but the truth is I've found something that makes sense to me.
Last weekend Madeleine and I were walking through the local Target and I saw a book that I had seen before but hadn't bought because it was $25 and I am apparently incapable of leaving Target without spending less than $100 so why add to that. But I saw the book again and had only put a few things in my cart, and I was at the end of the store, so I bought it.
Also, because I can't stop thinking about how I have a real problem with sugar. A real problem that I can't seem to figure out how to control. Like I don't know how to eat a few cookies, I can either eat the entire bag, or until I feel like I'm going to throw up, or not at all -- no in between. I know other people struggle with drugs or alcohol or cigarettes; I have no problem with these things. Drugs and cigarettes, obviously not my thing and if I never drank another sip of of alcohol in my life I could really care less (though margaritas with The Empire or Mr. Asthe were a lot of fun).
But sugar. For so long I have just struggled.
And it's so stupid! I feel sick when I eat it, I hate that I'm overweight, and yet I can't stop eating it, I can't even stop thinking about it.
Earlier this year I signed up for Weight Watchers for a few months. I lost close to 20 pounds and was pretty excited about it, but then I just stopped. I don't know why, and I couldn't seem to start again. I went to the meetings with a friend and we snarkily commented on the things the section leader was saying, but I didn't get any help from the meetings. I just hated knowing that I would have to add up too many points so I avoided bad sugars for awhile. Though sugar is still such a huge part of WW (or sugar substitutes which are even worse!) that I would make one of their "acceptable" desserts, only to find myself eating the whole tray of it (though, really their Rocky Road Bars are unreal delicious, I challenge you not to eat the whole tray yourself).
So I keep meaning to go back to weight watchers, even went to one meeting in Vermont this summer. But it never clicked with me again. It bothered me that I would go to these meetings and that there was a set agenda, that was never about what I was struggling with. It bothered me that they were always giving out free samples of some incredibly sugary, low-fat WW treat that they wanted you to buy (which I always ate because I never ate before my weigh in and I was starving!!).
My weight has gone up and down throughout my life, though the weight I gained with the pregnancy (most of which still sits on my frame like a 50 pound wet down pillow) took me significantly higher than I'd ever been. In the past it has mostly been exercise that kept my weight someplace healthy, and it has usually been some kind of heartache (read: boys leaving) that got me too sad to eat anything tasty and thus set me in the direction of not eating junk long enough to start dropping pounds. I have gone long stretches where I ate little to no sugar, even a few super healthy times when I could occasionally eat sugar then get back on plan with no problem. But mostly I've just wanted to eat as much sugar as possible, then I run a bunch, or take a bunch of dance classes to battle back the caloric intake.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the 80 hour a week job and the single parenting make it a little tricky to squeeze in 2 hours at the gym on a daily basis.
I have been wondering on an almost daily basis why I can't seem to walk away from the sugar unless I white-knuckle it for a day or two (the entire time wanting to eat sugar pretty much every second). Why the one thing I continually wish for -- to have my pre-pregnancy shape back -- is the very thing I sabotage while I reach for whatever chocolate is closest (and as much of it as possible).
This has been going on since I was a teenager.
So there I was in Target, and I decide to get this book to see if there's anything in it that might help me in my struggle:
and there was.
Obviously or I would not be writing about it.
This is not a diet like any other I have read about. This book simply says: human beings, metabolically speaking, were not designed to eat much sugar. In fact, we are designed to be able to recognize when we are full if we are eating proteins, fats, and non-sugar carbs, but that back when our current metabolism was developing sugar was so rare that our bodies did not develop the ability to know when enough was enough specifically so that we would eat as much of it as possible to store fat (sugar pretty much entirely being in the shape of fresh fruit or the odd honeycomb).
This book tells me that we actually don't, as humans, possess the ability to stop eating sugar naturally. I know that some people have learned this, and that some people don't like sugar, but 36% of the people in this country are overweight or obese so clearly I'm not the only one who has a problem with this.
The author, Sarah Wilson, goes on to say that we're not really designed to take in more than 6 teaspoons (or so) of sugar a day -- and children even less.
For perspective a can of coke has just over 9 teaspoons of sugar in it.
So this book says that you should spend 8 weeks not eating any sugar of any kind.
The fruit part surprised me.
She goes on to say that you can add fruit back after the initial 8 weeks, but that it takes between 30-60 days for a true habit to form, and that the sugar in fruit is still recognized by the body as sugar. So no sugar for those 8 weeks.
There's a great deal more to this, as you might guess, it is a book. And I am really engrossed in the reading of it. But as soon as I started reading this on Sunday I knew that I was going to follow it. Sadly, I had already been to the grocery store and had bought a lot of fruit, however, she kindly says week one is really just to cut back on the processed sugars -- she thinks we should go slow. She also says that deprivation goes against human nature, that if we starve ourselves our bodies kick into famine mode and become fixated on food. So she recommends replacing the calories of the sugars, in the beginning, with proteins and fats.
So I've been doing this for 4 days now.
Not exactly 20 years of marriage.
But I feel... better.
I don't feel sick all the time.
I find if I can avoid looking at sweet things (looking up that WW recipe was a bit of a mistake) and I can stay on top of eating regularly, I really feel fine.
The few (very few, really) cravings I've had, it was much easier to silence them with this understanding of sugar craving/addiction.
I don't know if this will last. But it's working today and I feel strongly enough about it to want to write about it.
I can also say this for certain: normally at work I often start having terrible headaches around 3:30pm. I never once thought it might be related to what I was eating -- I always assumed it was stress or sleep-deprivation related. Two days ago I had a lemon pelligrino soda (there was one left in the fridge) and a package of chocolate bellvitas (again, it seemed like a reasonable "treat" at the grocery store before I opened The Book) at lunch time, and by 3:30 I had a raging headache that lasted until I ate dinner. I might not have made the connection even then, but I remembered reading about it in the book. Next day at work I didn't have any sugar at lunch and 3:30 came and went and I felt fine.
One more thing: I still had energy after I cooked dinner (tortellini salad from the Super Natural Every Day cookbook) and after doing the dishes so I walked with Madeleine to a nearby playground (something we have NEVER done after work) and I even played with her on the playground (as opposed to my normal slump on the side bench).
It's a little different.
So I'm gonna see where this goes.
Wish me luck.