Let me be blunt: sugar and I don't get along.
Our feud started overnight, at slumber parties -- ugh -- in my youth. Even to write this now, fifteen years since my last sleepover, I shudder. And want to barf. Bowls full of M&Ms and the friends who pressured me into eating them kept me from the safety of my sugarless sleeping bag. Something seemed wrong with the unabashed stuffing my face with food my mom would never buy, but my friends of yore were not the kind who wanted to be right.
When I realized the way the all-night sleepless sugar fests made me feel -- you know, stomach and mind in shambles, plagued by regret and the shakes, stone cold and completely empty -- I quit going to them. But sugar showed up elsewhere.
For the rest of elementary school, I ate cookies and milk after school. By middle school, lunch time bake sales begot after school sugar comas. And in high school? Root beer made my butt grow. By tenth grade, the scale said 175. Wake. Up. Call.
First, I stopped drinking soda. By that alone, I dropped 20 pounds. I gave up carbs for an entire summer (wouldn't necessarily do that now, for the record). Rode an exercise bike for 30 minutes a day. And by senior year, the scale said 135. Cha-ching! But I was still missing... something.
In college, I figured out what that was: nourishment. While I loved my size 9's and being so thin that the skinniest girl in school said things like "Your thighs are almost as small as mine!" (Yeah. She had couth.), I looked sort of sickly. While what I didn't eat played a major role in a major loss of weight, what I did eat wasn't cutting it. And it's just as well, since in college, I crept back toward my old ways -- but never fully.
By no means am I an unhealthy eater. (Ask my Aunt Laura in North Carolina. Last time I visited, I made her stock up on spinach and garbanzo beans. And that was so I'd have something to eat for breakfast.) But by no means am I where I'd like to be, because if and when you show me the sugar-laden treats that, years ago, led to my boycotting slumber parties, I. Can't. RESIST!
Just today, I ate three cookies from a bowl a colleague brought to work. Needless to say, saying no to sugar is a struggle that's been on for years. In one of many attempts to kick the habit -- and by habit, I do mean addiction -- a few friends commended my desire to live dessert-free. But the same friends still offered tempting treats, and told me how to justify it: everything in moderation.
But I can't agree. Why, even in moderation, would I want something like the sugar you find in sweets? It feeds inflammation. It suppresses the immune system. It contributes to anxiety. It can cause depression. I can vouch for all that first hand.
If there's nothing in it that my body needs, I really don't see the point. So soon, I'll do to sugar what I should have done the day we first met.
I'm going to walk away.
Sever all ties.
And I'm gonna do it for a year.
I'm aware, of course, that my body needs some sugar -- and that, I will mostly get in fruits, vegetables and bread. The experiment, inspired by a recent conversation with my friend Sarah, won't be easy. But I'm curious enough to give it a shot. What will happen...to my body? To my moods? To my tastebuds?
Two and a half weeks to cut back.
Two and a half weeks until 2010.
My sugar free year.