Hello, my name is Miles and I am addicted to sugar. I know that I am addicted to sugar because for the last two and a half days I have been fantasizing about eating cupcakes, and cookies, and brownies and you know those cinnamon buns that you get out of vending machines….?
And then there is the feeling uncharacteristically tired and moody suddenly. I wake up feeling like i got hit by a truck and woke up at three. Except I went to bed at 11:00 and woke up at 6:30. And I’m oddly melancholy. Sad over lost sugar, I suppose. Maybe I am depressed. I have never been depressed before but I’m sure this is what it must feel like. Heavy. Lethargic. Not enough motivation. And the reason i am (*maybe*) feeling depression for the first time in my life is that I cannot cram sugar into my face and I think I might be disintegrating from my soul outward.
I am cutting out sugar from my diet for at least a week, possibly more if I can stand it. I have been eating this way for about 2 and a half days so far and so far my body says NAY! More accurately, I think that the Candida bacteria in my body are saying vehemently “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NO!” in my intestines because that is the symbiotic relationship we have had for a number of years. I feed them Little Debbies, and they control my mind.
That’s right, there is a parasitic leech controlling my thoughts (so to speak) and I am getting tired of it. I am done with being held hostage to the manipulative ways of the yeast within my intestines begging my brain for sugar as their population increases, but negatively effecting my health in many potentially dangerous and annoying ways.
It all started a number of years ago in college. I worked at Burger King, and I would imagine that is where my relationship with Candida was first fostered. A double cheeseburger here, a chicken tender there, a triple whopper with onion rings, BBQ sauce, extra bacon, cheese at a 50% discount KING sized… you know, the typical stuff. And I ate this way for a while, but it wasn’t just at work.
I put bacon on everything. I bought a 3 lb bag of hickory smoked, thick sliced bacon that I kept in the freezer and fried with anything I could find. My friend Ben and I would hang out and actually fry apple slices. I loved candy. I even went to Olive Garden and asked if I could get extra shrimp on my pasta one time. I was out of control.
But you know, I wasn’t gaining THAT much weight.
And then i started getting these weird eczema blisters and swelling on my fingers that I couldn’t figure out. I had never been allergic to anything before. It turns out that Eczema is just a doctors word for any type of nasty skin thing they can’t decide what to do with.
So it took me a while to figure out what was triggering it and how to treat it. The culprit appears to be something in McDonalds and Burger King foamy soap. I do speculate though, that my eczema which was triggered by a sensitivity to the soap, was partly a cry for help by my body as result of my poor diet which was full or simple carbs, sugar and fat which had no doubt begun to compromise my system in a high stress environment…
A number of months ago my wife noticed this weird redness under my arm that had gotten really bad out of nowhere. I would kind of notice that my armpit itched occasionally but I don’t usually sit there and stare at my armpits when I put on my deodorant. I still wasn’t eating super great, but now being married my wife cooked much of the time and surely chose healthier options than I did as a bachelor. Even so, and despite some changes to troubleshoot (gluten free diet, change of soaps, change of deodorant, change of detergent, not showering with soap at all for a few days) nothing seemed to have any effect. So I finally decided I should see a dermatologist.
Now, there are two kinds of dermatologists. Those that are good, and those that are not. Those that are good tend to listen, and explain and basically be a good doctor. Those that are not tell you that you are nervous and have moles and give your drugs that will give you massive stretch marks. This is basically exactly what I experienced. She barely listened, her staff and her were rude, and when I left I had a prescription but really didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
The prescription was for a cream called Nitro-tri-something or another. I don’t remember because the name was impossible to remember. But it was a topical steroid basically. This dermatologist DID explain that it was a yeast overgrowth issue. But all I remember her articulating is like “oh yeah its yeast they get on there.”
The steroid cream worked really well, but there is a catch. It only worked when I used it. And then it came back. And I started getting massive stretch marks like a quarter of an inch wide and 3 inches long under my arm. I mean I had gained weight but I started to look like I was being ripped in half from the inside as a small alien emerged out of my armpit.
So we looked up the cream – apparently prolonged use can cause thinning of the skin and huge stretch marks. I would have loved that information when I was with the doctor.
So when my prescription ran out – yes I’m a procrastinating idiot – I finally went to a DIFFERENT Buffalo dermatologist. Her name is Dr. Patricia Burden and if you are in the Buffalo area I highly recommend her. She listened, she examined thoroughly, she explained and was appalled by the other cream I was using. What I learned was this:
- [After a blood test] My blood sugar is fairly high.
- I have a “sensitive nature” – referring to my skin.
- Everyone has Candida Yeast in their body.
- The yeast in our bodies love and thrive on sugar.
- If we have to much sugar in our digestive system, the yeast population can become overgrown and cause essentially an external yeast infection.
Also, she mentioned that based on my blood sugar I was early on the road to Type 2 Diabetes. Her treatment was fourfold:
- Loose weight (exercise, portion control)
- Eat a lot less sugar and healthier foods
- Dry and spray vinegar water on the affected area after a shower
- Use another anti-fungal cream (that won’t thin the skin) if there are flareups.
So it seems to me that the heart of this issue (which extremely common) is living healthily and exercising self-control. Two things our culture and I am terrible at.
Sugar provides instant gratification, which encourages overeating, which causes profits to soar and everyone to become obese, which triggers diabetes,which needs meds to treat, which pharmaceuticals will provide, which cost a ton, and keeps healthcare busy, which fuels insurance companies, who provide campaign donations for Obamacare.
And before you know it Obama is the king of the world.
Ok, so maybe that’s a little bit of a conspiracy theory, but the point is living a healthy, self-controlled – balanced even – life is not easy. And it is easy to make excuses like I have been for years. “Eating healthy cost’s too much”, “Well I’m not as fat as that guy over there that can barely hobble out of the store.”, “Yes, this cupcake seems like an adequate trade for my soul.” These are REAL things that I have thought. (OK maybe not that last one directly).
But the only real way to address the issue of obesity and declining health in our country is to start with you. With me. To be willing to make long term changes as individuals that sacrifice the now and the “nom nom nom-ing” in exchange for what is worth it. So I find, at the heart of my sugar addiction is a character issue. A moral struggle. I might blame the little yeasts, but hey I’m the one that fed, and nurtured and provided a perfect home in my belly for them instead of kicking them out in the first place.
An interesting couple verses from the biblical writer Paul says:
“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’–but I will not be mastered by anything.
And I think I will just leave this post at that. I will not be mastered by anything.
So it has been a little over a week now since I started this thing and I have noticed a few things. First, after the first three days the sugar cravings seemed to go away and I started to feel normal. This confirmed that I in fact am at least habitually addicted to sugar. Second, it did not completely go away but my Candida symptoms do seem to be getting better. Also, I think I have begun to lose a little weight which is important. Also, I have begun to introduce a little bit of carbs and sugar here and there into my diet when I cant avoid it, but my mindset has completely changed.
I still find it somewhat overwhelming to consider all the foods I shouldn’t eat much at all of and would like to, (like bread) but something feels liberating about not being bound to sugar and feeling able to eat a much smaller amount and realize that I am full. I still love food, and from time will of course indulge in some treats, but I think I am going to do my best to stay at least partially on this path and hopefully in a year or next time I go to the dermatologist things will be looking differently. I still need to work exercise into that equation, but this experience has given me a bit more willpower and discipline than I had before and I hope to improve in the weeks to come.
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