I’ve quit doing a lot of things in my life. Smoking took a few times. Like 6. Each time I picked up, I chose a new brand, the last one being hand-rolled numbers that smelled sweet and earthy twirling into a column between my thumb and two fingers. I’m hoping this last effort from a few years back will do it for good. I quit smoking weed, I dunno when that happend, it just went away. I quit coffee a few times, have it only on the rare road trip because something about crappy road coffee with radioactive French Vanilla creamer still appeals to me. Also
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee whenever in Boston is a must, also French Vanilla. (I don’t want you to get the idea I don’t know anything about coffee, although it’s ok if your impression is that, like summer vacation, I have no class. But I do take my decaf cravings to irritatingly divine local micro roasteries.) I gave up crystal meth and dreamed about it for weeks, making nights long and not so restful. Also falling by the wayside came pretty much the rest of the DEA Schedule II drugs, watching America’s Next Top Model, apathy, dating assholes, and you guess it, refined sugars. And guess which one was the worst?
The gosh dang SUGAR. More difficult than giving up the dashing butch rogues even. Why bother? It made me so crazy. I would watch myself polish off a whole pound of gummi bears, eating even after my tongue started to fritz out. I’d plow through chocolate forgetting entirely to enjoy it, and pastries would find their way to oblivion in my hands, only at the last few bites, me realizing I hadn’t any recollection of the beginning, sometimes leading me to try again with another. I’d miss conversations with people trying to discern if I was looking casual while angling to get enough pie, then worry that everyone noticed how weirdly I ate the entire shared dessert. Plus the kicker was I had no FREEDOM in the matter.
Now, I am a lady who believes wholly in choice. I am a feminist who believes we women can have health at any size and when we have peace, our bodies will respond by asking for what they need and reside in healthy places if we give them that. But in the throws of sugar, I had no choice. I was simply a disembodied hand reaching for themed sheet cakes from Safeway. It started to really piss me off that not only did I feel unhappy in the feminist body I was dragging my great life around in, but also that I had to reckon with the fact that after I had dumped all these chemicals, I still had this one completely controlling me. I was kind of sugar’s little plaything. And so little by little, I tried to get out from under it. The short of it is, it took a few tries.
It felt like shit. Sugar detox is no joke: scorching headaches, bouts of total rage, entire acres of real estate in the mind occupied by what feels like a prison of No Fun for the rest of time. Aches, creaks, lethargy came round calling, the likes of which I had not experienced since the crystal meth left my system, plus just good old fashioned self-pity.
And then there’s the after: about five days later, my brain began to clear. Then it actually kept clearing. My focus got sharper and sharper. My energy went nuts, like I was high but with no tweaker feelings at all. I just woke into the world, clear and energized, ready to do my thing. My insane cravings for sugar waned and oddly, so did my cravings for other things: chips and pizza and cheeseburgers. It isn’t that I never got them, it’s that they registered as clues rather than commands. Cheeseburger daydreams, which I’ve been having constantly during the first 5 days of this cleanse, translate to protein. When I get enough, the craving vanishes. I get to have choices about the protein I take. Chips usually mean I want crunchy things. This also, for me, indicates I’m stressed out, irritated, or annoyed. So it also indicates a trip to the gym or a run is in order. In the mean time I can crunch on carrots or bell peppers or the best crackers ever, Sami’s (gluten free) millet and flax chips. Pizza means I have good taste. WHO THE HELL DOESN’T WANT PIZZA!?!? And for the most part, I rarely eat the iconic things that come up if they are going to impact my well being. And if I do choose to have them, it’s not because I am caving in. I get really good stuff, eat it slowly, savor it, ENJOY MY LIFE, and the gifts that taste and texture have to offer. The 15 pounds I dropped when I quit sugar helped as well. It was nice for my wallet because I didn’t have to shop for new clothes. I felt more comfortable moving in the world, and I finally got some idea of the weight my body felt the best at. It had been years since I had any clue, if ever.
The other thing that happened is I got more creative with food. I began cooking more, reading labels and understanding the way my body felt in reaction to things. Agave came around as the world’s next answer to living without the all powerful sweetness of life, but that also made me feel cracked out. Turns out it’s processed much like corn syrup so that makes sense. But brown rice syrup tasted great and I felt fine eating it. Small treats of maple syrup and honey also work for me. Whole fruit is my favorite. And like I said earlier, lately I’ve been obsessed with popsicles. All the ones I make are sugar-free and pretty delightful. These ones have quite a kick:
Put about 3/4 c of pineapple hunks, an 8oz. container of raw coconut water, a knuckle of ginger and 1/2 a cucumber in the blender. Whirl it around and then freeze your pops. Makes 5. And each has 25 calories. If you care about that kind of thing.