The ro­mance is over

Good­bye, sweet thing. Or should that be sweet things: whole bars of cho­co­late, lol­lies saved up in a jar… Amie Richard­son is off the su­gar, and this time she re­ally means it.

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Viewpoint -

There is no go­ing back. You were so filled with prom­ise. Yet, toxic in the end. For ev­ery tiny boost you gave me, I spent count­less hours tired, ir­ri­tated and feel­ing bad about my­self. It’s not me, it’s you. Su­gar be gone. To­day is the day I give you up for good.

While I’ve never had a huge sweet tooth, su­gar has been a sig­nif­i­cant friend at var­i­ous stages of my life. As a child, Dad al­ways gave us 20c to spend at the Kiwi Milk Bar in Alexan­dra on a Sun­day af­ter church, and while my broth­ers spent it on spa­cies, I blew mine on lol­lies ev­ery time. Dur­ing Lent, I’d save up my sweets in a glass jar over the six weeks un­til Easter Sun­day and then eat them all in one go un­til I felt sick. I vig­or­ously shook my head, my mouth filled with mir­rors and probes, when the den­tal nurse asked me if I was one of those kids that saved up their lol­lies. She looked sus­pi­cious when she found a hole.

Most of my 20s were spent away from sweet things. I was a savoury girl, pre­fer­ring cheese over cho­co­late – ig­nor­ing the allure of cakes and bis­cuits. I say most. Be­cause there was the year where my best friend and flat­mate at the time lured me into her habit of con­sum­ing en­tire blocks of cho­co­late in one sit­ting. While she re­mained a tiny stick fig­ure, I did not.

But it wasn’t un­til I met my late hus­band that I dis­cov­ered just how strong a su­gar crav­ing could be­come. On our first lunch date, Wayne ate cake. And he never re­ally stopped. When I later be­came preg­nant with his ba­bies, my crav­ing for su­gar was all-con­sum­ing. I gave in. Again and again and again. While he was sick, we filled the grief be­tween us with sweet treats. And be­cause su­gar hijacks the re­ward cen­tres of the brain, the more you have, the more you need.

While the kids are not en­tirely ex­empt from my new found su­gar free­dom, I’m also re­al­is­tic about what hap­pens out­side the home – and how hard that can be to con­trol. The boys al­ready un­der­stand what is healthy and what is a treat and for the most part, make good choices, though Jasper (who is 5) seems to pre­fer su­gar over and above any­thing else. For him, rather than cold turkey, it’ll be more of a luke­warm chicken.

I’ve been here be­fore. I’m not such a late con­vert to the su­gar-free cult. I’ve gone days, weeks, months with­out re­fined su­gar, my brother Si­mon spend­ing $40 mak­ing a raw cheese­cake for me last time I went su­gar free. But I have in­evitably come back, repo­si­tion­ing my stance as look­ing for “bal­ance”, that ev­ery­thing is OK in small doses. But that sweet poi­son al­ready in­fil­trates so much of our food that this time, I’m go­ing all out. The headaches haven’t started yet, but I know they’ll come. Along with the grumpi­ness and pos­si­ble shakes. But I’m hop­ing my mind will be clearer and I’ll sleep better be­fore I want to give in.

This time, there are no glass jars.

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