The More You Eat It…
In case you haven’t heard, sugar is addictive. As in, the more you eat it, the more you want it. If you’ve ever eaten a Krispy Kreme Donut, this isn’t news to you.
Studies show that sugar lights up and excites the same part of the brain as cocaine. I thought that sounded a little dramatic and over-stated until I actually gave up sugar. After a couple of days, I was considering snorting a pile of sugar grains. (For effect, I would’ve used a razor, a mirror, and a cheap motel, just to see what that was like. And to feel more legitimate, of course.)
But, I didn’t cheat. I thought about cheating all day, every day for about two weeks after starting my very low-carb diet. I felt angry and tense. I was shaky and had little energy.
I just wanted a freaking cookie!!!
But I stepped on the scale after only a couple of days and realized that this torture was actually working. I had already lost a few pounds.
So, I made it a few more days without the much-desired cookie. And without the bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, and sweets, as well. My weight continued to drop and my dedication was strengthened.
I was eating lots of rotisserie chicken, some salads (with no croutons and with full-fat dressings), eggs, and most any other meat that didn’t have flour or sauces on it. Bacon, omelets, chicken wings (fried, but unbreaded and unsauced), pork chops, beef roasts, steak, bunless burgers, cheese, pork rinds, pepperoni, and more bacon. LOTS of bacon.
Worst Time to Start a Diet…Ever
I started this low-carb diet about 10 days before Thanksgiving. Which was, in retrospect, STUPID. But I stuck to eating lots of turkey (with the skin), roast beef, ham, and any other meat that I could get my hands on. No stuffing. No cranberry sauce. No dessert. It wasn’t easy, but my pants continued to loosen, so I tarried on.
I managed to live through those first couple of weeks, and by that point, the worst was over. The shakiness was wearing off, and I could talk to other carb-consuming humans without wanting to physically harm them. Cookies were losing their power, and I was feeling more like myself, only better.
Let me state again, withdrawal from carbs is HARD. The symptoms are both physical and mental. Your body is literally converting from a carb-burning machine to a fat-burning machine, and is not really happy about it for a while.
But going through all of that was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. Realizing how addicted I had been and finding out how very hard it was to get sugar out of my system would lead me to this declaration: So help me God (and He did!), if I ever make it through this, I will never put myself through this torture again!!
You see, most of us never sit around wanting cocaine, because it’s not in our systems and never has been. But for those users that keep getting “hits” here and there, the addiction lives on, making it almost impossible to break free.
Likewise, once the sugar, carbs, and addiction to all things “sweet” are totally out of your system, your brain and body stop asking for it. They stop needing their fix.
When I finally I made it through the first few weeks, I no longer wanted the cookie so much. And now, after ten years, I have no desire for a cookie whatsoever. I crave a cookie the same way that I crave cocaine, which is to say, not at all.
What if there’s an easier way?
So, yes, cutting out carbs is hard. Really hard. So hard that most people will give in and never make it through to the other side. But if you cut them out entirely, you will be free of them. Free from your addiction and free from the substances that are keeping you from feeling, looking, and being your best.
I spent my first five or so years of this journey eating a very LOW carb diet (rather than a ZERO carb diet.) I mostly ate meat, but also ate sugar-free jello, diet soda, low-carb veggies, and anything else that would give me a little “sweet fix” for those first five years.
Did I lose weight eating that way? Yes. I lost about 80 pounds in the first year. And I lost another 40 or so pounds over the next four years.
Was there an easier way? Yes. Definitely.
I would eventually find a group of people who taught me that it was actually the *taste* of sweets themselves (even the sugar-free variety) that was keeping me from being totally free from my addiction to carbs. I was about to meet my very first group of zero-carbers, and it was going to be another game-changer. A whole new level of freedom and understanding awaited me. As did a much smaller pair of pants.
Up Next: I was low-carb. I was losing weight. But I still had to kill it in the gym, and I had a sweet tooth like a crack addict.