Despite my preference for feeling in control I still enjoyed sugar, and sugar used to make me feel really out of control. In high school my friend Laura's mom would make the best chocolate chip cookies whenever I came over. She knew how much I loved them, and while we were hanging out she would bring us a plate full of cookies fresh out of the oven. Laura and her sisters would each eat a cookie or two, and I'd eat three or four. Sometimes when I spent the night I would even creep into the kitchen before bed and eat a few more cookies. I couldn't help it - I wanted more.
I would also experience what I liked to refer to as "dessert amnesia", where I'd eat lunch, then have a treat afterwards. Then around 2pm I'd start wanting a treat and think to myself "have I had dessert today? I don't think I have." So then I'd eat another treat. I'd crave dessert again around 4pm, and again after dinner. Each time I would forget that I'd already eaten dessert. The cravings would keep on coming, despite the fact that I would satiate them most of the time.
I've heard that eating sugar activates the same area of the brain that is effected by heroin, and it elicits a similar response. This could explain why even though I tried to just eat one cookie or one piece of chocolate, I would keep coming back for more. Just like a heroin addict I would need more and more of my drug of choice to keep me satisfied.
Once I started the no starch diet I started to feel more in control. As my readers might have noticed, I do have a sweet tooth so I have several recipes where I've tried to create something like a dessert without using sugar. When I eat these treats I don't feel like I need to keep eating whatever I've made until it's gone. I enjoy some, and then come back to it later. It's a totally new concept for me.
All of this hard work went awry when I discovered sugar free chocolate. I can't remember when exactly I decided to first try sugar free candy. I quickly discovered that there are all sorts of varieties, and they all taste delicious. Each package of sugar free candy contained about 12-16 bite sized individually wrapped treats. Unfortunately, each time I bought a package I would eat one piece, then another and another, until the entire package was gone in one sitting. They tasted so good that I couldn't seem to stop.
I kept buying more of the candy. I tried sugar free Dove chocolates, York mints, and Reese's peanut butter cups. I tried Werther's, red vines, and caramels. I even tried sugar free chocolate covered peanuts and almonds. And here's the gross part: each time I ate these products I would experience gastrointestinal discomfort shortly afterwards. (And by gastrointestinal discomfort I mean gas, bloating, and even diarrhea. No good.) That's because all of these products contained maltitol, a sugar alcohol.
Consuming sugar alcohols in excess can often have a laxative effect on the digestive system. And because sugar alcohols such as maltitol are not as sweet as sugar, candy makers need to use more of the maltitol to get the same sweetness they would have gotten from sugar. That makes it pretty easy to consume an excess amount. I researched maltitol and apparently not only is it the worst sugar alcohol in terms of experiencing adverse GI effects, it also still contains carbs! So not only was I putting my body through GI hell, I was still ingesting carbs and feeding the persistent yeast in my gut. Oh crap.
This also might be why I regained a pound a half of the weight I have lost so far during the challenge. I realized I'm not going to kill off the yeast, heal my gut, and win 400 bucks by continuing to eat maltitol laced sugar free candy. That's when I reached this conclusion: when in doubt, throw it out. Even though eating the sugar free candy made me feel disgusting, I kept buying the stuff. Today, I threw it all away. In my house I currently had sugar free ice cream, sugar free Dove chocolates, and sugar free chocolate from Trader Joe's. It all went into the trash.
Tomorrow, I'm turning over a new leaf. This journey I'm on is about wellness, and about being the best version of myself that I can. It's about doing the most loving things for myself, and about supporting healthy behaviors. It's also a learning experience. We are all flawed human beings, and sometimes we make mistakes. The important thing is to realize our errors and do what it takes to get back on the right track.
In the past, I would make excuses for myself. "I deserve a treat, because I've had a hard day." "A few bites of this won't hurt me." "My family is overweight, so it's only expected that I'll struggle with weight gain too." Now I'm sick of making excuses. I'm sick of accepting a mediocre version of myself. I want to be great.
To quote my Lululemon water bottle "Successful people replace the words 'wish' 'should' and 'try' with 'I will'." Therefore, I've decided that I will kick the sugar habit. I will give up sugar free chocolate and maltitol. I will live a more healthful, better life. I will lose again the weight I regained, and keep losing weight until I hit my goal. I will do loving things for my body. I will love all of me, not just the good parts. I will do everything in my power to fight this disease. I will fight, and I will win.