Joy-Free Lunch Club: The Sugar Detox

I’m one of those people who always seems to be on a quest to lose something.

Sometimes it’s my car keys, lots of times it’s my wallet, but almost always- it’s weight.

I guess I am not that fat- I’m not really overweight either- but I’m not thin. It’s stupid, vain, and probably boring for you, reader, to read about my body image issues (You can browse Instagram hashtags for those). So instead, I’ll tell you about this miserable quest I’m on called a “sugar detox”.

My husband is a flamboyant anarchist. I’ll define this nicely as “someone who does not believe any sort of government should exist and frequently expresses opinions about it anywhere in any conversation he finds space to do so.” He isn’t cruel or rude about it; he’s just very passionate and eager. My political views fall into the “Meh” category, so I mostly listen and nod. When, on one of his libertarian Podcasts, a guest speaker talked about the benefits of the Paleo Diet, my husband began to research and read all things Robb Wolfe, and somehow, six months later, I am sitting here Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Joy Free.

“Joy-Free” is a little exaggeration. Or at least it was- until the sugar detox.

Like any male who has tried dieting for a day or two, my husband lost tons of weight. (So many men have this advantage! They can cut out potato chips in a week and lose 10 pounds! Or stop drinking Mountain Dew and lose 15! I eat salads all week and gain 3!) He looked and felt awesome. I, however, plundered along for months stuck at my same weight, with my same muffin top, exercising on a regular basis, wondering why my body wouldn’t budge.

A few weeks ago, I decided I had enough. I sat down, as I often do, with a container of fruit and took out my laptop for some researching. As I read, I glanced down at my hand in a carton of blueberries and I discovered my downfall – sugar. Even though I strictly avoid processed sugar, the natural stuff, the good stuff, was overtaking my life. The Kind bars I ate twice a day, the fruit I snacked on before bed, the tender arms of organic dark chocolate bars that comforted me after a long day… I clung to them to replace the grains I had parted with. So I decided to put a stop to my sugar addiction. Cold Turkey. Temporarily.

The ensuing days were some of the most strangely melodramatic hours of my life (And I’ve had pregnancy hormones!). I woke up each morning with dread: No sugar today. No food to look forward to. It was a depression mixed with confusion and inability to focus. I completed truck puzzles with my son with difficulty, accelerated into a red light, turned the wrong way on a one way. I would forget what I was doing as I was doing it and experience fits of anger at the slightest imperfection of the day. I felt horrible and I felt sad and, if I had I not had an obligation to my child, I would not have left my bed during those days.

Then, blessedly, I opened my eyes one morning to a miserable, rainy day and thought about what I would do with my son, since we would be rained out of a park day. I thought about cleaning the house. I thought about things that were not food, not sugar, not instant, immediate happiness. Such was my obsession with the instant gratification of sugar that I had overdone it. It became what I craved and longed for, more than time with my family, more than pride in my work, more than my obligations to do something for someone other than myself. It sounds silly that sweets can do this to you- even all natural ones!- but I had applied this notion of immediate pleasure to everything in my life. Friendships that were not fruitful or fun were abandoned. My husband’s passion for politics were blown off or belittled by me. When my son became unbearably hyper, I turned on Netflix.

I have been sugar-coating my life, taking the route that is simplest for now instead of the one that will bring happiness long-term. So here’s to putting a stop to it.

I’m still trying to limit sugar, but yesterday, I shared some blueberries with my son. But I enjoyed the time I spent sitting with him rather than the flavor of the fruit. I listened patiently my husband’s rant about foreign policy. Instead of grabbing the dark chocolate squares, I took out a book at the end of the night to relax. I made an effort to text an old friend.

I’m always losing something. I just don’t want to lose my time with people I care about.

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