Never in a million years would I believe I could sit here before you and share some big news. This might just be the day the roof caves in.
Let me backup a little bit. Back on August 13, 2012 I wrote an article about attending my first AA meeting when I was just a few days into my sobriety journey. Never in my lifetime did I think I would be circling back around to the rooms again. My first and last visit to an AA meeting was 15 years old. I didn’t think I could live without alcohol. But here I was 27 years into my drinking career, sitting in an AA meeting.
I remember leaving my house that day, writing an article saying, “This might be the day the roof caves in!” I never thought I I would see that day. I never thought I would be sitting here 7.5 years later writing about it. One of the struggles for me in my recovery has been trading addictions for addictions. As soon as I put the alcohol bottle down, I picked up SUGAR. Back in 2012 I started eating CANDY, and sweets and anything sugary I could get my hands on.
I remember buying my favorite candy and stashing it in my night stand, and eating it each night before I went to bed. Terrible, HORRIBLE habit to start. But it was a clear diversion that was keeping my mind off alcohol. I was proud I wasn’t drinking, so by any means necessary I did what I had to do to make myself feel better. Candy AKA sugar and processed sugary foods was my next, new addiction.
Over the last 2 years I’ve had so much dental work done, and I’ve spent THOUSANDS OF CASH DOLLARS on my teeth. I’ve had multiple root canals, multiple crowns, I’ve had all the old fillings removed and new ones put in. My teeth are in PERFECT SHAPE! Naturally, I want to take better care of them but I know in the back of my mind sugar is a real problem.
Let me be honest, I always loved sweets and I’ve always had a sweet tooth, however it’s been OFF THE CHARTS since I’ve been in recovery and living a sober lifestyle. For the last 7.5 years I’ve rewarded myself with sweets almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day. I’ve even developed cravings to GET OUT OF BED at eat something sweet in the middle of the night. SMH. It’s even become a joke to me when I talk to my friends and those close to me, my sweet tooth has clearly taken over my life. After about 2 years into my recovery journey, I stopped eating candy, but I never stopped eating other sweets and processed sugary treats obsessively.
I’ve tried to tackle tightening the reins on this sugar and sweets addiction on my own for at least 2-3 years. At an attempt to become healthier and happier, I have migrated my diet to be predominantly a plant based whole food diet. I really don’t want to get into all the dynamics of this choice and change in this article, but it’s definitely a piece of my story. Here I am eating healthier than I ever have for the last year, but my sweet tooth is still kicking STRONG. I can’t seem to break the sweet tooth habit, and I’ve tried everything. I want to stay active forever, and I want to keep up with my future grand-kids. It’s taken me 45 years to say, “I LOVE LIFE AND I WANT TO LIVE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE & BE HEALTHY.”
I AM ADDICTED TO SUGAR! HELP!
Doing research and trying to get help with this addiction on my own, I’ve not gotten much help on this regarding the whole process of trying to wean myself off sugar, processed sweets or what that even looks like. I’ve read and learned study after study about sugar being more addictive than cocaine, and how our government has allowed all the processed foods to be put on the shelves. EVERYWHERE WE LOOK IS SUGAR. The discount bakery rack at every grocery store is a HUGE trigger to me, to just BUY IT ALL because it’s cheap and I want my sweets. I know sugar is addictive and I’m addicted, NOW WHAT?
Here I am today, knowing I have a major problem with sweets, and my thought process is a lot like it was when I quit alcohol. My thoughts are plagued with things like, “What good is life if I can’t enjoy my sweets?” I tried to switch to healthier sweets but reality is, if you purchase these things on the inside isles of the store, more than likely even when they say “Healthier” or “Fat Free” they are still processed foods filled with sugar. Let’s not even talk about the labels on the food, and how many different words actually mean SUGAR. Feel free to do the research on that. How is this even possible, when our government KNOWS in animals, sugar is more addictive than cocaine? I won’t even get started, however I’m trying my hardest to get to the bottom of this sugar addiction.
Quitting cold turkey is what the information says that I’ve read and learned, but it’s not even logical that I say I want to QUIT ALL SUGAR COLD TURKEY. I mean, I would almost rather die at that thought than never have cheesecake again, or donuts, or cookies or cake! For me, I’ve learned enough in recovery, that there is no one size fits all, and what works for me might not work for others. I’ve learned that MY way is the path I choose to follow, because I’ve been misled many times with others’ advice. Not that I don’t appreciate it, and I still want it but at the end of the day I have to follow my heart and do what’s best for me.
For me, there definitely seems to be a mental aspect to the whole food thing. I tried weight watchers some years back, and it actually made my sugar issue worse. Something about the numbers and not being able to go past the numbers made me want to eat sweets even more. It was really bizarre and didn’t work well for me, although I know it’s helped tons of people. I’m not one to want to try all kinds of diets, nor do I want to depend on any of that to be health. I should be doing this on my own, figuring it out depending on what’s working best for me. No rules and regulations suit me well.
So here I am at square one with sugar. What in the heck am I going to do? Well Covid-19 has actually made all this worse. I don’t think I even have to go there, because many people are eating themselves out of this whole situation, myself included! But it’s also helped me realize how much I depend on sugary sweets to make myself “feel better.” One thing about me, I can smell codependency a million miles away. I don’t want to be DEPENDENT on ANYTHING in an unhealthy way to make me “FEEL BETTER.” Not a system, not a person, not a place, not a building, not a substance, not a food, or anything alike. I’m not saying all these things don’t make us feel better, but I don’t want to be dependent on them to an extent that it becomes unhealthy. My sugar and processed food addiction has definitely become unhealthy.
Over the last few months of Covid-19 I’ve taken a newfound interest in searching for exotic fruits and enjoying them as a way to curb my sweet tooth. I felt like over the last year I’ve eaten so much fruit to consume HEALTHY sugars, that I got burnt out. This was a win win because something about enjoying and trying new rare fruits has been really exciting and fun! The kicker is, now that some of the international shipments have slowed down due to the virus, the fruit is harder to find. I’m still eating a TON of fruit but it’s not been as fun.
Another new thing I’ve been doing is making new plant based sweets and this has definitely been a lot of fun. You mean we can eat sweets that are plant based? YES, yes we can! It’s been a silver lining to the whole Covid19 era. Another silver lining has been my son trying most of these new plant based recipes with me, and it’s been a fun thing to do together when normally we’re always busy with life.
I realized this week, if I don’t TRY to eliminate sugary substances from my diet as much as I can, at least make a conscious effort I am always going to feel like it’s going to kill me. The back of my mind, I obsess over sugar feeding on cancer, and the fact that so much processed foods can cause cancer truly never leaves my mind. Well I am the only one that can do something about this. I have all the power to make the changes, even when I have no clue of what I’m doing! The information I’ve seen to help the sugar addiction really just lets me know how addictive it is, but I have yet to find a real solution to BREAK THE ADDICTION. So I’m on my own.
In recovery COFFEE is a big thing for a lot of people. At this point I will NEVER give up coffee, unless it’s life or death because life without coffee seems like death to me! LOL A lot of people in recovery are big on coffee! Coffee every morning of my life has been consistent before recovery, and I depend on it each morning. However, it’s not just coffee I depend on. It’s non-dairy powdered creamer and coconut sugar that actually makes the coffee worth drinking. In my mind, those are better to drink than regular sugar and dairy creamer, so I’m winning, right? Wrong. I put a TON of these products in my coffee, and it tastes more like chocolate milk or hot cocoa minus the dairy. Am I really even drinking coffee? If so, it’s the watered down version.
What else am I watering down in my life?
The lady I take care of, she has been drinking black coffee as long as I’ve known her for almost 15 years. I always wonder if it even tastes good? When I ask her, she assures me it does. But I’ve always felt that drinking black coffee would take all the fun out of it, and I would rather drink anything than black coffee. The very few times I’ve tried it, It doesn’t taste good to me, and it never has.
Today I’m excited to share that I’ve made a conscious effort to flip the switch in my brain that is so addicted to the non-dairy creamer and coconut sugar and I’ve been drinking BLACK COFFEE for 4 whole days now! I can’t lie, it’s’ been a HUGE adjustment to get used to the flat taste and I’m really not crazy about it. I realize the rat race of trying to eat better, be healthier is something I will likely never be 100% perfect in, but this is truly a HUGE step for me. It’s making me focus on the real true meaning of coffee, and drinking it without all the “extras” is something I truly want to continue to do. I won’t lie, it’s taken a little of the fun out of it. But I’m not depending on the cream and sugar to make it sweet, and it’s given me some form of feeling accomplished in taking baby steps in trying to not let sweets and sugar control my life, even in the middle of a pandemic.
Another step I’ve taken is getting rid of the candy jar on the table. The candy jar has to go! So small to some, but I love to fill it up with something sweet and every time I walk past, I get some. When I quit drinking alcohol I had to get rid of all my beer and wine glasses. I didn’t need reminders of my old life. So I’m working on doing this with sugar and sweets as well.
Another thing that I’ve started doing is drinking a green smoothie each evening around 8PM. It’s 100% plant based, and has no added sugars. Filled with super-foods, veggies and fruits as well as flax seed and seaweed it’s created a filling that seems to help my late night sweet tooth. My son is actually drinking it as well. It’s been so fun to introduce healthier ways of eating to my kids. We learn from one another.
To say I will never have another sweet thing again, isn’t logical to me. I’m going to allow myself condiments, and an occasional favorite dessert. I’m just really doing my best to make changes so I’m consuming things INTO my body that are healthy. I hate the guilt I carry associated with eating processed foods, and sugary sweets morning, noon and night. I hope in the next few months, the 20 pounds I want to lose will fall off, mixed with my continued daily walk of 4-5 miles.
Something’s gotta give. Baby steps in all things but constant self improvement for me, has been growth. The power of finally drinking my coffee black has truly been a huge change for me. It’s empowered me to continue to make changes best for me. I feel strong. I’ve always felt like it took some special, super power of an elite club of individuals to be able to drink black coffee.
Today I welcome myself to this club!
For any adoptees in recovery, have you found yourself trading addictions for addictions? For those who maybe struggle with sweets or a sweet tooth, what have you found helps you combat this struggle?
I would love to hear your thoughts!