I’m not proud to admit this to anyone, least of all myself. It had been a particularly rough day as a stay at home mama. The two month old was very vocal in a grating and deafening manner about her need to be held. A lot. The two year old was consistent in communicating her interest in “more painting more snack more goldfish more up more craft more Elmo more more more more”. A lot. My modest goals of a hot shower and vacuuming up the dog’s hairballs had understandably not been reached. I was stressed, worn out and overwhelmed. I admit that I sought solace, comfort and peace in the arms of sweets. It was a great big fat batch of chocolately chip cookie goodness some thoughtful person dropped off with a warm meal from my mom’s group. I ate half the batch in ten minutes while standing in the kitchen without so much as a glass of milk. And I only found solace, comfort and peace in it until right after I’d licked the last of the sugary confection from my lips and fingertips.
Now to be fair, I don’t find any fault with some comfort eating--it can be delicious! But since I am being honest with you about this, and honest with myself…I always find a reason to eat sugary treats in excess: A good day, a bad day, a mediocre day. With friends, on my own in the car after grocery shopping, on my own not really hiding in the kitchen because eating it over the sink isn’t a sin…but you get the picture. I’m often dismayed at my lack of control with all things sweet. Can you relate? I’ve started to realize my relationship with sugar, with sweets, isn’t sweet at all.
For several years now I have eaten sweets almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I have what others cutely call a sweet tooth. I love the sugar high. My heaven was when I worked downtown Niles right above County Down bakery and around the corner from Veni’s chocolate shop. I used to joke that instead of the freshman fifteen, I gained my happy marriage fifteen. I didn’t think I had a problem because I wasn’t eating a dozen donuts at a time. I didn’t think I had a problem because I didn’t have a huge weight issue. I didn’t think I had a problem because I always had a reasonable reason. Well, I do have a problem: I’m sugar sensitive. Stop chuckling! It’s not a joke, it is a real thing.
I learned about sugar sensitivity from a book called Potatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons. She saw patterns of sugar addiction in adult children of alcoholics and I saw myself in the symptoms right away. Eating too much sugar can be a real issue for many people. An article on Dr. Oz’s website states the average American consumes twenty-two teaspoons of sugar per day. The American Heart Association suggests we keep it under six teaspoons per day. Oops.
For the past month I have been experimentally avoiding sweets. I still eat honey in small amounts but I don’t crave it like I do a cupcake or a Heath bar. The book Made to Crave by Lysa Terkhurst was helpful to me in changing my eating patterns. It talks about how we often search for what we need emotionally in our food items but that they cannot deliver any lasting positive dividends. Reading this book was probably the strongest influence in my healthier eating choices becoming reality.
Now if I feel myself getting all hot and bothered over something I might eat that’s a signal it might be something I should avoid right now. I still want everything, I just decide in advance not to eat the sweets. It has been very empowering to decide I have control over what goes into my mouth and do not need to feel so out of control when it comes to sweet things.
Lately I explain my uncharacteristic avoidance of treats by saying I am allergic to sugar; it makes me break out in fat. Feeling empowered over my food choices, over the size of my waist gives me a sense of peace and self-control no big heaping pile of sweets could provide. I still miss sugar every day and struggle to keep it out of my mouth. Even with the cravings and temptation lurking everywhere, knowing I hold the power over it; now that is really sweet.