The day after I ate the last brownie of my life... I remember it vividly. I was cranky, had a massive headache and no matter what my husband or my children did or said, it was all wrong. I didn’t want to be there with them. I wanted to pull my blanket over my head and only come out if someone would have chocolate or ice cream for me. Preferably both...
Sounds like a hangover, right? I call it exactly that: a sugar hangover. My whole life I was prone to addiction, but with the years I gave up a lot of things...
- I gave up weed to finish my school with an acceptable score.
- I gave up smoking cigarettes in preparation for getting pregnant a couple of years later.
- I gave up fast food to get rid of the overweight that was causing cysts in my ovaries.
- I gave up video games, because they were taking too much time out of my day.
- I gave up alcohol, after being off of it through two pregnancies and a long time after while breast feeding. When I then started again I decided it was not worth the stress the day after, being so mean to my child for being... a child, waking me early in the morning.
And then, after a really bad bout of depression and seeing the documentary “That Sugar Movie,” I decided to give up sugar temporarily to see if it would make a difference for me.
Now you have to understand that I am “The Chocolate Fairy.” I have my own market stall, dedicated to my first love, chocolate. Ever since I was five years old there was not a single day that I would spend without chocolate, most days a lot of it. For a long period in my life I would have two breakfasts: one regular and one chocolate breakfast. If I needed to choose it was always the chocolate. And so when the universe brought the opportunity to combine work and this love of mine into my life, I didn’t hesitate, and I learned how to work with chocolate. For the last two years I made chocolate and cake pops and sold them on the farmer’s markets. I knew everything about it and still loved it dearly. But that meant I also knew that the cocoa percentage on a bar of chocolate meant that the rest of it was... processed sugar. And here I was, the chocolate fairy, giving up exactly that, processed sugar.
It wasn’t easy. Me and my husband started the test together, and for days we were just so awful to each other, that he eventually said: “It’s not worth it. You go first and once you’re through the withdrawal I can go off as well.”
From then on I was on my own, him and my toddler eating ice cream, chocolate and all the other yummy things in front of me. Work got difficult, as I couldn’t just lick my fingers when I was done...or taste if a product needed a little bit more of something. But after a couple of days the headaches got better, my mood as well, and it was almost like a veil lifted, leaving me with more focus and seeing the world more clearly. I knew that vision from the moment when I would come out of meditation, all the colors so bright and the lines so clear. Just that I experienced this all the time now.
After 12 days I had no cravings anymore, and I felt good, really good. My body started changing, losing fat in places I was never able to lose before, and this without doing anything else different than before.
And then my husband brought a piece of brownie home, left over from the market... I don’t know why we do this, sabotaging ourselves because we feel “too good.” But that was exactly what I did. The decision to end my processed sugar-free time was made in one second, and half the brownie was gone in the next one before I even realized what was going on. When I did realize that I’m actually eating brownie right now I tried to enjoy the other half, but funnily enough: This brownie, made from the recipe I perfected over four years and I once adored, didn’t taste nice. It was way too sweet, and the bitterness of the chocolate... But I ate it anyway. (Why? I don’t know. Maybe because the little bacteria in my gut made me do it, because they were starving!)
On the morning of the next day I woke up with a headache, and I started shivering. All I wanted was to shout at my kids and the husband for merely existing, because I felt SO crappy. My head was clouded, my vision blurry and I wanted nothing more than eat chocolate for breakfast. And that scared the hell out of me.
I DIDN’T WANT TO BE THIS PERSON!
Never again. I have too much self-love to go back to this state, I knew how focused, productive and happy I was without sugar in my life. So that was the day after I ate the last brownie in my life.
This was over 6 month ago. Three weeks later I “overdosed” on coconut blossom sugar. It may not spike the blood sugar, but my body sure enough reacted with the same withdrawal symptoms, and I had to dip cake pops in chocolate while shivering like crazy. And on my birthday, just two months ago, my husband found ice cream made with honey and avocado. It was delicious but left me with cravings for more, and it took all my self-awareness and discipline to not go and eat a couple of grapes, a date or a banana every 20 minutes the next day.
So I’m still working on it. I eat small quantities of honey from time to time, but it’s getting less and less. I eat sweet fruit like grapes, dates and mango, also in very small quantities and they have never tasted so good. Everything I don’t get on the farmer’s market and I needed to find in the super market was super frustrating in the beginning. Now I know what I can grab and what I have to look out for.
I also found the best “sugar-free” chocolate I ever tasted in my whole food store, but the last piece I ate just tasted like a piece of fat, so I gave up on finding an alternative and just stopped eating chocolate altogether.
I know that not everybody’s reaction to processed sugar is as strong as mine. Not everyone is so prone to addiction as I am. For some people it’s enough to watch their sugar intake and be very disciplined, having their piece of chocolate a day or a week. Not for me ― I’m the all-or-nothing type. And in this case, for the love of my family, but more importantly because I love myself and want to be the best version of myself, I decided that that piece of brownie was the last piece of brownie in my life.
The downside... there was none, not really. My gut had to get used to the new normal and had to get rid of all the dead bacteria, that would normally live from the processed sugar. Following the tip of a friend, I started taking probiotics to support my gut in its change.
The only thing that is really awkward is that I’m still the chocolate fairy. Every Saturday I stand on the market and feel weird, knowing what my products potentially can cause. So we made the decision that it’s time to move on, to sell the business. It’s a beautiful life style that comes with it, 30 hours of work a week, split between me and my husband, so we both have loads of time with the kids. Each one has one market day and one day with the kids alone and we have so much free time for our passion projects, it’s fantastic. But I don’t want to feel like a dealer anymore, providing people with something that we know lights up the same areas in the brain as heroine and other drugs. I worked hard to get new income streams up and running, I followed whatever sparked passion in me and ended up creating a holistic birth preparation program called “Happy Place Birthing” and I started working as happiness coach, creating a group coaching program and offering one to one sessions at “Happy Place Living”.
I spent most of my life, over 15 years, living with depression and I have so many tools to share how to live your life with more ease and flow, following your soul’s path and moving through the fear, through difficult times, through challenges. Giving up processed sugar is one of the most effective things I’ve ever done, because except for the day after my last brownie and the day after the “coconut blossom sugar overdose” I didn’t have one single blue day since I stopped eating processed sugar! Just imagine what it could do for you. Are you in for an experiment?
If you’d like to be lovingly guided and supported trying it out for yourself and want to know the little tips and tricks I picked up on the way please join me for my 6 week program “Sugarfree Living Journey”, bringing you through your first month off processed sugar. The next round is starting on Monday, the 8th of August.
Annika lives with her husband and her two little boys in the magical South-West of Ireland. Her days are filled with love and laughter, making time instead of chasing it, long walks in nature and good, wholesome food. She believes in learning, growing and changing every day and enjoys to bring happiness and confidence into the lives of the people she works with. She loves supporting extraordinary people by connecting them to their essence, their intuition and their heart’s desire via her work at Happy Place Living and Happy Place Birthing.
This article was written for and first published in Self Love Rebel Magazine