Thursday, 18 July 2013

How I’m Quitting Sugar and Why

I mentioned a while ago that I have Raynaud’s, and including poor circulation and joint pain, I have been experiencing some other health problems with my hands recently.

A few months ago, I started getting these red sores on my left fingers and wrist. They are not itchy and they are not contagious. They are, however, painful and embarrassing.

I have been researching and meeting with various health professionals to help identify what is causing these bumps. I have met with four different general practitioners and two specialists: a rheumatologist and a dermatologist. I’ve had blood work done and two skin biopsies, all of which I am still waiting for the results of. As a part of my health care management, I decided to see a naturopathic doctor (ND) as well.

Almost immediately, Dr. Tamsyn Freeman, ND, diagnosed me with an infection in my body that was causing these bumps on my hand. She said it was nothing serious and that’s why the physicians haven’t been able to find anything, but I needed to start making some life changes and start cleansing my body. She said that because I already have a condition (Reynauds) in my hands, that my hands are an easy target for other health concerns to arise in. When I asked her why these bumps were only happening on my left hand and nowhere else on my body, she said she thought it was because the left side of my body – which is the feminine side of my body – is experiencing high stress. I guess we'll save that diagnosis for a different blog post though...!

I thought what Dr. Freeman had to say was very interesting and that there was definitely some merit to it.

She then continued to test the overall health of my body and for various food allergies. The good news: she said I was very healthy…except for one thing, and this is where the bad news comes in: I have a very high intolerance for sugar.

It’s pretty simple to explain why this was devastating news for me: I love sugar.

When I was a child, I was obsessed with Skittles, the ultimate candy. If I was allowed, I would eat spoonfuls of white sugar. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything that has been too sweet for me. My favorite part of cake is the icing. I love freezes and slurpies. Yes, I have many cavities in my teeth, but I could never resist anything sweet. Salt - not so much, but sugar - bring it on.

The ND told me that my intolerance to sugar is so severe that I have a very high change of getting diabetes.

Not cool.

She also said that all the mercury in my mouth was causing poor circulation. Why do I have so much mercury in my mouth? Because I have had countless cavities. I’ve gone to the dentist religiously for my entire 29 years of life and can only remember one time where I didn’t have a cavity. Pretty bad hey?

After meeting with Dr. Freeman and spending about $300 on different pills and whatnot, I decided to cut sugar out of my diet. I am doing this by cutting back slowly and as best as I can.

I figure I’ve already quit the bad habits of smoking and biting my nails, so how hard can quitting sugar be, right?

Well, let me tell you.

It’s been about three months and this is where I am with it so far:

I gave up coffee
I don’t enjoy black coffee, and caffeine is bad for circulation, so I’ve cut it out altogether. The trick for me was to do it slowly, mentally prepare myself, and find delicious, natural teas to drink instead.

I still eat fruit
At the stage that I’m at with cutting out sugar, I’m not going to be too hard on myself for eating natural sugars. I make sure to always have berries on hand. I find that strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are the best.

I’ve left myself relapse
I got really sick not too long ago, and all I could drink was gingerale. It seemed like a good idea at the time, to help stomach my settle, but I definitely regretted it afterwards. By the time I had recovered I think I probably drank a total of 10 cans of gingereale. Afterwards, my body was craving sugar so terribly that at a friend’s birthday, I caved and ate ice cream cake.

What I learned from this experience was if I’m going to put sugar back into my body, then it’s harder to quit again. If I relapse there are consequences – just like when I was quitting smoking. I can’t have just one.

My friends and family support me
I told them all that I was trying to cut back, and ultimately cut out sugar. They are all very supportive and encouraging. No one looks at my funny when I politely decline dessert and they understand if I can’t step foot in a store while they run in to quickly grab something because I know there are candy bars and coolers full of ice cream.

I know I have an addiction
I’ve always had an addictive personality, but I never thought of sugar as a drug. Probably because in my years prior to this one, I was still avoiding getting into illegal drugs, managing my drinking habits to ensure I didn’t become an alcoholic, and trying tirelessly to quit tobacco. Now that I’ve grown up and have those under control, I am starting to realize that I just replaced others addictions with another – sugar. Do you think it’s possible to get addicted to carrots? Let’s hope so.

I am still waiting for the results of my skin biopsies. I should know the results soon and I am confident that with both the expertise of family doctors, physician specialists and naturopathic diagnosis and remedies that I will be able to manage my health care in more proactive way and be healthy soon.

I’ll keep you posted…

For more information about why a person should quit sugar, read here.

Thanks for reading,