Chapter 19 Dealing With  Your Addiction

Do you remember those happy rats who got to choose between intravenous cocaine and sugar water? Regardless if you have a thin biology or a fat biology, you are probably addicted at some level to sugar. It is everywhere in our environment. Most of the processed food we eat have added sugar. Our bodies send out a dopamine rush every time sugar hits our tongue. And Mother Nature set us up to want more of that great feeling.

 But sugar is not our friend. Yes, we get great feelings while we eat it, but the consequences are anything but nice. Our livers work extra hard, our organs become insulin resistant, fat cells fill up on our bellies, and a number of other body processes become confused or worn out.

     So let’s deal with that addiction.

 I want you to do this, set aside four days each month to go to “drug” rehab.

 But this won’t be the usual type of rehab because sugar is not something you can easily remove from your life. If you were addicted to cocaine, you could remove it from your life and learn to function without it. But if you’re addicted to sugar, you still have to eat. So, it isn’t reasonable that you would totally avoid sugar the rest of your life.  Instead, for four days each month, you are going into a different type of rehab. You will eat NO corn, NO wheat, NO rice, NO potatoes, and NO sugar for four days. That’s it, just four days.

Make these food choices…

Eliminate these for 4 days each month:

Eat these instead:

 Instead, you’ll eat protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and certain fruits.  That is your diet for four days. Now these five foods, except for sugar, are great foods filled with valuable nutrients and starchy carbohydrate energy.  They have sustained human life for a very long time.  But when our environment changed radically and some of you with a heavy biology got overweight and insulin resistance, these foods became a hazard to you, whether they are in a refined state or used as whole foods.  From a glycemic standpoint, eating a lovely baked potato has the same blood sugar effect as a candy bar. 

 This monthly four day “fast” may sound easy, but it won’t be. Trust me, you’ll be miserable because you will be going into withdrawal, serious withdrawal. This will not be a good  time in your life, so plan these four days carefully. You’ll be grouchy, you may have headaches, and you will be craving sugar. You’ll have all the symptoms of withdrawal that alcoholics and drug abusers go through. It will make the time you quit coffee seem like a cakewalk. And if you’ve ever given up smoking, you know what you’re in for.  No corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, or sugar for four days. And only eat proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, and low glycemic fruits for those four days. You can make it! By the end of the four days, you’ll be feeling better. You’ll be past the worst of it. And during most of the next month it will be easier to say “no” to the foods that you have found to be highly addictive.  You’ll feel like you’ve got your sugar addiction beat and you are moving in a good direction. But remember that “pride comes before the fall.”

 One chip, one cookie, one processed soup or manufactured food, and you’ll be starting to get re-addicted again. These addictive foods are part of our culture.  They are all around us, at work, on the street, and yes, someone living in your house will even bring them back into the home that you thought was “food safe.”  Don’t be stressed about this. You are smart and now informed.  You knew it was coming. You just have to plan your four days next month.

 It won’t feel like it now, but trust me, it will become easier to go through rehab month after month. You’ll need to keep planning those four days each month, but you’ll also notice that you will be making better choices the rest of the month. Sure, you’ll find yourself at a fast-food restaurant occasionally, but at least you’ll be aware of the choice. And maybe tomorrow you’ll eat a wonderful salad with a tasty protein for lunch, with a lovely vinaigrette dressing.

 Here’s a strategy you might find helpful; I had a patient who had stabilized her weight using medication, but she was still overweight by 40 pounds. One day, at work, a coworker announced, “Sugar is poison.” She said they should both remove sugar from their lives even though they were in the middle of the winter holidays. This was not about decreasing the use of sugar; this was “no poison.” Zero. None. After going through the usual withdrawals, my patient did not miss the sugar.

 For my patient, going sugarless is just part of her lifestyle. She established it as her twelfth step of Alcoholic Anonymous. She brought others into her group and supports them. This tight social support group tweets, texts, and calls each other several times each day. This is a force to be reckoned with. Yes, she will continue her anti-obesity medication, but her friend’s startling statement made the difference in achieving her weight-loss goals.

 By dealing with our sugar addiction, we will be on the road to health. It will be easier to resist temptation in the future. Our biology will begin to work the way it is supposed to. We’ll begin to experience leptin telling us we are full, and  ghrelin will allow us to feel satisfied. We’ll even feel like exercising. Yes, I know how that sounds, but it has happened to many people.

 Maybe you won’t take steps as radical as my patient did, maybe you’ll only go into rehab four days every month, but you now understand how addictive and destructive sugar is for us. Once you pay attention to the sugar you are eating, and how your body wants more of it, you will be more in control of your decisions. By knowing that you only have to endure four days every month, it won’t seem so overwhelming

Dealing With Your Addiction

for you. And best of all, you’ll begin feeling better, more in control, and have real weight loss as a reward for the struggles.  You are not to blame for your addiction; Mother Nature inadvertently set you up and food companies are exploiting her misstep. But it is your responsibility to make healthy choices and to begin to kick your sugar addiction.