Ever heard of the "carb flu"? Well, I survived it.

Picture from day one. When I almost gave in.

Picture from day one. When I almost gave in.

Ever heard of the “carb flu”? Well, I survived it. Hi, my name is Aly and I am a sugar addict. I have always loved sweets, not just fruit sugars, but Swedish fish, toffee, dark chocolate, chocolate shakes, nightly cereal and Trader Joe’s cherry licorice. My family jokes it is a curse from my mother’s side of the family, but until this month, I had no clue how deep my addiction was. I have heard sugar is more addictive than cocaine, and although I cannot, thankfully, make the comparison, I am here to tell you detoxing from a lifetime of sugar is no joke.

At the beginning of the month, I started a program called a 30-Day-Slim-Down by Nancy Andersen. Actually, I was originally interested in her Ab Rehab course for postpartum women dealing with diatrise reactis, but the 30-day-Slim-Down was part of a discounted package paired with the Ab Rehab, so I bought both. Nancy provides you a shopping list, meal plan with scheduled breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. She is very specific. I first heard of the “carb flu” on her Facebook support group. 

Here is the truth. The first night I almost gave up. I was proud of myself for packing all of the proteins, veggies and healthy fats and loading them into the car before heading out to La Quinta for the week with the kids while Cory was away for work. I am lucky to see my Oregonian parents frequently as they own a house there to escape the wet Oregon springs. My sister was also in town from Portland checking out her hopeful October wedding venue in a boutique hotel in Palm Springs.

I vividly remember that night. I almost gave in. I couldn’t handle my body’s desire for sugar. Chocolate, an orange, berries, ice-cream, sugary cereal…I needed my fix. I can pathetically admit that that night I almost caved.  The thoughts circulating my head were as follows:

“Who wants to live their life like this?”

Healthy eating homemade chicken veggie soup while camping at Kirk Creek, Big Sur

Healthy eating homemade chicken veggie soup while camping at Kirk Creek, Big Sur

“Why even do this, if it isn’t sustainable after the month is over?”

“What is wrong with eating fruit at midnight, come on, it’s fruit?”

“A little bit of sugar is not going to make a difference.”

If it were not for my family’s eye rolls and “are you serious” comments, I would have called it quits less than 24 hours in. Finally, I convinced myself I just needed to go to bed, so I wouldn’t have to crave sugar anymore.

Four days later, I started feeling like I was getting a cold, not just a simple cold, but something far worse. I felt so ill in fact, I told my husband he might need to come home from work. I laid on the couch most of the day with toddlers climbing and jumping on me like I was a human jungle gym. I kept thinking about that Nyquil commercial where the mom is sick. “Moms don’t get sick days.” So true. What DO moms do when they are sick and at home? I convinced myself I couldn’t possibly be so addicted to sugar that my body was responding with flu-like symptoms.

You may feel fatigued the website said. Check

You may feel like you have a touch of the flu. Feeling blah, achy joints, headaches. Check.

Positive I had a fever, I called a babysitter to come for 4 hours in the middle of the day, so I could sleep. 

It sucked. But in less than 36 hours, I felt completely fine minus the runny nose. The reality that my body went through a full sugar withdrawal was eye opening. My body had been so dependent on it, that it protested when I eliminated it.

Views from our campground.

Views from our campground.

I am happy to report I am on day 17 and have less than two weeks left. I even packed up 3 days of meals for our family camping trip to the Big Sur, CA. Normally when camping, I live on snacks, processed food and junk. By the end of the trip all I want is an apple or maybe a salad. Instead, this time we ate campside chicken salads and snacked on veggies and hummas. I have already lost over 10 lbs and am not dependent on caffeine to survive my day. My body doesn’t feel hungry all day long. I can tell I am feeding it what it needs, and it is happy. I feel slightly overwhelmed by the effort to continue all of the healthy eating skills I have practiced thus far, but every day is less overwhelming. It is somewhat simple: protein, healthy fat and veggies every meal (with the occasional fruit once during the day).

I have learned the following during the last two weeks:

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- I had been eating my kids’ left overs and  snacking on their food.  A handful of blueberries in my mouth, before I put them on my son’s tray. Half a bowl of oatmeal my daughter didn’t finish. Left over bar my son dropped on the ground. I was a human vacuum, sucking up everything they didn’t want. And after frantically feeding them, I would declare I hadn’t eaten yet, and would make myself breakfast. I hadn’t realized it, but this was happening ALL DAY LONG. Half eaten toast, peanut butter pretzels, dried fruit. All day long.

-Eating healthy takes a lot more time and energy, more than I normally had or wanted to devote to it. I normally gave little thought to what I was going to eat or was eating. Shopping has to be thoughtful. This week’s #bebetter52 challenge to shop the perimeter is exactly how I am shopping. Tons of veggies, a little bit of fruit, eggs and meat/fish. There are a couple other items such as spices, salsas, non-dairy cheeses and oils, but 90% of my shopping is happening on the perimeter.

-Food prep at the end of the night is the hardest, but once you prepare the food, it simplifies your day. All you have to do is grab the food out of the fridge and enjoy.

- Since my husband and I have done the Slimdown 30 program, I am buying healthier food at the store and less snacks. Because of my heathy shopping, I don’t have as many snacks to easily throw at the kids. As a result, they are eating healthier, too. Today Cooper had the cucumber, hummus and hard boiled egg snack that I was eating and loved it. Tonight we had a zucchini pasta and shrimp dish that my husband loved, something previously he would have not even wanted to try. 

Hello, my name is Aly, and I am a sugar addict. I hope that this four week detox will help me realize that my sugar addiction is not healthy. They say, it takes 2 weeks to form a habit. Its been two weeks, and I am loving it.