Wednesday, April 27, 2011


So it turns out afternoons are pretty rough without a nibble of chocolate here and there. As proved by... three whole days, which in my mind, apparently, equals a substantial body of evidence! So far each day, breakfast is fine, I get through the morning feeling fine, eat a virtuous lunch, continue to feel fine, and then two o' clock hits and... SLUMP. I make another cup of coffee, eat an apple or some dried berries to try to get a jolt of natural sugar, but man, literally from then until dinner it seems I cannot shake the thought of a pan of brownies or a couple of Reese's eggs from the kids' Easter stash. While I don't feel super tired, or at least any MORE tired than usual, I can literally feel in my bloodstream the craving for refined sugar. I feel shaky and headache-y and cranky, and have to distract myself with busyness or I just keep circling back to the kitchen, looking for SOMETHING. I need a patch, just like a nicotine addict.

It sort of frightens me that I could be this addicted to a substance. It also gives me a new level of respect for people who manage to quit smoking or drinking, which is surely far more difficult. Now, I'm sure that there HAVE been days in my life before where I just didn't eat sugar for whatever reason, but it wasn't an intentional abstaining, so it probably didn't get noticed so much. I was likely doing stuff and out of the house or traveling, and had other things on my mind. When I'm home alone with small kids (who are constantly asking, "Can I have an Easter candy since I did x without whining/since I ate my lunch/since I stopped hitting Adelay/?") it's like this ridiculous loop in my head of BOY DO I NEED SOME CHOCOLATE/CANDY/DESSERT-TYPE ITEM. It's kind of pathetic to be spending this much time thinking about food.

So pathetic that this afternoon I was thinking, "You know, this is stupid. I'll just have a Reese's cup, end the craving, and move on!" Except that I WOULDN'T just have one. The floodgates would be opened, and then I'd have five or six over the course of the afternoon. And feel sick, and mad at myself. So I just keep trusting that if I give it a few more days, or a week, I will get used to being without afternoon sugar to get me through, and I will stop thinking about it so obsessively. Because that's the goal- to not NEED sugar to feel normal.

I should clarify that I don't think it's generally good to have forbidden foods. This is more just trying to break a cycle of addiction, if you will, so that when I do allow myself sugary goodness again, it will be at birthday parties and as a special treat, not a daily necessity that I miss like a freakin' CRACKHEAD if I'm without.

This dependence on a cocktail of sugar to get me through the day is a bad habit I started when Eli was a baby, and didn't start sleeping through the night until he was a year old... and even then, not reliably for another year. By afternoons I was just so profoundly tired that it literally felt dangerous to even drive anywhere. And drinking pot fulls of coffee wasn't an option since he was always sensitive to caffeine in my milk- a cup a day was about all I could have without making him cranky. But that was when we were trying to sell our house, so falling into a drooling coma on the couch just wasn't an option- I had to keep up on the cleaning and laundry all the time. It wasn't long before I discovered that in the absence of coffee, a brownie or a cookie (or a brownie AND a cookie) was enough to jolt me back awake long enough to get through the dinner/bedtime stuff before I could collapse on the couch for the night.

Not coincidentally, it also took me until Eli started sleeping through the night, thus ending my complete and total reliance on sugar to sustain me, before I lost the last ten pounds of my baby weight. Now, Jameson had a brief window of being a pretty decent sleeper, and I was feeling and looking good and the world was a sunny place. But ever since his bouts of ear infection back in Jan/Feb, he has been up and down the whole night, most of it spent in my bed because I am too tired to put him back in the crib after getting him up to nurse yet again! So yeah... the profound tiredness is really starting to get to me with this kid, too, and I've been doing the sugar routine again hardcore, kicked off with boxes of clearance Valentine's chocolates.

But this time, I am going to nip it in the bud! Yes I am! I am also going to try putting Jamie boy back in his own bed after feeds, even though in the short term it will be a pain, in the hopes that long-term it might help him wake less frequently. Also because I've become concerned that I am SO tired I am no longer able to cosleep very safely... a couple times last week I woke up on my side and realized I had fallen asleep while nursing without first making sure the baby was safely arranged away from pillows, with blankets tucked away securely, etc. His face was just inches from my pillow. I felt really freaked out and guilty. So! Time to try something different. This cosleeping is also causing me back and neck issues because when I know the baby is with me, I literally don't move a muscle in my sleep, and every time I wake up, my back and hips are throbbing from remaining so stiff. I went to the chiropractor a few times, but it only gave short term relief; after a few nights of sleeping with the baby, the pain was back, and this time I was more aware of it since I had experienced brief relief. So I think it'll probably only go away for good if I change my habits.

So does anyone else get this way about sugar? Or do I just have a really addictive personality? I sometimes think I do; for instance, I had a really hard time weaning off of the painkillers I had after Eli was born, and I was only on them for a WEEK. But I just felt awful once they were gone! Is that normal? Is the sugar thing normal?

Also, is it mean to try ending the cosleeping for my own selfish reasons? I feel sort of guilty, but also just sort of DONE, you know?


Rianne said...

is it at all possible you're having blood sugar weirdness?

I was having the sort of energy plummet you described, and was diagnosed type 2 when I went to the doctor begging for an explanation. :-( Turns out that my blood sugar levels were running so high that when they dipped to a "normal" range, I was miserable! go figure.

Sarah said...

Rianne: Maybe... I don't know. I haven't had them tested since I was pregnant. I suppose it's possible!

Scottish Twins said...

When I gave up sugar for Lent last year I went through a week of withdrawal. I had headaches and was so tired I couldn't get myself off of the couch. Once I got past that first week I was fine though. We forget that sugar reacts in our brain just like a drug, so we're going to have the same reaction to it as we would going off of things like nicotine and caffeine.

Tess said...

I think sugar reliance is actually really common. I don't target sweets in particular, but I've been a stress eater and a stress drinker for AGES. And as an adult, I've gotten into the habit of wanting to eat/drink something IMMEDIATELY when I get home from work. I think if I were at home during the day, afternoons would be harder, but as it stands it's 5-6 pm. Bleh.

Hang in there!

Swistle said...

I have imagined getting some disease where I can't eat sugar ever again, and then I have thought---ACTUALLY THOUGHT---that I couldn't live a happy life in that situation. I know it's not true, but it feels true.

Nik-Nak said...

Oh man can I relate. Just a day after I told you I was giving up sugar for a month guess what I did? I'm not going to tell you because trust me, I am VERY ashamed. But it was bad and I hated myself for it.

I hear that it only takes a week to get the craving out of your system. And you've already got three days going on me so PLEASE keep at it and tell me if this is true? I so desperately need to kick my sugar habit as well.

Giselle said...

It's so weird that you are posting about this, because I'm actually planning a detox from sweets. Of course, I'm waiting until the Easter candy diminishes to just the stuff I don't like. May 1st I will begin my self-imposed Lent.

I have tried just not buying the stuff, but then I find myself doing shameful things in the afternoon and then after the kids go to bed. Shameful things like eating unsweetened chocolate chips, and the kids' fruit snacks...that I don't even like the taste of! just to get my sweet craving filled. I will pace the kitchen and search the pantry and cabinets for any forgotten stash. I do not eat them to up my energy...I just can't stop thinking about it.

I totally feel like a drug addict. I want to go cold turkey and have a miserable few weeks and then wean myself to an acceptable amount of sugar in my enjoyable treat instead of an obsession.

Addiction runs in my family, and I often wonder if this is just my version of it.

Thank you for making me feel like I'm not such a weirdo...hopefully I can do this!

Jules said...

Would it be so awful ifyou just got rid of all the temptations and gave away the chocolates or threw them out? Take back the POWER these things have over you. It stinks to be in that mode where all you can think about is the one thing that is not good for you. So get rid of the temptation. As for the others within your house. Buy them some other treats like stickers or a matchbox cars to help them over the initial "what do you mean the candy is gone?"

Kelsey said...

For me it is regular pop/soda - sugar and caffeine. I'm totally addicted and I feel miserable if I even try to cut back - all the more reason that I should. I'm more worried about the sugar than the caffeine. I want to put my head through a wall when I think of all those extra calories - but do I stop? Not so much.

Erin said...

UGH. You very nicely described exactly my own afternoon sugar addiction. I feel like an ANIMAL. A CAGED ANIMAL. With one damned thing on my mind. It's actually sort of miserable, isn't it?

Nowheymama said...

It is so hard to be rational about food consumption when you are exhausted, isn't it?

Marie Green said...

I'm so addicted to sugar that I've never even tried to wean myself because I know I'd a)FAIL and b)be afraid of how addicted I was...

Also, our family motto regarding sleeping is "sleep where everyone gets the best SLEEP." Like you, sometimes I went through times where I was just too tired to put the baby back after feeding, so baby slept with me. But then, as you described, sometimes that meant that after a time I was no longer sleeping well WITH baby, so then back to the crib it was. So according to our family motto, you are not doing it for selfish reasons; you simply want to sleep where everyone gets the best sleep.

I salute you for going off the sugar wagon while ALSO having a waking baby all night. Impressive!

artemisia said...

I tried to give up just ADDED sugar and that was too hard. Hang in there! Maybe an afternoon walk in the park will perk you up? Hopefully your body starts to regulate itself soon and you won't feel so icky.

Hang in there. You can do this!

Musings of a Mom said...

I agree, it's better not to give up whole turkey, but to allow, say, one small chocolate a day. So you can think about saving it until the right time, instead of just never having it.