Sugar, Chocolate, Emotional Eating, Addiction, Intermittent Fasting, Regular Fasting and How I See Food Now

I was addicted to sugar. I think many people are, and they may not even realize it.

I’m no longer addicted to sugar. It no longer has control over me.

I thought, at one time, I was addicted to chocolate.

This summer, starting in July 2022, I started fasting, like no food.

I started small – a 36 hour fast. I had water, and a cup of coffee with a little bit of cream in the morning.

The second fast I did was 61 hours. Same thing – a cup of coffee with cream in the morning and only water the rest of the time.

When I wasn’t on a full fast, I practiced intermittent fasting in combination with a keto-like diet. I did the 20 hour fasting window with a four hour feeding window. I started with one meal a day (OMAD). Eventually, I went up to two meals a day (2MAD) with a less strict 20:4 fasting:feeding window. Now, I do 18:6 with 18 hours fasted with a 6 hour feeding window. This seems to work the best for me as I continue the intermittent fasting practice.

Keto-like = I tried going full keto and keeping the focus on lower-carb fruits and veggies with a focus on eating more fat for satiety and sticking protein on the back burner. I say keto-like because I never tested myself to see if I was in ketosis. I have zero proof that I ever reached ketosis. Keto-like means I tried to incorporate that style of eating into my life by following the principles of the diet. I ate quality meats and fish (no, I’m not vegan anymore if you’ve read older posts), quality fats like olive oil and nuts, focused more on low-carb veggies and greens, cut out processed sugar as much as I could, and stopped eating refined foods. So, I call this keto-like combined with intermittent fasting. 

I thought I wouldn’t be able to fast because I was an emotional eater. I thought I needed food to get me through stressful times.

At one time, I would’ve even said I was addicted to chocolate.

Now, I can say that’s not true.

If you’re ever curious about whether you’re craving sugar or chocolate, try this test: go to a grocery store and check the organic or “(appearance of) healthy food” section where they sell the specialty items like vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic foods, and look for a no sugar and no sugar substitute added chocolate bar. Look at the ingredient list on the bar to make sure there’s no sugar (corn syrup, cane sugar, plain sugar, maple syrup, etc.) or sugar substitutes added (like Stevia or Erythritol). You’re looking for one ingredient on the label like Cacao, or cocoa powder, and that’s it. Spend the $5.00 on the pure chocolate bar. It’s a great investment for the lesson you will likely learn here: the difference between chocolate and sugar. Taste the bar. You will see whether or not you are a true chocolate lover or if you love the sugar that’s in the chocolate. For maximum impact, treat it like your dessert after your meal. Oh, will you be in for a surprise!

I tried this very experiment while I was changing my lifestyle while looking to find emotional sobriety from being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic or Dysfunctional Family. While I was changing my life, I decided to include changing my eating and exercise patterns too.

I discovered what addiction truly was: something that altered my behavior. I also learned what I wasn’t addicted to – things that didn’t alter my behavior or have some kind of control over me.

I learned that I’m no longer addicted to something when it no longer has control or power over me, my actions and/or behaviors.

Emotional eating, I thought, controlled me for years. I thought chocolate was my comfort food of choice.

When I started fasting, I removed the need to eat completely. No more decision fatigue. When I removed the choice of to eat or not to eat, I discovered how great it was to not have to stress about food: eating it, not eating it, the clutter or mess and cleanup after the event, the shame I had over eating the foods I knew were bad for me but I ate anyways. It was all removed. It was as close to Minimalism as I can ever get: not having the thing at all AND not having it control me.

The joy of food, where I got my high from emotional eating, was in the sugar. The sweetness of food I experienced was mostly in the form refined sugars. Sugar was where my “high” came from. That temporary hit I got from eating sugary foods when I was feeling stressed.

Eating the chocolate bar with zero sugar or sugar substitutes taught me that I didn’t love chocolate like I thought I did. I loved the sugar in the chocolate. But pure chocolate itself? Yikes!!

Pure chocolate, like cacao, taste like dirt. 

Even the touted health food, dark chocolate, has sugar in it to make it taste NOT like dirt.

Just to make sure it wasn’t just me, I asked my husband, who doesn’t identify as a chocolate lover but does enjoy it on occasion (and he also was NOT on this keto/fasting journey with me), to try a piece of this pure chocolate bar and tell me what he thought.

He thought it tasted like dirt too.

Fasting for a few days two weeks in a row showed me that removing food from my life took away the addiction to emotional eating because it showed me how I looked at food: as a lens to heal me and make me feel better in the moment.

When I did go back to eating, I ate when I was hungry, not because I needed a sugary hit because of stress. I started with one meal a day and practiced intermittent fasting for the rest of the time. Now I’m up to eating two meals a day. I don’t crave food for soothing my emotions anymore. I don’t crave sugar the way I once did. Food even tastes differently now because I’ve removed refined sugar my palette.  I do have sugar, but it’s in the form of low carb fruits and veggies. What’s really funny is that I rarely eat chocolate when I do eat sugar. If I do decide to eat a little chocolate, it’s because I like the way the chocolate and sugar taste together.

I can’t say I’m addicted to chocolate anymore. I don’t think I ever was addicted to chocolate. I will say I was addicted to the sugar in the chocolate.

Removing food helped me with my emotional eating. But I had to eat at some point, so when I let food back in, I made sure it was the best food. By doing this experiment, I was able to see the power food had over me at one time to make me feel better. And when I took it away, the need for it was gone. I could survive for quite a while without food. Not forever, but for a while. 

I took the experiment even further with another addiction: sugar and chocolate. 

I’d say a true chocolate lover could devour that bar of chocolate I purchased. I ate one square and my husband ate one square. No interest. We both could see that chocolate tasted like dirt without and sugar or sugar substitute. 

If you are struggling with your diet or emotional eating, I highly recommend you try fasting or intermittent fasting. It’s not sexy. It’s free to try it. Wow, did it make a huge impact and difference in my life, and I hope it does yours as well. If you are wondering if you’re addicted to chocolate or sugar, try a pure chocolate or cacao bar and tell me what your findings are. Email me at sarathlete@hotmail.com and let me know.

Sarathlete

How Trail Running Went For Me

It felt awesome, a little uncomfortable and fears bubbled up.

I was stronger than I thought.

I was able to run further than I thought.

My body remembered what running felt like after 8 years of NOT running.

My expectations were so low for myself that I wasn’t sure I would be able to do the workout or not. I underestimated myself. Years of low self-esteem was detrimental to myself.

I need better support for my girls. This was probably the most uncomfortable part of the run for me.

Zone 1 training matters. I didn’t realize what a base I’d built for running. Activities like weight training, cleaning, hiking, easy cycling, walking on the beach, you name it, that I did as Zone 1 helped me build up basic fitness and a very good base for starting a beginner trail walking/running program.

This was only one run. Now, I have to get through the next run.

I did something I thought I couldn’t do.

I felt unsteady in my running shoes on the trail. I ran in a pair of trainers with barely any support. I tried on my old trail shoes when I got home (yes I know that sounds weird), and I realized how different any sneaker feels compared to minimal-like trainers. I wear No Bull trainers for gym workouts. I think I might try a pair of Vivobarefoot trail shoes. I don’t want to go back to super-padded running shoes. I might try to keep running in the trainers I have, order a pair of Vivos and gradually build up my foot strength that way with running in my trainers and starting to wear Vivos for everyday use to build up foot strength and then eventually transfer that to the gym and the trails.

I felt scared being all alone as a female on the trails. I didn’t feel that way when I ran on the roads in populated places. The siren feature on the Apple Watch Ultra didn’t make me feel safer because I doubt anyone would be able to hear it where I was at. I think the siren would be great for a woman being alone in Chicago if I felt unsafe, and maybe as a woman on the road, but I don’t think it’s helpful on the trails.

I questioned myself as to why I stopped running. I don’t know the answer even now.

It felt so good to be outdoors on the trails. I could’ve gone further, but I didn’t.

I didn’t respect the time of the workout. I went further. I’m a striver. Of course I went further and didn’t respect the time.

Training based on time vs. distance feels different. Anything I’ve ever trained for in endurance has been based on mileage. The training program I’m doing is based on time spent running and is not focused on distance. 

I ran fasted, and it was perfect for me. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting to help me lose weight. I ran fasted, and it went well. I felt good. As I grow my mileage/time base, I’ll eventually need to add a nutrition and hydration component, and I’m not sure what that will look like on a lower carb lifestyle.

I need to learn how to use my Apple Watch Ultra. I don’t have a clue how to use any of the fancy features it comes with. So, I need to do some research to see how to actually use the trail GPS features for longer runs. Better to learn how to use it first on shorter runs so that I’m used to using it for when I do go on longer runs.

I depend on my husband to lead me around the trails when we go hiking. I’m afraid to go on trails I haven’t been on before because I feel that I have no sense of direction. I don’t know if that’s actually true or if it’s a left-over story I tell myself from a trauma of being lost somewhere at some point in time. But my husband wasn’t there to lead me around today. I took a trail we’d hiked before so I knew my way, and I didn’t get lost. I am afraid of being someplace I don’t know and getting lost. 

I want to build a community of runners, walkers and hikers. I never appreciated the last time I had friends was based around like-minded activities. I miss that, but I don’t see a big trail running/hiking/walking community in my local area. So, I’m going to find those friends and build a community of runners, walkers and hikers.

I probably will never be fast. I’ve never been fast. I’m strong and resilient as ever, and I know I will try my darnedest to cross the finish line. 

I need to pick a goal trail 5k race so I have something to shoot for and a goal to achieve with the trail running program I’m doing. I always do better with a goal to achieve in my life.

Sarathlete