Recognising sugar addiction.
A nutrition and health post.
In this series of blog posts i find that i’m often returning to the things that happened just over a year ago, either just before or soon after i started my radical experiment with a health ‘reset’ On a related side issue i hear lots of talk about ‘the great reset’ with everyone from the environmentalists to the fundamentalists talking up their versions : well, that kind of thing might or might not happen but i do know that lots of ordinary people have a big light bulb moment and attempt a big reset of their own health. In this post i’m just going to talk about one of my own lightbulb moments and then follow this post up with a longer post or posts about sugar addiction.
I should start by explaining that i live in a small and isolated village 6 miles from the nearest town and that i don’t have my own transport any more, thus a trek into town for any reason is a thorough pain because i have to wait for an irregular bus at my end and then always make sure that i’m back at the bus station at the far end on time for a bus back : it’s not a great service either. I should also say that i’m not particularly social, in fact i am quite asocial and nor am i a pub goer : it’s a strange thing but most businesses are gone from this village except the pubs and what i think of now as the ‘poison’ shop !. For me a treat has never been going out to the pub but rather going out to one of the cafe’s in town and having a latte and cake….or when i was cruising in France last year a grand creme (coffee) and a pain au chocolat. I note that i have always associated sweet with treat and that the more i think about the matter the more i realize that i may have always used the caffeine/sugar combination to alter my mood, may even be in fact strongly sugar dependent.
That light bulb moment.
I was in town and in my favourite cafe, i even got my favourite seat by the window so that i could just watch the world go by for a while . I remember that it was raining and that this was before the Covid pandemic and the mass hysteria of mask wearing….just a normal but wet day in December doing the shopping in town and stopping for a coffee and cake treat along the way.
One moment i was sipping coffee alternating with bites of my usual cake and then i looked down at my plate and the cake was gone….the weird thing was that i had no immediate sense of having eaten it, no sense of having enjoyed it and that i knew i wanted another one straight away. I didn’t buy another one by the way as i kind-of realized that if one hit or dose hadn’t done the trick then another one was unlikely too either. I think i also immediately realized that there was some kind of dose response involved, just like say a dose of morphine and technically that i’d loaded my sugar/dopamine receptors but wasn’t getting either pain relief or pleasure sensation from the ‘dose’ and that i was craving a higher dose.
Even worse was that as soon as i got home about an hour later the first thing i did was to stick the kettle on to make more coffee and to make sure there were biscuits to be had (cookies for my US readers) and that i would then have sat mindlessly at the computer, idly surfing , drinking more coffee and munching biscuit after biscuit.
Instead of that , well ok i had the coffee, i had a kind of reckoning with myself and it wasn’t a particularly nice summing up : 62, obese, hypertensive, one knee replacement down and a total failure to return to a high level of mobility and any significant exercise and on top of that there was one new element that was new and deeply disturbing.
I said earlier that we live in a small village a bit off the beaten track and in fact we live quite a rural life which suits us both, my partner having grown up on a dairy farm and me in a small market town. Part of our life here is that we rely mostly on a woodburner and scavenged wood for most of the heating in the house. I spend a lot of time collecting and processing our firewood from downed trees….the final part of that is cutting, splitting and stacking the timber to air dry and i do most of the work with hand tools : basically saw, axe and maul. Well, this year iv’e noticed a new problem when i do a splitting session in that i seem to have been losing my grip strength , notably when i’m using a heavy club hammer…occasionally even dropping a tool. Another thing that goes with that is that my hands often feel ‘claw-like’ and cold, sometimes painful and stiff.
That’s a problem because it has all the signs of early arthritis and that’s a real problem because i like to work with my hands. Added together i reckoned to be not in a good state for my age but the strangest part of all that was it seemed like my lifelong ‘pleasure’ from eating sweet things had not only probably caused all of that but was now itself not being pleasurable any more….just like anyone else with a dependence problem the dose only serves temporarily to keep the need at bay and has no high or rush or even simple pleasure attached to it any more.