Thursday, December 29, 2011


Let's talk about sugar for a moment.

A few years ago, my friend Lauren would preface social gatherings (and I use that term loosely, as most of such events were nights at my apartment where I'd make dinners and boxed cake mix cupcakes for a handful of friends once a week where we'd watch Alias together--like I said, this was years ago) by announcing whether she was on or off sugar. And true to form, if she was on sugar that week, the indulgence of one or five cupcakes would result in such a dizzying display of ridiculous fun that by merely witnessing her frosting-laden binges, I maybe felt a bit hungover the next day on more than one occasion. (Perhaps it's worth mentioning that this was despite the fact that none of my friends drank.)

There are some rather amusing photos on my MySpace from this period in my life. Did I mention that this was years ago?

At the time, I thought that Lauren was super sensitive to sugar. At the very least, her being "on" or "off" it dictated whether she would dip into the proverbial opium den of carbs nestled in pastel papery hugs. Or, what you might call cupcake wrappers. And honestly, despite her "off sugar" weeks ending in deeply philosophical talks on my balcony about life, relationships, direction, and how each of us were fumbling toward a hazy horizon (we all hoped it meant things were headed in a vaguely positive direction, despite that overwhelming feeling of impending doom familiar I'm sure to most single late-20s folk), somehow I ended up answering my doorbell always kinda hoping Lauren would be on sugar that week.

Fast forward to present. Scratch that. Fast forward to last night, and me scrounging on about a pound and a half of leftover sugar cookies. It felt pretty great, at least that whole emotional eating quadrant of my brain thought it felt pretty great. The portion of my body that was forced to process the butter, sugar, and so-called happiness I'd ingested didn't take it nearly as well. I felt like poo warmed over. Let's keep it real here, guys. I'm talking zero energy, hard to get up this morning, stomach hurting. It seems I have angered my body. I stand by the statement that even my cramps today were a direct result of my flippant cookie indulgence last night.

I now recognize that Lauren wasn't ultra-sensitive. She recognized sugar's allure and at least attempted to fend it off. I have spent much of my life in the same boat. Attempts to eat healthfully were often thwarted by dastardly bowls of ice cream (giving up and eating in the bathtub, for shame!), glaring contests with bags of candy I'd eventually devour (thankfully these were mostly reserved to post-holidays, having dragged a small child's body weight in sweets home from my family's), and oh yes, more pies and cakes quickly disappearing than I can count (I have no excuse for this, however you should know that I gave an entire pumpkin pie to my mail delivery person just to get it out my face one particularly difficult year).

So certainly I have fought the pull of sugar, but in the past couple years, felt I had overcome it. Eating mostly vegan, focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods, and curbing my incessant nature to snack constantly, I felt most unhealthy cravings fall to the wayside. And it wasn't until I quit eating sweets regularly that I realized how much sugar affected me. I had used sugar as an anti-depressant, albeit a rather inefficient one. But I was plant-strong now! If I have a cookie, I can have one once in awhile and I don't want another one! Or eight!

Right... Hello, holidays! It took exactly four days staying with my family, eating what was available (including, well, anything in sight), eating perhaps out of stress, to re-addict myself to my old friend, sugar. Not that I didn't eat plenty of good stuff. My mom had asked me for a shopping list prior to my visit to make sure she had things I could eat. So I had my fill of hummus, olive tapenade, certainly a few vegetables and even a Tofurkey. But pile a tiered serving tray full of sugar cookies and apparently I am no match, especially after a few glasses of wine.

And that's how first night I came back home to reality after the holiday, I ate cookies for dinner. That's cookies, plural, not as in two, as in about two dozen. I may not have spun into a sugar-induced frenzy, but I did fall asleep on the couch watching tv.

So now I'm attempting to remedy my poor spiky blood sugar with kale. Spinach. Leafy greens my body wants to reject, as they contain precious little amounts of butter, sugar... you know, holiday crack. But I will persevere. I won't even get up after I post this to have a cookie. Promise.

I'm off sugar.