I don’t know about you, but I just seem to be surrounded by sugar-laden products. And it really pisses me off because I try harder than any person I know to avoid sugar. I know that like 75% of you (maybe less?) reading this will say “Everything in moderation is fine.” And I agree with you. If your body processes sugar well or you were born with a fantastic metabolism. But the truth is, not everyone is as lucky. I’m not. I can (and do sometimes) spend three hours a day in a gym and I still avoid fruit and starchy vegetables because they’re packed full of sugar. Yeah, even natural sugar screws me up. I’m not crazy, just extremely insulin sensitive. And this post is about me being pissed off about it.
The next ten or so paragraphs are just me ranting. If you want to skip this part, scroll down to “Sugar is Poison.”
If you’re insulin resistant too, please let me know in the comments section below. I’m really tired of being like the only person I know who eats a grapefruit and gains a pound. Ok, maybe I just exaggerated slightly but I’m being 100% honest when I say that I save bananas and sweet potatoes for “cheat days” because they’re so high in sugar. And I really did stop eating grapefruit–even thought it’s my FAVORITE fruit. Can you even imagine what ice cream and cake do to me?! Or the four cupcakes I had this weekend?! Ugh. Sometimes I think my life sucks. And here’s why I’m so pissed off today.
Everywhere I look, people are eating cake and getting fatter and fatter. Or they’re eating cake and staying skinny because they have the genetics sent from the gods or something, and eating cake doesn’t really matter. But here I am at work…where I’m the wellness coordinator…and currently running a “Biggest Loser” competition. On Friday, I walked into the office to grab some copies I sent to the printer and I pass four people running out of the door with at least one (some more than one) piece of cake–beautifully decorated with white, yellow, and pink icing, all the while licking their sugary-coated hands. Do you know what I would KILL in order to have a piece of that cake?! But no, even though I’ve worked out four times last week and ran an obstacle course race this weekend, I knew I couldn’t eat the cake. The cake would end up on my already too-fat ass. (Don’t even argue with me, it’s still too fat for my liking.) No offense co-workers. I love you guys. I just hate that we’re always being presented with SUGAR platters instead of veggie, meat, and cheese trays.
Why do corporations have WELLNESS coordinators and then feed their employees cake, cookies, candy, and chocolate?!
So whatever, I say to myself. They’ll eat the cake, they’ll have a sugar crash, a mood swing, gain a pound, and I won’t. I’ll head back to my room and eat my 100-calorie pack of almonds. I’m the winner, right?
Fast forward to an hour later. In my classroom, a student walks in and says, “Hey Ms. Wimer! Want some–Oh wait, nevermind, you don’t eat cake.” And I think, There’s that effing cake again! Where the hell is it coming from? It’s like an endless supply…the never ending cake! I’m in hell! I’m being tortured!
I appreciate that my students know that I won’t eat the cake. So much. In fact, my students are the best at NOT pressuring me to eat dessert. For some reason, adults always seem to try and force it on me when I don’t want it. Just leave me alone! I don’t want dessert and it’s too hard to say NO! Stop asking me!!!
But then the next kid–the TALL, fantastic METABOLISM, growing teenage BOY pipes up and says, “But everything’s ok in moderation, right?” U-G-H!
For you? Yes. Me? Short, stocky, worst metabolism known to man–make that WOman–ugh, no. Not even moderation. Here’s how I know.
This past February–the 13th to be exact–I conducted my own experiment. I cut out ALL sugar from my diet for 46 days. (Yes, over Lent.) I ate ONLY green vegetables, protein from meat sources and eggs, and then I had one-two protein shakes each day. My shakes were sugar free too–just whey, 30-calorie unsweetened almond milk, and my supergreens supplement. Now, I didn’t weigh myself because I’m convinced scales are from the devil, but I did lean up tremendously. I had visible abs by the end of my experiment. My muscles continued to grow and fat continued to diminish. I had never been more confident in my LIFE. I ate strict, didn’t cheat, and loved my body for the first time in….ever.
I’m pissed as hell right now because I’m starting to lose that confidence. Since Lent has ended, I’ve had three cheat meals. Sure, one was all the candy I could eat on Easter Sunday without exploding, another was about a half dozen cupcakes to celebrate the end of the CrossFit open, and the last was a birthday “weekend” celebration: fabulous foods and desserts all weekend. It wasn’t even my birthday. And I’m already putting the pounds back on. Seriously?! Three cheats–all sugar driven–and I’ve lost ab visibility, I look soft and pudgy instead of lean and muscular, and I feel bloated all the time. Fu*k you, sugar. And to top it off, I had about four cupcakes after my obstacle course race this weekend. Why can’t I control myself?!
Do I have to give up cake and ice cream for the rest of my life just to stay lean, cut, and happy with my body? Don’t get me wrong, I know there are hundreds of things in the world to be concerned with and a body of flat abs isn’t necessarily one of them. Before you start saying that I’m a selfish, ungrateful little bit*h, just let me reiterate that I’m pissed right now, and my job is fitness. There is more to life. But right now, I just want flat abs and to be able to wear whatever I damn well please and rock the hell out of it. What’s wrong with that? I suppose a super strict Paleo plan (what I was doing over Lent) really is going to have to be the only way for me. I know a lot of people praise Paleo diets and even more people make fun of them, but if it’s the only thing that works for me–and I mean the ONLY thing–then you know there’s merit to it. Make fun of it all you want…if you’ve got the six pack to back up your superiority.
Sugar is POISON.
Enough ranting. Some of you may be wondering if sugar might be the cause of your own personal weight challenges. Let me tell you exactly what sugar does when in the body.
First of all, you may have heard it before and maybe not, but sugar is a poisonous drug. I don’t care who you are and what you’ve heard, but you will get–or you probably already are–addicted to sugar. And giving up a sugar addiction is JUST as tough as any other drug product–probably more so in the fact that everyone tells you “it’s ok to eat it!” Your grandmother wants you to have apple pie with her, or your BFF Jill wants to go out for ice cream. “It’s ok, just this once!” Does a heroin addict get permission to shoot up “just this once” by his mother on Christmas Eve? See my point?
Author and holistic practitioner Evita Ochel agrees with me. She says,
“Sugar is a drug that has no nutritional value and is an addictive chemical.”
In Evita’s article, Health Effects of Sugar On Your Body, she writes about the different kinds of sugars: glucose, fructose, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. She then goes on to outline many of the most common ways that sugar screws with our bodies. And I don’t mean “screws” like gives us a headache or something of that sort. I mean “screws” as in it seriously fu*ks us up. (I told you, I’m still pissed.)
Sugar affects our brain, teeth, pancreas, bones, and heart. It plagues our deficiencies, kills our immune system, and contributes to obesity. Hello America. Oh wait, ‘Merica.
Let me break this down for you. According to Evita, sugar raises serotonin (the feel good hormone) in our brains. When we eat sugar, the brain stops producing serotonin. Just by not having a “sugary” substance, we can experience mood swings, unhappiness, irritability and other negative symptoms. Hello addiction.
You know, maybe that’s why I can become so bit*hy at times. I’ve probably eaten so much sugar in my lifetime (I used to be the fat kid, don’t forget) that now my brain doesn’t produce much serotonin on its own, and I’m a lot moodier now. I can usually combat my moods with vitamins and exercise…but when I’m lacking either, watch out. Again, fu*k you sugar for doing this to me.
Teeth and Pancreas
Sugar is the leading cause of dental deterioration, cavities in teeth, bleeding gums, and loss of teeth. Enough said.
Our pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which our body uses to regulate that amount of sugar in our blood. Too high concentrations of sugar in our blood can kill us, just as too low concentrations of sugar.
Sugar makes the pancreas overwork in its production of insulin, leading to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be avoided. It can also be reversed. And did you know that type 2 diabetes is now being linked to Alzheimer disease? All because of sugar.
Heart and Bones
People who eat more sugar are more susceptible to clogged arteries, hypertension (high blood pressure), weak arteries, strokes and heart attacks. Most people think that “fat” and red meat are killing the heart, but honestly, I’m not sure “meat” is the issue. In my opinion, and Lord knows I’m no doctor, from what I’ve seen, sugar is a much worse threat to the body than a steak.
Sugar is even increasing osteoporosis and is making our bones weak–just like our teeth. Sugar is literally deteriorating the body all the while blowing us up and making us bigger and bigger and bigger. Kinda reminds me of the Harry Potter book where Harry blows up the evil aunt and she floats away into the abyss.
Sugar is also responsible for the following:
- it strips valuable nutrients from the body
- it makes your immune system slow down to a crawl (why some people are always freakin’ sick!)
- it paralyzes the white blood cells responsible for squashing invaders like viruses and bacteria for up to around 5 hours and reduces their ability to work properly by up to 40%
- it elevates cortisol in the body which causes increases to various infections as well as general organ malfunction, including heart disease
- it causes damage to literally every system or organ in our body, including the liver and kidneys
- it’s linked to learning disorders in kids such as ADD/ADHD
- sugar is directly related to cancer: the higher the sugar consumption, the greater the risk of cancers
I even read in another book (I can’t remember its name because I loaned it out and never got it back) but a doctor said that kids who need braces are usually the result of a pregnant mom who ate too much sugar. Apparently the sugar causes the baby to have a smaller, more narrow head, forcing teeth to come in on top of one another later. Pardon the lack of doctor jargon–not one of my strengths.
What Scares Me–and How I Know the Truth about Sugar
When my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer, the doctors had given up on him. We don’t know how he developed the cancer but most doctors agreed that it started somewhere in his digestive system. After chemo failed him, he went to a homeopathic doctor who specialized in liver cancer and healing through holistic foods. Long story short–the number one ingredient my dad was to avoid at all costs was sugar. The number two ingredient was sugar substitutes. Even before tobacco or alcohol on the list was sugar. When my dad stopped chemo and starting eating a whole, healthy diet regulated by all-natural vitamins, minerals, fish oils, etc., he got better. He was on death’s door, and HE GOT BETTER. Avoiding sugar helped him. It may not have saved him in the long run, but I blame two chemo treatments back-to-back for his sudden death. Food was healing him, chemicals killed him.
According to Dr. Patrick Quillin, in Europe, the “sugar feeds cancer” concept is so well accepted that oncologists use the Systemic Cancer Multistep Therapy (SCMT) protocol and prescribe diets based on the glycemic index.
A female patient in her 50s, with lung cancer, came to our clinic, having been given a death sentence by her Florida oncologist. She was cooperative and understood the connection between nutrition and cancer. She changed her diet considerably, leaving out 90 percent of the sugar she used to eat. She found that wheat bread and oat cereal now had their own wild sweetness, even without added sugar. With appropriately restrained medical therapy — including high-dose radiation targeted to tumor sites and fractionated chemotherapy, a technique that distributes the normal one large weekly chemo dose into a 60-hour infusion lasting days — a good attitude and an optimal nutrition program, she beat her terminal lung cancer. I saw her the other day, five years later and still disease-free, probably looking better than the doctor who told her there was no hope.
How can I ever put sugar into my system again? And yet I do. I’m telling you–it’s a drug. A drug society and our best friends are forcing upon us day after day after day. And I’m not innocent either. I’m actually known for my baking abilities. And I do it for my friends and family. I’m such a hypocrite.
Why can’t I just say “NO” to sugar? Why can’t I avoid it? Why can’t I resist the temptation? For three years now, maybe longer, I’ve been trying to say no. And the only time I’m ever successful is during Lent…I guess because I have the excuse. It’s hard to say no to your friends when they want to split a dessert with you. It’s hard to tell your boyfriend that you don’t want ice cream on a hot summer night. It’s hard to tell your family, on Christmas Eve, that you don’t want the freshly baked cookies. It’s even harder to tell them “No, I didn’t make you peanut butter balls this year for Christmas.”
Will I ever be able to do it? Can anyone completely give up sugar? Help me please!
Steph, I completely feel your pain. I am extremely insuline resistant, so much so that right after I graduated college it developed to full blown diabeties. Now, 20 years, some neuropathy and 5 reconstructive foot surgiers later it is still a major issue. I kept my blood sugar in normal ranges for the past few years with extreme effort, shots, pills and working out 2 hours a day. Yet due to people around me it it very difficult to avoid sugar. Family meals, being asked out for ice cream by other’s cravings who even know I’m diabetic make it near impossible. I commend you for your efforts over lent. With all the time I spend in the pool, I shouldn’t have an ounce of fat on me, yet the insuline imbalances in my system make it very difficult to drop fat. Don’t get me wrong, I have lost some, but it is a very arguous process. Don’t give up! For the record, I understand how each of us is hard on ourselves, but you take great care of yourself and it shows. Sugar is aweful for us, but what is even worse is the high frutose corn syrup that is pumped into all the american foods instead of sugar. I fully believe that it contributed to my condition popping up earlier in life than it needed too. Blood sugar issues are definitely hereditary, but our habits no doubt exaserbate the situation. Hang in there and keep plugging away. Remember, it is a lifestyle change and not a sprint.
Stephanie Wimer says
Thanks so much for your response Ted! Amen to the high fructose corn syrup….I cannot believe that our society is not more aware of the dangers of this product! I think if the government can put such a high tax on cigarettes, it should put the same tax on desserts and foods made with HFCS. It’s killing us just as much if not more than other toxins! Ugh, it’s just so frustrating!
And your encouragement is super helpful…the lifestyle change vs sprint is something in which I constantly have to remind myself. I mean, it has taken YEARS just to get to this point…I suppose it will take longer to learn how to really, truly, give up sugar. If I even can. But I really would like to.
It flat out sucks to have to go through what you’ve been though and you definitely have my sympathy. I admire your strength to stay strong, keep to your workout routine, and not let sugar get the best of you! Keep it up…and always feel free to come back here and vent whenever you need! Ha!!
The example you provide to those around you by your actions is always inspiring. I remember the first few times I saw you get on the bike at a spin class up in the crowed corner of the suspended track. Over the last few years it was really neat to see your steady progress. There is a significant difference between the you then and the you now. Keep up the hard work!
Tss. Your teeth will be in danger. You should control your self. Nothing can control that, it is you only. You should be responsible for your self.