Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Kicked My Sugar Addiction with Potato Chips....Seriously.

So I honestly think I've kicked the old sugar addiction. It took about 5 years and 4,003 false starts, but this time, I think the success is for real. The only way I can describe the way I feel right now is this: huge relief.

Sugar is bad, bad news. Especially when it's a part of your every day diet. Now don't get me wrong, the occasional piece of birthday cake or popcorn and soda at a sappy chick flick is good for the soul--and I don't plan to give that up. But sugary treats as an every day (or multiple times a day) habit? That's an absolute recipe for disaster.

Heart Disease? Diabetes? Acne? Lethargy? I'll stop.

Yesterday I saw this picture at Whole9's facebook page, and it literally made me say, "Holy $%^@." Don't worry, my kids are used to that kind of talk.

The caption said: Under normal circumstances, this is how much sugar is in ALL of your blood. Think what happens when you add 1-2 tsp of sugar/honey to your coffee/tea. Or, God forbid, you drink 2 ounces of soda. #Ouch

Whoa my goodness. That just jumped right into my face, and I'm so grateful that I seem to have a handle on this sugar thing. Just to be clear, when I say I had/have a sugar addiction, let me elaborate. On a typical day I was eating 1,000-1,500 calories of good nutritious food, and no joke, 600-1,000 calories of sugary treats.

I would eat breakfast, then I'd have candy. I would eat lunch, and I'd sneak away from work for a hot chocolate and a gigantic chocolate chip muffin. Then I'd eat dinner, and cap it off with a couple bowls of ice cream. 

I totally appreciate this comment from Stephanie on yesterday's post, because a few weeks ago, I swear I could have written it myself:

"So far this afternoon I have had five wintogreen lifesavers, six mini candy canes left over from Christmas, and two packets of hot apple cider mix poured straight into my mouth. Bring on the strategy."

Everyone likes sugar.  But poor Stephanie ate a whole mess of gross stuff, just to get the sugar buzz. I can so SO relate.

Okay. Now that I've established the fact that I wasn't just an occasional cake eater--and you really believe that high fructose corn syrup was pumping through my veins--I'll get to my Ah Ha! moment.

A few weeks ago, Jared and I started watching old episodes of Celebrity Rehab on Netflix. I immediately noticed 2 things. 1) Dr. Drew is a ridiculous babe and has moved to the top spot on the People-I-Would-Do-It-With-Even-Though-I'm-Married list, and 2) Those addicts in treatment smoke the sh!t out of their cigarettes.

No one walks in to that rehab facility and says, "You know what Dr. Drew? Today I'm gonna quit crack and heroin, and sugar, and cigarettes, and diet coke, and looking at girly magazines. Oh, and maybe I'll give up gluten, too."

No. They're like, "I'm here to quit heroin and crack, and smoke 1 million cigarettes and drink gallons of diet coke while I do it."

Clearly cigarettes and diet coke are crappy for your body, but not nearly as horrible as crack and heroin. So why not get rid of the biggies first, and then tackle the secondary issues?

Honestly, I could relate to this way of thinking so so much. Of all 4,003 times I've failed at giving up sugar, I've simultaneously failed at giving up white flour, processed foods, and keeping my calories under 1,800 each day.

I think...no, I know I was trying to do too much at once.

Then I read this article by Tina Haupert of Carrots n' Cake, and my eyes were totally opened.

I decided to give up sugary treats only, during lent (February 22nd until April 8th). Why lent? Because it never hurts to have Baby Jesus in your court. Can I get an Amen?

So basically I gave up baked goods, ice cream, candy...that kind of stuff.

For the first week I ate anything I wanted...as long as it wasn't a sugary treat. Bacon, potato chips, Subway footlongs....anything. I also exercised a little bit more to make up for the gluttony.

When I got a sugar craving, I ate a few chips. When I felt like I 'deserved' a treat, I had a meatball sub for lunch instead of a huge slab of cake. Nothing was off limits--except for the sugary treats. I also had a go-to healthy smoothie recipe--a cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk, 1 or 2 extra ripe bananas, and a scoop of unsweeted baking cocoa (10 calories, no sugar, loaded with iron). That smoothie is so freaking good, and tastes just like a chocolate milk shake. And the only sugar comes from the bananas

I have to admit that slipped up once that first week. I was on an extremely stressful phone call with a friend, had a RIDICULOUS sugar craving and ate a spoonful of cold hot fudge. But guess what? That was all I had. I've had a few mini moments of weakness since, but nothing I can't overlook.

I really think I'm free!

This past week, I've been focusing on cleaning up my eating in other ways--mostly planning out healthy meals so I don't feel tempted to swing through a drive-thru. By the end of Lent, I really think my diet will be where I want it to be.

Did I get to a super healthy diet cold turkey? No. Not at all. But I'm getting there and making real progress. I can now make it through one day, or five days without sugar, which I never would have imagined! I can also eat a yogurt as a treat, which is just absurd for a person like me. I also eat potato chips, but I don't OVER eat potato chips.

I'm so happy. My runs are better, I feel more energetic, and I'm not constantly consumed with thoughts of treats any more.

This is week 2, here's to hoping it sticks and keeps on improving!

One million thanks to Dr. Drew and his Hollywood addicts for smoking like chimneys. They helped me see the light of moderation and being reasonable.

You can do it, too.


  1. I was just thinking about sugar while I was running. I have over done it with sugary treats this last two weeks and my running is paying for it. I am not enjoying running right now because of my crappy diet. I decided that now that all the family birthdays are over until May, I am going to go on a sugar reduced to sugar free streak for the rest of March. Wish me luck!!!!

  2. "Because it never hurts to have Baby Jesus in your court. Can I get an Amen?"

    AMEN. :)

  3. I find it so funny that you are dealing with this issue. I, too, am a sugar addict. I decided to commit to a "Sugar Buster" challenge for the month of March; no sweets or candy. I had some serious withdrawls the first couple days, they have subsided a bit but are still there (especially on the weekends and during classes), but I'm plugging away. I also find it funny (and comforting) that you've turned to potato chips. I'm not a chip eater, but I've noticed that a few times I've grabbed a handful with my sandwich. No biggie really, chips are NOT something I'll overeat. I love the sound of your smoothie recipe, I'll have to try that out. Only 25 days to go!!!

  4. This is a really cool approach! It sounds like it could work for a lot of different things - baby steps.

  5. How's it going, Amy? Still strong? Maybe this is what I need to try. I keep exchanging bad habits one for another... :D