The Sugar Myth

Every so often I fall back into believing the sugar myth. And the chocolate myth. And the ice cream myth. The myth is that these substances are wondrous delights and not harmful in small quantities. Miraculously special treats that we all deserve. Maybe thats true for some people, but its not true for me. For me these foods, and sugar in particular, have always been problematic.

A lot of sugar makes my blood sugar peak then plummet so that I end up with poor concentration and the shakes. After hitting a pole in the parking lot with my car a long time ago, and learning I am prone to hypoglycaemia, I have given up eating sugar in large quantities. No only does it gives me the shakes, it makes my skin crawl for the next 24 hours, hangover style, if I have too much. It really does feel like I have eaten a toxin that is working its way out of my body.

What I find hard to accept that sugar is a problem for me even in small quantities. For a week or so at the end of January I got into the habit of having two small wrapped chocolates a day. And also relaxed on a few other dietary troublemakers, like cake and ice cream. I thought I was going OK, when a week ago, I suddenly got sick. I’ll spare you the details, but it seem like regular exposure to fairly small amounts of sugar weakens my immune system and brings on various unpleasantnesses that make me unwell. If I was going out to work, I would probably have had a week off. As it is, I have chipped away at my own projects at a much slower pace than usual.

I find it difficult to reconcile my own sensitivity to so many foods, and the happy abandon with which people eat and drink all manner of things in the media, and in life around me. Of course obesity gets a lot of air time, but the general undermining of health and wellbeing that comes from eating the wrong things is more difficult to describe. When I say “the wrong things” I mean the things that are wrong for you specifically, and that can be very tricky to determine.  Doctors don’t seem to fully recognise the undermining nature of food intolerance, but its been a very real part of my experience all my life. All I know is life goes much better if I avoid gluten, sugar, coffee, chocolate and alcohol. I feel bad and my health suffers if I don’t control my diet fairly carefully.

To be honest I was eating special treats as a silent rebellion against feeling that I needed to diet to lose weight. Even the thought that I should be careful about what I ate for the purpose of weight loss made me feel deprived and rebellious. Now I am on a very  strict dietary regime to try to restore my body to balance, but I don’t resent that, because I know its necessary.

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project talks about absteiners and moderators when it comes to limiting the things that are not good for us. Although I try to be a moderator with foods I am sensitive to, it really is easier to abstein. When I don’t have sugar, cake and chocolate I lose the taste for it, and it just isn’t a part of my universe. I have been enjoying pursuing new interests and I don’t like having my momentum disrupted by cheap chocolate, so I think I will be heading back into the absteiners camp. Its too hard to know when a little bit has become too much.



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