I honestly don’t mean this as a joke. Many people I know are recovering addicts and I was married to an alcoholic. This is no laughing matter and honestly me quitting sugar has and is one of the hardest things I have gone through in my life. And I’ve been through cancer. I always do my best to act with empathy towards those who I do not share a lived experience with their struggle. But with addiction, I now feel I have understanding, and nothing can compare to the deep rooted feeling of that. I have a newfound respect for the mind f*cks, the struggles, the temptations and how impossibly difficult it is to cut out something so addicting out of your life.
I’ve never, ever, even tried, a diet, in all my 37 years. I never “had” to since I was happy with my weight. So go from never dieting, to cutting out one of the most abundant and addictive ingredients in our daily consumption… well – here we go up another mountain.
Scientists argue over the addictive qualities of sugar, and there’s data to support whatever you believe. But if you’re on the fence of “nah – it ain’t addictive.” – I challenge you to cut out ALL refined and added sugar from your life for 90 days and tell me what you feel when you walk through the bakery on day 91. I say 90, because 30 – isn’t enough. 30 is the false hope of triumph and ego saying “I can do this.” Day 90 is “this chick isn’t shitting with
me anymore, we really aren’t eating sugar.
Time to up the cravings!”
I am almost five months to the day (April 16) of giving up sugar. And not a fraction of a day goes by that I don’t want something with sugar in it. I have to debate, negotiate and muster sheer willpower with myself every day, multiple times a day to not eat that Twix bar in the cupboard. I literally cleaned out every single cranny of my house from all refined sugar. Crates and boxes and tubs of sweedish berries, sour patch kids, mint chocolates, oh and the baking… the “family size” carton of Walmart butter tarts, that were just enough to satisfy my family – of one. I used to eat sweets until my stomach hurt after almost every meal.
I desperately tried to replace yummy baking with healthy baking. For the first three months I believed there is no such thing. Healthy baking is healthy and 95% of it tastes like shit. Nothing can compare with the taste of sugar. But I have found a few delish recipes using date paste and Swerve that will do in a pinch. But still… what I wouldn’t do on any given day, on any given hour - for a fucking butter tart.
I have a love-hate relationship for everybody else who hasn’t cut out sugar out of their life yet. I see them eat that brownie and part of me is like holy shit do you know what you’re putting in your body and the other half of me is like “please offer me a piece and please God let me have the willpower not to have the willpower to say no today.
For me, cutting out sugar has been harder than cutting out alcohol (which, is also full of and usually consumed with, sugar). I went riding with a group of friends just yesterday and was able to sing-song a “no thank you!” when the beer was going around… but when the twizzlers were going around… and I was staring at a fucking cucumber in my hand… that’s when shit gets real.
So many people are so concerned with the legalization of marijuana, saying it’s the new gateway drug, but I’m more on the fence of uh, no, sugar is the gateway drug, and we start the kids on that path at about age 3.
I have a medical prescription for cannabis, and an addiction to sugar. Let me tell you, that adding marijuana to my life has not made me addicted to it or want to try any other recreational drug by any means, but I still want sugar. I should actually try my CBD when I have a sugar craving. #lightbulb
Walking through the bakery aisles of the grocery store actually make my mouth salivate like Pavlov’s dog.
The thought has literally crossed my mind- to eat a sweet treat and throw it up.
The thought has also crossed my mind when out in public- acting like some martyr about my sugar free lifestyle, to sneak a cookie on my way out of the party and eat it in hiding, because at least they wouldn’t know I ate it but I WANT IT SO BAD AND IT’S JUST ONE. I also know it wouldn’t be just one.
If that’s not addictive behaviour, I don’t know what is. I am 5 months post quitting sugar and the feeling hasn’t waned one ounce, in fact it is probably the opposite and is getting more difficult to deal with. Now that I am out and socializing more, the temptations are increasing around me, driving past the Dairy Queen, out for supper and salivating over dessert.
I don’t even actually want to quit it all the way. How fucked up is that. I keep saying to myself – just get a clean 1-year cancer scan Adelle. Then the addiction creeps in and says “or maybe even after your 3-month cancer scan. You deserve it.”
When I talk to some people about it they say – is that really necessary? To cut out sugar like you are? And when I have those conversations is when I get my head on a little bit straighter.
Because when I have those conversations, the stats and data come flooding back to me. The Adelle who loves debate comes out to plan and I recite in my head:
It is known and proven, that cancer feeds off glucose. The other side effects that refined sugar consumption can lead to is depression, weight gain, acne, heart disease, cellular aging (aka looking OLD), among a myriad of other things. (4)
But yes, we also need glucose to survive. You’ll find whatever stat you want to support your theory, and I’m not here to convince anyone, only encourage those who are interested. You do you. But I believe there needs to be a balance. The stats also say, that the average Canadian consumes 60g of added sugar per day. ADDED. Per DAY. (1) Skeptical? Check your BBQ sauce label.
For the people in the back, that is in addition to the naturally occurring sugar in the food we consume; and a side note on that side note, many of the “every day” foods we eat are super high on the glycemic index too.. namely – potatoes, white rice, white bread, even watermelon. (2)
Back to the main point – average consumption of added sugar – 60g per day.
Recommended maximum intake of added sugar per day; men – 36g; women – 25g; (3)
And kids – well I don’t have them, but if I may… just suggest… it be zero.
I don’t ramble all of this off when people ask me if me cutting out sugar is really necessary… but since cutting out sugar (and all high glycemic and refined food), I actually am 15 lbs lighter. My skin has never been more clear and glowing where I used to fight acne on the daily. And I actually think I have less wrinkles. But knowing all that inside, I simply answer to the sugar skeptics - that I would rather go without sugar, than not go without sugar, and if I have a recurrence – wonder what if I had.
Most days - it’s only those words that can keep me away from the candy aisle.
Do you need to quit sugar? I don’t know. I’m not here to direct anyone’s life, but I am here to advocate for my belief of people living a healthier lifestyle – before experiencing a chronic illness diagnosis. Hindsight is 20/20 – personally. But learning from other’s mistakes can sure provide some guidance. For all the other amazing things there are out there to enjoy in the world… I’d rather be on my deathbed in many decades from now, having had fueled my body with the nutrition to enjoy them to the fullest, than wish I had ate one more butter tart.
About the Author:
Adelle is currently writing her first book, outlining her journey through life, lessons, and most recently - her battle with cancer. She is a sugar-addict turned health-freak, avid hiker, horseback rider, and holistic healthcare advocate. Sign up for our newsletter to follow along with her journey and be the first to know when her memoir is available!