If you have ever attempted or considered losing more than 10 or 20 pounds, you have likely discovered the connection between sugar and your extra weight. We’ve long ago let go of that silly old idea that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.
The calories in, calories out equation still works for us, but the quality of the calories we take in, it turns out, are much more important than we used to think for our health and for managing our weight. While cutting back on calories, making your remaining calories as nutritious as possible is critical for your health and critical for control.
Sadly, the addictive nature of certain kinds of non-nutritious foods makes them doubly dangerous for people who are working to maintain or lose weight.
Which brings me to this past weekend, when I had every opportunity to win my battle against sugar, but managed, somehow, to lose it anyway. I had all the right options, great food to choose instead of the sweet stuff, plenty of delicious veggies, legumes, light proteins prepared and presented to me. I had friends and family around who would have swept away anything that made me feel weak, had I asked.
But I didn’t ask. I ate.
And no, I didn’t indulge in a bite or two of a favorite treat. And I didn’t enjoy one whole serving of a lovely dessert only to get right back on my eating program the next day. This wasn’t a reasonable sort of indulgence. Over the past few days of parties and play, I consumed more sugar than I have in the entire previous year.
The sugar was accompanied by obscene amounts of salt, of course (these days sweet packaged food is highly salted and salty packaged food is highly sweetened to double or triple their addictive power), so I’m having a hard time typing this morning, my fingers achy and heavy with retained fluids, my brain dull in a baffling cloud, the morning-after effects of a sugar binge.
What bothers me more than the same old stuff that always bothers me in these situations– remembering that I don’t have control over certain foods, that I never will, that I have to be smarter, that I’m not like other people — is knowing that it will take days now to remove this stuff from my system, and during these days I’ll be craving sugar and sweet stuff. The cravings will occupy a chunk of my brain that would come in handy this week for other things.
So, right now the Halloween candy we didn’t need is talking to me from its plastic container in the freezer (That’s supposed to deter me, but what is better than frozen candy?). My mind has remapped my route to work, highlighting the drugstores and gas stations and grocery stores and video rental places where candy is sold.
But wait where could I possibly be today where there wouldn’t be candy? There are vending machines at my workplace, my clients’ workplaces, at the doctors’ offices I’ll visit with my parents today. I can find candy while shopping at the stationers, at the butcher’s. There’s candy in the waiting room when I get my oil changed. Candy at school. Candy at church. Candy at the drycleaners. Candy at the vet’s office.
I see candy bars. They’re everywhere. (Can you imagine the world freely offering other addictive substances the way we do candy? I’m imagining cute little holiday baskets of airline vodka bottles on the edges of receptionists’ desks. Or perhaps a nice bowlful of oxycontin on the teacher’s desk. Complementary cocaine after dinner?)
I know I need just two or three days without sugar (and its cousin, refined grains) in my diet before I’ll have some control over it again. It takes that long, and only that long, for my body to let go of the cravings. Once they’re gone, I can travel through my day again without seeing through buildings to the nearest vending machine, without ideas of candy and cookies inserting themselves into my thoughts mid-sentence, mid-breath.
And best of all, I can write without the mind-scrambling effect that sugar has on me.
I hate having a sugar binge this early in the season. But maybe there is a silver lining. By losing it early, perhaps this correction, the one that begins today, will carry me right past Thanksgiving and at least half way through the year-end holidays.
If you’re a sugar junkie, a candy fiend, then the season on your soul has just opened. Time to be extra watchful and wary, to pull out all of your best control strategies for keeping sugar out of your system, and use them. Please stop by skinnydaily.com and share your best methods. We could all use all the help we can get.