Pour Some Sugar on Me

by Elissa Stein


Last week I gave up sugar. I realized that while I thought I was a relatively healthy eater, I was basically living sugar fix to sugar fix with not much in between. Hot chocolate in the morning. Lunch time iced coffee with half and half and double splenda, a squirt or two of chocolate syrup stirred in. Chocolate sorbet on the way home from yoga. Mini ice cream cones before I went to sleep. A salad or some pasta thrown in at points, but just as often, a biscotti, perhaps a poptart, some vegan hazelnut chocolate cake. I committed to 40 sugar free days and last Monday woke up ready to detox. 

I spent much of the first day in tears. At that point I’m sure my body had no idea what it was in for, so it was more a psychological loss. But, out of nowhere I was weepy. Seriously weepy. Day 2 I was ravenous. By 11 in the morning I was doubled over with hunger pangs that consumed me. Days 3 and 4 I started getting jittery and way too emotional for situations I was in. I was cranky, whiny, devoid of any patience or understanding. 

Day 5? I came down with the worst cold of my life. I went from feeling slightly stuffy to unbearable sinus pain in less than an hour. For two days I only get out of bed to neti pot and scald myself in boiling hot baths, hoping to find relief from steam. While it was challenging to even think, I eeked out the idea that perhaps since my body so busy dealing with detox, it had no reserves left for actual illness. Bad timing.

By day 7 I was fully realizing how much sugar was in my life. And how it not only physically satisfied me, it emotionally nourished me. When I was stressing, which is often, a quick sugar fix took my mind out of the craziness and gave me a momentary break. Without those soothing spots in my day, I was losing control.

And then, this morning, full scale anxiety attack. Claustrophobia pushed its way in as I sat in my car. I couldn’t breathe. My hands started shaking. I broke out in a clammy sweat. I felt like my mind was cracking into millions of pieces I’d never be able to put together again. I begged someone to come sit with me and help me get home. Too terrified to be in an elevator, we climbed 10 flights of stairs, me sobbing and freaking the entire way.

It took a tranquilizer to calm me down. And a whipped chocolate yogurt. A watermelon strawberry smoothie got me through the afternoon.

I had no idea that cutting sugar out of my diet would be so physically painful, emotionally punishing, or psychologically debilitating. Today was terrifying. Even scarier that such a severe chain of reactions was set off by such a seemingly innocuous substance. 

Sugar’s on my shit list. Delicious as it is, I’ve seen its dark side.


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