Guest Post: Kickin’ the Sugar Habit by Heather Cosby

Heather is one of those people I mentioned yesterday: smart, athletic, beautiful, friendly, and a total blast to hang out with (some of my best college memories involve her, our friend Allison, thrift store clothes, and a packed dance floor). We’ve been friends since college and although it’s been nearly 6 years since we’ve actually seen each other, I still consider her to be one of my bosom buddies. She is wife to Sam and the mother of two little munchkins, a 2-year-old girl (whose cheeks cause me hunger pangs every time I see a picture of them) and a 6-month-old boy. Over the next few weeks she’ll be writing about the sugar de-tox we’re supporting each other in. Because that’s what kind of friend she is. Thanks, Heather!

I’m being abused by my 6-month-old. We’re talking raw skin, bleeding wounds, purple bruises. Yes, that same triangle-shaped mouth that laughs at everything carries with it the bane of my existence: thrush. We’re on round number 4 of this illness during my baby’s short life, and I’m pretty darn tired of it. If you’ve never had it (lucky you!), thrush is a yeast infection babies can get in their mouths that spreads to the mother if the baby is breast fed. I’ve tried most every remedy I’ve heard of, from rubbing vinegar on my breasts to taking large doses of prescription anti-fungal medications, and though most everything has relieved the symptoms, the thrush keeps coming back, which is why I’m here blogging today.

See, yeast feeds on sugar, and if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I’m a sugar addict. Let me say it again, “Hi. I’m Heather. I’m a sweet-aholic.” (Now you: “Hi Heather.”) You can bet good money on there being at least two flavors of ice cream in my freezer at any time, though I think my record is seven. (But they were pints and limited-edition flavors and on sale!) I also love to bake and have found it to be something fun my daughter and I can do together, so we also have a seemingly endless supply of pumpkin cookies, chocolate chip cookie dough brownies, or brown-sugar encrusted banana muffins on our counter. And when the stress of taking care of my drama-queen two-year-old and my life-sucking infant becomes a little too much to handle– which is about twice a day– I give in to those serotonin inducing sugar demons calling to me from the freezer. Which means those yeasty beasties living on my breasts have an endless supply of nutrition to keep them fighting strong against whatever remedy I throw at them.

But no more! No! Though I’ve inherited this killer metabolism that means my sugar addiction doesn’t always lead to unmanageable weight gain, those daily sweets have eroded my self-discipline as assuredly as they’ve eroded my tooth enamel, in a slow, steady decline. I hate feeling like I’m controlled by those sea salt chocolate chip cookies on the counter. I hate that I can’t say no. I hate that I’m not listening to my body when it tells me, “Um, hi, I don’t really need this right now.” And I really hate thrush.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to stop eating desserts for a month. That doesn’t mean I’m cutting out sugar. I’ll still eat our store-brand peanut butter, and my bowl of breakfast cereal, but I’m already confident in my diet of real food. I’m doing well there, and not going overboard with added sugars. It’s the treats that are the problem, so that’s what’s getting the boot. I’ve spent the last week purging the house of the offending confections, pawning them off on my husband and friends, slowly weaning myself. Sunday night I made one last strawberry banana split with the remaining vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. With that, I was done and have been going cold turkey since.

It won’t be easy. I know there will be dessert nights at church, dinners with friends, and a whole week of my parents here that will tempt me to give in. I’ve committed to one trip to the local homemade ice cream shop that my mom asked to visit long before I decided to cut out sweets that could possibly derail the whole experiment. But I’m confident that with some encouragement and some teammates, I’ll be able to do this. Lizzie and Jodie are on board, how about you? Whaddya say we bid farewell to our saccharine overlords and say hello to our bigger, badder, stronger self-control?!  Let’s give it a try and see how good feeling healthy and in control can be. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll beat the thrush.

PS For more food-for-thought about sugars and sweeteners, read this. -tmr

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6 Comments

  1. Good work, Heather! Just in the past few days we’ve been doing this, I’ve realized a few things. First, I learned that I’ve become so relaxed in my eating (no wonder I can’t shed those extra 10 pounds of baby weight!) that even on this sugar “fast”, I find myself perusing my cupboards for some chocolate (apparently nap time is when I snack the most). I also realized how much junk I’ve been giving my children when they keep asking “can I have a treat now?” If I was eating it, so were they. But not anymore! I’m glad we’re all doing this together. Here’s to better health and no more thrush! 🙂

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    lizzie Reply:

    I agree. Even after just a week I’ve become so much more aware of my eating habits — how much I snack, what kind of snacks I eat, what I give the kids, etc. I haven’t missed the sugar really, and I have tried to curb my snacking as well. It is kind of nice. I feel more in control.

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  2. Me: Hi Heather!

    Oh, Heather….I was right there along with you….I thought, yes, she has thrush , she needs to do this. Good for you Heather. And then… you gave me a challenge. You asked me to come along with you…suddenly I wasn’t cheering you on, but thinking about myself and trying to justify my sugar consumption.

    I’m with you Jodie- nap time is my weakness. I also don’t Heather’s wonderful metabolism. And yes, I have a sugar addiction. “Hi, I’m Alisa and I’m addicted to sugar.”

    I can’t promise you yet (that would take a little more prep time) that I will go to the extent that you are…I may keep eating sugar socially (aka outside the house)…but I will commit for the next 30 days to not eat sweets at home. Even as I write that I grizzle at the self control that I am going to need. I’m also wondering what to do with that new tub of Mint Cookie IceCream in the freezer. But I am ready to admit to myself that I consume too much sugar. I am also ready to stand with you against the evil thrush that has invaded your breast….after all you certainly helped me out when Anna, Max and Maya were learning to breast feed. In a way it I hope it also counts as getting to hang out with you all the way from the other side of the world. 🙂

    ps…..At least we don’t live in Texas anymore where we were subject to the temptations of Bluebell…It makes me droll just thinking about it.

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  3. Heather, you’re a very talented writer. I will not be partaking in your emotional/physical journey, testing the limits of your sanity and self-control, but I hope this post boosts your self-esteem to keep you on track. Good luck.

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  4. Hey, Heather, I won’t be joining you on your sugar-fast, but I wish you luck. Have you tried Head and Shoulders?

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  5. Heather!

    Darn you and your killer metabolism!!! 🙂 But, being diabetic, I know what it means to have constant battles with sugar and yeast issues. I especially had it bad when nursing William. So, I applaud your determination to go on this sugar fast, especially to help the nursing processes! Good luck and I’ll think of your battle as I’m starving with my measly 1700 calories a day. (Which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t for someone like me! I’m a snacker but now I can’t be!)

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  6. Heather I hope you are still doing well on the cutting back on the sugar. I recently had to pull in the reigns on myself. It’s almost like being a crack addict somedays. Thanks for writing and inspiring.

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