Sugar is not an addiction, right ?
Up until about two months ago I was waking up tired, with joint pain, and pimples on my back and my shoulders; I had some rashes and blemishes associated with acne but I am not a teenager, I am a forty plus healthy adult, what the heck!
On top of that I have gained about two sizes on my waist, my pants were not fitting comfortably anymore, I have been size 33 for a while, and now, I feel like the fat character in the Austin Powers movie, and with reason, because I have been eating a lot of sugar in the last year, let me tell you how I got here.
About six years ago I had a bad case of acne, it was worse than any other acne case that I had during my teens. My face and my upper body was full of pimples, big ones, I think it is called cystic acne, and at the time I had no idea why I was getting such a skin reaction, so I went to see a dermatologist.
When I got to see him, my first question was: why, why am I getting so many white heads on my face, his answer was that they may had been caused by fat deposits in my skin, or maybe my body was reacting to shampoos or skin products; however at the time, I had not changed any bad habits I had…yet.
He recommended I take Minocycline, an antibiotic, I asked if I should change anything in my diet and the Dr said no, that my diet should remain normal; well, after three weeks the painful pimples started to go down, but on the fourth week my face was back to where it was when I went to see him. I went back to him again and he prescribed the same, this time for sixteen months, and for sixteen months we danced the same dance, which was as follows:
I would ask: “Dr. why am I getting this at my age?” he would reply “I don’t know” and after a few visits of hearing the same I got frustrated, and I demanded an more definite answer, and his reply was “ Are you in love? maybe that is why”. He went from the ridiculous to the absurd, and at that time I did not know that it was unhealthy for anyone to be on antibiotics for so long. I also didn’t know why my dermatologist thought that love could be so painful and ugly
At this point I started to ask questions to anyone I knew and at the same time I proceed to research my condition in any way I could, the internet, friends, anything. A good friend suggested acupuncture, and someone else referred me to her herbalist, which I went to see.
At this point, the dermatologist suggested that I consider taking Accutane which is a much more powerful antibiotic than the one I was on, it is very effective, but at the same time its side effects are very strong. I also found out that antibiotics diminish the good flora in your digestive system and this can lead to a lack of nutrient absorption, specially when someone is on antibiotics as long as I had been. I believe that he had me on the wrong protocol, and because of what I had found through my own research, I declined the Accutane approach.
After many frustrating months, I went to see the Chinese herbal practitioner, and she proceeded with an examination of the eyes, the tongue, the pulse and the hands; she told me that my problem was my internal temperature and that by nature it was high, and that the food that I was consuming had a huge effect with the way my body was reacting. Food, really? This was my introduction to: “You are what You eat.”
She suggested that a combination of fried, fatty foods, red meat and sugar (sugar!?!?) was the culprit of my problems, and she recommended I refrain from eating fried foods, red meat, and specially sugar for a while.
I heard this and I though: “I love desserts, I am a chef by profession, sugar gets me through those long hours, gives me energy. A fine looking dessert at the end of my shift, or a peanut butter sandwich in the middle of it for a quick pick me up, what the heck am I going to do without it?”
“Well”, she said, “It is either this lifestyle changing for a while, or keep suffering with the pain that those pimples are giving you”, and she mentioned that the embarrassing questions of “whatsup with ur face man?” would go away, along with all the other inquisitive remarks from curious well intentioned people. With all these recommendations she also prescribed an herbal tea, her own blend, which tasted like bitter dirty soil that I took twice a day along with some capsules. I was determined to try anything; if you have ever had severe cystic acne, the kind with the white head full of puss, and the size of peas, you know what I am referring to.
After three moths of this treatment my skin was almost back to normal; consequently, my skin got cleared and smooth, and a seed was planted, there is a relationship between what I eat and the way my body responds and feels.
I am what I eat, no questions about that, and for some time I remembered this; I even did a clay cleanse for seven days, no solid foods, all nutrient extracts, I felt great, my body was happy with me, my head was clear, and my sleeping habits got better.
As humans, we forget sometimes what got us where we are, and me as human, like any of us and full of faults, forgot after a few years about not eating fried foods, cutting back on red meat, and not eating sugar. I returned to my sugar habits, just enough; because sugar, I missed. A lot.
It all started as a casual thing, I have stayed away from sodas and sugary drinks for a long time, about ten years, but cookies, desserts and ice cream to me are the creative side and comfort food of my field of work. I took a pastry class a year ago and that started something, very sweet, but very addictive, sugar is addictive, the more you have the more you crave, and all of the sudden I was hooked. I was eating at least one dessert a day, cookies and ice cream, but not the light type of ice cream, that’s for light weights, I need the rich double cream ones with all the fixings.
And with the sugar, five years later, my old pimple friends came back, the cystic kind, this time all over my back and shoulders. Just as I described before, maybe not on my face this time, but they were bothering me; some rashes came along with it, my biological system was speaking to me again, my body was not happy to be abused yet again. Besides my skin condition, my waist was two sizes larger and I was getting a bit of a belly with love handles attached. I was doing my Bikram yoga practice, and my body was not changing.
My joints were stiff in the morning, my face was a bit puffy and I was feeling tired in the morning and in the middle of the afternoon; sugar is known to be an inflammatory, and a dehydrator, it draws water from any protein, it is used to cure meats, along with salt, to preserved them. It has the same effect inside any of us, it dries our insides and it also elevates our acidity levels when consumed in excess, just one serving of soda is more than the ideal one serving of sugar per week!
One serving per day should be about nine teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women and for children a lot less than that, at least 50 % less. I was consuming maybe twenty times + that amount, without even noticing it.
I was back to square one, I decided that it was time to deal with the issue again, I also figured that I had a bit of candidiasis going on, due to the long time that I was under the treatment of the antibiotics five years ago, from my sensitive dermatologist, the one that when I asked: “Dr, what do you think is wrong me?” he used to answer, “maybe it is that you are in love” WTF? Oh well, I don’t know how they let them out! I am not saying every one of them is like that, I maybe was not as lucky.
My stomach flora may have been diminished and with this my nutrients were not being absorbed and due to this, yeast cells take over, feeding on sugar and starches, creating more acidity in my digestive system and my pH levels were out of balance, giving me back the lovely set of pimples that I had learned to live with a few years before, but the ones I refuse to live with now; I don’t have to live this way.
My journey against sugar has begun once again, because I decided to go on a sugar detox, and this includes no sugar, no fruits and no complex carbs for six months. On the weeks to come, I want to share my interesting experience with all of you, maybe you can relate and share, or just read and think about your own aching body and mind.
Until then, happy healthy eating with a clear mind and spirit, free of joint pain, puffiness and unwanted sluggishness or the extra few pounds.
The Morsel Chef