Giving up sugar is so hot right now, so I’m totes de rigeur. I never wanted to give up the sweet stuff though. Why would I? There are loads of really awesome things that contain sugar.
Cake, chocolate, soft drinks, biscuit…pretty much all the good stuff.
But it’s not just the obvious (and admittedly delicious) stuff. There’s a whole lot more. In fact, it’s been estimated 80 per cent of all items in an American supermarket (and we can’t be far behind, methinks) has been spiked with added sugar. Let’s all pause and think on that for a moment. I’ll wait while you enjoy this sleepy kitten.
You back? 80 per-fucking-cent. That’s cray, man.
But manufacturers know we are addicted to this shit, so they shove it in everything. Some salt even has sugar in it. Salt, people! Basically, you should just assume that packaged food at the supermarket contains sugar. Because it probably does.
There are a whole lot of reasons to give up sugar, and I wrote about a few of them for The Hoopla last year (those sneaky ferrets are making us pay to access that info now so you can only see the start of the article. If you want the full copy, email me and I’ll send it to you). But for me it comes down to my ability to manage my moods.
I first gave up sugar when I was pregnant with Little Red in 2012. I’d lived with post-natal depression all through 2011 after I had my gorgeous blond boy, and I was scared – nay, TERRIFIED – of it happening again. But I happened upon the sugar link to depression by accident. During pregnancy I had also suffered from seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp (so basically a really sexy version of dandruff). As a sufferer of chronic dry skin anyway, I bought a book on how to use diet to improve skin conditions. And the big take-home message that it was bashing me on the head with, page after page, was GIVE UP THE SUGAR.
So I did. I’m obedient like that. I’m a fucking labrador.
Then when I was at the GP talking to her about ways to try to avoid having my PND return after I gave birth, the sugar thing came up again. She was pretty enthused about my giving up the sweet stuff, and said she reckoned I was a genius and the best patient she’d ever had. Or something approximating that sentiment. I left feeling rather clever.
And then I had my gorgeous, fiery, vocal, needy little redhead baby. But I didn’t get PND. Not even close.
Was it because of the sugar? Who can say. What I do know is that over the past year or so, I have allowed sugar to creep back into my diet. And lately I have been struggling with managing my moods. I have felt overwhelmed, out of control, frustrated, anxious, and sometimes like I was slipping into depression. I’m not there, but I feel like I am treading water in the ocean and with each wave that crashes over my head, I am getting closer and closer to not coming back up.
So here I am. Last weekend I gave up sugar for the second time. What I know now is that it’s not worth it for me. To borrow and mangle a quote from Kate Moss:
And I do feel better already. But I expect the real results to show themselves over the coming weeks and months – when I feel myself more centred, more calm, more focused, more sane. That’s how I want to feel. That’s the me I like.
Do I miss sugar? Honestly? Not really. Sugar is addictive, and it is tough to give up. The first few days I was a mega-psycho hose beast from hell. But now I’m just careful about what I put in my mouth and I’m focused on feeling well. And now I’m a dream to live with, I’m sure.
Now, I’m not here to tell you that you should give up sugar. I’m not one of those converts. But if you want to read about how sugar is fucking you up, check out this article by Robert Lustig. Sarah Wilson is Australia’s sugar-free guru. I have a couple of her books and they are fantastic (she runs sugar detox programs and has cookbooks too). Unfortunately, giving up sugar didn’t make me look like her but she doesn’t have three kids so I’m calling it a draw.
And if you’re concerned about the very obvious issue of alcohol, rest assured, going sugar-free isn’t the end of the world. Phew!
What’s your relationship with sugar like? Would you give it up?