

This morning we had a preventative health check at work. My blood pressure has historically been very low. It’s one of the gifts of being a long distance runner. In the last year, it had crept up to about 120/80. It was still normal, but I was beginning to wonder if it would start continually climbing. This morning’s reading was more typical of my history. It was 99/63, and I asked the nurse if quitting sugar would make it drop like that. “They say it will,” she said. I’ve also dropped several pounds even though I’ve been eating whatever I want that doesn’t have sugar in it. If the numbers have it right, this is a good choice for me. Only time will tell if it’s a permanent change or maybe just a sigh of relief from an over-taxed metabolic system.

I am sleeping great. When I was young, I never wanted to sleep. I’d go out all night and head to an 8 AM class with no sleep at all. Sleep seemed to be a distraction to an otherwise fun young lifestyle. Now, when someone asks how I am, I often mention my great sleep or lack of sleep as the main reason I feel good or bad. Good sleep is a game-changer. I added a snack of either sweet potato or oatmeal with almond butter right before I go to bed, and I’ve been sleeping great. As my taste buds change, that little snack is already starting to taste like dessert. If it weren’t for the sleep issue, I don’t know if I’d gone down this road … or the caffeine-free road. Right now, I’m loving it, and I don’t really miss the sweet stuff at all. Bye, bye Sugar. I have enjoyed our time together, but you just don’t do it for me anymore. My priorities have changed.

Y’all have a good weekend!

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