As fans of this blog and my radio show know, this is a big month for me — 10 years off sugar. Here is an essay that I wrote about this momentous event in my life and a look back at how I changed. This piece will be published soon by a media outlet. Details coming.
Sugar-Free for 10 Years
How Kicking the White Stuff Gave Me Energy, Focus & Sweetness
By Connie Bennett, C.H.H.C.
April 24, 2008 — Ten years ago this month, I became what can best be described as “reborn.”
Amazingly, all I did was kick a bad habit: I stopped consuming a certain white powder (no, not that one) and its fiber-stripped cousins—sugar and processed carbohydrates—substances dear to the hearts and stomachs of most Americans and people in industrialized countries the world over.
Indeed, in April 1998, after an on-again, off-again love affair with sugar, its sweet relatives (high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, etc.) and other refined, fast-acting carbs (chips, white rice, etc.), I reluctantly gave them all the heave-ho.
Remarkably, within a few days of quitting the nutrient-deprived, white stuff, I began to exude energy, enthusiasm and excitement. Better still, within weeks of preventing sugar shock, I became more focused, clear-headed and productive.
Banishing sweets and processed, “quickie carbs” also helped lighten my load: Not only did a few pounds slide off (I wasn’t really overweight), but I also lost the constant threat to my health, moods and sanity, which had hung like Damocles’s sword over my head.
Stopping Sugar Led to “Miracles” Galore
What I didn’t know—like many Americans, who indulge in sweet “treats” a couple of times a day and on every special occasion imaginable—was that banishing the substances that led to my sugar-induced highs and the lows that inevitably followed would yield such remarkable, far-reaching results.
Sure enough, as my nutrition-savvy physician had predicted, giving up my thrice-daily sugar routine put an end to my overpowering fatigue, horrific headaches and frightening heart palpitations.
In addition, by booting sweets out the door, I also was saying farewell to my severe PMS, disorienting brain fog, troubling depression and a terrifying feeling of being enslaved by my habit.
Not only that, but by quitting this dangerous duo (white sugar and white-flour products), my overpowering sugar cravings, mortifying mood swings and unpredictable crying spells no longer harassed, besieged and embarrassed me.
In all, I did away with a whopping 44 debilitating, perplexing maladies by shutting the door on nutrient-lacking white stuff.
Gone was Connie, the pooped-out, fuzzy-headed, confusion-laden, anxiety-ridden, depression-plagued, sugar-obsessed chick with the life force of an immobile, inert slug.
In her place emerged a coherent, competent, confident Connie. A young woman full of fun, laughter and good cheer.
My Habit Was As American As Apple Pie
In my mind, I’d had good reasons for taking sugar breaks: My cherished red licorice, hard candies, chocolate molasses chips and other quickie carbs often came to my rescue—or so I thought—whenever I felt weak or wiped out, wanted comfort or soothing or needed a “quick burst of energy” to meet an impending article deadline.
As I’ve learned in the decade since conquering my destructive habit, many, if not most Americans, have a similar sort of dark dependency on dessert foods or other “culprit carbs” such as most breads, crackers and white pasta. In fact, the average U.S. resident consumes some 170 pounds of sweeteners per year or nearly a cup of sugar a day, much of which comes from packaged foods and drinks.
Naturally, given our toxic, sugar-pushing, advertising climate, it was easy to cave into my sugar cravings.
After all, I was enticed wherever I went, be it a drug store, movie or supermarket.
Indeed, I was seduced daily by sweet snacks that “sung” to me like those mythical, Greek sirens, who lured innocent male mariners to their death.
In hindsight, it’s evident that I was both malnourished (despite being of normal weight) and headed for an early death—as are most Americans, whose eating habits are putting them on a collision course with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, sexual dysfunction, infertility and premature aging.
Sadly, the typical American is flat out nutritionally illiterate. Most people just aren’t aware that all those crackers, breads and cereals (even if deceptively labeled “healthy”) can wreak havoc with their blood sugar levels, over-stimulate insulin release, trigger inflammation, and set the stage for more than 100 health woes, including depression, fatigue, headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness, forgetfulness, muscle pains and temper tantrums.
From Desperation to Hope
People say that hitting rock bottom can be life-changing. Certainly, it was for me. In 1998, after plunging into the depths of despair and desolation, I finally confronted my destructive dessert behavior, developed tactics to overcome it and embarked on a transformative journey.
Now, a decade after licking my own self-defeating sugar cycle (minus some slips, both unintended and deliberate), I’m on a mission to inspire others to face their sugar truth, find hidden sugars, break free of their habit, and experience the many benefits of being sugar-free—or close to it.
If, for instance, you’re plagued by headaches and/or suffering from exhaustion, mood swings, cancer, pre-diabetes or even bedroom woes, curtailing your sugar habit may be the way to resolve them.
Skeptical of my claims? No problem. Test them out.
Use yourself as a guinea pig as I did back in 1998. Get rid of the sweets and culprit carbs. Bring on the high-caliber carbs (veggies, fruits, legumes, etc.), along with the quality proteins and fats.
Then give it at least a month and see how you feel. You, too, I’m convinced, will become happily “reborn.”
Connie Bennett, C.H.H.C. is a journalist, health counselor, life coach and author of SUGAR SHOCK!, with Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. The book has been endorsed by numerous luminaries, including Dr. Mehmet Oz, Mike Huckabee and Harvey Weinstein. To learn if you, too, are sugar shocked, take the quiz at www.SugarShock.com.
Copyright © Stop SUGAR SHOCK! and www.SugarShockBlog.com. You may cite this essay by linking to it from your blog or website, but you may not reprint this essay. (I appreciate your cooperation. This piece cannot be reprinted on your site in its entirety, because it’s being published elsewhere. But I’d love you to link to it. Thanks!)