After the Sugar Detox…

I admit, I wrote this in a moment of feeling pretty dang low. The feelings of sadness, inadequacy, and frustration were pretty high. I thought about not publishing it, or erasing it and sharing a more optimistic, hopeful draft, but I think that this view may be beneficial to someone. Or at least sharing this will let me honestly convey the low points of the last few weeks as I try to find some peace and balance in my body again.

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I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this low about my body and food.

Backing up—

I ended my 3-week sugar detox on February 6. I am grateful for the sugar detox because it helped me understand what it felt like to be fueled by slow carbs (vegetables instead of breads), I can now see a stark contrast between the sugar highs and sugar crashes (I’m SO aware of it now, and it’s INSANE), and for the first time in my life, I realize that I experienced VERY FEW cramps when I was on my period IF I had very little sugar in my body (I didn’t even take any painkillers last month, which is unheard of for me. If I’m cramping, it is intense, and I have to layer on the painkillers to even go to work or get out of the house).

BUT, while there were those good points about the sugar detox, I rarely felt satisfied. And in all honesty, the only one time I remember thinking how satisfied I finally felt was after eating a bison burger for dinner one night.

I can’t remember the last time I was this in-my-head and shame-filled about foods and their relationship to my body. It’s getting better, but that shame crept in early in the detox, and continued after it ended.

I intended to add in foods gradually after the detox ended, but as soon as I let a little in, the floodgates opened. I really struggled with bingeing during at least the last week of the detox and the two weeks following the detox. I’d binge on “healthy” foods. I’d crave nuts, I’d start eating, and I couldn’t stop. One day about a week after the detox ended, I needed a snack after work so I bought a bag of nuts at the store and ate the whole thing. All 1700 calories. I still didn’t feel full. Something was missing—something had been missing for weeks—and I still can’t pinpoint what it was.

One thing I should note about the detox—it was very strict, and prohibited most forms of sweetness. Even sweet potatoes and quinoa were off the list, and I felt guilt when I was told that even the 1g of sugar in my protein powder was too much sweetness. While I usually steer toward intuitive eating, I spent 3 weeks being told that nearly every modification I was making to try to feel better on this detox was detrimental (sweet potato, quinoa, protein powder, etc). And then, the guilt set in. And then, the floodgates.

About a week and a half after the sugar detox ended, I was miserable. Absolutely miserable. I finally got to a point where I could consciously practice releasing that guilt associated with food.

On February 18 I wrote: “I’m letting myself release the emotional/mental guilt tied to what/how/when/how much I am eating, and practicing just eating what I want to. I’m grateful that I had only been experiencing the feelings/behaviors for probably 2-3 weeks (maybe a bit more) before deciding to make that shift, because it really was just a couple days of having to be very mindful about allowing myself to eat what felt good, instead of denying it for myself, or feeling shame for eating it.”

That was a positive shift, but I’ve still really struggled through the past few weeks. I’ve been gradually remembering how to eat to feel good. Before the sugar detox, I was simply not eating things that I know I have intolerances to, like dairy and soy, and my body was responding really well to that! But, as silly as it sounds, I’ve had a hard time remembering the specific foods I ate, even just two months ago.

I still haven’t felt great. It’s been a really crappy experience trying to help my body feel good and satisfied again.

I made the mistake of stepping on the scale this morning (which I rarely do, as I’d rather eat to feel good and not worry about a silly number), and promptly went into my room and cried. The scale read 8 lbs higher than it did a month ago. I knew I hadn’t been feeling as great as I wanted to, but seeing a number describe to me a reason WHY I didn’t feel good? That felt crappy. (And I know, logically, a number on a scale doesn’t really mean much. I haven’t been taking physical measurements with a measuring tape, which I should have been. Plus, I did just run a race two weeks ago and PR, so my body is still functioning fine enough. And my period should be starting any day now, so there’s also that water retention and fluctuation. But still. You know? Sometimes the emotion comes through far more than the logic.) (Update: The next morning, after a normal day of eating, I decided to get on the scale again and I was down 2 lbs. Obviously, water weight. That just shows, the scale is not the best indication of our fitness or wellness levels at all! Now, back to the emotions, haha!)

It’s been an emotional day. I’m having a hard time understanding how I physically feel, or how to mentally feel about my body. I’ve had emotionally lighter moments today when I remember how good my new jeans feel on my body, or when I simply enjoy the foods I’m eating. But there are also times like right now, when I’m feeling the emotions attached to writing all of this out.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? I think I just needed to get it out, to be open and let you know that I’ve really been struggling in this area over the past month. That while I’m usually a huge proponent of intuitive eating, of loving your body exactly as it is in this very moment, and eating when you’re hungry and not eating when you’re not hungry… I understand now more than ever that sometimes those things are easier said than done. That sometimes there’s a huge mental/physical/emotional disconnect, and that can throw your body into a degree of chaos.

Sugar detoxes may be for some people, but they are not for me. I think that’s a blog post for another time, though.

Things that have helped me feel more peaceful about all of these things:

Lee From America — My Bingeing Story

Nutrition Redefined — Instagram + Podcast

Katiesfitscript — Quit Freaking Out Over Weight Gain

All of these things have helped me feel less alone, and reminded me of the things I know, but haven’t been able to remember/connect with for a few weeks.