Brain Hacking 101: Bad Sugar

Let’s talk diet. You’d rather not? Oh, okay. You might not want to read this post then, because right now I’m having a hard time thinking about anything else. That’s the worse thing about dieting, isn’t it? While your body is adjusting to a new regime of healthy foods, your brain is sitting in the background begging like a pitiful puppy. Or maybe a starving orphan.

Walking past the chocolate stash…Just one, tiny little chocolate rabbit. No one will know. Please? Fixing breakfast…Would one tiny little piece of toast with some nice, healthy peanut butter really be so terribly bad? Cleaning up the snack table at work… Can’t stand it…must not…scavenge…vanilla wafers…

In particular, the diet I’m following has an initial phase of seventeen days with no carbs. The principle is to hack your brain so it craves natural sugars like those in fruit and healthy carbohydrates, rather than those in whoopie pies and donuts. (If someone offered me the chance to swap a consequence-free whoopie pie with my firstborn child, I would seriously consider it at the moment…the caveat being that I don’t actually have any children, for those of you who don’t really know me. I’m only that horrible in theory. Probably.) Breaking your brain of any craving, however, requires you to go through a period of withdrawal.

Right now, I am in serious sugar withdrawal. It’s not nearly as bad as it was last night or the night before, however, so I have hope that it will continue to get easier. The question you might ask, and which I am certainly asking myself, is WHY ARE YOU PUTTING YOURSELF THROUGH THIS? I generally believe that diets are a questionable proposition at best. I love food and I have slightly hedonistic leanings, so depriving myself of one of my favorite pastimes (i.e., eating junk food) in order to squeeze my body into a socially acceptable data range that was developed during the hey-day of phrenology is not something I am normally inclined to do.

I also believe, however, that our experience of life is mediated by the bodies we have available to live that life. Hiking a mountain is exhilarating…less so when you’ve got the pound-equivalent of several housecats stowed away in your thighs and belly. In the years since graduating college, becoming a member of driving society (as opposed to biking and walking society) has begun to take a toll on my body. I used to burn enough calories through my mode of transportation to allow myself to remain recklessly addicted to sugar, but that’s no longer the case. Spending two hours in a car every day while eating whoopie pie and donuts = “There’s no way in heck I’m even trying to climb that mountain.”

So…something’s gotta give. I have to forcibly place my brain and body into an uncomfortable state of change for a while to give myself the chance to get away from the habit of popping chocolate bunnies into my mouth every time I walk past the candy pot or eating Nutella straight from the jar when I get a bit bored and peckish. I have to eat vegetables until I want to throw them at something whether it’s funny or not and pass on the spaghetti and chocolate cake for a while.

Hopefully, by the end of my first seventeen days, I will have made the decision to avoid sugar three- to five-thousand times–enough to ground a habit of mind that will help live my life in a healthier, more energetic body. If this scheme to get my body past it’s addiction to sugar doesn’t work? John may come home to find me knee-deep in whoopie pie wrappers and blissfully sunk into a sugar coma.

It had better work.

4 thoughts on “Brain Hacking 101: Bad Sugar

  1. I can relate to the constant need for sugar. Just you try spending 3 hours a day in a bakeshop and not snarfing everything in sight. I was sad to finish my Advanced Baking class but my waistlne was ecstatic. Hang in there, Mossy!


  2. Hey, I’m really proud of you for doing this and sharing it. I have been cutting back on my sugar intake for a while now and the biggest thing I have noticed is that not only will you not crave sugar but you will not want to eat things with lots of sugar. I can no longer drink most sodas because I get halfway through a can or glass and it upsets my stomach. I have had the greatest success with eating what I would normally eat but cutting back the portion size and really listening to my body. Doing the “am I really hungry?” or “am I bored and looking for something to do?” Good Luck


  3. Melissa, I swear that sugar talks to us. It gets into our system and immediately (even before the first bite of frosting is swallowed) starts saying, “Oh, goodie, let’s have some more. It’s ok. You deserve it. You can start dieting again tomorrow.”
    It’s really the carb/insulin cycle…but, it sure has a ‘sweet’ voice.
    You can do this, Melissa. And it does get easier!!! Love you


  4. If you can get off those extra pounds now while you are young and learn how to KEEP them off, you are ahead of the game. It is the sugar insulin thing, however no carbs even for a short period of time really isn’t doing your body any good. keep away from blatant sugars and eat only healthy carbs and count them. Good luck.


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