Friday, October 4, 2013

I Am An Addict

I am an addict. I truly am. I'm the worst sort, too. The kind that goes into frenzy for what she wants, driving miles out of her way to get a fix. The kind that consumes without thinking, without noticing the growing consequences. The kind of junky that suffers from mood swings, bloating, tooth aches and maddening desire. Yes. It is scary to admit, but also a huge relief to finally come clean.

I, Jenna Woginrich, have an addiction to sugar.

I didn't realize it until I started a huge change in how I eat. I started a primal/paleo diet a few weeks ago and refined sugars are not a part of it. Neither are grains, soy, high-fructose anything, white potatoes and beer. This has been an amazing gift to myself, this kind of eating. I am losing weight, have clearer skin, and brighter eyes. I am never hungry, finding myself having to make myself eat. I have double the energy. I feel lighter, and clearer-headed than I have in a long time. I am a a month into eating this way and this morning I woke up feeling the way a chimney must feel after a good cleaning - all the gunk removed. I also feel like just now I am finally gaining the benefits of my martial arts training, farm chores, and walks. My body knows what to do with energy better. I'm an efficient machine. It is wonderful.

I should also note the word "diet" is a bit of a misnomer. Paleo eating is more of a concept than it is a set of rules you follow. For more on this read the great essay by Jack Spirko I linked to above. I'll post about this on Facebook so we can have a full out discussion there, too.

However, this new enlightenment required a few weeks of all-out misery. It wasn't until I stopped eating sugar that I realized how much I was consuming. It was in my coffee first thing in the morning. I'd eat it with something else sweet, too. It didn't matter if it was syrup on hash browns or a pumpkin muffin, I was eating sugar. Throughout the day I would binge, both on natural sugars and unnatural ones. Even though I thought I was eating healthy most of the time, I was far from it. Eating a plate of free-range eggs covered in cheese with three pieces of toast is no healthy meal, regardless of how happy the birds are.... And I realized that when I got serious about changing things in my diet and really stopped the intake.

When I stopped eating as much sugar I had horrible headaches, cravings, and I swelled up like a balloon. I was grumpy, beyond grumpy. I would sneak in bits of sugary carbs here or there, feeling like the shameless addict I was. For example, I would buy a Stewart's muffin and eat a bite and then give the rest to Gibson in a guilty fuss. He'd chomp it down and I'd feel that rush you get from a hit of the good stuff. Sublime, like pouring smiles on your brain. Oh, sugar. You were the one for me.

That was back at the start of the diet, now those cravings are gone. Yesterday I did that same bit. In a moment of weakness I bought a muffin and took a bite. I thought I would get that little buzz but it felt like chewing wet cardboard. Glory Be! I thought about the meal I ate earlier in the day, my own pigs' bacon and fat drizzled over cooked kale with herbs. It was a cereal bowl's worth and I had to make myself finish it. Besides a cup of coffee and this bite of crapffin it was all I ate that day and it was nearing 6pm. I probably wouldn't eat dinner. A few weeks ago one bowl of food would have left me ravenous, but since all those refined things are gone what was once filler is now fuel. A meal like that is a primal mix of meat, fat, and mostly vegetables. It is what our bodies have been designed to consume since the earliest phases of man's evolution, as we are the descendants of hunter gatherers. Siberian kale and domestic pigs might be a modern take on that ol' diet but the honesty is the same. I gave the whole muffin to the dog. Dog food is what it is.

I wanted to share this because of how great it feels and how well it is working. I have been struggling with my weight for years, being the kind of person who eats her feelings and then feels bad about it. I have tried so many fads and extremes, from veganism to carbless to juicing fasts. But those diets weren't me. This one is. This is the food I grow, that my neighborhood grows. It embraces farming, hunting, high-activity lifestyles and my love of a rare steak. This I can do. I look forward to sharing the results over this winter and hearing other folks' stories as they kick out grains, excess dairy, soy, sugar and starches. It sounds like zero fun and hard to do, but I can tell you I am far from restricted. I am enjoying the eggs, meat, and veggies this region produces with gusto. And I have been known to splurge on some "paleo" junk foods as well like Chinese spare ribs and chicken wings with blue cheese. But mostly I just crave real, fatty, meaty meals with lots of veggies. Every once in a while I'll splurge on a beer but since it's just bread in a bottle I stick to cider. And you know that is no big sacrifice for me. Hard cider is really high in sugar so that is a special treat as well, but I don't end up blowing up like a balloon after two bottles like I do with ales.

I think a primal diet is a wonderful diet. It embraces the foods us homesteaders and grass farmers produce. It is a perfect way to support local CSAs, veggie stands, farmers markets and meat producers because the diet strongly urges to avoid confined meat and chemically treated veggies as much as possible. Some think this makes it elitist or too expensive to do, but like I said, I ate one bowl of food yesterday and could hardly finish it. When you eat better for your body you need less, and want less. his means you SPEND less. When you aren't causing your glycemic index to impersonate a roller coaster, you don't want to shove bread down your maw every 5 hours.

So am I still a sweet addict? Absolutely. I will always be one. My brain is trained that way, but I'm not going back to that life. I have no doubt my extra pounds will slink off in a matter of weeks and the way it'll feel to slide into a size 8 jean again and work outdoors all day will be a far better feeling than any French Toast platter. But for the now, based on how I feel as I write to you, how excited I am for the pulled pork in the crock pot and picking kale out of my own garden for dinner….. the old me can keep her French Toast. This girl's gone wild.