Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Small Stretch of Sanity, and What I Found There

Well, if I put my head on the pillow tonight without going into the kitchen and eating spoonfuls of sugar or hopping in to the car to make the three minute drive to the 24-hour doughnut shop, I will have a week off sugar. This month is crazy-busy. I have long work days, lots of catching up to do with social circles after being away for two weeks, and several major creative projects this month. I wasn't sure it was the best month to go off sugar. I know the sugar wasn't helping, but I was afraid of exhaustion, crankiness, headaches, and other effects of sugar detox. I shared this fear with a friend. This friend has been off sugar for over fourteen years, so I often call her for support during my journey. She said, "Maybe you won't have any symptoms. Stop thinking you know what it's going to be like." Miraculously, I've had no ill-effects. I've had more energy, more clarity, and the ability to show up to long days and back-to-back commitments without being late to every one. If I was on sugar, I would've had to stop between each appointment to "fuel up" on sweets.

Though I overate today, I also haven't had a non-sugar binge for six days. After a late afternoon binge last Thursday, I texted a friend who has had found a path to moderate eating after years of bingeing. She talked me through a kind of plan and asked me to text her every day to tell her how I was doing. I don't know why the accountability worked with her. I'd tried doing that with many other friends, but for some reason, whatever the combination of our conversation , agreement, and her model, it's been working so far.

So, now I'm faced with a whole new set of food obsessions and fears. The agreement was that I would eat one normal-sized plate of food at each meal and three vegetable or fruit snacks. But when she showed me a normal-sized plate, it looked pretty small to me. But I gave it a go. But I find if I don't stick to that agreement perfectly, I feel horrible about myself, eat more because I've already "ruined" the day, thinking: I'll start fresh again tomorrow. That's totally diet mentality. And we all know diets don't work. But, being struck with that mentality when I was twelve, there's a pretty deep hole I have to dig to uproot it.

Today, I worked from 7:30 AM-6 PM with a one hour break. I brought my three moderate meals and a vegetable snack. I really didn't bring much food. I'm kind of aware of calories. It was only like 1100 calories. I thought, okay, I won't die if I only eat 1100 calories--I'd gotten through the day and I only had one stop to make on the way home. The stop was a neighborhood association mixer and meeting. I wasn't sure if there'd be snacks there, but I told myself I didn't need to eat there, that I could have a green smoothie when I got home if I was hungry.

But I was tired and felt a bit out of place, even though several of my friends and acquaintances were there. I started grazing on the sweet potato chips and cheese platter. I didn't binge, but it was nervous, tired, and hungry eating. I felt bad about it when I got home. I texted my friend I've been reporting my progress to, told on myself. Then I ate another large, but healthy snack. Immediately, I become obsessed with the scale; I want to know if I had just undone the stretch of the last six days. I think, maybe I should put the scale somewhere I can't get to in the morning in my pajamas (because I only weigh myself in the morning, don't you know), like in the trunk of the car or something. . .

As you can see, putting down the sugar has just brought up a whole bundle of issues--social anxiety, ideas of food and weight perfection, a need to tell on myself, to report myself as shameful. It's not like I didn't know these issues were there, but the sugar and bingeing helped distract from them because the present pain and shame from the eating was all that I could think about.

I have a long way to go, but a lot of support. I hope you are all finding your way on your own healing journeys.


  1. Day 11 but i have an apple a day. Never felt like that was the sugar problem. What do you think? I am off all processed foods.
    At about 600 calories a day for a while.

  2. I always have fruit when I'm off sugar. It's processed by the body really differently than refined sugar. I avoid fruit juices though because there's no fiber to slow down the processing. Congrats on 11 days!

  3. So inspiring. Thanks for the hope and for the honesty.