I have always been a healthy eater. I eat more salads, veggies and fruit than anyone I know. Yet, sugar has always been my weakness. As a child, I remember my parents giving all of us a chocolate bunny for Easter. My sister opened hers, took a few bites and then saved the rest for later. I devoured mine, then snuck behind her to watch where she put her leftovers so I could eat hers too. I have always been sugar's #1 fan.
Chocolate, Krispy Kreme donuts, pie, cake, lattes... sugar was my main craving for 32 years.
For the last 4 years, I have battled autoimmune symptoms that started in the form of food allergies. After having my son, I had an IUD to prevent another unexpected pregnancy. I had no idea that this would wreak havoc on my body and my health. My body started rejecting the IUD after 3 years and then I suddenly was gluten and dairy intolerant. Out of nowhere. My pain and inflammation were through the roof after I ate certain foods that I have always enjoyed before. So I started making healthier choices and eliminating junk food. Like I said, I have always been a healthy eater, but I became focused on immune-boosting foods and started making kefir, bone broth, cooking at home more. I also drank lots of ginger tea, took oils and supplements that were known for boosting immunity.
I was able to keep my symptoms at bay for a while. But they kept slowing increasing in severity.
Early last year, I remember crying and telling my husband I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be here if I didn't make a drastic change. My path of healing had plateaued and I had mastered the art of acting like I was fine when I was in so much pain. I sought out a new doctor and a new plan. It was not what I wanted but it was what I needed. I began this new journey with a note from my doctor. On it, was all the things I couldn't have. It read:
Beef, pork, sugar (anything ending in -ose), honey, cheese, soy, pasta, vinegar, gluten or wheat, dairy.
I remember crying the whole way home cause I wasn't sure if I could work full time and be the wife and mother I needed to be AND do this. I felt overwhelmed and yet I knew I had to try it or I wouldn't ever get better.
I had no idea how much sugar I was ingesting. No clue. My entire daily routine changed drastically. But I was not well and needed to feel better so I made up my mind to commit 100 percent to this. I did some research on sugar and how natural sugar, found in fruits and vegetables, is actually one of the best sources of energy. Added sugar, like cane sugar, is the culprit. Within the first month of my no added sugar journey, I had found a grocery shopping routine and a cooking routine that fit my busy schedule. I moved and still didn't break my commitment to myself. After two months, I had lost 15 pounds. After 4 months, I had lost 20 pounds. I was shocked. Weight loss was not my goal at all, but I felt so much better and was eating so much healthier, I couldn't complain. I had slowly worked fruit back into my diet and after a few more months, I was able to eat chocolate again (no sugar added, of course).
I learned that I had never met the version of me that wasn't addicted to sugar. I also learned that going out and being social with friends was very challenging. But my health remained my priority.
I was looking through photos from last year and I noticed my eyes aren't as puffy as they were then. I got a call from my doctor asking how my inflammation was and I realized I rarely hurt when I moved, worked like I used to. And this is coming from someone who has two herniated discs in her spine. I have more energy and feel better than I have in years. My struggle became easier with each win and not having pain was a major win.
Not everyone has food allergies like I do. So not everyone needs to eliminate gluten or dairy like I had to. But every human on this planet is sugar intolerant. We were never created to ingest sugar in its pure form. We were created to be sugar burners but in the form of natural sugar. No one has ever gotten diabetes or heart disease from eating fruits and veggies. Added sugar is toxic. Added sugar causes all forms of disease and inflammation and autoimmune issues. Added sugar is the universal inflammatory. It cauases heart disease and creates the perfect inflammatory storm for disease to move into the body. Even if you go to the gym and eat your greens daily, sugar will still wreck your health.
The average American consumes 98 grams of added sugar in one day. The recommendation for women is around 25g of added sugar, which is around 6 teaspoons per day. The recommended daily amount of sugar for children is 12 grams. That's still a lot of sugar, but it's a step in the right direction. Sugar is well hidden on labels too. Manufacturers like to use terms like "evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, molasses, maple syrup, honey, high fructose corn syrup" or anything that ends in -ose. Reading labels while wrangling my kid at the grocery store is one skill I never thought I would master, but here I am. I read everything before I buy it. Sugar is sneaky and is literally added to everything. Kids drinks, bread, slaw, sandwich meat, salad dressing, bbq sauce, it is everywhere. But there is hope. I have found a way to live my very busy life sugar free, and if I can do it, anyone can.
The hardest part is getting to the breaking point of commitment to this lifestyle. It took me a while to get there. But once I made up my mind, I never once almost ate a piece of cake or pie. I know I want to be 100 percent healed and in order to do so, I have to be 100 percent committed to my health. You can still have muffins or cake, but it will be a paleo recipe and will be sweetened with applesauce or stevia or coconut sugar. I chose to end my addiction to sugar so sugar no longer controls my cravings or my crashes.
No one can force you to commit to your health. My friends and family thought I was crazy when I started this. And it's extremely challenging, I say "no" a lot. A LOT. I bring my own coconut milk creamer and stevia to every coffee house I visit. I keep snacks in my purse at all times because the chances of stores or restaurants having something I can eat are slim to none. I don't expect the FDA to have my health in mind when they approve something. I have my own damn health as my own top priority, thank you very much. This lifestyle is about being empowered and seeing your worth as way more than a .99 french fry order. Cheap food is not what your body deserves. You and I both deserve the very best. And this entire journey has taught me just that. I love smiling and saying, "No thank you" when offered bread as an appetizer. It is a small but simple reminder that my body is so much more valuable than that.
I am starting a program that will teach and encourage others to join me in my "no sugar added" lifestyle. Would you consider it? Why or why not? And after reading this, will you think twice before eating sugar or feeding it to your children?