Sugar Makes Me Ill

My dog Banjo is the light of my life. He’s undoubtedly my favorite 78 lbs. of being on the planet. Well-behaved, mellow yet always excited to see me, and a fierce protector. Years ago he got a hold of a chocolate bar accidentally left on a windowsill and ate the entire thing in one bite. Chaos ensued. I called the emergency animal clinic and my partner rushed him outside as he started retching. Luckily he hadn’t eaten enough to kill him, but nonetheless he was sick for days.

Goo spewed from every orifice. He pooped, he puked, snot and gunk clogged up his nose and eyes. I swear there was even gook coming out of his ears and most of it surfaced some time around 3 or 4 in the morning. I would awake to his whines as he paced in circles begging to go out. Of course we lived in Brooklyn at the time so “out” was three flights down and two blocks away. I’m sure it was winter as well. Motherhood!

One might think such an intense reaction would teach a dog a lesson, but no. To this day anytime Banjo sniffs chocolate he wants to eat it. From time to time I ponder this idea, why in the world would he want to eat something that made him so sick? I used to make fun of him for being stupid but those days have passed. It’s either that or I start making fun of myself for the same inadequacy.

The thing is, sugar makes me ill. (I’m talking specifically about refined sugars like chocolate, cookies and soda.) This isn’t a theory or an intolerance or a possible allergy I have to figure out. It’s a simple fact. Every time I have consumed sugar since my juice fast, I have gotten a good old-fashioned stomachache. So the question is obvious, hasn’t this stopped me from eating sugar? Of course not! The only reason I’m writing this post is I ate a chocolate bar an hour ago and for the last 45 minutes I’ve felt like I’m going to vomit.

What is it about us (I know I’m not the only one) that keeps us making bad choices when we have proof of what makes us feel good?

My friend told me about “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes and Underground Wellness with Sean Croxton. I could read these and come back to you with scientific data to confirm my reality. But I don’t need a book or a website to tell me what I already know. I took 40 days off from eating food this past fall and that experience brought me absolute clarity on what my body thrives on, what it detests and what it simply can’t tolerate. I learned the difference between what I need and what I want. I learned all the specifically personal dietary information I should ever need to know, but in the process of coming back to a regular diet I forgot one crucial piece of information: refined sugar is a drug just like crack, cigarettes and alcohol.

The negative effects of sugar are slower to show themselves and less devastating than most drugs, but its addictiveness is the same as any other. And over the long haul…

I’ve refrained from writing about food for quite a while because I’ve been embarrassed by my current tendencies. For a few weeks I did really well sticking to my proposed diet and I felt fantastic. Then came the job at Trader Joe’s and the holidays. The constant barrage of temptations sent me down a bad road. Bringing eggs back into my diet was supposed to be about a high protein breakfast but instead turned into muffins and cupcakes and all kinds of things I didn’t eat for a dozen years beforehand. I’ve put most of the weight I lost back on. I now hover around 135 lbs. rather than my intended 125 lbs. and I’ve been eating sugar after every meal just like I used to. I’m also consuming unnecessary carbs, which as we all know, turn into sugar once digested.

Guilt and shame rear their ugly heads as well. Feeling bad about something we’re doing rarely helps us figure out how to stop doing it. It’s the process of wanting what’s good for us that gets us there.

It seems I go through this same pattern in every aspect of life:

1) Complete lack of awareness

2) Consumption of knowledge

3) Failure to apply proven techniques

4) Guilt and shame

5) Practice

6) Eventual acceptance of a new way of life (read : finally doing what’s good for me)

The good news is I’m hanging out in step four which means I’m very close to acceptance and application of what is right for my body. I’m closer than I’ve ever been and I’ll get to my goal soon. Publicly humiliating myself on this blog should help prod me along 🙂

For more info check these out:

Sugar Is A Drug

Dr. Joseph Mercola (type in a fake email address to read the article)


4 thoughts on “Sugar Makes Me Ill”

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  2. You’ve just hit a really huge nail squarely on the head. As a person in recovery, I know what a drug sugar is, and yet somehow manage to excuse it. I’m on a no sugar (and no lots of other things) plan right now, and the detox should be enough to keep me from ever eating sugar again. Should be.

    Brilliant essay – bravery not shame.


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