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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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« Here again | Main | Happy new year, or whatever. »
Monday
Jan042010

A long humorless screed about the evils of dessert. Get ready.

Now that I've become a fitness junkie (or, okay, a person who works out more than I did before, which was never), I've been making some changes to my diet. I won't bore you with the details of my daily menu, because truthfully nothing I've been doing is all that extreme or groundbreaking. In addition to the usual More Protein and Vegetables, Less Crap, I started eating more like an adult, and no longer inhaling, say, a tubful of brownies at a sitting.

In addition to the various dietary change-ups, I decided to stop putting sugar in my coffee. I was using agave syrup, actually, and only half a teaspoon, but still, I wanted to see if I could. And the first few days of sugarless coffee, it was like I was drinking battery acid. Battery acid mixed with a squirt of bile. I winced and drank and winced some more. (Because I will never give up coffee, people, don't try to talk me into it. I have tried. Oh, I have tried. I have tried, and suffered, and concluded that life without coffee is not the kind of living I wish I engage in.) But then, on the third or fourth day, I...liked it. It tasted fine to me. A few days after that I accidentally took a swig of Scott's coffee, and it tasted like he had dumped a bowl of candy corn in his coffee.

After a few weeks I realized that not only was I not taking sugar in my coffee, I wasn't really eating sugar, period. I mean, I was still eating FRUIT, I am not CRAZY, but I wasn't squirting maple syrup into my smoothies because I HAD TO, as I had done in the past. Also my usual daily post-lunch cookie and post-dinner cookie and post-cookie cookie had not even occurred to me. Curiously, I was also no longer falling asleep in the middle of the day, nor did I have those weird episodes of shakiness and gnawing hunger that would drive me straight to the cupboard to stick my face in a box of Fig Newmans.

Fast forward to the holidays, during which I consumed my weight in my sister's holiday cookies, as is my tradition. We had also been given a tin to take home, so naturally I ate them for the next few days as well. I figured I might as well dispatch them as quickly as possible so I could revert to my usual asceticism. I mean, YOU try not eating chocolate covered toffee bars. Can't be done.

Actually I ate only, say, 2 or 3 cookies a day. (Okay, on Christmas, I probably had more like 5. Which is a huge improvement for me.) But the thing is, I felt terrible for days. Every time I sat down I would fall into a coma. I couldn't think clearly--it felt like my brain was had both sped up and halted. Like I could only think in sentence fragments. Hostile sentence fragments. My mood went into the toilet, and after I recovered from my initial hatred of all things human and good, I moved on to abject misery. I had no friends, and never would! It was cold and gray, and always would be! Life was torment, and would end only in death! Horrible! Aloneness! BoooOOOOOoooO!

I was a lot of fun, is what I'm saying.

ANY way, I never really intended on becoming one of those "sugar is evil" people, believe me, but you guys, sugar is evil. Now that I've seen what it does to me, I want it even less. I used to worry that eating better and exercising would turn me into a jerk, but now I see that the opposite is true: when I'm not taking care of myself, that's when I lose all sense of humor. I cannot believe it took me this long to figure it out.

Reader Comments (60)

This is so depressing. I want to want to give up sugar but I don't. I love my treats and I feel like the only thing making life worth living these days is a couple a cookies with a glass of milk at bedtime and, yes, sometimes a PEPSI COLA. I know, I am evil and weak.

Also I don't want to take my vitamins and my fish oil and I don't want to eat vegetables and I don't want to take care of myself.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
I wish I wasn't eating a chocolate chip cookie while I was reading this....
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiapermonologues
Its not so much the sugar but the High Fructose Corn Syrup. I had a 14 coca-cola a day habit and they were mostly 20 oz. Stop doing it people. It took me two weeks and the first week was pure hell, migraines, shaky, night sweats, however at the beginning of the second week it got better and gets better daily. I have also noticed I dont take in any extra sugar. Cake cookies sweets are all kinda gross now.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCraig K.
Sugar is like cocaine to me. And gluten is like a sleeping pill. "Make food your medicine."

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I'd write more but I'm about to pass out after polishing off the last of the Ben & Jerry's..paulawww.adhocmom.com
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaula
This is amazing! Seriously, you sound just like me, so I really wonder if giving up sugar is the answer to a lot of my problems. I have been trying since New Year's Day to cut WAY down on my junk food consumption (yeah, I know it's only been 4 days, but this is a huge improvement for me), so I'm already thinking about this stuff to some degree. Still, I had not given up sugar completely. Maybe I should.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
Right on. I feel crappy like that when I haven't exercised too, which is miserable considering I ate too many goodies AND avoided exercising over break. It kind of stinks getting back into a food/exercise routine, but who can actually survive the holidays without the sweet stuff?

And the comment from Cindy -- Food, Inc changed the way my family eats! Eeek!
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
I really hate you for revealing this truth but I know you're right. Blah.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMargarita
I was worried that this was where you were headed with this post. NO SUGAR? Can't I live in some alternate universe where the key to achieving happiness and productivity is EXTRA SUGAR? God damn it?
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEvany
Na, na, na, na! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent
Amen! I learned all of this about myself when I had gestational diabetes. I feel exactly the same when I have sugar...but I'm not saying that really stops me as much as it should. I'm just saying I have some perspective.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertnishee
I'm not ready to give up sugar yet, not after having to give up gluten due to my daughter having Coeliacs.

That said, it probably is on the agenda eventually.

I found giving up gluten to be the same though, if I don't eat it, I'm fine, but when I do, I'm a total bitch. Apparently in some people, gluten works like cocaine, including coming with a side of withdrawal symptoms. Fun.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica
True, dat.Same is also true for wheat for me.I tried a beignet over Christmas, and lordy me, I was sick as a dog. Sugar AND wheat? What was I thinking?Mostly butter cookies are not as evil. Like shortbread, etc. Take a digestive aid with enzymes and you might sneak by cheating once in a while.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMsCellania
I was having all sorts of anxiety issues (Waves, frankly. Big tsunami waves of panic at odd times, and a low-grade swampy level of anxiety all the time), and a nice therapist told me to stop sugar. I thought she was insane. But I did, eventually, stop eating all sugar - and I cannot believe the difference in how I feel. I miss it, sometimes, but not as much as I thought I would, and not having to breathe into a paper bag is pretty awesome.
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
Oh Crap. I'm already on the organic train, now i have to quit sugar too? What will my diet even consist of?
January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKari
I've always been more of a savory person than a sweet person. I could shun ice cream but OHMYGODPOTATOCHIPS!!!! Unfortunately, the last year or so has seen a turn for the worse. But! I had the same realization you did, and it also started with coffee! I stopped putting anything but milk in my coffee when my work switched to only having fake sugar and WHOA, the difference.Good for you in combating the evil demon of sugar. Now, pass the salt :)
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie
Well timed post.I don't know when the sugar ramped up again, but somewhere along the line I lost track of that bit of hard-learned wisdom and I am grateful to be reminded.Something has got to give, and although I've already caved about 4 times since reading this, that is actually an improvement over the holiday binging!So, onward and upward - it is time.



January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen
Oh dude, you said it. I've been fighting with this one for years. I gave it up again around Halloween and started a fun blog called fu sugar (linked below). I also made a movie called 'The Girl Who Couldn't Stop Crying' about me when quit eating sugar. ALL the feelings and all the reality of life come crashing in. But then, as you say, it really gets better and the depression lifts and then you realize what total crack sugar really is.

Thanks for the great post!
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanefilms
I did the same thing with chocolate milk that you did with coffee. I can't stand plain milk, so I drink chocolate milk, yum. For years I made it with Nestle's Quik, but when I had gestational diabetes, I tried making it with just plain cocoa powder. I hadn't liked that when I'd tried it as a little girl, but my adult palate got used to it fairly easily. When I tried using the Quik again after my daughter was born, it was nasty. Way too cloyingly sweet. I'm back to my sugary ways, but I'm still drinking my milk with plain cocoa powder, 15 years later. One good habit retained, at least.

And yeah, fruit was amazing then, too.
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterberdie
Each time I've come to the US, I've thought how friendly and cheerful you guys are - but boy, do you eat a lot of sugar. Even your bread tastes sweet. If you all cut back and the effects were as Finslippy reports, what might you be like THEN???

And I ate half a chocolate panda before bed last night and couldn't get to sleep for hours and hours.
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBig Dot
How did you have the will power to not the cookies/sugar/everything-else-that-is-good-and-tasty-in-this-world? Honestly, I would lvoe to know. I know I eat too many sweets but I can't seem to stop! I would like to lose 20 pounds and I'm sure cutting out sugar woudl drop 10 of it easily but I just can't stop. Excuse me while I go consume a candy bar....
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Hooray for kickin' sugar! I don't eat a whole lot of sweet stuff, but when I do, I always feel awful, so I avoid. My husband, on the other hand, would eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner... and snack. He's totally addicted and there's no detox programme that will work! :)

January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I've never been one to eat or drink a lot of sugar. I enjoy an occasional cookie, sure, but I never have and never will eat them on a regular basis. No soda pop, no sugar (or any sweetener in coffee or tea).

However, I heartily believe what you've said because I once went two or three months without eating meat (mostly because I was too broke to ever afford it) and when I finally did consume a hamburger, I felt very heavy and gross and kind of lethargic afterward and the ickyness lasted for a few days. UGH.

Interestingly, this did not turn me into a vegetarian. But I eat meat, especially red meat, much less often than most people. Again, it's a cost issue as much as anything else, along with it's just easier and faster to fix dinners after work that include only pasta and veggies or whatever.
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTitanKT
Umm...hate to be a jerk but is there any way possible your sister would share the recipe for chocolate covered toffee bars?For a really special occasion?Like next Christmas?Honestly.
January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWackado
Oh, you are SO very right.

I read "The Sugar Book," and found out about how bad it is for you: giving you wrinkles, hardening of the arteries, worsening eczema and asthma, fluctuating blood sugar levels. No thank you. All done with the sugar.

Gotta stay committed.

Now, the coffee: see, the coffee is good for me as in .."bacon...bacon is good for me."

Happy New Year, missed you so!
January 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

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